ASHes to Ashes
|LAST NAME||FIRST NAME||DEPARTURE DATE||INVESTITURE YEAR||INVESTITURE||HONORS||READ MORE|
|Adams||Kathleen||02/01/1992||1976||Mary Morstan||CLICK HERE|
|Aig||Marlene||04/25/1996||1977||Mrs. Turner||MBt||CLICK HERE|
|Baring-Gould||William S.||08/11/1967||1991||The Blue Swirl of His Tobacco Smoke||BSI, 2s||CLICK HERE|
|Bousquet||Robert J. "Bob"||02/10/2016||2014||“A de Reszke Brother”||CLICK HERE|
|Brandes||Barbara Ann||12/21/2004||1983||Edith Presbury||CLICK HERE|
|Campbell||Mary||03/17/2003||1983||Mrs. Merrilow||BSI, MBt||CLICK HERE|
|Dean||Nancy Minogue||05/12/2019||2008||A Disreputable Statuette||CLICK HERE|
|Diamond||Susan||04/25/2019||1992||The Lone Star||BSI||CLICK HERE|
|Dodd Flynn||Patricia||05/27/2016||1975||Agatha||CLICK HERE|
|Halm||Beverly||05/04/2014||1981||Mrs. Allen||CLICK HERE|
|Hartsoe||Eileen||06/28/1998||1988||Dr. Jackson||CLICK HERE|
|Heinrich||Helen||06/11/2005||1977||Lady Hilda Trelawney Hope||CLICK HERE|
|Henry||Margaret||09/08/2017||1979||Mrs. Barrymore||CLICK HERE|
|Hoffman||Margaret||08/01/2000||1983||The Hoffman Barcarolle||CLICK HERE|
|Irish||Martha||08/22/2015||1986||Miss Minnie Warrender||CLICK HERE|
|Janda||Anita||12/07/2006||2005||Modesty among the Virtues||CLICK HERE|
|Jones-Jennes||Lisa||12/01/1986||AMC||Isadora Klein||CLICK HERE|
|Judge||Ann||10/05/1995||1985||Julia Stoner||CLICK HERE|
|Kraemer||Betty Jane||01/07/2007||1981||Mary Maberley||CLICK HERE|
|MacGregor||Marilyn Elna||09/16/2020||1994||Elizabeth Baskerville||BSI||CLICK HERE|
|Mahoney||Gertrude||05/01/2002||1979||Elsie Cubitt||CLICK HERE|
|McGaw||Lisa||12/22/1989||1981||The Trained Cormorant||BSI, 2s, The Woman||CLICK HERE|
|Moran||Patricia||03/12/1996||AMC||Patience Moran||BSI||CLICK HERE|
|Moran||Joseph W.||02/18/2014||2008||An Honourable Soldier||BSI||CLICK HERE|
|Offord||Lenore Glen||04/24/1991||1981||The Old Russian Woman||BSI||CLICK HERE|
|Pearlman||Patricia “Trish”||05/26/2006||2003||A Curious Collection||CLICK HERE|
|Peller||Rivkah||06/22/2015||1977||Maggie Oakshott||CLICK HERE|
|Pollack||Dorothy Belle||06/16/2014||1979||Violet Westbury||CLICK HERE|
|Rice||Susan||09/28/2020||1981||A Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with Some Observations Upon the Segregation of the Queen||BSI, 2s||CLICK HERE|
|Riezenman||Michael||01/27/2014||2011||The Right Honourable Trelawney Hope||CLICK HERE|
|Shaw||Dorothy Rowe||11/24/1999||1977||Mrs. Hudson||The Woman||CLICK HERE|
|Shaw||John Bennett||10/02/1994||1991||Arcadia||BSI, 2s||CLICK HERE|
|Skene Melvin||Ann||04/09/2003||1979||Beryl Garcia||MBt||CLICK HERE|
|Stauber||Jan||10/07/2005||2000||Hotel du Louvre, Paris||CLICK HERE|
|Stix, Jr.||Thomas L.||09/09/1998||1991||Shag||BSI, 2s||CLICK HERE|
|Swift||M. Francine Morris||10/10/2007||1977||Hatty Doran||BSI, The Woman||CLICK HERE|
|Tinning||Adeline Skillman||06/23/2008||1983||The Duchess of Holdernesse||CLICK HERE|
|Ulan Van Buskirk||Barbara Iris||08/30/2006||1975||Violet Smith||CLICK HERE|
|Utecht||Thom David||11/09.2018||2008||Montague Street||BSI||CLICK HERE|
|Van der Flaes||C. Maureen Green||10/17/2006||1979||Mary Sutherland||BSI, MBt, The Woman||CLICK HERE|
|Wachs||Glorya||02/15/2015||2005||A Bijou Villa||CLICK HERE|
|Walsh||Margaret||07/07/2005||1995||The Third Cab||The Woman||CLICK HERE|
|Willis||Lynn||03/08/1999||1977||Laura Lyons||CLICK HERE|
Many Adventuresses have left us their courage, their wit, and their incandescence… They were luminous and they were conductors of light—lightness of heart and of spirit. Carlos Fuentes recently said that to deal with loss, “you bring the person you love inside you…you make her live within you.” So let us remember our dear ones who were bright and loving and, in the spirit of valediction, vow to keep their memory green—et lux perpetua luceat eis et nobis. (M.E. Rich, ASH, BSI)
KATHLEEN ADAMS (ALVAREZ), ASH
by Pat Moran
We deeply regret to announce the death of Kate Adams (or Kate Alvarez, as we first knew her in the mid-70s). Energy, kindliness, humor, and generosity characterized her. Invested as our “Mary Morstan“, Kate was a staunch Watsonian. No ASH dinner she attended went without a proper toast to the good doctor and, when she moved beyond commuting distance, her influence ensured that the toasts were continued by other right-minded members.
In the world, Kate was a nurse, a demanding profession. Characteristically, she was attempting to help the victim of a traffic accident when she was herself struck and killed. The world can’t afford to lose a person like her, and neither can we. Our sympathy goes to her family, especially her son Josh. She will be missed.
MARLENE AIG, ASH, MBt
Marlene Aig (Mrs Turner to ASH) a noted journalist and stalwart of the New York Sherlockian scene, died in late April 1996, aged 43. Her concrete memorial is the anthology A Singular Set of People, which she and David Galerstein edited for Magico in 1990, but she’ll be remembered by many as a good friend. Marlene was one of the original Occupants of the Full House. A fortuitous typo in the Associated Press report called her “an award-wining journalist.” She’d have liked that.
–Roger Johnson, in The District Messenger,
The Newsletter of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London
No. 160, 15th May 1996
Marlene Aig embodied the Adventuress spirit through her award-winning journalism, her trip to the North Pole, and her zest for life. Two of her closest friends remind those of us who knew her of the friend we’ve lost and those who didn’t know her of what they’ve missed. These remarks appeared in The Serpentine Muse vol 13, no. 1, 1996.
GOOD NIGHT, MARLENE
My dear Marlene,
As you well know, despite my best intentions and your constant encouragement, I have never before submitted a contribution to The Muse. And now, having been an ASH for some fifteen years, it is with a heavy heart that I submit something which I never expected or wanted to write.
There was no wind coming on April 25, 1996, east or otherwise. The only cold and bitter blast I felt was the news that a ruptured aneurysm swept you away from us – forever. For days to come, I was reading the various writings about you – all written by your professional colleagues, all praising you as a reporter, as a loving and beloved friend, as a wonderful human being. You, who believed so strongly in accurate reporting, would have been pleased. Instead of repeating what has been so aptly and appropriately said before, I’d rather have a quiet talk with you.
My thoughts keep wandering to a happier April, seventeen years ago – my first ASH dinner. I know that was when we first met though it seem that you have always been a fixed point in my life. Your warm smile under a lot of bright red curls (all of them natural!) and your trademark constant chattering invited affection. I was impressed – you were already an ASH. Mrs. Turner (after all these years, it is still not clear to me why you chose this particular investiture – you said something about how she appeared once and was never mentioned again).
Ours was a friendship at first sight, a friendship that grew far beyond matters Sherlockian. There were hours, even days when we didn’t mention Holmes at all. Soon after our first meeting you asked me to share a room with you at “Autumn in Baker Street” and, slightly blushing, confided that you had this “bizarre” habit of always sleeping with the lights and TV on. (I saw nothing bizarre about this since I do exactly the same.) And that’s how we became perfect roommates. In addition, you didn’t mind that I smoked and I didn’t mind that you got up at the crack of dawn to work out at the gym. (Now, in my opinion, the latter is a bizarre habit!)
Our travels through the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands were always filled with fun and laughter and provided the opportunity for leisurely discussions of our favorite topics: our nieces (becoming an aunt, twice, was the happiest adventure of your life), our amorous adventures (in our case, somehow they always turned into misadventures), Sherlock Holmes and Sherlockians (of course), occasionally some gossip (always well-meaning), our apartments (decorated in the same style), and the main obsession we shared – our beloved cats. It was during one of these long talks that the whimsical Sherlockian society of “The Canonical Capricorns” was conceived. (Our dear friend and the society’s third co-founder, Peter Crupe, will add a few of his thoughts in a postscript).
I am trying hard to accept the fact that I can no longer continue sharing so many of my favorite things with you. All I can continue to do is to love you and miss you. Good night, Marlene. As always and forever, we’ll leave the lights on.
P.S. Those weekend matinees aren’t the same without you. Of course, nothing is the same. You’ve left us all with a big gap, hard to fill, in the world of Sherlock Holmes. I’m still musically obsessed and football-crazed as ever. By the way, is there football in heaven? I certainly hope so. Remember, you’ll always be missed and never forgotten.
