Sunday, February 03, 2008

Winter Meeting Report

Braving snowdrifts and freezing temperatures, 58 Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit members and their guests convened at the British Commonwealth Club in Warren, Michigan on February 2, 2008.

The annual winter dinner meeting of the AMS was called to order at 6:50 p.m. by Gasogene John Kramb, who briefly illuminated the evening’s action-packed agenda.

A roomfull of happy Sherlockians!
First, Tantalus Emeritus Ray Mandziuk shared information on two new publications, “The Quintessential Sherlock Holmes” by Richard Lewis Boyer and “The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes” by Andrew Lycett plus “Sherlock Holmes – Classic Radio Shows” from Nostalgia Ventures. He also endorsed the BBC TV series now out on DVD about another detective, “Prime Suspect,” starring Helen Mirren.

Mandziuk also informed the gathering about another Holmesian gathering – this year’s Dayton Symposium entitled “The Year of the Yard” being held in that Ohio city March 7-9. For info, call Cathy Gill @ 513-681-5507 or e-mail her at:

Gasogene Emeritus Roy Pilot, the evening’s speaker, also reminded the audience that Vincent Starrett’s “The Private of Lives of Sherlock Holmes” had recently been reprinted as had a book containing essays about that master Sherlockian collector, Richard Lancelyn Green.

As an Oscars-month surprise, the Beggar’s Cup awards for Sherlockian scholarship were awarded to authors of the best papers presented at an AMS meeting in the previous year. For the inaugural year, the handsome tin cups with engraved plates honored local scholars Michael Ellis, Esq., and Dr. David Mohan.

Recipients of this year's 'Beggar's Cup' awards for outstanding Sherlockian Scholarship - Michael Ellis and David Mohan
The awards serve as a reminder of the sterling rewards awaiting those whose serious study of the Canon result in papers presented at future meetings. So crack those books and get cracking.

As always, a series of toasts enlivened the evening, with salutes to Mycroft Holmes (by Michael Smith), Mrs. Hudson (Penny Griffin), Watson’s Second Wife (Sam Stinson), The Woman (Ray Mandziuk) and to Ezekiah Hopkins, the late millionaire from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who left his fortune to establish The Red-Headed League for the propagation of redheads everywhere (Jerry Alvin).
Jerry Alvin describes the tenuous link between John L. Sullivan and Ezekiah Hopkins of Lebanon, Pennsylvania - founder of the Red Headed League.

Gasogene Kramb then recognized Alvin with another surprise inaugural award, a framed and matted certificate bearing an authentic English coin, honoring former redhead Alvin for his years of meritorious service to the AMS.
Next, Kramb and Tantalus Robert Musial quizzed the assembled multitude on key points in the evening’s story, “The Second Stain,” which contained such Canonical conundrums as the location of Sussex Downs, how Eduardo Lucas came to be fingered in the case and why a certain lady didn’t just slip the letter back in the dispatch box and save everyone a lot of trouble.

That settled, attendees next enjoyed a hearty repast of roasted chicken, English steak pie, salad and more.
The highlight of an Amateur Mendicant Society event.... FOOD!

The meat of the evening came next as Gasogene Emeritus Pilot presented a learned paper on narcotics use in Victorian times. Drawing on years of research as a pharmacist, Pilot dissected the pharmacopeia of the times, from the famed seven-percent solution of cocaine to morphine and opium. As an added fillip, diners also got to munch on cookies baked by Anne Musial and dubbed “Opi-yums” for their poppy seed content.
Gasogene-emeritus Roy Pilot gives his excellent presentation on the use of narcotics in the 19th century.

With the presentation concluded, Al Calderini won the drawing for the first of four Sherlock Holmes marble tiles imprinted with a drawing by Sidney Paget.

The meeting concluded at 9:41 p.m. after Anne Musial and Dr. Mohan led the group in a rousing chorus of “God Save The Queen” and Commissionaire Chris Music read the famous poem, “221-B.”

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial