Monday, November 11, 2019

October Meeting Report

On a mild autumn night, 39 Mendicants and friends gathered at the British Commonwealth Club in still-leafy Warren, Michigan, for their annual fall dinner meeting.

With a hearty welcome, society Gasogene John Kramb called the multitude to order at 6:17 p.m. and began the familiar round of introductions of the society’s board members and the evening’s first-time guests.

Though the society was founded in 1946 and returned from its latest hiatus in 2000, Kramb noted that these were somewhat trying times for the group. For one thing, the society’s regular haunt, the Commonwealth Club, finds itself with fewer volunteers these days to staff such special evenings.

Also, the society’s attendance has slipped somewhat from a regular draw of more than 50 at such outings to its present day count. Several suggestions from the floor were made on ways to increase attendance and all are being considered, as is the idea to reduce the meetings to twice a year.
The decrease in attendance also affects what the club bills the society as it needs to charge a minimum to cover its expenses.

Consequently, the society also sought members’ opinions on whether to increase annual dues to $5 or $10. The results of that survey will be communicated soon.

With this unpleasantness out of the way, it was time to enjoy the club’s buffet dinner, which included chicken Marsala, a veddy English cut of prime roast beef plus mashed potatoes, green beans, corn and a selection of desserts.

Throughout the meal, the society’s regular toasts, organized by Commissionaire Chris Music, were offered. Fritzi Roth toasted “The Woman” (and enumerated the reasons she was so). Rachel Gosch recognized “Mrs. Hudson” as the brave landlady while Eddie Stein raised his glass to “Mycroft Holmes,” Sherlock’s older (and less ambulatory) brother. And finally, Glenn Walter’s offered his own poetic creation about “Watson’s Second Wife.”

Next, member Michael Ellis offered talking points and an expansive 20-question quiz on the evening’s assigned story, “The Adventures of the Devil’s Foot.” The quiz was developed by one of Michigan’s other Sherlockian scions, the Greek Interpreters of East Lansing.

Then it was time for the volunteer Amateur Mendicant Players to take the stage to provide a reading of the new play, “Sherlock Holmes & The Adventure of the Fallen Soufflé,” written by member David MacGregor and currently being performed at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan. The players included MacGregor as Holmes, Rachel Gosch as Irene Adler, Michael Jones as Prince Bertie, Rob Musial as Dr. Watson and Victoria Landes as the evil Marie. Those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the performance even though the understudies at the Purple Rose should have nothing to worry about.

The meat of the evening came next as member Rich Krisciunas, drawing on his 40 years as a lawyer and his work as a former county prosecutor, presented his investigation titled “No Obstruction but Much Collusion.” In it, he made the case (in spite of a balky PowerPoint) that while Holmes may have broken laws here and there in the Canon (among them burglary and carrying a weapon), the likelihood of his being convicted was slim. Perhaps the only way to get Holmes in the stocks would have been if Dr. Watson was granted immunity to testify against his friend – and the chances of that were zero.

As the meeting wound down, the regular drawing for a bounty of door prizes were awarded, including Sherlock Holmes socks, books, a poster and a DVD featuring actor Christopher Lee as the great detective. Among the winners were Chris Music, Anne Musial Eddie Stein, Dave Mandziuk, Patience Nauta, Lois Krawczyk and Dave MacGregor.

Finally, Rachel Gosch led the multitude in the singing of “God Save the Queen” and Christine Jeryan recited the meeting’s traditional coda, the poem “221B.”

Following that, Gasogene Kramb gaveled the meeting to a close at 8:39 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robert Musial
-- AMS Tantalus