WILLIAM S. BARING-GOULD, ASH, BSI, 2s
The Blue Swirl of His Tobacco-Smoke (BSI: The Gloria Scott)
by Patricia Moran
The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes began with a group of students at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut in 1966. Along with the Doubleday Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Journal, Baring-Gould’s Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street was an indispensable Sherlockian sourcebook for the “founding five.” In February of the next year, close Canonical readings and erudite discussion resulted in a somewhat truculent fan letter to William S. Baring-Gould. Beginning “Dear Sir, You Cur,” we quoted his own criticisms of Watson’s time sense against him and complained about a discrepancy in his dating in Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. If, according to his calculations, Holmes and Irene Adler were together in Montenegro in June through August of 1891 (nine months after which was March through May 1892)—and if this sojourn did indeed produce a son—what about the note in the “Chronological Holmes” of the “Birth of a son to Irene Adler at her girlhood home near Hoboken, New Jersey” in “Late 1892”? A fifteen-month gestation period? Or another liaison for Irene after her rendezvous with Holmes? What a slur on Miss Adler! We demanded satisfaction.
And we got it, sort of. By return mail we were greeted: “Dear Ladies: You seem to have caught me with my dates down.” Mr. Baring-Gould presented a revised account of the consequences of the Holmes-Adler menage, involving a longer sojourn in Montenegro, the birth (after the due nine-months period) of twin sons to Irene, and the subsequent marriage of Irene Adler to a man named Vukcic. These facts were soon to be released to the world in Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street. His wry compliment, “With amazing feminine intuition, you have come close to putting your fingers on a vital piece of information,” was a challenge to further correspondence. Of course, we wrote back to thank him—the beginning of a (for us) delightful correspondence which lasted until the sad news of his death in August of 1967.
The highlight of the acquaintance was our first extramural Sherlockian activity. On Tuesday, March 7, 1967 we met Baring-Gould for dinner at Asti’s in Manhattan. (We were hoping that their opera-singing waiters would perform a suitably Sherlockian or Adlerian selection). We enjoyed lively conversation, at times conducted fortissimo to overcome the operatic background noises. (The music stopped: five earnest voices were heard in chorus declaiming: “Sidney Greenstreet!”) As we rose to go, B-G pointed to the exhausted wine bottle and inquired, “Who gets the baby?” Seven pairs of eyes turned as one to Linda [Patterson], who accepted the memento with restrained dignity. Bill Baring-Gould was the first active Sherlockian we met, and it’s impossible to say how much his kindness and encouragement meant to us.
Remarks at Presentation at Culinary Institute 4 May 1991 by Evelyn Herzog, Principal Unprincipled Adventuress:
…Without losing sight of the historical fact that first one and later two women were BSI members for some years (and ASH members, as well), many Adventuresses often expressed their extreme willingness to see the BSI become a co-educational organization. As you all well know, on 12 January of this year that happy day arrived, when Wiggins of the BSI inducted half a dozen surprised but deeply gratified women into that organization. Now that the excitement has somewhat abated and a more mellow frame of mind has returned, I would like to take this opportunity to look back and honor here tonight some people who have been of singular importance to the Adventuresses.
I pause here for a word about ASH investitures. Ordinarily a new member chooses a name from among the females of the Canon — the definition of “female” being taken, um, broadly. That is, we have as our investitures the names of women and children, ships, books, works of art, and manifestations of nature. However, we can perceive another way — a very Canonical way — of making an ash of oneself; proving indisputably that gender is not destiny and that ASHes are made, not born.
…a few words for someone who is here only in spirit. The learned and impish William S. Baring-Gould was the first Sherlockian to encourage ASH — before it even was ASH. I would like to offer to Ceil Baring-Gould an ASH pin and ask her to accept on behalf of her late husband a card which commemorates him as that which remains when even the ash is gone, namely, “The Blue Swirl of His Tobacco Smoke.”
“A de Reszke Brother”
by Robert S. Katz
Bob died on February 10, 2016. Born in Queens, New York City, Bob was a long time resident of New Jersey. He was an educator who specialized in testing, as well as an adjunct professor at several area colleges.
He was one of the earliest members of The Epilogues of Sherlock Holmes and attended meetings regularly. Known for his wit and extensive reading, Bob enlightened Sherlockian gatherings throughout the NY/NJ metropolitan area. Out-going and friendly, he always had a joke at hand but retained a serious and deep interest in the Canon. A frequent contributor to The Serpentine Muse, both Bob’s articles and his ASH investiture reflected his other primary interest—the opera. A regular attendee at the Metropolitan Opera, he even served as a stand-in at a few performances.
Bob was also a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Our condolences are extended to his wife, Shelley, and the rest of his family. Bob was a fine Sherlockian and an erudite, genuinely funny, and sincere man who typified the best of Canonical scholarship and camaraderie.
BARBARA ANN BRANDES (née Chojnacki), ASH
by Ken Brandes
Only child of Dr. L. Chojnacki and Mary Lewis, Barbara was born in Amsterdam, NY, on July 5, 1932. She graduated from Buffalo State College at 21 with honors. She taught second grade, mainly in Lackawanna schools, till age 39. She then earned an MS in Library Science and admission into the Beta Phi Mu honor society at Syracuse University. She greatly enjoyed that year with students of similar interests. She then returned to teach another fourteen years.
She liked to travel, was interested in English, Italian, and Polish culture, volunteered at philharmonic and later WNED-TV, designed her own non-latch-hooked rugs, and loved reading. She found many literary friends in An Irish Secret Society at Buffalo, Bootmakers of Toronto, Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, and other similar societies.
In 1986 she retired from teaching and most active social life due to Parkinson’s Disease. She risked life and mind with two operations for that, and another two for cancers. She very courageously battled and endured for eighteen years before dying on December 21, 2004, at age 72.
Survivors include her husband Kenneth of thirty-five years, sisters-in-law June Helmer and Edna Lehman of Wellsville, with aunt Florence Chojnacki and several cousins in the Buffalo area.
MARY CAMPBELL, ASH, BSI, MBt
Mrs. Merrilow (BSI: Brenda Tregennis)
by Maureen Green with comments by Kate Karlson
On March 17, 2003, Mary Elizabeth Campbell, M.Bt., ASH, (Mrs Merrilow), BSI (Brenda Tregennis), left behind the diabetes, kidney problems and blindness that had dominated her last five years. Whenever possible Mary arranged her librarian affairs to be in New York when the ASH were meeting. For the last three years, she gratefully depended on Bootmaker friends to assist her to attend the January weekend.
Mary was described in one of the many tributes at her memorial service as a “diamond with many facets.” To the end, Mary enjoyed playing bridge and spending as much summertime as possible at her cottage in Muskoka. A friend from her barbershop choir group visited almost daily to act as her eyes, thus enabling Mary to stay involved in her many activities.
As a Master Bootmaker, Mary was the group’s long time archivist, co-authored “Lasting Impressions” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Sherlock Holmes Society of Canada, and received the group’s Derrick Murdoch, Mostly Mysteries, and True Davidson awards. As a member of the Bootmaker Players, Mary assumed the persona of Mrs Hudson. As Kate Karlson writes, “she was quick to share her scholarly expertise with beginning Sherlockian scholars. Mary became equally known for her vast knowledge of Victorian life and times and the easy, open friendship which she extended to all who attended Bootmaker meetings.”
Mary never let ill health hold her back and she was always ready to play the game. On a trip to a Victorian soirée held at the home of Ric Simpson in Fort Erie, Ontario, a snowstorm prevented all but three participants from Toronto from attending. For Mary, the weather was not a problem. She agreed to stay overnight and, following the soirée, enjoyed a videotape of Pavarotti and some Sherlockian videos, returning to Toronto the next day fully sated.
In later years Mary used the volunteer eyes that were always available to her to assist her with her indefatigable research for papers and presentations. Her final paper, “Images of Professor Moriarty,” will be presented to the Bootmakers, in her memory, in the fall of 2003.
It was Mary’s fellow librarian, Ann Skene Melvin, along with her husband David, who introduced Mary to the Sherlockian world through the Bootmakers of Toronto. Ann died a month after Mary. ASH member and fellow Bootmaker Kate Karlson said, “We salute Mary and Ann and rejoice in the gifts of friendship they gave us. To paraphrase Alexander Pope, when a friend dies, we lose a part of ourselves, the best part. We Adventuresses have indeed lost a pair of fine and noble ladies, members who honored us when they took ASH after their names.”
NANCY DEAN, ASH
A Disreputable Statuette
The Lone Star (BSI: The Great Mogul)
by Marilynne McKay
Susan put up a valiant battle against esophageal cancer until April 25, 2019. We have lost one of our best Sherlockian Adventuresses and we mourn with her beloved husband, Allan Devitt, ASH, BSI. Susan Diamond was a sparkling gem among Sherlockians, true to her BSI investiture as the diamond called The Great Mogul. (“Mogul” to her friends, whom she graciously allowed to drop the “Great.”) Susan grew up in Texas (her ASH investiture was The Lone Star), but she spent most of her life in the Chicago area. She was a graduate of the University of Chicago, majoring in English Language and Literature; she later earned an MBA from DePaul University. Susan published and lectured extensively on finance and business management and was the president of her own company, Diamond Associates, Ltd, for over 45 years.
Susan was incredibly organized and seemingly tireless; it was a lucky scion that counted her among its members. The Chicago Silver Blaze was started in 1960 by the late Bob Hahn, BSI. In 1995, Susan took the reins for The Watsonian Weekend. At this writing, the Chicago race is the oldest still active and annually-running Silver Blaze event in the world.
In 2003 Susan and Marilynne McKay began what was to become a twenty-year co-editorship of The Serpentine Muse. As the Contributions editor, her correspondence enabled her to “go everywhere and see everything” that came in over the Adventuresses’ transom. Her literary background made her an excellent editor, and few Muse authors argued with her sage editorial advice.
Susan was a founding officer of the Beacon Society since 2003, serving as Secretary, President, and Chair of the Grants Committee; the Society’s most prestigious award for outstanding efforts to introduce young people to Sherlock Holmes was named the Susan Z. Diamond Beacon Award in her honor in 2019.
At the 2018 Autumn Luncheon, Francine Kitts read Susan’s Toast to ASH Friendship. In that toast (appearing in Muse 35.1), Susan wrote of the friends she had made in ASH and the importance of her Sherlockian relationships.
She was a longtime leader of Chicago’s Criterion Bar Association (past president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary; Young Stamford Award, 1996), and was a member of Torists International, The Sherlock Holmes Society of London, The Scotland Yarders, The Clients of Adrian Mulliner, The Turf Builders of Baker Street, SBIOS, and SBC.
