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Still Reading After All These Years
November 24, 2005

            On an autumn afternoon in 1929, eight Bainbridge women joined together in the home of Victoria Custer to form a club that would allow them to seek “the cultural and literary things in life.”  The club was named the “Lesche (pronounced lesky) Club.”

            Lesche means a meeting of the literary. 

            And these literary ladies and their descendents—both literary and actual—continue to meet.  Today, the club is known by its more recent name—The Book Club.  On a recent autumn day almost thirty members gathered at the home of Lesley Simmons to celebrate their club’s seventy-fifth anniversary.

            The original bylaws of the club restricted membership to eight members.  Those eight original members were Anne Gragg Carr, Victoria Custer, Eugenia Garrett Anderson, Sara Agnes Farrar, Margaret Farrar Reppert, Martha Rudisill Hawthorne (the first president), Ruth Gragg, and Grace Kwilecki Kohne. 

            Today, the club has twenty-five members.  Some fifteen years ago, during the sixtieth anniversary celebration, Mary Bower Stone, who joined the club in 1950, explained that the limit on numbers was “not to be exclusive or elite, but because most people’s homes don’t accommodate more than that number and it’s a workable size.”

            The diverse members share one common interest—books.  Mrs. Stone continued, “You don’t have to have anything else in common—you become closely bonded with each other because of the common desire to know more.” 

            Club members rarely hold a book discussion as many book clubs do, where all members have read the book then share their opinions.  The program is usually a book review given by a member, but occasionally by a guest.  Paul Kwilecki, husband of member Charlotte Williford Kwilecki and father of club president Elizabeth Kwilecki Whaley has spoken more than any other guest.  His first program was on, “How to Review a Book.”

Happy anniversary

            At the anniversary gathering, members enjoyed lunch, and then offered toasts to the past and the future of their club.  Dr. Bruce Bickley, Griffith T. Pugh Professor of English at Florida State University, joined with his son John Bickley, also of the University to present a survey of the works of Joel Chandler Harris.  The Bickleys jointly edited the recent Penguin Classic edition of Harris’s Nights with Uncle Remus.


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