Monday, October 23, 2023

Fall Meeting Report

 The fall dinner meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit, held at the Commonwealth Club in Warren, MI, was called to order at 6:22 pm on October 7, 2023.

The society’s Gasogene John Kramb welcomed the 32 attendees and introduced the board members and planning committee and welcomed guest Marcia Griffka to the meeting.

Kramb then noted that AMS member Scott Monty hosts two Sherlockian-related productions – his long-running “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere” podcast and website and a newer, shorter offering called “Trifles.” One of the latest of that podcast detailed the founding of the Mendicants on April 26, 1946, at Detroit’s fabled Cliff Bell’s restaurant. 

Next up, the traditional Sherlockian toasts were offered to The Woman (by AMS Commissionaire Chris Music), to Mrs. Hudson (by Al Calderini), to Mycroft Holmes (by John Sherwood, with an assist from the artificial intelligence ChatGPT) and to Watson’s Second Wife (by Rich Krisciunas).

There was also a toast by Chris Music to remember the late Susan Rice, who had passed away in 2020. Rice was a member of the Baker Street Irregulars (like Scott, Regina, Chris and John Sherwood) and the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, formed before the BSI allowed women to join. When the BSI finally did admit women in 1991, Rice was one of the first six women invested. (Years earlier, she had formed a scion of students while teaching at Kingswood School at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, following a chance meeting with members of the AMS.)

The toasts concluded, the assembled multitude lined up at 6:55 p.m. for a buffet dinner of pasta, chicken and beef, a garden salad and beverages, topped off by a special yummy chocolate cake that had magically appeared from Kroger’s.

The next course of the evening began with Rich Krisciunas who supplied a short discussion on October’s timely story, “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.” In his talk, Krisciunas detailed the origins of vampires in literature and noted that Watson had written about this vampire a year before Bram Stoker’s creation. He also revealed another story in which Dracula was actually Moriarty and Holmes was Van Helsing.

Then came the evening’s main course, the presentation on “Detroit’s Black Widow: The Story of Anna Braun,” well-researched by Carol Voss and assisted by her husband Tom, a former Gasogene of the AMS in the 1980s. Digging deep into Victorian-era newspaper stories and census data, the Vosses detailed how Braun, an alleged serial killer, was accused of poisoning two of her husbands along with her sister-in-law, and yet managed to use the attitudes towards women in the Victorian era to evade prosecution. She continually changed her name and age throughout her eight marriages, before dying of appendicitis in 1926.  Chillingly, her seventh husband, who divorced her after 75 days of marriage and was not poisoned, was the great-grandfather of the AMS’s current Gasogene, John Kramb while her sixth husband was a first cousin, twice removed, of Voss, the former Gasogene.

With that eerie presentation over, Kramb later announced that the next Mendicant meeting would be Saturday, April 20, 2024, at the Commonwealth Club with Scott Monty offering the presentation, “Luck in the Canon.”  The assigned story will be “His Last Bow.”

Next, AMS Tidewaiter Chris Jeryan handled the drawing for the evening’s door prizes. The lucky winners included Don Sobolewski, Gerald Kelly, Rob Musial and Regina Stinson.

As the meeting drew to a close, all rose to sing “God Save the Queen,” Rob Musial delivered the traditional closing poem, “221B” and the meeting concluded at 9:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Rob Musial

AMS Tantalus