Wednesday, September 22, 2021

75th Anniversary Dinner Report

On August 15, 2021, 35 Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit members and friends gathered in the clubby confines of the Iroquois Club in Bloomfield Township for their first meeting since October 2019.

Though long-delayed by COVID, the crowd in attendance on that Sunday afternoon seemed in good spirits and happy to once again see each other in person to celebrate the society’s 75th anniversary.

At 1:13 p.m., longtime Gasogene John Kramb called the meeting to order and introduced the society’s board members and the new attendees.

Next, playwright and Mendicant David MacGregor told the group that his third play involving the Master and Doctor Watson, “Sherlock Holmes and the Ghost Machine” would premiere next April at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, MI. More news on that will be forthcoming but playgoers can expect his usual blend of suspense and wit.

Then, the buffet luncheon was served as the group enjoyed Caesar salad, chicken piccata, parmesan cod and baked mostaccioli. This was topped off by desserta specially-prepared AMS 75th anniversary cake featuring our own Mendicant logo

The traditional AMS toasts were next served up, as organized by the Commissionaire Chris Music. Patience Nauta noted the legacy and popularity of “The Woman,”David MacGregor offered his brief investigation into the heritage of “Mrs. Hudson,” Al Calderini waxed poetical on “Mycroft Holmes” and Rich Krisciunas offered a poem indicating that Mary Morstan was indeed “Watson’s Second Wife.”

Two extra memorial toasts were also made. The first, by Rob Musial, saluted Una Stubbs, the motherly Mrs. Hudson in the BBC’s recent series “Sherlock” who had died earlier that week. The second, by Chris Jeryan, honored the many memorable toasts to the “Red-Headed League” made over the years by the late Jerry Alvin, while speculating that the League’s founder, the late Ezekiah Hopkins of Pennsylvaniaactually shared a lineage with Scotland Yard’s Inspector Stanley Hopkins, one of the few policemen of whom Holmes approved.

Since the Mendicants were coming off the long COVID-induced hiatus, this meeting’s story was “The Adventure of the Empty House,” in which Holmes comes off his own three-year hiatus to surprise Watson and, with the help of the good doctor and the venerable Mrs. Hudson, solve a murder and capture the last member of Professor Moriarty’s gang.

The “Empty House” presentation by Rob Musial discussed the high points of the storywith several easy quiz questionsHe also speculated the Holmes had closely followed the exploits of the first automotive adventuress Bertha Benz and that his research into coal tar derivatives during the Hiatus very likely included formulating gasoline. He also likely researched ballistics (which was unknown at that time) to conclusively link the air rifle bullet that killed the Honorable Ronald Adair to the exact same kind as the one Col. Sebastian Moran attempted to kill Holmes with.

Then, Chris Music and Michael Ellis (aided by PowerPointshowcased the long, magical but ofteninterrupted history of Detroit’s Mendicants. Music noted that the society began in 1946 at the venerable Cliff Bell’s in Detroit and then briefly talked about some of the group’s other notable early venues, including the Leland Hotel and the Stockholm restaurant (which in the 1970s enjoyed a brief renaissance as Detroit’s Playboy Club)

Next, Ellis delineated the December 1975 resurrection dinner of the Mendicants

brought to life (surprisingly) by members of the Wayne State University accounting department, aided by a favorable mention by local TV’s Bill Kennedy while introducing a Basil Rathbone/Holmes movie. Among those 1970s era Mendicants still participating are Ellis and Glenn Walters. The presentation also noted a 1976 Detroit Free Press Sunday magazine story by Lionel Bascom that told of the society’s tongue-in-cheek picketing of “Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother” movie for taking way too many liberties with our favorite characters.  

Then, members shared their favorite memories of meetings past, including at the Scarab Club and the historic Piquette Plant in Detroit, the January 2004 meeting at Meadow Brook Hall in a blizzard and the famous snow-blower incident at Birmingham’s former Big Rock Chophouse.

With the presentation concluded, Kramb told the gathering that the next meeting would likely be early next year, depending on the decision of the AMS board members.

Kramb then presented a special recognition award to long-time Tidewaiter, Beverly Ellis, who has decided to retire from the role.

