Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June Meeting Report

Though thunderstorms postponed part of the Detroit Grand Prix events earlier in the day, 46 stalwart Sherlockians convened at the veddy British Commonwealth Club on Saturday, June 1st for the annual spring meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.

The meeting was called to order at 6:20 p.m. by the society’s Gasogene, John Kramb, who welcomed the lively crowd and introduced the planning committee and board members.

After encouraging those in attendance to bring a friend to the fall meeting, Kramb reminded the audience that the society had to confirm the headcount of those who paying for the dinner meetings a week in advance. “Future credits” will no longer be allowed and the membership supported this change.

The Gasogene also reminded folks to alert Bev Ellis of any email changes so members do not miss any of the society’s announcements.

Kramb next acknowledged the members of the society’s Lower Vault, a select group of those who have served the AMS as officers or planning committee members and those who have done scholarly (or not-so-scholarly) presentations at the meetings.

Members then observed a moment of silence “on the terrace” for longtime Mendicant Elaine Roberts, who had recently passed away at 99 and who had likely been the society’s longest-attending member. She was a gracious, lovely lady and her memorial service was set for 2 p.m. June 6th at St. Philip Episcopal Church in Rochester Hills.

Next came the evening’s traditional toasts, with Rich Krisciunas honoring “The Woman,” Al Calderini raising a glass to Mrs. Hudson, John Sherwood offering a very well-received toast to Mycroft Holmes and Jim O’Keefe saluting Watson’s Second Wife.

Along with the toasts, the attendees also enjoyed the evening’s repast – a tossed salad, chicken Marsala, ginger pork, roasted potatoes, veggies and dessert.

Following the meal, member Michael Ellis took the podium to provide the talking points on the evening’s story, “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. Informative and witty, Ellis reviewed the story involving Ecsott, Agatha and the so-called “king of blackmailers” who kept his salacious material in a green-and-gold safe. Holmes and Watson were on the case until fate stepped in and played hand – leaving Holmes to turn down Inspector Lestrade’s request for help, since Holmes believed blackmail to be a worse crime than murder.

That served as the introduction to the evening’s presentation by member Scott Monty, B.S.I., and his investigation into “A Powerful Ring of Blackmailers.” Scott’s presentation noted that Holmes had dealt with 50 murderers in his career before the Milverton case, “but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion which I have for this fellow.”

Monty then briefly elucidated the history of the word “blackmail” before bringing the term into Holmes’ era – “an age when one’s reputation was everything (and) blackmail was the ultimate insidious crime.”  He then reviewed the ten instances in the Canon in which blackmail is a factor – or first thought to be a factor. The members correctly guessed each one, which Monty later attributed to either their familiarity with the Canon or their experience with blackmail.

Next up, the AMS Players, organized by Chris Jeryan, read a scene originally from a 1939 radio broadcast that featured one of the consummate Sherlocks, Basil Rathbone, in the lead role. Ably donning Holmes’ shoes was our own Bev Sobolewski with Al Calderini as Watson. The reading was enthusiastically received by the membership.

With the evening winding down, the Gasogene then announced that the fall meeting of the AMS would be Saturday, October 19th at the Commonwealth Club. So save that date!

A panoply of prizes were next awarded, under the direction of Christine Del Greco. They included British tea cups & boxes of tea, a Sherlock Holmes consulting detective game, a silver Sherlockian charm bracelet, the book “Prisoner of the Devil” by Michael Hardwick (detailing Holmes’ efforts in the Dreyfus Case) and finally, a pair of Sherlockian socks, direct from England and bearing the Master’s silhouette.

The lucky winners included Elaine Johnson, Bob Jurva, Rich Krisciunas, David MacGregor, Dave Mandziuk and George Vanderburgh.

Following that, the assembled multitude stood for the traditional singing of “God Save the Queen” and the poem “221B” was read by Commissionaire Chris Music.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m. – to applause.

Respectfully submitted,
Christine Del Greco & Rob Musial
-- for the AMS


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