Saturday, February 04, 2012

Winter Meeting Report

The Adventure at the Commonwealth Club
A light dusting of snow failed to stop 64 stalwart Amateur Mendicants and friends from attending the society’s January 28, 2012 meeting at the British Commonwealth Club in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan.

Gasogene John Kramb called the meeting to order at 7:07 p.m., welcoming members and guests to one of the best-attended meetings in the 66 year history of the AMS.

Following brief introductions of AMS board members and the planning committee, Kramb sought to quiet the souvenir seekers in the crowd by enumerating the availability of club badges, shirts and hats courtesy of member Gloria Longueil. As a way to encourage the presentations that AMS meetings have become known for, Kramb also ruled that, from now on, anyone presenting a scholarly paper during a meeting will be excused from paying for his or her own meal.

Members and guests also took the opportunity to improve their collections and pass on duplicate holdings during the evening-long Sherlockian Swap Meet. Among the stand-out swag being offered were rare books, videos and photos as well as a singular collection of the very first issues of the Baker Street Journal.

During the evening’s tasty repast – a buffet of roast beef, roast chicken, mashed and au gratin potatoes plus a salad, vegetables and more – various toasts organized by Commissionaire Chris Music were offered in accordance with the society’s long-standing tradition. Glasses were raised to The Woman (by Mark Diehl), Watson’s Second Wife (by Tidewaiter Ed Stein),
Mycroft Holmes (Bobbi Gorevitz) and to the founder of the Red-Headed League,
the late millionaire from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, one Ezekiah Hopkins (offered
as always by Jerry Alvin).

Salutations were also made to Holmes’ 158th Birthday (by Rob Musial), who also toasted three actors who in 2011 took their Last Bow – the late John Neville and Nicol Williamson, both of whom who played Holmes on the big screen and the late Edward Hardwicke, who was such a perfect Dr. Watson to Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock on the small screen.

To further celebrate Holmes’ natal day, dessert included slices of a one-of-a-kind creation, a cake shaped like a large book of Sherlockian tales, specially baked and frosted by the Chocolate Bar Café in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Scott Monty, who edits the Baker Street Blog ( which is “the definitive site for news and info about Sherlock Holmes in popular culture,” then served up news about the upcoming second season of BBC’s “Sherlock” which is due to air on PBS starting May 6th.

Among his revelations: The second season, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a 21st Century Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, will consist of three episodes: “A Scandal in Belgravia,” “The Hounds of Baskerville” and “The Reichenbach Fall.” In other news for which the world is
not prepared, he also revealed that, in England, Benedict’s groupies have come to be known as “Cumberbunnies.”

The evening also saw the annual awarding of the AMS Beggar’s Cup for the best presentation given during the preceding year. Taking home the coveted cup was Brad Schwartz. Using investigative legwork and recently-discovered drawings from the Illustrated London News,
he proved that Holmes and Watson were actively hunting Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel during his murder spree. In fact, the drawings Schwartz uncovered actually offer the first objective proof of Holmes’ involvement in the Ripper investigation.

Next, Commissionaire Music gave the Mendicant History Minute which detailed the scions spun off from the AMS over its proud 66 year history. They included Mary Morstan’s Companions (a female scion necessitated by the Mendicants’ male-only membership in its early days), the Napoleons of Crime and finally, the shadowy cabal known only as Moriarty’s Allied Friends in America (MAFIA), whose members are dangerous and believed to be still-at-large.

Because a careful reading of the Sacred Canon is an integral part of any Sherlockian scion, Gasogene Kramb next led the group through a pop quiz-styled discussion of the main and minor points of this event’s assigned story, “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton,” all about a master blackmailer whose career concluded with a bang (or several bangs, actually).

The true main course of the evening was the presentation entitled “Edith Meiser, Sherlock Holmes and the Detroit Connection.” In it, member Michael Ellis detailed the career of a talented and beautiful local doyenne, who dabbled in Detroit and Broadway theater, wrote hundreds of Sherlockian tales for radio in the 1930s and 1940s and who was, among other
things, one of the first female members of the BSI.

As the meeting drew to a close, the raffles were held and Donna Garant won the Sherlock Holmes pub sign and Gayle Mayer won the three-volume annotated Holmes, authored by Leslie Klinger and donated by member Phil Jones.

Members Anne Musial and Gayle Conway then led the assembly in the traditional singing of “God Save the Queen” and the meeting concluded with the reading of poem, “221B” by Musial.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial
AMS Tantalus


At 8:07 PM, Anonymous buddy2blogger said...

Brett was a very masterly Holmes. The Granada series with Jeremy Brett is one of the best adaptations of Sherlock Holmes ever.

Have you read the book "Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes" by David Stuart Davies. This book is a must read for fans of the Granada adaptation and/or Jeremy Brett.


At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Daniyal said...

Nice post thanks for shaaring

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Nancy Hayes Benefiel said...

Many, many years ago, my dad , Frederic Hayes, was a member of the Amateur Mendicants. This would have been from the early 50’s on. I remember Russ Mclachlin and Bill Rabe very clearly. I especially remember We never mention Aunt Clara. I still have an old LP and a CD of Voices from Baker Street. I am thrilled you guys are still going strong.


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