Finally, Christine DelGreco held the door-prize drawing for a carefully curated assortment of Sherlockian books, which were won by David Koern, Lynda Locke, David MacGregor, Beverly Sobolewski (resplendent as always in period Victorian dress) and Glenn Walters.

Kramb then led the gathering in the traditional singing of “God Save the Queen” and Chris Jeryan read the closing poem, “221B.” And with that, the meeting ended at 4:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial, Tantalus.

Friday, July 16, 2021

75th Anniversary Dinner

 Hello Everyone:

On behalf of the Planning Committee, I'm pleased to invite you to the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.  All the details are in the flyer (attached).  The event will be held at The Iroquois Club in Bloomfield Township on Sunday, August 15.  The meeting will start at 1:00 p.m., but you may show up at 12:30 p.m. to socialize.  We have a special agenda planned, and a lovely buffet luncheon will be served.

The price to reserve your place at the meeting is $40 (a bit higher than usual, but the Pandemic has driven prices upwards).  It is important that we receive your money (via, check, PayPal, or money order) by Friday July 30.  Why?  Because we must submit a confirmed headcount to the Club, and prepay for the event by August 2.   Late arrivals with cash at the door will not be accepted.  So, please, send your commitment to Bev Ellis at 48132 Colony Farms Circle, Plymouth, MI  48170-3305 now.  Checks should be made payable to the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.

I anticipate we will have a wonderful time together, finally!


John (Gasogene)

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Fall Update from the Gasogene

 Hello Everyone:

I trust (and hope) all of you are safe and healthy as the pandemic continues with no immediate end in sight.  As you know, our little scion has suspended meetings in 2020, and it is very unlikely we will be able to meet this year.  While I personally miss the interactions and camaraderie, I'm confident you understand the risk.  We will wait until next year to resume operations once a vaccine is available.  

Some of the smaller scions have used Zoom (or other online video services) to conduct meetings.  We have about 100 members on our distribution list, and generally, we attract about 40 to 50 members to our dinner meetings.  Zoom calls for that number of potential attendees would not be effective.  I think all of us prefer the energy of face-to-face meetings, and so, we will wait until we can safely meet.

It appears that The Commonwealth Club will survive.   You may be aware that the long-time President, Stephen Barber, passed away.  There was some concern that without his leadership during the pandemic that the club would close permanently.  A new board of directors was appointed, and the club now offers take out services for the Friday fish fries..  We hope to be able to use the club again in 2021 for our dinner meetings.

I will provide further updates (periodically) as news and Sherlockian information becomes available.  In the meantime, don't forget about our club, and stay safe.

Yours in Holmes, 

John (Gasogene).

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Meeting Postponed

The AMS meeting for April 18th has been postponed.

Best Wishes,
Professor Moriarty

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Spring Meeting

Mark your calendars... the Spring Meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society will be held on Saturday April 18th at the Commonwealth Club.   Regina Stinson and Roy Pilot to speak.   Stay tuned for more details. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

October Meeting Report

On a mild autumn night, 39 Mendicants and friends gathered at the British Commonwealth Club in still-leafy Warren, Michigan, for their annual fall dinner meeting.

With a hearty welcome, society Gasogene John Kramb called the multitude to order at 6:17 p.m. and began the familiar round of introductions of the society’s board members and the evening’s first-time guests.

Though the society was founded in 1946 and returned from its latest hiatus in 2000, Kramb noted that these were somewhat trying times for the group. For one thing, the society’s regular haunt, the Commonwealth Club, finds itself with fewer volunteers these days to staff such special evenings.

Also, the society’s attendance has slipped somewhat from a regular draw of more than 50 at such outings to its present day count. Several suggestions from the floor were made on ways to increase attendance and all are being considered, as is the idea to reduce the meetings to twice a year.
The decrease in attendance also affects what the club bills the society as it needs to charge a minimum to cover its expenses.

Consequently, the society also sought members’ opinions on whether to increase annual dues to $5 or $10. The results of that survey will be communicated soon.

With this unpleasantness out of the way, it was time to enjoy the club’s buffet dinner, which included chicken Marsala, a veddy English cut of prime roast beef plus mashed potatoes, green beans, corn and a selection of desserts.

