Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Spring Meeting Report

A "Ripping" Good Time

The spring 2011 meeting of The Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit was gaveled to order at 1:01 p.m. May 1 at the Bastone Brewery & Restaurant in the bucolic but trendy suburb of Royal Oak, Michigan.

Welcoming the 54 members and guests was Richard Jeryan, the society’s Lascar, filling in Gasogene John Kramb who was on assignment and believed to be taking part in some sort of special operation in Pakistan.

The meeting was held in the restaurant’s lower level, which reminded some that the original group of amateur mendicants, mentioned briefly in “The Orange Pips,” actually convened in the lower vault of a furniture warehouse.

After introducing board members and the planning committee, Lascar Jeryan welcomed the first-time attendees and reminded others about the necessity of paying their $12 annual dues which, for this meeting only, had been reduced to a more-affordable $12.

Mendicant Regina Stinson, who is also a member of the Baker Street Irregulars (BSI) and major domo of the small but scrappy scion known as the Ribston-Pippins of Royal Oak, was then recognized and invited attendees to her presentation on the films of Sherlock Holmes, set for the next evening at the Clawson Public Library.

Following Stinson, Commissionaire Chris Music reminded the multitude about the annual Dayton symposium on Holmes and Doyle, set for May 13-15 in Dayton, Ohio. Learned presentations, good fun, dandy memorabilia and more; for info, contact Cathy Gill at (513) 681-5507 or at

With preliminaries dispensed with, the Sunday dinner began with a choice of potato leek soup or a green salad, followed by either mustard glazed pork loin, fish and chips, chicken and orchiette pasta, pan-roasted salmon or steak frites and later, a full complement of desserts, including chocolate-covered strawberries, lime cheesecake shots, chocolate mousse shots or profiteroles. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

During the repast, the usual – and some special – toasts were offered. Among these were a salute to William and Kate, the newly-wed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (by Rob Musial); Irene Adler (Jim O’Keefe), Watson’s Second Wife (Ed Stein), Mrs. Hudson (Mary Louise Kramp), Mycroft Holmes (Regina Stinson, with a sonnet she composed and read at a BSI gathering a few years ago) and of course, in honor of May Day and the carrot-topped everywhere, a toast to the founder of the Red-Headed League, the late millionaire from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, one Ezekiah Hopkins (by Jerry Alvin).

Member Anne Musial then held the meeting’s drawing, in which member O’Keefe won a detailed miniature porcelain model of a Victorian-era hansom cab, donated by the Lascar and wife Chris Jeryan.

Taking note of the 65th year of the Mendicants with a “History Minute from the Archives,” Commissionaire Music then detailed how the society had, in January 1954, erected a plaque in St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, England – a plaque which commemorated the very first meeting of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Intrepid sleuthing by Music revealed that the plaque was recently moved to a very visible spot in the museum of St. Bart’s, the city’s oldest hospital which dates to the 12th Century.

Next, society Tantalus Musial offered background on and questions about the meeting’s assigned story, “The Cardboard Box,” which so scandalized Victorians with its depiction of murder and adultery that it wasn’t reprinted in book form until 24 years after it first appeared in the Strand magazine.

Then, member Brad Schwartz served up the meeting’s main course, a presentation entitled “Two Suspicious Characters – Or in Defense of the Deerstalker. This learned lecture and PowerPoint presentation proved, thanks to a careful analysis of illustrations in an issue of the London Evening News in 1888, that Holmes and Watson likely assisted in ending the deadly depredations of Jack the Ripper, that infamous scourge of London’s grimy East End.

After the presentation, the Commissionaire said plans are underway for the next meeting, likely in August or September; details to follow.

Wrapping things up, members Anne Musial, Gayle Conway and Dr. David Mohan led the singing of “God Save the Queen,” O’Keefe closed the proceedings by reciting the traditional poem “221B” and the meeting adjourned at 3:44 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial
AMS Tantalus