Monday, August 03, 2009

Summer Meeting Report


The Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit returned to familiar digs for its summer 2009 meeting – the British Commonwealth Club in suburban Warren, Mich.

The gathering was called to order at 7:17 p.m. on Saturday, July 18 by the society’s esteemed Gasogene John Kramb, who welcomed members and guests and introduced the AMS board members and notables in attendance.

Following announcements of Sherlockian news and upcoming events, the 39 attendees dug into a tasty buffet dinner of roast beef, chicken, potatoes and fixings.

During the meal, glasses were raised and the standard toasts were offered to The Woman (by Patience Nauta), Watson’s Second Wife (by Joyce Hostnik), Mrs. Hudson (by Ray Mandziuk) and Mycroft Holmes (by Regina Stinson). Longtime AMS member Jerry Alvin also offered a special toast to the benefactor of the Red-Headed League, the late Ezekiah Hopkins, the American millionaire from Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Next, AMS Commissionaire Chris Music briefly enumerated the key discussion points in the evening’s assigned reading, “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.”

Among the points were the possible identity of said Client and the background of said case, which first bubbled to the surface in a Turkish bath on Sept. 3, 1902, but didn’t appear in Collier’s magazine until 1924, due no doubt in part to some procrastination on Watson’s part.

Following the story discussion, AMS Tidewaiter Walter Young revealed the discovery of a previously-unknown and uncatalogued 71-year-old research paper that referenced Holmes and stressed how often the detective fiction of the day (and the actions of the detectives) defied actual law. Young graciously provided copies of the paper, written in 1928 by the mysterious author W.L. Johnston, so that these questions could be studied further.

Then, it was time for the main course of the evening’s program – an investigation by attorney Michael Ellis on that very point: How Holmes solved cases, nabbed the malefactors and what (likely) would have happened to them next.

Weaving in Sally Jesse Raphael, the so-called “poison tree” of admissible evidence and several of his own cases including a gruesome bow-and-arrow death in which a father was supposedly mistaken for an opossum, Ellis offered his astute legal perspectives and profound insights into the Master’s methods and their likely outcomes.

Following Ellis, Gasogene Kramb and Commissionaire Music ran the evening’s raffle which Lois Krawczyk won, taking home a copy of the pastiche ‘The Adventure of the Amateur Mendicant Society’ graciously donated by Phil Jones.

In quick succession, Commissionaire Music highlighted the society’s next meeting at an Indian restaurant on October 3. Amid other merriment at that meeting, AMS Lascar Richard Jeryan will reveal just what a lascar is and the society’s other officers will detail the meanings of their Odd Jobs, none of which involves throwing a steel-rimmed top hat at a certain British secret agent.

Speaking of Britain, the meeting concluded with the traditional singing of “God Save The Queen” and the reading of the poem “221B” by Dr. David Mohan.

Belatedly submitted,

Robert Musial, Tantalus


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