Throughout the meal, the society’s regular toasts, organized by Commissionaire Chris Music, were offered. Fritzi Roth toasted “The Woman” (and enumerated the reasons she was so). Rachel Gosch recognized “Mrs. Hudson” as the brave landlady while Eddie Stein raised his glass to “Mycroft Holmes,” Sherlock’s older (and less ambulatory) brother. And finally, Glenn Walter’s offered his own poetic creation about “Watson’s Second Wife.”

Next, member Michael Ellis offered talking points and an expansive 20-question quiz on the evening’s assigned story, “The Adventures of the Devil’s Foot.” The quiz was developed by one of Michigan’s other Sherlockian scions, the Greek Interpreters of East Lansing.

Then it was time for the volunteer Amateur Mendicant Players to take the stage to provide a reading of the new play, “Sherlock Holmes & The Adventure of the Fallen Soufflé,” written by member David MacGregor and currently being performed at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan. The players included MacGregor as Holmes, Rachel Gosch as Irene Adler, Michael Jones as Prince Bertie, Rob Musial as Dr. Watson and Victoria Landes as the evil Marie. Those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the performance even though the understudies at the Purple Rose should have nothing to worry about.

The meat of the evening came next as member Rich Krisciunas, drawing on his 40 years as a lawyer and his work as a former county prosecutor, presented his investigation titled “No Obstruction but Much Collusion.” In it, he made the case (in spite of a balky PowerPoint) that while Holmes may have broken laws here and there in the Canon (among them burglary and carrying a weapon), the likelihood of his being convicted was slim. Perhaps the only way to get Holmes in the stocks would have been if Dr. Watson was granted immunity to testify against his friend – and the chances of that were zero.

As the meeting wound down, the regular drawing for a bounty of door prizes were awarded, including Sherlock Holmes socks, books, a poster and a DVD featuring actor Christopher Lee as the great detective. Among the winners were Chris Music, Anne Musial Eddie Stein, Dave Mandziuk, Patience Nauta, Lois Krawczyk and Dave MacGregor.

Finally, Rachel Gosch led the multitude in the singing of “God Save the Queen” and Christine Jeryan recited the meeting’s traditional coda, the poem “221B.”

Following that, Gasogene Kramb gaveled the meeting to a close at 8:39 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robert Musial
-- AMS Tantalus

Friday, August 16, 2019

Fall Meeting


The next dinner meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit:

6 p.m. Saturday, October 19th, 2019

Commonwealth Club of Detroit
30088 Dequindre
Warren, MI

Story for discussion: "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot"

Sherlockian Presentation: "No Obstruction but Much Collusion," by Rich Krisciunas.

Bonus: David McGregor reads from his new play, "Sherlock Holmes & the Fallen Souffle."

Plus the usual toasts, prizes & more.

Dinner: $30 per person.  Your payment is due Tuesday, October 8th

Please contact for payment details

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June Meeting Report

Though thunderstorms postponed part of the Detroit Grand Prix events earlier in the day, 46 stalwart Sherlockians convened at the veddy British Commonwealth Club on Saturday, June 1st for the annual spring meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.

The meeting was called to order at 6:20 p.m. by the society’s Gasogene, John Kramb, who welcomed the lively crowd and introduced the planning committee and board members.

After encouraging those in attendance to bring a friend to the fall meeting, Kramb reminded the audience that the society had to confirm the headcount of those who paying for the dinner meetings a week in advance. “Future credits” will no longer be allowed and the membership supported this change.

The Gasogene also reminded folks to alert Bev Ellis of any email changes so members do not miss any of the society’s announcements.

Kramb next acknowledged the members of the society’s Lower Vault, a select group of those who have served the AMS as officers or planning committee members and those who have done scholarly (or not-so-scholarly) presentations at the meetings.

Members then observed a moment of silence “on the terrace” for longtime Mendicant Elaine Roberts, who had recently passed away at 99 and who had likely been the society’s longest-attending member. She was a gracious, lovely lady and her memorial service was set for 2 p.m. June 6th at St. Philip Episcopal Church in Rochester Hills.

