Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Winter Meeting Report

The annual winter meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit occurred on January 6, 2018 – which was also the 164th anniversary of the birthday of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. The venue was the Society’s traditional home, the British Commonwealth Club of Detroit in suburban Warren, Michigan.

Gasogene John Kramb called the meeting to order at 6:42 p.m. and greeted the 52 members and guests, among them Taylor Card, welcoming all and introducing the club’s planning committee.
Receiving a special welcome was David Mandziuk, attending in honor of his late father, Ray, one of the reorganizers who brought the society back from its somnambulant hiatus in 1999.

Borrowing a page from the Baker Street Journal, Kramb quoted from the final Holmesian adventure “His Last Bow” in which Holmes bids goodbye, saying “Stand with me here upon the terrace…” and which the Journal uses to note prominent Sherlockians who have recently passed away. Remembered in the moment of silence besides Ray Mandziuk were Mendicants Thomas Dobbke, Walter Young and Larry Katkowsky as well as longtime Commonwealth Club volunteer and hostess Bessie Smith.

The traditional toasts were also offered up, with The Woman being saluted by Al Calderini; Mrs. Hudson being honored in a call-and-response by Scott Monty, Mycroft Holmes being toasted by Christine Jeryan and Watson’s Second Wife as saluted by Rob Musial.

There was also the traditional extra toast offered by Jerry Alvin, this time in memory of the composer Vivaldi, nicknamed “the red priest,” which of course recalled Ezekiah Hopkins, the late millionaire from Lebanon, Pennsylvania who so bountifully provided for the Red-Headed League.

Then Kramb made a special presentation, a framed certificate of appreciation (complete with an English tuppence) for salutary service to the society’s Tantalus, Rob Musial.  Though surprised, Musial was able to offer the final toast, which explained the convoluted and some would say spurious scholarship that led to January 6th being recognized as Holmes’ birthday, though his biographer Dr. Watson or Watson’s literary agent Arthur Conan Doyle, never provided the actual date.

After the Twelfth Night repast which included rib-eye roast, roast chicken, green beans, roasted potatoes, salad, and desserts, highlighted by a specially-prepared sumptuous Sherlockian birthday cake from the Chocolate Bar Café in Grosse Pointe Woods, the evening continued.

Next, guest and playwright David McGregor noted two upcoming Sherlockian stage plays of note, the world premiere of his work, “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Elusive Ear,” at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan from March 29 through May 26 – and “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” at the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, August 1 through October 27.
Quizmaster Michael Ellis then queried the assembly on their knowledge of the evening’s story, “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange,” with Chris Jeryan scoring the winning total.

The main course was the evening’s presentation, “Sherlock Holmes: January’s Child,” by Mendicant Michael Jones. This scholarly paper took a deep dive into Holmes’ personality, investigating if, by today’s standards, the Great Detective could be considered a manic depressive, someone with bi-polar condition, a high-functioning sociopath (as Benedict Cumberbatch proclaims the character to be in the popular BBC show “Sherlock”) or perhaps someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Whatever the diagnosis, Jones concluded that Holmes’ sometimes eccentric and odd behavior also helped make him a force for good and someone to be admired.

With the presentation concluded, Kramb revealed that the Society’s next meeting would be in June, with a presentation by Brad Schwartz that investigates the possible connections between Holmes’ and the 1930s crime-fighter Elliot Ness. More details will be forthcoming.

As the meeting drew to a close, Anne Musial and Gayle Conway led the multitude in the traditional singing of “God Save the Queen;” Rob Musial offered the traditional closing poem, “221B” by Vincent Starrett and Kramb gaveled the meeting to a close at 9:02 p.m.

Belatedly submitted,
Robert Musial, AMS Tantalus