Susan maintained that the Sherlockian world “is supposed to be fun; after all, it began as a take-off on literary criticism, not as literary criticism.” Some of her more amusing memberships included now defunct or inactive groups such as The Central Press Syndicate, The STUD Sherlockian Society, Paget’s Irregular Horse, The Mycrofts of the Midway, The Wimsical Sherlockians, and the Flying Decanters. (And we’re not even counting Sherlockian events, cruises, trips, dinners and convivial adventures taken by Susan and Allan over the years!)
Commensurate with her love of literature, Susan also served proudly as the president of the local Public Library Board in Bensenville and was a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America; co-president of the Chicago Accident Syndicate, the Chicago chapter of The Wodehouse Society; and was a member of the Angela Thirkell Society.
Susan was an ardent feminist: her short list of Sherlockian heroes and heroines included John Bennett Shaw and “all of the women Sherlockians who have fought against gender discrimination.” She campaigned with other enthusiasts for the admission of men to ASH and she was delighted that Allan was in the first group of men invested in the Adventuresses.
Susan was a woman of integrity, wit, charm, and sociability. She adored Allan, her devoted husband of almost 45 years, and each of their series of mostly canine four-legged housemates. She was a shining example of scholarship and dedication to her organizations, communities, and associates. Our sincere sympathy goes out to Allan and Adventuresses everywhere – Susan was a remarkable individual and a much-loved friend who will be fondly remembered by all who knew her.
Memorial donations can be made to The Beacon Society; The Bensenville Community Public Library; The Diamond-Devitt Literacy Fund of The Bensenville Community Foundation, P.O. Box 371, Bensenville IL 60106; the West Suburban Humane Society in Downer’s Grove, IL.
Expressions of sympathy can be directed to:
16W603 Third Avenue
Bensenville, IL 60106-2327
JOSEPH FINK, ASH, BSI
Tonga (BSI: The Martyrdom of Man)
IN REMEMBRANCE OF JOE FINK, PhD, BSI, ASH
I first met Joe Fink at the 1988 Autumn in Baker Street gathering. I was the speaker who preceded Joe’s presentation of his treatise on Dr. Watson’s Dumber Brother. (Ever since, I have been eternally grateful to Bob Thomalen for not scheduling me to go on after Joe had left his audience rolling in the aisles with laughter.)
Joe’s self-effacing manner camouflaged the fact that he had graduate degrees from Columbia and NYU in chemical engineering and business management and had been a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Even more surprising to some was Joe’s status as a business tycoon. At the time of his death, he was still active as the CEO of Plastident, a defense contractor which supplied our armed forces with vital protection against such military hazards as athlete’s foot.
With his background as a scientist and scholar, Joe brought to the Sherlockian world an immense capacity for imaginative use of research sources that had escaped the attention of others. His many contributions to our lore capitalized on his ability to find pertinent subject matter in such unfamiliar writings as “I Washed Oscar Wilde” and “Great Men of Garbage and the Women Who Love Them.”
Joe was also a conscientious historian, reporting on the lives of Albertus Magnus and other historical figures outside the Sherlockian world, as well as persons more directly related to our interest in Sherlock Holmes. Joe’s writings are replete with such memorable characters as No-Nose Nussbaum (a one-time major league pitcher), T.T. Cratchit (the jockey decapitated while riding Silver Blaze), and the Maharajah of Yom Kapoor (who led a tribe afflicted by flat feet).
Joe’s own long-term physical ailments may help explain why his writings contain so many references to unusual diseases, bizarre medical treatments, and various forms of bodily dismemberment. Joe obviously empathized with the victims of such problems. As Executive Director of the Dwarf Defense League, Joe also spoke out for the interests of Tonga, the Andaman Islander, and everyone else of small physical stature.
Joe Fink will be sorely missed by all who heard him or read his work—and especially by those of us who knew him.
Editors’ note: In Joe’s memory, we’d like to share an excerpt from one of his ASH Dinner presentations.
A NOT-SO-TRIFLING MONOGRAPH ON THE ORIGINS OF ASH
Delivered at the ASH Spring Dinner on 6 April 1991 and published in The Serpentine Muse vol 9, no 4.
My fellow Sherlockians,
[JF: “It’s one thing to read your notes when you’re sober.”
Voice from audience: “But none of us has ever tried that.”]
Once upon a time in 1934, an unexplained spirit moved a group of men to pay tribute to the Master. They gathered annually in New York thereafter, these male members, and went forth and became good men of the Canon. For thirty years they rejoiced and prospered as Baker Street Irregulars, these sons of Holmes. Then suddenly in a second haven in a second state a strange phenomenon occurred. A spirit moved another group — a flock of females — to pay homage to Sweet Sherlock. This maculate conception took place at a most unlikely spot — a school for unwed women in the midst of Connecticut. After much soul searching and divine exultation, including a visit with the head of the Baker Street Irregulars for divine guidance, the titular head of this august body announced that the group had chosen a name. It was, of course, The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes and the acronym A.S.H., or ASH.
Now, in recent years, in the depths of the night, I would awake and think deeply about the original ladies of ASH. What caused them to receive their calling? Could I trace the roots of their virtuous transgression? Driven to resolve this issue, I made a fateful decision: I crossed the border into Connecticut to see what I could uncover at their college grounds. Identifying myself as a Baker Street Irregular, which drew a rather incredulous response from the head librarian, I was permitted to enter the school’s historical vault in the research library’s lower chamber. The results of my inquiry are quite astonishing. But let me assure you that all the facts are true!
On July 7, 1930, the famous literary agent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died. Seventeen months later, on December 16, 1931, Pope Pius XI canonized as a saint of the Church the greatest figure of his century.
- He was a chemist, detective, writer, musician.
- He had an imposing, long nose and was given to magical powers of observation.
- He was an admirable companion to his doctor-biographer-best friend.
- A bachelor, he was devoted to one woman only and dubious about all others.
- He was a celebrated beekeeper and solver of divine mysteries.
- He wore a funny hat.
- He was Albert of Bollstadt, known to the world as Albertus Magnus or Albert the Great.
Ten years after his canonization, in 1941, Pope Pius XII declared Albertus the patron saint of all scientists, including forensic detectives. The school that gave birth to the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, is, of course, Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.
Given the duality between Albert and Sherlock, the calling to Holmes as a contemporary counterpart of their Alma Pater perhaps was inevitable.
Albert was indeed a 13th Century forerunner of Sherlock Holmes. In his physical and intellectual life, he bore a striking resemblance to the Master. Born in Swabia in 1193, he was educated at the University of Padua. It was, however, in Paris when he was in his early thirties that he spent his most productive non-clerical years. It was here that this teacher, with a hawk-like visage and piercing eyes, met his pupil, Thomas Aquinas, a short portly fellow who was soon to become his biographer and a Doctor of the Church.
JF: “It’s a true story: what do you want from me?”]
Big Al and Little Tom became inseparable, with Thomas always carrying a pencil and paper when in Albert’s presence in order to record his most remarkable observations.
Editors’ note: and the paper went on from there…
Thanks, Joe, we’ll always remember you with a smile.
The Adventures of Agatha,
briefly fiancée of Mr. Sherlock Holmes,
being fond reminiscences of the recently deceased
Patricia Anne Theresa Dodd Flynn
respectfully submitted by Eugenia Ronder (Lois Gardiner Clark)
I cannot begin to summarize the life of the best and wisest woman I have ever known. For the facts, refer to the notice duly posted after her death on May 27, 2016 (1). Let me rather relate a few adventures, Sherlockian and otherwise, that illustrate Pat’s wit, charm, and unfailing sense of adventure.
We had met at college and fast became friends, having recognized the prime symptoms of Anglophilia in each other: devotion to Shakespeare, Sherlock, and the Royal Family. Together we memorized the monarchs, ancient and modern, and recited Beyond the Fringe frabjously. At our college, each house traditionally hosted a wassail party in December to which one invited professors and friends from other houses. We, however, extended invitations to a number of off-campus notables, surreptitiously crafting individual, praise-filled invitations—never expecting to receive replies from Sean Connery, Peter O’Toole, Fred Astaire or other luminaries. Instead, we sent “telegrams” to ourselves to share at the wassail party. ONLY AFFAIRS OF STATE KEEP US AWAY – LIZ, PHIL & THE KIDS was especially well received. As it turned out, we did get two very courteous letters of regret from Sir Kenneth Clark (alas, no relation) and Gene Autry (Pat’s childhood crush).
The mention of “telegram” brings memories of pilgrimages to England where Sherlock loomed large in our adventures (2). Most of our time was spent in London, and much of that devoted to shadowing Sherlock. Our B&B was steps away from the Swiss Cottage station on the (then) Bakerloo line, which provided quick access for exploring Baker Street and environs. Then one day we found ourselves in what we thought was Limehouse, but all we managed to discover was a strolling sot who fancied himself a Cockney Dean Martin. His voice wasn’t half bad, though. Of course we treated ourselves to quite a nice dinner at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, under £2 in the ‘70s. And we bought deerstalkers at Harrods and, most precious to Agatha, jars of William Escott marmalade. (So that’s the business for which her plumber deserted her.) Oh, the telegrams…One of our journeys was open-ended so to notify our families of our return we resorted to relatively inexpensive telegrams – which we sent from the post office on Baker Street nearest 221B. Surely it was the office patronized by Holmes and Watson!
After college we took separate paths to New York City. Prophetically enough, we spent Pat’s first Sunday afternoon in the city on Broadway at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s glorious production of Sherlock Holmes. A poster from said production would adorn the apartment we shared on the Upper West Side. Not long after, Pat serendipitously learned about ASH, and we timidly inquired about attending a meeting, where we found delightful “Ladies, Ladies!” to welcome us. Investiture followed in due course. Pat may have publicly ascribed her choice of Agatha to her distinction as Sherlock’s duped fiancée, but she confided to me that the deciding factor was the utter simplicity of the housemaid’s costume for the ASH dinner—a crisp white apron over a dark frock. Eminently practical, Pat.
