by Julia Plottel
Founder of the Kenyon Review John Crowe Ransom’s fondness for card games lives on in his granddaughter, Liz Forman ’73, who has been holding card games in her home on Tuesday nights for the past 30 years. “It started with good friends, people who worked together, who liked to play cards and get together,” Forman said. “You get to know people.” Forman was a member of Kenyon’s first co-ed graduating class, and worked in the Admissions Office for many years.
Every Tuesday evening around 7 p.m., eight or nine women gather in Forman’s home, all seated around a large rectangular table. Sometimes there are more women present, sometimes fewer, but they meet regardless. The foundation for the card group “[came] out of the tradition that John Crowe Ransom helped to establish,” according to Professor of English and long time card club attendee Adele Davidson ’75. “He was very interested in games of all kinds,” which is an interest Ransom clearly passed on to his granddaughter, Liz.
When Forman and Davidson were students at Kenyon, bridge tournaments were very popular. As the women grew older and settled down in Gambier, it was only natural to continue the tradition. “It was a way to be introduced into a part of the Kenyon community that you know about but don’t really see as a student,” Forman said of the group, which is made up of alumnae and other Gambier residents. The card group became a way of forging new friendships and facilitating the transition from student life into adulthood.
Davidson first heard about the group after being hired as an English professor at Kenyon. She became friendly with Forman and through the group met other women from the Gambier community, such as Project Research Analyst Sara McElroy ’73, who works in Development; Coordinator of Alumni Admissions Volunteers Alice Straus ’75, who works in Admissions; and Betsy Herr, who runs the Gambier House Bed and Breakfast. The group is composed of “some longtime members of the Kenyon community, women in their 70s who have spent a lifetime in Gambier,” Davidson said. They may have originally come with their husbands or as faculty but went on to develop “their own niche in Gambier.”
Tuesday nights were originally set aside for the group to convene because “on Tuesdays nobody was scheduled to work,” Forman said. The group became a way for the women to touch base with each other and catch up on what had been going on in their respective lives. It became their own community within the larger Kenyon sphere. Davidson said a reason for the group’s longevity concerns Kenyon itself. “Going to school in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, you create your own fun with simple pleasures like cards,” she said. “It is a broader tradition in the community. It’s about the people that you’re getting together with, the tradition of making one’s own fun and enjoying the friendships that come out of it.”
Not only has the group been carrying on for three decades, but it has also come to include four generations of women. Stella Ryan-Lozon ’13 takes the title as youngest member of the card group. After graduating, Ryan-Lozon moved into Forman’s house and started working for the Kenyon Review full-time. It was then that Forman invited Ryan-Lozon to join the weekly meetings. At first Ryan-Lozon was intimidated. She was in the midst of transitioning from being a student resident of Gambier to being an adult resident, and she didn’t know what to expect. However, everyone was very welcoming, and now Ryan-Lozon is a regular member. “It’s nice to have another group of friends,” Ryan-Lozon said. “You can ask a baking question, a car question, a taxes question and these women will have the answer.”
Thus the card group lives on, their weekly meetings much more than just a casual game of cards. It’s a “different kind of news,” Forman said. “It’s a way of finding out about the world, … a way for a community to get knowledge about itself out there. It’s about bonding and meeting new people.”