Next came the evening’s traditional toasts, with Rich Krisciunas honoring “The Woman,” Al Calderini raising a glass to Mrs. Hudson, John Sherwood offering a very well-received toast to Mycroft Holmes and Jim O’Keefe saluting Watson’s Second Wife.

Along with the toasts, the attendees also enjoyed the evening’s repast – a tossed salad, chicken Marsala, ginger pork, roasted potatoes, veggies and dessert.

Following the meal, member Michael Ellis took the podium to provide the talking points on the evening’s story, “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. Informative and witty, Ellis reviewed the story involving Ecsott, Agatha and the so-called “king of blackmailers” who kept his salacious material in a green-and-gold safe. Holmes and Watson were on the case until fate stepped in and played hand – leaving Holmes to turn down Inspector Lestrade’s request for help, since Holmes believed blackmail to be a worse crime than murder.

That served as the introduction to the evening’s presentation by member Scott Monty, B.S.I., and his investigation into “A Powerful Ring of Blackmailers.” Scott’s presentation noted that Holmes had dealt with 50 murderers in his career before the Milverton case, “but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion which I have for this fellow.”

Monty then briefly elucidated the history of the word “blackmail” before bringing the term into Holmes’ era – “an age when one’s reputation was everything (and) blackmail was the ultimate insidious crime.”  He then reviewed the ten instances in the Canon in which blackmail is a factor – or first thought to be a factor. The members correctly guessed each one, which Monty later attributed to either their familiarity with the Canon or their experience with blackmail.

Next up, the AMS Players, organized by Chris Jeryan, read a scene originally from a 1939 radio broadcast that featured one of the consummate Sherlocks, Basil Rathbone, in the lead role. Ably donning Holmes’ shoes was our own Bev Sobolewski with Al Calderini as Watson. The reading was enthusiastically received by the membership.

With the evening winding down, the Gasogene then announced that the fall meeting of the AMS would be Saturday, October 19th at the Commonwealth Club. So save that date!

A panoply of prizes were next awarded, under the direction of Christine Del Greco. They included British tea cups & boxes of tea, a Sherlock Holmes consulting detective game, a silver Sherlockian charm bracelet, the book “Prisoner of the Devil” by Michael Hardwick (detailing Holmes’ efforts in the Dreyfus Case) and finally, a pair of Sherlockian socks, direct from England and bearing the Master’s silhouette.

The lucky winners included Elaine Johnson, Bob Jurva, Rich Krisciunas, David MacGregor, Dave Mandziuk and George Vanderburgh.

Following that, the assembled multitude stood for the traditional singing of “God Save the Queen” and the poem “221B” was read by Commissionaire Chris Music.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m. – to applause.

Respectfully submitted,
Christine Del Greco & Rob Musial
-- for the AMS

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

June Meeting

                “…I have always had an idea that I would have made a highly efficient criminal.”
                          -- Sherlock Holmes in “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”     

But there is nothing criminal in this exercise, an evening of dinner, fellowship and the sharing of Sherlockiana with the storied and legendary Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit

Saturday, June 1, 2019
6:00 p.m.
The Commonwealth Club
30088 Dequindre, Warren, MI                                                                                                                                                       
Our assigned story and brief discussion is on “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton,” in which Holmes and Watson work to defeat a blackmailer – until fate steps in and plays a hand.

In the evening’s presentation, Scott Monty, BSI, a founder of the podcast and website “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere” will present his investigation into “A Powerful Ring of Blackmailers.” There will also be a dramatic reading of a short Sherlockian play by the AMS Players.

Of course, also included will be the usual toasts, prizes, merriment and more.

Please make checks for $30 payable to: Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit and mail to the address below. Or to use PayPal, contact for instructions.

To join us, please mail your check for $30 per person by FRIDAY, MAY 24th to:

c/o  Bev Ellis
48132 Colony Farm Circle
Plymouth, MI 48170-3305

The dinner includes a tossed salad, chicken Marsala, ginger pork, roasted potatoes, green beans, corn and dessert. As always, there will also be a cash bar.

“Come at once if convenient … if inconvenient, come all the same.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Winter Meeting Report

Braving the season’s first major snowfall and the resulting snow-clogged roads, a hardy band of brothers and sisters managed to make the January 19, 2019 meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.