Theatrical adventures abounded in New York, of course, but one performance (and subsequent backstage visit) in 1978 presented an unexpected pleasure for the assembled Adventuresses. Paxton Whitehead was a competent enough Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood, but this mashup of Sign of Four would have been eminently forgettable had it not been for an extraordinary example of theatrical Schadenfreude. Holmes and the ingénue were coming downstage while a scrim dropped behind them to affect a scene change. The ingénue had just uttered the line, “Mr. Holmes, I think there is a terrible curse on my family” when the scrim hit her on the head, knocking her bonnet askew. The audience gasped and then roared. Quiet gradually returned as she straightened her dainty headgear. Holmes’ response? “Whatever makes you think that, my dear?” We wept with laughter. Oh, and the role of the ingénue was played by Glenn Close.
Despite her homage to the Great Detective’s fiancée, our Agatha was not a mere girl to be duped by a tall, dark stranger in false nose and whiskers. Indeed, she waited for the best and wisest man that she would ever know: Tom Flynn, also tall and dark but truly whiskered and possessing great and reliable shoulders. We Adventuresses were heartbroken when Tom whisked Pat off to Nevada, but they did indeed live happily and adventurously ever after.
- We did manage to see two monarchs in one day, June 3, 1972: Elizabeth II in that morning’s Trooping of the Colour and Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor lying in repose at Windsor that afternoon.
MAUREEN GREEN, ASH, BSI, MBt, The Woman
Mary Sutherland (BSI: Kitty Winter)
Memories of Maureen Green-Van der Flaes
by Marjorie Morris
My big sister Maureen was the glue that held our family of sisters and brothers together, over many years and through many tragedies.
Even after raising her own two daughters, and sharing her own life with Edwin, she eventually began the care of her elder brother Vincent during the last months of his life. This may have been an overwhelming task, yet none of the rest of her sisters or brothers were aware of the extent of her involvement. Sadly it was only forty days after her brother’s passing that Maureen also passed away. This was the caring, giving life that Maureen led.
Many years ago, Maureen (with polish applied by Edwin) got Sandy and me involved in the Bootmakers of Toronto right from its inception. Later, she got me intrigued with an organization called ASH. Even Sandy benefited from the joy of ASH. During the past few years, I had not been able to keep involved with ASH, yet Maureen still kept me up-to-date of its activities—again, the kind of person my sister personified.
The news that Maureen had died was a terrible shock to us all, both relatives and many friends. But who is to say that she had not seen more, done more, and learned more in her years than many people do in their own lifetimes? To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be overachieving or foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone. This has come to be what my sister Maureen meant to me.
MY MAUREEN MEMORIES
Editors’ note: Marina’s memories of Maureen are also appearing in Canadian Holmes. We are most grateful to Marina for writing and know how difficult it to write about the loss of a dear friend.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens . . .
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
©Jenny Joseph, 1961
How many people who knew Maureen Green can read this poem and not think of her? Ever since I read it, many years ago, I have been wondering if it was written with Maureen in mind. To my great surprise, she never heard of it until just a couple of years ago when it happened to come up in one of our marathon conversations.
Maureen epitomized the practice of getting old as described by Ms. Joseph. Granted, her hats of any color always suited her but, after all, she was only practicing. Sadly, we won’t find out if she would have ever become an old woman. Somehow, I feel, she would have just gone on practicing.
If I was to write a book about Maureen, I would consider as a title “A Study in Purple,” “A Study in Red,” “A Study in Shoes,” “A Study in Hats,” but above all, “A Study in Friendship.” Admittedly, I rarely envision Edwin, Maureen’s stalwart companion of many years, in purple or red, but if the title of my book about Maureen was indeed “A Study in Friendship,” Edwin would appear in just about every chapter, while our beloved friend Marlene Aig would feature prominently in the prologue.
Once in a while our friends give us just the perfect gift. Sometimes they don’t even know how valuable it is. I received such a gift from Marlene—my friendship with Maureen and Edwin. Maureen and Edwin used to have their New York home of many years in Queens, with Marlene.
On one of their visits, Marlene had an overflow of guests and she asked me if her Canadian family could stay with me. Maureen and Edwin were no strangers to me, of course. I had known them for many years—they were well established in the Sherlockian world by the time I entered the scene—but this visit truly marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship. After we lost Marlene, ten years ago, it only seemed natural for Maureen and Edwin to relocate their New York home to my place and, at the same time, I gained a home in Toronto. My trips to Toronto always meant having fun with Maureen, and our time together was the main reason I looked forward to taking those trips north of the border. October 28, 2006 was the only exception. On that day, I joined Maureen’s family and dozens of her friends for the sad occasion of celebrating her life which ended so abruptly eleven days earlier.
The Sherlockian footprints of Maureen Green, ASH, MBt, The Woman, BSI, can be found all over North America and Europe. The footprints she left throughout all aspects of her life can be best described as those of a gigantic friend.
Maureen and Edwin frequently attended Sherlockian gatherings in New York, including the 2003 ASH Spring Dinner. Maureen told me she had prepared a short presentation for the occasion. The title was “Sherlockian Friendship.” Somehow, her presentation got billed as a toast to Sherlockian Friendship, and it was so well received that it started a new tradition. Ever since Sherlockian Friendship has been an obligatory toast at ASH dinners. How appropriate that a wonderful friend to so many started this lovely tradition!
Any time, in any situation, Maureen’s friends could count on her to be there to listen, lend a helping hand or offer a warm hug. Even at a sad time like this, when one can never find adequate words to describe the magnitude of the loss, I turned to Maureen for help. And, as always, she was there. I could clearly hear her words from “Sherlockian Friendship”:
“The passing of a friend always leaves a gaping hole in your life. Over time, however, that empty space fills with memories—your own and those of others—renewing and reestablishing that missing friend as a part of you forever.”
I encourage Maureen’s friends to read the whole piece, if they haven’t read it before. If they have, I encourage them to read it again—it was published in the Muse, vol 19 no. 4. No names are mentioned, but Maureen’s friends just may recognize themselves among her memories. I remember listening to my friend recounting some of her favorite Sherlockian memories and smiling at having shared so many of them. It is with a heavy heart that I read her article now.
I am very grateful for all the times Maureen, Edwin and I spent creating our memories. Together we climbed the mountains, we sailed the oceans. We laughed ‘til we cried; we cried ‘til we laughed. And we shopped. Maureen and I, that is. Edwin mainly stuck to climbing and sailing. Maureen was a true bloodhound when it came to finding neat shops and great deals and, whenever we found ourselves in a shoe store, we’d turn into a couple of centipedes.
Maureen taught me how to save money. She would always look at the original price of an item, compare it to the sale price and quickly figure out how much money we would save on this deal that just couldn’t be passed up. All the money we “saved” went to the travel fund for our next adventure. The pleasure of shopping wouldn’t be complete without rushing home to tell Edwin how much money we saved and how proud of us he should be. He always was.
Maureen wasn’t only a great friend. As can be expected, she was also a wonderful wife, sister, mother, grandmother, and—for a just a few months—a great grandmother. I am aware of only one instance when Maureen failed as a grandmother. Indirectly, I was responsible. Maureen was never a baseball fan but, great friend that she was, she faithfully accompanied me in my annual pursuit of the Yankees in Toronto and even proclaimed herself a Yankees fan. However, until about a year ago, she didn’t know that her grandson Max was a long-time avid Yankees fan.
Needless to say, Maureen quickly made up for this. (She may have been somewhat motivated by my constant reminders of what a “terrible” grandmother she was.) On her next trip to New York, Maureen got a t-shirt for Max at the Yankees store—she found a great deal, of course! She also bought tickets to four upcoming Yankees games in Toronto. As she explained to me—it was somehow cheaper to buy tickets for four games than for just two. I attended two of the four with Maureen and Max. As it turned out, that was the last weekend I spent with Maureen.
If I could live in a world with no purples, no reds, no shoes, no hats, no bagels, no laughter, no Yankees, I might no longer be constantly reminded of Maureen. Not that I would want to live in such a world. Thanks to Maureen, I have at least three more pair of mauve shoes than I will ever need, at least three large hats that I will never wear (I did “save” a lot of money), and hundreds of precious memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Unlike mauve shoes and large hats, I wish I could acquire hundreds more of Maureen memories….But even with the ones I have, she will be a part of me forever.
BEVERLY HALM, ASH
REMEMBERING BEVERLY HALM
by Carol and Ron Fish
Beverly Halm, ASH, Mrs. Allen, 82, of Port Washington, New York, passed beyond the Reichenbach on May 4, 2014. She graduated from Hunter College and received her M.S. in Library Science at C.W. Post (now LIU Post). Beverly was involved in numerous community organizations. Her love of cooking prompted her to study with Eileen Yen-Fei Lo, author of Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking, at the China Institute in New York City. She was a dominant figure for 26 years in the “Grand Chefs of Long Island,” a continuing education program, and was active in the Port Washington Friends of the Library for over 30 years.
Dave Galerstein, BSI, assistant principal at Hillside Junior High School in Floral Park, New York (where Beverly was the school’s librarian), introduced her to the world of Holmes by asking her to include the Sherlock Holmes stories in the library’s catalog. He also had her arrange for The Stapletons of Merripit House, Dave’s new Sherlockian student group, to meet at the library. Beverly eventually took charge and continued to hold meetings with the students until her retirement.
In the mid-1980s, Dave encouraged Beverly and her husband Jerry to attend meetings of Mrs. Hudson’s Cliffdwellers of Cliffside Park, NJ. In 2005, that scion gave her the investiture of “The London Library.” She and Jerry also frequented The Men on the Tor in Connecticut as they had a second home in Danbury. Both received investitures in that scion as “The Washington Treasury.”
Beverly became an active member of ASH in the 1980s and chose the investiture of Mrs. Allen, her maiden name. She loved the camaraderie, the intellectual quality, and general hilarity of Sherlockian meetings and continued her participation until her health began to decline.
She will be sadly missed by the Sherlockian community. Beverly is survived by her husband, Jerry, their two children, Ethan and Meesha, and their four grandchildren.
