Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Fall Dinner Meeting Report

 A total of 32 stalwart members and guests attended the 76th anniversary dinner of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit, held October 1, 2022, at the Commonwealth Club in Warren, Michigan.

Gasogene John Kramb gaveled the evening to order at 6:15 p.m. and introduced the board members and planning committee. He also welcomed the first-time attendees who included Dan Sobolewski and Sandra Stadler. She would later buy the framed work of Sherlockiana brought to the meeting by Pat Mandziuk.

After dispensing with miscellaneous club business, Kramb introduced Commissionaire Chris Music who had organized the evening’s toasts, which have honored four characters in The Canon since the very first Mendicant meeting in 1946.

Toasting The Woman was Jim Conway, followed by the poetic Rich Krisciunas, who saluted Mrs. Hudson. Next, Bev Sobolewski raised a glass to Mycroft Holmes and Chris Music saluted Watson’s Second Wife. Recalling a longtime Mendicant tradition begun in the 1970s by the late Jerry Alvin, John Kramb then offered a toast to the Red-Headed League, founded by Ezekiah Hopkins, that late millionaire from Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Also noted were the Society’s two members of the esteemed national Baker Street Irregulars, Chris Music and Regina Stinson (who also founded the suburban scion, the Ribston-Pippins, who have scheduled their own meeting for Nov. 19).

Next, a bountiful buffet was served, consisting of herbed chicken, roast sirloin, potatoes, pasta, vegetables, salad and beverages. Following the meal, slices of a special dessert cake were dished up. The cake was emblazoned with “The Sign of the Four,” which was the evening’s assigned story.

Going over the fine and arcane points of the story was AMS Tantalus Rob Musial. He noted that the story had been commissioned by an American magazine publisher at an 1889 dinner at London’s finest hotel. At that dinner too was Oscar Wilde, who also agreed to write a story. Within a few months, Arthur Conan Doyle turned in “The Sign of the Four” and Wilde produced “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

Doyle’s story actually reached back to the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Among the reasons for that uprising was the fact that the pre-greased rifled cartridges used at the time had to be bitten to load the gunpowder. And the rumor was the grease used was either beef tallow which would offend the Hindu soldiers serving in the British army or pork lard which would offend the Muslim soldiers.

Bullets aside, the story – one of the four Holmes’ novels – is a tale of a double-cross and a revenge, packed with Hollywood-style elements – a one-legged man, a pygmy with a blowgun, a stolen treasure, a boat chase down the Thames – and the budding romance between Dr. Watson and Mary Morstan.

After that, came the evening’s main attraction, a scholarly yet entertaining paper by member Glenn Walters entitled “A.K.A. – The Aliases of The Canon.”

To enhance his presentation, Walters had the assembled crowd pick out aliases from the original 56 short stories and four novels starring Holmes. In addition, he passed out a prepared quiz on which names in The Canon were real or false, noting that even Holmes used false identities when needed.

When the spirited guessing and presentation concluded, Kramb revealed that the next AMS meeting would likely be in March of next year, due to the wintry conditions that had plagued some of the society’s previous meetings in January.

With the evening winding down, Christine DelGreco had names drawn for the evening’s door prizes and the winners were Chris Dale, Craig Garant and Glenn Walters. 

Following that, the members and guests stood to sing the anthem, “God Save the Queen” (Victoria, who was on the throne during much of Holmes’ active career).

Finally, the society’s Tidewaiter Christine Jeryan read the traditional poem, “221B” and Kramb adjourned the group at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial

AMS Tantalus