Friday, February 19, 2016

Winter Meeting Report

Report of the February 6, 2016 meeting of 
The Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit

The first meeting in the 70th anniversary year of The Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit was held on the evening of February 6, 2016 at the British Commonwealth Club in the Detroit suburb of Warren. (The original society of course was mentioned briefly in the Canonical tale, “The Five Orange Pips,” where chronicler Dr. John Watson noted that it maintained “a luxurious club in the lower vault of a furniture warehouse.” The Detroit group however has always been above-board.)

Upon calling the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m., Gasogene John Kramb welcomed the 56 members and guests and introduced the AMS board members, planning committee members and guests. Those attending for the first time included Paul Bissa, Josh Boggs and Jill Young.

As a sumptuous buffet of chicken Marsala, roast beef, pasta Alfredo and all the fixings was being readied and served, the traditional toasts were offered to The Woman (by Mike Smith), Mycroft Holmes (by Dennis Petroni), Watson’s Second Wife (by Brad Schwartz) and Mrs. Hudson (by Fritzi Roth).

In addition, longtime Mendicant Jerry “Red” Alvin wove a toast to natural redhead Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacky Colliss Harvey (author of “Red: A History of the Redhead”) and of course to Ezekiah Hopkins, the late millionaire from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who so amply provided for the maintenance of the Red-Headed League.

Society Tantalus Rob Musial also bid the throng to raise their glasses to Mr. Holmes himself on the occasion of his 162nd birthday on the eve of Super Bowl 50 – or “L” for those of you who still count in Latin. The toast succinctly detailed the painstaking and meticulous scholarship that went into setting January 6, 1854 as Holmes’ natal day. As part of the celebration, a special birthday cake in the shape of the front door of 221B Baker Street was sliced and served.

With the completion of dinner, Commissionaire Chris Music briefly went over the discussion points for the evening’s assigned reading, “The Adventure of the Wisteria Lodge,” a tale in which a client comes to Holmes and Watson after a most singular evening involving voodoo – and murder.

Then, in the tradition of the first meeting of the year, Musial presented the society’s highest honor, the Beggar’s Cup award, given annually to the member who made what was deemed to be the best presentation to the club during the preceding year. That cup this year went to John Sherwood, who, as an actor, has portrayed Holmes for more than 30 years.

This was followed by a surprise presentation during this 70th anniversary year of special Beggar’s Cups to both Gasogene Kramb and Commissionaire Music for their efforts for the club over the past decade.

Then came the evening’s main event, the presentation “Will the Real Mrs. Hudson Please Stand Up,” by Michael Jones, who drew on textural criticism to consider the question of just who the most famous landlady in literature was (and if she existed at all). Being a pastor, Jones noted that the first Sherlockian scholarship was crafted in 1928 by Monsignor Ronald Knox. Both men of the cloth were well-suited to divining clues, facts and contradictions from their close readings of ancient texts, be it the Bible or the Holmesian Canon.

When Jones was finished, Gasogene Kramb stood to remind the multitude that a special meeting commemorating the official 70th anniversary of the Mendicants was being planned, likely in April. Details will be forthcoming as they are finalized.

Anne Musial then conducted the drawing for the door prizes. Michael Clyne won the Sherlock Holmes in London book; Brad Schwartz took home the Sherlock Holmes action figure; Thomas Biblewski won the Holmes video game and Fritzi Roth garnered the (assembled) Sherlockian jig-saw puzzle, a gift of Ray and Pat Mandziuk.

With that, Anne Musial and Gayle Conway led the room in the traditional singing of “God Save The Queen, Tidewaiter Ed Stein read the closing poem, “221B,” and Gasogene Kramb gaveled the meeting to a close at 9:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial
AMS Tantalus