EILEEN HARTSOE, MD, ASH
by Sherry Rose-Bond
It cannot be said of too many people that they were born to be Sherlockians. However, in the case of Eileen Hartsoe Katz this would be an absolutely accurate observation, because Eileen was born one hundred years to the day after the birth of Sherlock Holmes. It is unimaginable to those of us who knew her that this warm and loving woman will no longer be part of our Sherlockian family. She officially became a Sherlockian by marriage (to Robert S. Katz, BSI) but she became an Adventuress through scholarship and friendship and was proud of her ASH investiture of “Dr. Jackson.” With Bob she hosted meetings of The Epilogues of Sherlock Holmes, a scion society whose purpose is to actually discuss the Canon, and she always, ALWAYS welcomed Sherlockians into their home.
However, to my husband (Scott Bond, BSI) and me, she was more than a Sherlockian; she was a member of our family. Scott was best man at their wedding as Bob was at ours. Their three sons, Alexander (10), Jonathan (8) and C. J. (3), are our nephews and we always cherish the many weekends we spend together. Eileen was very generous in allowing us to share commonplace as well as special events and activities with the boys and to develop the special relationship we have with them. Although she was born and raised in North Carolina, there was nothing of the typical Southern belle in Eileen. She was a strong, highly intelligent woman who never hesitated to speak her mind. Her lovely southern drawl made even our liveliest and, occasionally disputatious, discussions civilized and charming. I will truly miss those discussions and conversations. I will miss just spending time with her. She was genuine, sincere and loyal, giving unconditional love and affection to her family and to those she considered her friends.
Eileen always seemed to be the calm in the eye of the storm all around her, balancing the demands of husband, sons, and her medical practice with seeming ease. It wasn’t easy; she just made it look that way. She was a gifted gynecologist and surgeon, and women throughout northern New Jersey join us in sincerely mourning her loss. She was an active member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, and the priests and congregation join us in mourning her loss. She was a respected member of the Morristown Memorial Hospital medical community, and her colleagues join us in mourning her loss. She was an active and interested Sherlockian, and I know that all of you join us in mourning her loss.
HELEN HEINRICH, ASH
Lady Hilda Trelawney Hope
by Kate Karlson, ASH
I met Helen Heinrich, our own “Lady Hilda Trelawney Hope” in the middle 1970s, when we were both becoming active in The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes.
The initial meeting was similar to Alice falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. After seeing some of my Sherlockian writing in various publications, most notably The Serpentine Muse, Helen asked me to lecture on Sherlock Holmes at an academic conference she was holding on eastern Long Island. The fact that I had no credentials to justify putting me on the program didn’t faze her in the least: she had faith in some aspect of my green-as-grass scholarship, and I tried to rise to her expectations. It is more to her credit than my intellect that the theory I postulated that summer remains the core of any public lecture I give today.
Helen also loved to attend Sherlockian events as well as host them. In July 1980, she risked life and limb in a small prop airplane to fly to Kingston, Ontario, where a weekend with Holmes was taking place at the Queen’s University conference center. I recall her dramatic arrival from the airport, her wig precariously askew, but her spirits were high and she was more than ready to join in the good fellowship and discussion of The Master.
I think her most important contribution to our society was showing us “kids” – the younger Adventuresses as we then were – that age cannot wither, nor custom stale our enthusiasm and zest for the Sherlockian game. Although a generation older than the Founding Mothers, Helen would have fit right in at the famous BSI Dinner picket of 1968, because she shared their irreverent spirit of tongue-in-cheek defiance. She certainly fit in perfectly at many of our early annual ASH dinners and other events, where much of the evening’s enjoyment came from the impromptu toasts, learned and libation-aided discussions and private conversations with one’s dinner companions. Helen Heinrich was warm-hearted and wise, an excellent combination in anyone, but most especially, a true Adventuress.
This note from Warren Randall, June 16, 2005
It is with true sadness that I convey the news that our dear Helen Heinrich, Lady Hilda herself, has passed beyond the Reichenbach. She suffered a broken hip last week while visiting family in Montana, and died on Sunday from kidney failure. She was cremated; as she often told me, “I plan on being an ASH to the end.
MARGARET “PEGGY” HENRY, ASH
MARGARET B.T. HOFFMAN, ASH
The Hoffman Barcarole
Margaret was a charter member of the Hansom Wheels of Columbia, SC. She died of leukemia on August 10, 2000. She was the author of “The Bathroom at Baker Street” (Baker Street Journal, 31:2, 1981). Born in England, she was the widow of Captain Arthur Arnold Hoffman, USA and is survived by two sons and five grandchildren.
Margaret is pictured here on her wedding day (18 June 1955) in Orleans, France.
Miss Minnie Warrender
Martha J. Irish Remembered
Peter E. Blau
Martha Irish recalled in a memoir she wrote shortly before she died on Aug. 22, 2015, that her first job was an entry-level position with the National 4-H Club Foundation in a suburb of Washington, D.C. She learned bookkeeping, worked for a CPA firm, and then decided to run her own company, offering accounting and tax service.
She loved the theater, and was a volunteer usher at various theaters in Washington. She was house manager for a theater festival, and it was through the theater that she found the Red Circle of Washington in the 1970s, thanks to her friend Philip Brogdon, a local actor and Sherlockian. Thus it was natural for her to manage the Red Circle’s theater party for a production of “Cats” at the National Theatre (we gathered for drinks afterward and were delighted when we were joined by Macavity, without makeup or costume).
Martha also had great imagination, perhaps best displayed when she won a prize at the costume party held by the Red Circle, when three people appeared as Sherlock Holmes: one as a young Holmes, one as an older Holmes, and one as Holmes disguised as an elderly woman, with the baggy parasol that Count Negretto Sylvius politely handed to her (MAZA). That was Martha, of course.
It’s quite likely that the prize she won encouraged her to select “Miss Winnie Warrender” (also found in MAZA) as her ASH investiture.
Martha had many other enthusiasms, including her pets (a cat and a dog), beading, wire work, metalsmithing, quilting, and ice skating (“I wasn’t any good at that,” she wrote, “despite having studied with a world and Olympic coach. I did, however, have a great time trying.”)
She was generous and supportive, sweet and kind and kindly, and a good friend to many people in the Sherlockian and non-Sherlockian worlds.
ANITA JANDA, ASH
Modesty Among the Virtues
by Susan Rice
Anita Janda died on December 7th, within hours of her last surgery to combat the ovarian cancer she had fought for several years. Her death came as a shock to those who had hoped, as she herself had, that she would be able to attend the 2006 ASH Autumn dinner days before.
Anita appeared on the Sherlockian scene early in 2002 through an e-mail message asking how she could learn about activities in the New York area. As soon as she discovered the many choices, she began appearing at various gatherings and became a regular at ASH Wednesdays. Her cheerful and thoughtful conversation and ability to listen made her part of the sodality immediately.
Anita wrote one of the most interesting, insightful, and unusual Holmesian pastiches. The Secret Life of Dr. Watson, published in hardcover by Allison & Busby in 2001, was John H. Watson’s private diary. Written with the encouragement of his wife, it tells of his difficulties with the imperious Holmes and his frustrations with the demands of his publishers, and provides an appealingly different slant on many of the cases familiar to us only in their abridged published version.
Early in our friendship, Anita mentioned another tie to the Master. She received a Ph.D. in Linguistics in 1978 on the basis of her doctoral dissertation, The Linguistic Analysis of the Honey Bee’s Dance Language.
Anita made no secret of the fact that she was fighting cancer, and maintained a positive attitude coupled with a fatalistic resignation. She told me once she was sustained by her faith, and I hope she’s found peace. She will be missed by many.
Before Anita became an Adventuress, Marilynne McKay reviewed her book in The Serpentine Muse Vol 19, No. 1, 2002.
THE SECRET DIARY OF DR. WATSON: Death at the Reichenbach Falls by Anita Janda, Allison & Busby, 279 pages, $27.95. The book can be purchased through Amazon.
All we are told about the author of this intriguing first novel is that “Anita Janda lives in New York City where she earns her living writing about wireless software applications. She earned her PhD in linguistics with a grammatical analysis of the dance language of the honey bee.” I would add that acknowledged or not, this book surely arose from the mind and heart of a genuine Sherlockian.
Opening in 1888, The Secret Diary of Dr. Watson begins like a typical Holmes and Watson pastiche with a telegram followed by a visit to an eccentric client. Although the presentation of the famous pair as “etheric manipulators” is unfamiliar (and amusing), many elements of the new case gradually become recognizable as those in The Adventure of the Cardboard Box. The narrative is then uncharacteristically interrupted by the author’s comments, and it becomes clear that this is not a story, but an entry in Dr. Watson’s writing journal. This project has been undertaken at the instigation of his wife, former governess Mary Morstan, to “give him back the writing habit.” Her rules for the blank journal, “Bound in real morocco leather, John!” are that he will not be allowed to tell her about his adventures with Holmes—he can only write them down, and she insists that she will never read what he has written. It must be a secret diary.
The premise thus established, we are treated to a deliciously different point of view. While I found the relationship between Holmes and Watson entirely consistent with my vision of the canon, I was amused by Ms. Janda’s ability to capture Watson’s subtle frustrations in dealing with his refractory colleague, who isn’t always ready to release a story for publication. (“Really, sometimes Holmes tries my patience. Does he think this is easy? I should like to see him try his hand at this some time.”) An absolute delight is the development of John’s relationship to his Mary—it gradually dawns on the reader that she is as good as Holmes at manipulating the good doctor. On the other hand, it is Mary’s determined efforts at matchmaking that force Watson to beget the extraordinary Irene Adler as an excuse for Holmes’ skepticism of marriage.
Meticulously phrased in 19th century language, The Secret Diary provides special insights into a writer’s mind. Sherlockians will delight in the games Watson plays with names and events as he struggles to disguise Holmes’ clients as characters in his stories: “What it comes down to is that I am free to use the deductive chain in its entirety—I merely have to make up the people, the crime, and the conversation.”
It is entertaining to encounter back stories for HOUN, BLUE, SCAN, BOSC, and others. We are also treated to Watson’s trials with his publisher (Mary’s “cousin Nat” of the Strand Magazine), whose insistence on buying stories six at a time becomes a burden when Watson’s stories aren’t seasoned enough to print (“I can’t release [BOSC] for his family to read on the way home from his funeral.”)
