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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dinners at the Delt Lodge, 1984-85

by Laura A. Plummer ’85

Long before the Food Network and Martha Stewart, a small group of friends and I decided our senior year to take matters—and tongs—into our own hands and start a supper club. Harvey Stephens, Kate Fonyo, Tim Stautberg, Chris Pisano, and I met once a month, on a Thursday evening, in the Delta Tau Delta Lodge to make and to share a meal together.

Cooking at the Delt Lodge required a bit of patience—an understanding of the rickety stove and forgiveness of the grungy floor—but the freedom to prepare our own menu and share a bottle of wine far outweighed any inconvenience. We acquitted ourselves quite admirably: for each gathering, one member was responsible for the menu and for the procurement of groceries. Cooking was collaborative only to a point: we were well versed in being served our dinner, thanks to Peirce Hall, and often the majority of us sat indolently in the main room awaiting our victuals (or “wittles,” to steal from Charles Dickens). With little fanfare, and absolutely no kitchen fires, we produced over the course of a year many memorable meals: pasta alla carbonara (in honor of a sister newly returned from Italy); stuffed trout (with the heads on, bien sur!); steaks on the carbonized charcoal grill; cream puffs, even. Most meals ended with a bout of Irish coffee, and cigars for the men, although we dismissed the Victorian tradition of ladies excusing themselves to the parlor.

No menu could compete, however, with our lobsterfest. Kate arrived from a brief trip east with a cumbersome Styrofoam box full of clicking crustaceans and damp seaweed from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Tucked inside her L.L. Bean tote, a fresh raspberry pie from Schoolhouse Farms waited quietly. The feasting that ensued was as voracious—though not as ribald—as the inn scene from Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones. Any meal that involved hammers and nutcrackers trumped the goings-on in Peirce Hall, but wrestling lobsters and dripping butter were just part of the fun. Perhaps there was some dancing—perhaps with lobster-claw castanets. Perhaps I’m misremembering.

Those shells were not simply musical accompaniment, however. Once our bibbed banquet was finished, what seemed to me a big mess—bowls of shells and sea-gunk and butter—was an opportunity to Kate: where I saw raw material for Ridley Scott’s special effects in Alien, she saw the makings for lobster butter.

Lobster butter was a revelation, much like figuring out that Reed Browning really could enact the Battle of Hastings singlehandedly. Who knew such wonders existed? And although the noble gastronome might use this concoction to enrich a chowder or to sauté another fish, Kate had a much more collegial impulse—to flavor popcorn. Such a decadent yet simple concept: to dress a humble, Midwestern dormitory snack in silken finery. Oscar Wilde would have approved.

Even the greatest of cooks must rest (or acknowledge the limitations of a kitchen stocked mostly with bottle openers). We left the preparation of our club’s culminating meal to the then relatively new Buxton Inn in Granville; the accompanying photo was taken by Susan Berger ’85 before we left.

February Epiphany

by Eric J. Raicovich, Class of 2005

Freshman year, I remember being particularly bitter about the winter weather we had been experiencing. It snowed a lot. A lot. Because it was so cold, the conditions were pretty icy, so you went from class to class at your own risk. I was still acclimating to Midwestern winters; being from New York City, I was spoiled, having become accustomed to less frequent accumulation and reliably plowed streets that were never as slippery as Middle Path.

On a late night in February, I was preparing for a big test in what I considered to be a hopelessly impossible course. I was at the library until the “nerd bell” went off at 2:00 a.m., at which point I packed my bags and threw on my four layers of clothes to prepare for the trek through the bitter night back to the freshman quad. I was feeling particularly homesick at the time. I was pledging a fraternity, I was taking tough courses, I was really tired, and man, it was cold.

As I cut back behind the library, making my way to Ward Street and past Palme House, I started thinking about one of the test problems that had been eluding me all night long for this class. I couldn't think of a solution for the life of me, and it was driving me insane. Was I thinking too much about one specific aspect and not about something else? Was the answer obvious, or was it completely over my head?

What I should have been paying attention to was the path I was forging for myself through the snow. I must have hit a patch of slick ice, because the next minute I completely ate it, flew into the air, and landed on my back, knocking the wind out of myself. I lay there for a minute or two and waited for the stars to stop circulating around and around my head. As the imaginary stars dissipated, they gave way to the Gambier night sky – a phenomenon that I had not yet truly appreciated, like you could see until the end of the universe. I was still on my back but surrounded by easily six inches of snow, in complete awe of the millions of stars out there and the silence that engulfed me. Aside from the fading ringing in my head, I was in complete peace.

Then, all of a sudden, the answer to the test problem came to me. Out of nowhere, just like that. Everything made sense. I had to get up and go write down the result of my epiphany before I forgot it, but I was mesmerized by what was right in front of me: the stars, the deep midnight blue sky, the snow that reflected off the moon on the tips of the pine trees.

I lay there for a good five minutes or so, until the cold began to set in and I realized I had to get up and make my way back to my dorm. Standing up, I brushed the snow off myself and found my shoulder bag, which had somehow flown a foot or two in a different direction during the fall. I felt great relief, having figured out the answer to my problem, but my emotion ran deeper than that. I had come to the realization that I didn’t miss home, but that I was home. It took some ice to hit me with a dose of reality, but it was a welcome dose. And for the remainder of my time at Kenyon, I never winced when I opened my windows and saw falling snow – unless, of course, I was flying out of Columbus that day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Stories Initiative

The Stories Initiative, a project of Kenyon’s Alumni Council, provides a
forum in which alumni, parents, members of the administration, faculty, and
staff, and other friends of the College can share reminiscences of the Hill.
Whether your tale concerns a favorite professor, a humorous incident, or a
memorable prank, we hope you will add it to our growing collection of
first-person accounts of life at Kenyon.

Below is a list of categories, by no means exhaustive. We encourage
you to write to the Stories Initiative on any subject that helps to define
your relationship with the College. This is your opportunity to contribute
to our common history, and to let others in the Kenyon family know about the
people, places, and events that shaped your experience in Gambier.

All submissions to the Stories Initiative will be considered for posting at
this site. As you spin your tale, be creative but also be as concise as
possible. Submissions will be edited for accuracy and, if necessary, for
length before being posted.

To submit to this site, go to and enter your story there.


If you have photographs that help tell your story, please let us know. Upload your images to a gallery site such as Flickr or PhotoBucket and include links to them in your submission. Be sure to include the date, location, and occasion and to identify all those pictured in the photos.


Academic life
Campus reactions to local, regional, national, or international events
Greek life
Members of the administration, faculty, and staff
Residential life
Individual residence halls, apartments, or other living arrangements
Social life
Student organizations