In all, 29 Mendicants and friends turned out to enjoy fellowship, a tasty repast and to celebrate the 165th birthday of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, within the cozy and familiar confines of the British Commonwealth Club in Warren, Michigan.

AMS Gasogene John Kramb called the dinner meeting to order at 6:20 p.m., welcoming everyone who had defied the storm and then introducing the society’s board members and planning committee.
Also acknowledged were members of the society’s prestigious Lower Vault, who had earned their honors through long service to the society or for making a distinctive presentation to the membership.

Next on the agenda were the society’s traditional toasts, as organized by Commissionaire Chris Music. They were offered to The Woman by Michael Ellis, Mrs. Hudson by Christine Del Greco, Mycroft Holmes by Bev Ellis and Watson’s Second Wife by Rob Musial.

In addition, there were three special toasts as Rich Krisciunas poetically saluted Mary Sutherland, Rob Musial honored Mr. Holmes on his birthday (explaining why January 6th was the actual day) and Brad Schwartz toasted Edgar Allen Poe, whose 1841 story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” featured literature’s first detective, C. Auguste Dupin.

With glasses drained, the assemblage dined on a fine buffet dinner of chicken Marsala, carved beef, roasted and mashed potatoes and vegetables al dente. Also included were slices of two special birthday cakes from the Chocolate Bar Café in Grosse Pointe Woods, one in the shape of Holmes’ pipe and the other in the shape of a deerstalker cap.

Once the gourmandizing concluded, Michael Ellis then went over the talking points and questions from the assigned story, “A Case of Identity,” which involved a typewriter, a near-sighted woman and a despicable suitor.

Then came Part One of the evening’s presentation – a discussion by Liza Potts, who is the caretaker of the information-packed website, Originally created back in 1994 by the venerable Chris Redmond, it was the first website devoted to The Master. Since 2016, Potts and her research fellows at Michigan State University have worked to update and reorganize it for ease of use and keep up with the ever-growing volume of Sherlockiana.

Strangely, Potts’ PowerPoint presentation mysteriously featured slides with red backgrounds – something she couldn’t account for – which either could have been a message from The Beyond from Mr. Holmes or merely the precursor to the super blood red wolf moon eclipse that peaked at midnight the next evening.

Spookiness aside, it was then time for Part Two of the evening’s presentation, the reading of a scene from a new play by David MacGregor of the Purple Rose Theatre, who last year premiered a play there involving Sherlock Holmes and Vincent Van Gogh that sold-out during its run.
The new play, set to premiere at the Purple Rose this fall, is entitled “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Soufflé,” which investigates an affair involving Holmes, Dr. Watson, the Prince of Wales and the legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier. 

The hastily-formed volunteer Mendicant Players enacting the scene included Rich Krisciunas as Holmes, Rob Musial as Dr. Watson and Rachel Gosch as Mrs. Hudson; all of whom are now waiting for a call-back from the Purple Rose.

With the meeting winding down, Gasogene John Kramb informed the group that a June meeting is being considered – with details to follow at a later date.

Christine Del Greco then handled the drawing for an exceptional offering of door prizes. The winners included John and Ann LaFond (who won an autographed copy of the book co-authored by Brad Schwartz, “Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness and the Battle for Chicago”); Fritzi Roth (a 221B fleece throw, perfect for cold winter nights); Chris Jeryan (“Sherlock Holmes’s London”); Joyce Hostnick (“Sherlock Holmes: The Story Behind the World’s Greatest Detective” by Time Inc.); David MacGregor (“The World of Sherlock Holmes”); Anne Musial (“Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2”); Natalie Katkowsky (a commemorative red canister set of three English teas) and Sherry Jurva (“Sherlock Holmes on Top of the World,” featuring an adventure from the time when Holmes portrayed the Norwegian explorer Sigerson).

Finally, there was the traditional singing of “God Save the Queen” and the reading of “221B” by Rob Musial, who first explained what the phrase “view-halloo” meant in the poem.

Following that, the Gasogene gaveled the meeting to a close at 9:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Rob Musial, AMS Tantalus