The winning combination of witty speculation and Sherlockian scholarship flows along so brightly that the plot twist at Reichenbach chills the reader like a dip in the falls themselves. Foreshadowed in the title, the last chapters unfold with special poignancy as Watson comes to realize what Holmes’ friendship has really meant to him. In The Secret Diary of Dr. Watson, Anita Janda has created a sympathetic and unforgettable autobiography that would make a splendid gift for your favorite Sherlockian(s).
LISA JONES JENNES, ASH
(founding, No Investiture)
by M.E. Rich
Mary Louise (Lisa) Jones, a founding member of the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes at Albertus Magnus College, graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1970. An only child, she was a fierce and illuminating spirit whose ready wit, aplomb and espieglerie made her a natural leader. When the six young women who became the ASH attended the Gillette Luncheon at Keen’s Chop House in 1968, Lisa charmed the cluster of BSI who paid her court and, after the evening’s excitement on 23rd Street, it was Lisa who was interviewed by the New York Times’ fledgling reporter, Lawrence Van Gelder. As her remarks were not included in his subsequent story, it must be supposed that his interest in Lisa’s views were not wholly professional. Their lively conversation added an appropriate fillip of flirtation to an already exhilarating escapade.
Lisa paid homage to Holmes with the ASH at the Algonquin in January 1969 and 1970, but with graduation and a move to Boston she became more involved with other pursuits, which included teaching, editing, politics, and captaining a ferryboat. She remained in touch with her college chums, however, even when further removed to Durham, NC with her husband, a professor at Duke University. Lisa’s death in 1986 was due to a virulent and swift brain cancer, a particularly ironic and cruel fate for one so dazzlingly gifted and so very young.
Ave atque Vale.
and another note from M.E. Rich, this from the ASH Spring Dinner 2006:
I want to recall Lisa Jones Jennes, an original picatrice, who died twenty years ago of brain cancer at a very young thirty-eight years of age. She was a beloved only child of great promise and gifts. Leaving Albertus Magnus in 1970, she moved to Boston’s South Shore where she taught, edited, married, divorced, married again, and relocated to North Carolina. With typical bravado, Lisa learned to pilot a commuter ferryboat across Boston Harbor, earning her captain’s license—the first given to a woman by the company. She looked just like the actress Jane Alexander (right), tall and spare, with a bright and inquisitive gaze. Second in her class at Albertus, she wrote wonderful letters and goofy pastiches mixing the Beatles, Captain Kirk, and the Canon.
Picture, if you will, the nascent ASH—Ev, Pat, Linda, Mary Ellen One, Mary Ellen Two, and Lisa—strolling through New Haven on an October night, dressed in our approximations of Halloween costumes. In a vaguely Chekhovian mode, I wore a coat trimmed with Persian lamb and Cossack boots, while Lisa strode briskly in knickers, bomber jacket, and World War I leather flying ace helmet. Or conjure up a vision of the two of us in the dark of night channeling the spirit of Bill Baring-Gould via Ouija board to the delight—and dismay—of our elders, who knew the august Baker Street Irregular. We fenced in the hallways and up the sweeping circular stairway of our mansion-dormitory, we had very serious conversations about Poetry, and she did a justly famous one-woman version of Ahmal and the Night Visitors complete with costume changes and props. What the nuns made of us I can’t imagine. She was fierce and funny and true and, if any one of us could have changed the world, I’d have bet all my money on Lisa.
Ann Judge was born on June 2, 1937 and died on October 5, 1995. She found her way to the Adventuresses in an appropriate manner: through radio drama and her local bar. Ann lived alone in the Chelsea neighborhood in New York City, and was pleased to discover a local restaurant and bar to her liking. It was called Bogie’s, and the owners were mystery enthusiasts, who decided that Sunday evenings would be devoted to listening to an old radio mystery show from their considerable collection and then taking a general mystery quiz with a free drink for the winner. A conversation one Sunday evening among the usual customers led to the formation of a group to write and perform new mysteries, and Bogie’s owners agreed to play our new radio mysteries once a month. Ann was a fan of the group from the beginning, and was delighted when it became so good that it was able to sell its productions to National Public Radio where several series were aired. By this time, Ann had become friends with several members of the group which numbered several ASH among them. When we discovered she was a Sherlockian we told her about the Adventuresses and she began to attend meetings. In 1985 she was invited to join the society and took the investiture Julia Stoner, probably because she was very close to her sister.
Ann was an Anglophile, who preferred British books and movies to all others. She was delighted to belong to ASH and attended her last few meetings in a wheelchair when cancer took away her ability to walk. She was also an enthusiastic baker and at holiday time sold wonderful pumpkin bread, which many of us have missed since she died. She was a quiet, joyful person who is missed for herself most of all.
A Remembrance of Ann
by M.E. Rich
I knew Ann and found her to be a staunch second generation Brit – I believe her mother was a war bride – and avid admirer of all things Empire. I met her via her Bogie’s connection, as I was a member of the resident actor’s troupe for the restaurant’s popular interactive murder mystery dinners. Her health was never as strong as her spirit, alas, but even when I’d visit her in Presbyterian Hospital Ann would gleefully engage in conversations and urge me to recall my two years adventures in London, happily remembering her own love of the metropolis as we sat within “whitewashed walls and dun coloured doors.” Her tenure with ASH was a short one but the pleasure she derived and returned to us was deep and genuine.
by MaryKate Brennan (originally published in Volume 23, No. 2 of the Muse):
Betty Jane Kraemer (Mary Maberly) died January 7, 2007 in Tonawanda, NY.
It’s been 25 years since I last saw Betty Jane Kraemer, but I retain fond memories of “BJ,” the grande dame of the early days of Buffalo’s Irish Secret Society. Poised, with a panache that made her look better in full Victorian regalia than anyone I knew then, knowledgeable on all things Holmes and otherwise, BJ was like no other Sherlockian I knew in those days.
Quite obviously, she wasn’t a man. Nor was she was the sort of bright young thing I hoped I was and who made up the other female Sherlockians of my world. No, BJ—and I was never terribly sure she really liked the initial appellation, but we Secret Irish persons used it often—was a woman of many experiences: wife, mother, grandmother, and retired teacher. She was the proud owner of a delightful home in Tonawanda, New York, to which she’d often invite Society members for a meeting—it had those homey touches you just couldn’t get at a restaurant.
As I’ve thought of Betty Jane in the weeks since her death, I find myself remembering a woman who was so unlike the other women of her generation I knew. She had an inner strength that made her not only a friend in spite of our age difference, but that also gave her a presence, an aura, that made those around her just a bit more genteel and cultured that we were away from her. I remember Betty Jane as a woman I was slightly in awe of, mostly because she could go from giving motherly advice to a college kid to arguing points of Sherlockian minutiae in the blink of an eye—something my mom sure couldn’t do!
Once I left college, I grew apart from the Irish Secret Society and my friends from that group. Although I have on occasion crossed paths with some of them, in the callous way of youth, I never did look up BJ again. But my memory of her in her beautiful Victorian gowns and hats with the slightly incongruous eyeglasses remains, and I wish her spirit well as it travels on its way. May she find that humble corner of Valhalla where Sherlock and his Watson dwell. Ave atque vale, Betty Jane!
MARILYN MacGREGOR, ASH
GERTRUDE H. MAHONEY, ASH
Reminiscences by Marina Stajic
It is always with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to dear friends. There is, however, a certain sense of comfort when the departed friend lived a long, healthy life. Gertrude H. Mahoney—Elsie Cubitt to ASH—died on May 18. She was 95. Until just a few months ago, Gertrude lived in her own apartment, in good health, completely self sufficient. She continued to enjoy what she loved most: her children, grand children and great grand children; dolls, dollhouses, miniatures (she helped found the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts in 1971), and last, but not least Sherlock Holmes and Sherlockians.
Gertrude and I joined the Red Circle around the same time in 1978. She became an instant friends and adopted Sherlockian mother to many of us. I don’t know if I would be standing here today if it wasn’t for Gertrude. Not only did she introduce me to ASH during the 1979 spring dinner, she also acquired a set of Edwardian underwear and somehow got me to model the same at the 1980 January dinner. Even though Gertrude stopped her intensive travel after she turned eighty, she always loved a good gossip and her interest for things Sherlockian never faded.
Nor did her grand sense of humor and of curiosity. The latter may help explain one of her greatest adventures. Gertrude was well into her seventies when she surprised a burglar in the kitchen of her son’s house in Washington. He fled, she called 911 and went outside to see which way he went. Unfortunately, he had a gun, and shot her, grazing her arm. “But it’s only a flesh wound,” she explained to the paramedics who were insisting that she go to the hospital, “and I’ve never had a chance to watch the police investigate a crime scene.”
May her memory always be green. A most gracious lady, a great friend – Gertrude Mahoney!
Editor’s note: Thanks also go to Peter Blau for information used above and Martha Irish, who sent us the following anecdote:
Gertrude never lost her sense of humor, not even at the end. Last Mother’s Day, the restaurant where I had lunch gave flowers to all the women. I decided to take mine—a red one—to Gertrude. On the way, I tried to remember the old tradition—you wore a red flower if your mother was living, a white one if she was deceased. Or was it the reverse?
When I arrived at Gertrude’s, I held up the flower for her to smell (her sight was almost completely gone). Without prompting, she recited the tradition about the flowers—red for the living, white for the deceased—and quipped, “But for me, you’d better wear pink because I’m halfway in between.” She died six days later.
LISA MCGAW, ASH, BSI, 2s, The Woman
The Trained Cormorant (BSI: Mrs. Hudson)
Lisa was the second woman given a shilling in the Baker Street Irregulars. A retiring freelance editor, Lisa ran the Gillette Memorial Luncheon at the Holmes Birthday Weekend in New York City. This task was thrust upon her by Julian Wolfe, head of the BSI, at her second attendance at the luncheon in 1964. At that time, the guest list numbered 17 — one for each of Holmes’ fabled steps. Her able management of this cherished event is well-attested by the number of Sherlockians attending — with the guest list now approaching 150, the Gillette Luncheon (now managed by ASH Susan Rice) is one of the high points of the Birthday Weekend.
After the 1980 Gillette Luncheon, Julian Wolfe announced Lisa’s investiture in the BSI and awarded her shilling.
Although she accepted her BSI dinner invitation for the first time in 1990, she was never to attend a BSI dinner — that year she was posthumously given the Two-Shilling Award (for extraordinary devotion to the cause beyond the call of duty).
JOSEPH W. MORAN, ASH, BSI
An Honorable Soldier (BSI: Sir Augustus Moran, C.B.)
by Margaret Fleesak
Joseph W. Moran, ASH, An Honourable Soldier, BSI, Sir Augustus Moran, C.B., crossed the Reichenbach on February 18, 2014 at the age of 86. For over 30 years he was a distinguished figure at Sherlockian meetings, with his deerstalker cap, cape, and beard. He’ll be remembered by many as the first person who spoke to them at the first scion meeting they attended.
Joe was a good companion and an old-fashioned gentleman. A graduate of Yale and an active alumnus, he was also on the board of his church. He had a forty-five year career as an actuary with the New York Life Insurance Company and a rich full life with a family he loved. In fact, the only reason he would miss a Sherlockian meeting was a family event. It is ironic that such a nice man shared a name with the evil Colonel Sebastian Moran, but Joe wouldn’t agree. He didn’t believe Moran was bad. He had an elaborate theory that explained away the Colonel’s villainy (something about working undercover for Mycroft Holmes who was the first spymaster), and he would defend his family’s name at every opportunity.
It’s not surprising that Joe was invited to join ASH not long after the group began to admit men. While a bit “old school” in some ways, not interested in the latest TV show or movie, he respected other people and always felt there was room in the Sherlockian world for everyone. He was an active participant in every meeting he attended. Welcoming newcomers in his low-key way and contributing to discussions from his wealth of knowledge were Joe’s fortes. He knew the Canon inside and out, always using a version with footnotes. He also kept a file on each story filled with papers he wrote or meeting handouts he’d collected. It was typical of him that he was unaware that the one on VEIL was empty until he grabbed it to take to a meeting. Everyone in the Sherlockian world knew him and respected him. Joe Moran will be greatly missed. Who will defend the Colonel now?
from the Baker Street Journal 46:3, 1996. Reprinted with permission
PATRICIA E. MORAN, ASH, BSI
Patience Moran (BSI: Patience Moran)
by Evelyn A. Herzog
The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes have lost not just a founding member but the symbol of their wit and intrepidity. Pat Moran died on 12 March 1996, at age 48, after many years of medical adventures (as she termed them) resulting from juvenile-onset diabetes.
She was one of a bevy of irrepressible college girls in the late 60s who became friends over cola, cookies, and the Canon (not John Shaw’s famous recipe, to be sure, but the best that could be managed in the circumstances). Under the influence of the ensuing contact high, the group progressed from reading and researching the Canon to composing their own contributions to the Writings upon the Writings, corresponding with newfound kindred spirits, planning Sherlockian escapades (especially including the infamous picket of the B.S.I. in January, 1968), and generally turning themselves into a Sherlockian society which has prospered for three decades.
As the Adventuresses made the transition in the 70s from an inactive post-college group to an asylum (in all senses) for Sherlockian women, Pat shouldered more than her share of burdens: she hosted events (such as the “Quick, Watson, the Needle!” display of Canonically-inspired handworks); she conceived ASH’s logo (a magnifying glass casting as its shadow the women’s symbol); she encouraged novices to the cult; she underwrote projects for the chronically hand-to-mouth group; she mediated differences of philosophy among the members; she was always available on short notice to give a toast, hand out songsheets, write an article, fold flyers and stuff envelopes, lead the singing, give a talk, and generally make a fool of herself in public (one of the prime qualifications of the true ASH); for the last several years she also served as editor of The Serpentine Muse.
Pat’s years of membership in the Baker Street Irregulars were necessarily shorter, but she was proud to be one of the women given that honor and, as far as her health permitted, she provided the B.S.I. with her skills and humor. A frequent attendee at Sherlockian events around the country, Pat was a longtime member of local scion societies The Priory Scholars and The Montague Street Lodgers and a spirited participant in smaller clubs such as The Strangers’ Room and The Isle of Uffa Chowder and Marching Society. No one could surpass her as a raconteur of pawky everyday events (cat stories her specialty). Her quiet sparkle and her loving heart won her friends and well-wishers around the world.
Over the years her friends were appalled by the medical hardships Pat suffered and impressed by the courage and style with which she overcame them. Any visit with her at home or in the hospital invariably turned into a kind of giddy salon, with Pat the easy and self-effacing moderator. Intending to cheer her up, we were the ones who came away brighter. Now we must manage without her, hoping that we have learned her methods.
and some comments from M.E. Rich at the ASH Spring Dinner 2006:
The playwright Lillian Hellman wrote that “ you really only care what a few people think. Only they…will stand behind your chair, for good or bad, forever.” Pat Moran has been gone for a decade now, but she will always stand behind me. Her friendship, generosity, and compassion were cherished by many of us. But not everyone knows how deliciously snide she was, how quick with a quip, how her chortle was The Definitive Chortle. She had a kind of Roz Russell breeziness, with her trademark “Hiya kid” and snappy banter.
In college, we reveled in episodes of Star Trek and fortuitously dubbed her “Bones” after the acerbic Dr. Leonard McCoy, a name—and attitude—she savored. Pat earned her Master’s degree at the New School. Eventually she too moved to Boston, married, divorced, and then came back home to us in New York. Bones had great style and a glorious smile, infectious and buoyant. And here’s the unbelievable truth: we were friends for thirty years, from coeds to cohorts, and not one harsh word ever passed between us. Oh, we disagreed and we disapproved, but we never argued, and that’s a heartfelt testimony to her loyalty, patience, and equanimity.
While holding the silver bird aloft. We have photos, too, of the Uffan trip to the BBC to appear in an odd tribute to Holmes. I think we each got twenty quid and blew it on an Indian meal and a room party in our upscale Mayfair hotel.
Pat’s grin is a feature of many photos and many memories. I’ll say it again—she had a fabulous smile. Her worsening diabetes had to have brought her pain and apprehension, but you’d never have guessed that; she fought her illness until the day she received her dual kidney-pancreas transplant at NYU. She never faltered, despite the steroidal chipmunk cheeks, despite the increasing strain on her system, despite the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center—she descended eighty-six flights of stairs that February day. And she won through. With an irony that Bones herself would have appreciated, she died of an aneurysm that struck her without warning, completely unforeseen. Pat never knew what hit her and, for that, we are grateful beyond measure.
The Old Russian Woman (BSI: The Old Russian Woman)
October 24, 1905-1991
by Evelyn Herzog
Both the BSI and ASH lost a well-respected member when Lenore Glen Offord (“The Old Russian Woman” in both groups) died on April 24th, her eighty-fifth-and-a-half birthday.
She wrote a dozen novels between 1938 and 1959. Most of them were mysteries, in the Golden Age tradition, with enjoyable plots and engaging characters. They’ve well repaid my searching them out in book dealers’ catalogs, and I advise you to keep your eyes open for them.
She was also mystery book critic for the San Francisco Chronicle for more than thirty years. Her verse “Memoirs of a Mystery Critic” is crammed with telegraphic summations of the many mystery plots she’d come to know so well, concluding:
The top-secret labs … the pursuers in cabs…
The hero impugned … the party marooned…
The bosoms, the brandy … the cyanide candy …
The hidden defectors … the lies to Inspectors …
Home life of a cop … and the Man at the Top…
By now, for these plots
I could fill in the dots
With one hand behind me
And a blindfold to blind me.
And yet I keep reading them,
Greedily needing them.
Don’t think of stinting them,
Just keep on printing them!
While all detective literature was her field, Sherlock Holmes had a special place in her life. As early as 1946 she contributed an article (under her full name) to the first volume of the original Baker Street Journal, and she was a long-time member of The Scowrers and Molly Maguires of San Francisco.
In 1958 Edgar Smith invested her in the Baker Street Irregulars, the first (and for over twenty years the only) woman to hold that honor. Shortly thereafter she composed the verse “A Case of Lost Identity (Addressed to the Noble Gentlemen who Invested Me with a Title)” in which her investiture character regrets that she can throw no light on her unchronicled case:
I’m the Old Russian Woman, I haven’t a doubt.
As such, on the roster engrave me.
But my untold Adventure – what was it about?
I cannot remember to save me.
A mysterious title you gave me!
I brought him adventure – and was it his first?
But its nature’s erased from my mind.
My riddle he read, or my perils dispersed,
Or he saved me from being maligned.
I forget; but I know he was kind….
In 1981 she accepted membership in ASH. You can read her article on Mary Sutherland’s profession in The Serpentine Muse, Vol. 6, No. 3. Visits to East Coast gatherings were, unfortunately, out of the question: “If only I had a real magic carpet,” she wrote us, “and all parties were held in the middle of the day!” Still, the printed page is a kind of magic carpet: we’ll stay in touch.
The Serpentine Muse is copyrighted by the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, and written permission must be obtained for reproduction of an article in another publication or website. Contact mmckayATL@comcast.net for more information.
And a good story about her…
Lenore Glen Offord, “The Old Russian Woman” to both ASH and BSI, was the first woman to be invested in the Baker Street Irregulars back in 1958. She was a mystery writer who lived on Russian Hill in San Francisco.
There is a famous, though apocryphal, story about her investiture. It’s said that Edgar W. Smith, then head of the Baker Street Irregulars, was planning a visit to San Francisco. He tells Anthony Boucher, head of the local BSI scion society, The Scowrers & Molly Maguires, that he would like to give a BSI shilling to their most notable and deserving member. Who would that be? The answer comes back, “Glen Offord.” (In some versions it’s “Lee Offord.”) When Edgar W. Smith arrives, to his astonishment, it turns out to be a woman. But he’s a good sport about it and gives her the shilling despite the fact that the BSI is an all-male group.
The truth is that Smith knew that he was giving it to a woman. He arrived with a certificate of investiture for Lenore Glen Offord as “The Old Russian Woman.” And he was already acquainted with her personally from previous trips to San Francisco and meetings with the Scowrers and Molly Maguires.
She never attended a dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars.
TRISH PEARLMAN, ASH
A Curious Collection
by Judith Freeman, ASH
On Friday, May 26, 2006, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes lost a sister and I lost a friend when Trish Pearlman died of a stroke after a long struggle with cancer.
Being an Adventuress gave Trish great joy. She chose “A Curious Collection” as her investiture—that title described her well, for Trish was a multi-faceted person, a collection of many interests and abilities.
It was on the buffet line at the Baskerville Bash of 2000 that I first met Trish and her husband Jay. We worked together throughout the rest of that year on the Bash program for the following birthday weekend. The success of “This Is Your Life, Hugo The Hound” was due in no small part to their theatrical experience.
Trish’s wit and skill as a writer was evident in her contributions to Bash scripts and the Serpentine Muse, as well as the toasts and papers she contributed to ASH dinners and other scion events. Her “Interview with The Master” was the winning entry in the 2004 ASH Birthday Challenge.
Trish and Jay (left) were active members of the Montague Street Lodgers of Brooklyn. At one meeting Jay demonstrated the use of stage makeup by applying a beard and mustache to Trish until she resembled one of the Smith Brothers (right). They also ran the Mini Tonga Society together. The computer-generated newsletter they produced for the society had a professional panache made possible by Trish’s skill in computer technology.
The Mini Tonga Society brought out her other creative abilities. She not only made miniatures, she would crochet and/or knit little things for the furniture she made. Only a devoted miniaturist would crochet doilies smaller than a dime.
But it was her warmth, her sense of humor, and her wide range of interests that made our long-winded conversations such a pleasure. I shall miss them. I shall especially miss hearing her answer the phone with (in her particular drawl) “Hiya, sugar.”
RIVKAH PELLER, ASH
by Sherry Rose-Bond
Starting about forty years ago and within a very short period of time, Charlotte Wisniewski became Rivkah Peller: a rabbi’s wife, one of my closest friends, an active Sherlockian, and Maggie Oakshott of ASH. Each new role she undertook became an adventure for Rivkah, which she entered with her full heart and soul. Her picture should be in the dictionary accompanying the definition for joie de vivre because that’s how she lived her life.
Included among her many adventures were meeting the Queen of Holland, establishing a nude scuba-diving club, making up tales for cruise ship passengers who were touring the museum attached to the synagogue in Curaçao where her husband was Chief Rabbi, and, during The Final Problem Tour, bribing a British police sergeant to call me to say that she had been arrested!
Rivkah discovered the existence of ASH, and together we attended our very first meeting. This was my first experience with Sherlockians outside of Philadelphia and the start of a forty-year immersion into the Sherlockian world. When I found out that John Bennett Shaw was planning a week-long workshop on Sherlock Holmes at Notre Dame University, we absolutely had to attend! We drove out and giggled together the entire time. When, miraculously, we won one of John’s killer quizzes, we stayed up the entire night creating even harder quiz questions!
Rivkah incorporated Holmes into her life and her activities, attending scion meetings whenever she could and, when she couldn’t, locating “orphan” Sherlockians or converting people into Sherlockians. These people became her firm friends thereafter. Holmes was a theme running through her life, whether she was living in Curaçao, Texas, Panama, the Poconos, or finally Mexico.
She was the best kind of best friend: one you could rely on unconditionally. Once when I had the flu, she showed up on my doorstep with chicken soup (from a Chinese restaurant) and rolls of toilet paper because, well, you know, the flu! When I started dating Scott, she insisted that we double-date so she could vet him. I assume that he passed muster because she flew up from Curaçao to attend our wedding.
When she died suddenly in Mexico on June 22, people all over the globe mourned because anyone who knew Rivkah recognized that she had been unique and a force of nature. Our Sherlockian world and, indeed, the outside world will be much less interesting places without her. Personally, I owe her three great debts: she introduced me to ASH and thus to the great society of Sherlockians; she nurtured my courtship with Scott; and she was my good and true friend. I shall miss her and never forget her!
DOROTHY BELLE POLLACK, ASH
by Susan Z. Diamond
ASH Dorothy Belle Pollack, Violet Westbury, passed away on June 16, 2014, at the age of 92. As faithful Muse readers know, her sprightly verse and ingenious puzzles graced the inside front cover of each issue. She appeared in more Muse issues than any other author and was recognized officially as the ASH Poet Laureate. Another ASH who has a deft hand with a verse, Mickey Fromkin, pays tribute to Dorothy Belle in this issue.
As Contributions Editor, I felt I knew her well even though I only met her once. Dorothy Belle eschewed mechanical devices—especially computers. Immediately after an issue was published, I received her typed contribution for the next issue accompanied by a note as to what she particularly enjoyed in the last issue. Holmes would have had a field day with the distinctive features of that type. Since she didn’t do email, we corresponded and I found she loved to receive postcards—preferably with Canonical illustrations that she could post on her closet wall.
Dorothy Belle was a retired classics professor who served her community, Teaneck, New Jersey, with enthusiasm as a library trustee. In an age where libraries tend to focus on popular books, she encouraged the reading of classical literature and great poetry. In 2011, she edited the anthology, Great Short Poems from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century for Dover. The book included over 300 poems, all 12 lines or less. For those written in other languages, she did the translation.
SUSAN RICE, ASH, BSI
MICHAEL J. RIEZENMAN, ASH
The Right Honourable Trelawney Hope
by Susan Rice
Mike passed through the Reichenbach on January 27th of 2014. He had moved through life for five years with the aid of an electric cart, but he walked through the Falls on his own.
Mike graduated from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering, and his first job was in the aerospace industry with Grumman. His unusual facility as a technical writer was soon uncovered, so it was in that field he made his career and his name. He wrote for several technical publications, the last being IEEE Spectrum where he was Chief Technical Writer, specializing in electronic and hybrid vehicles.
For most of his life, he enjoyed reading Holmes and meeting with Sherlockians and was published in both the Muse and the BSJ. Mike also took great pleasure in Gilbert and Sullivan, P.G. Wodehouse, the Nero Wolfe canon, and Chinese food, not necessarily in that order.
He met his true love, Paula (Lady Hilda Trelawney Hope), more than fifteen years ago when they served on the same grand jury. Paula changed her bus route for an errand and found Mike at the bus stop so they boarded together. On that first ride romance bloomed, and they were wed in the courtroom where they met by the judge who had presided over the grand jury.
After they were married, Paula was surprised to discover that Mike was an expert cook, who enjoyed testing his skills with a wide variety of cuisines and ingredients. For years, Paula went into the kitchen only for a glass of water or a look from the window. They never ceased delighting each other, even after a blow to Mike’s head required years of slow and difficult therapy and major adjustments for both of them.
ANN SKENE-MELVIN, ASH, MBt
by Maureen Green with comments by Kate Karlson
Ann Patricia (Rothery) Skene-Melvin, M.Bt., ASH (Beryl Garcia), spent most of her last five years bravely battling cancer and supporting cancer research. She departed peacefully on April 9, 2003.
Ann was born to Yorkshire parents in Trinidad where her father worked for a British oil company. One of her earliest memories was seeing the Graf Spee on its way to the Battle of the River Plate. Her father was later posted to Colombia where the family spent two years in a jungle outpost on the Magdalena River. Here, Ann developed her enduring love of tropical flora and found playmates in monkeys, macaws and parrots of all kinds.
Ann’s mother eventually set up home near Alliston, Ontario where Ann was valedictorian of the first graduating class from Bunting Memorial High School. While attending the University of Toronto, Ann made lifelong friends with a group of young women who named themselves “Les Girls.” Ann was at the founding political convention of the National Democratic Party of Canada. She was an anti-nuclear activist and strong Canadian nationalist. At the University of Western Ontario School of Library and Information Services, Ann was part of the first library workers’ strike in Canada.
Ann and her librarian husband David Skene-Melvin were founding members of the Bootmakers of Toronto. Together they were the primary organizers behind the Bootmaker workshop weekend in 1986 and again in 1996 for the workshop held at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. Ann was a Charter Woman of this club, Chair of the Membership Committee, and sat on the Executive and Finance Committee, active to the end.
As proprietor of Ann’s Books and Mostly Mysteries, she sponsored an annual award given for the best article published in Canadian Holmes. From 1986 to 2001 Ann was librarian of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, where she obtained about 30 interviews with veterans and assisted Jean Portugal with research for her monumental seven volumes of the stories of Canadians on D-Day.
As ASH Beryl Garcia, Ann encouraged the fair sex to demonstrate their knowledge and fully participate in things Sherlockian. She was always available to assist with research, supporting and promoting fellow Bootmakers. Ann will be remembered for her joie de vivre and her major contribution to the existence of The Bootmakers of Toronto.
Kate Karlson adds, “Ann’s quiet, confident conversation, whether the topic was Sherlock or Shakespeare, was one of the hidden treasures of her company. Add to this a subtle wit and a sincere warmth, and it was evident one was in the presence of a true Adventuress, a woman of many facets and talents.”
Ann introduced a fellow librarian, Mary Campbell, to the Sherlockian world through the Bootmakers of Toronto. Also a member of ASH, Mary died a month before Ann. Kate Karlson remembers both of our Canadian sisters: “We salute Mary and Ann and rejoice in the gifts of friendship they gave us. To paraphrase Alexander Pope, when a friend dies, we lose a part of ourselves, the best part. We Adventuresses have indeed lost a pair of fine and noble ladies, members who honored us when they took ASH after their names.”
DOROTHY ROWE SHAW, ASH, The Woman
April 29, 1924 – November 24, 1999
by Dorothy K. Stix
Dorothy was born in New York State and raised both in New York and Florida. She had fond memories of New York and made quite a few visits back to her home state.
In May of 1969, she married John Bennett Shaw. It was the second marriage for both of them, and they took two of Dorothy’s daughters on the honeymoon. Apparently the trip turned into a great family vacation.
But then family was what Dorothy was really all about. She had five children, and John had three. They turned the whole menage into one happy family. She was a great mom who loved and cared about all the children. Whenever we visited, either by phone or by person, much of our conversation was about the children.
Dorothy joined the Sherlockian world in January 1970 when John brought her to New York for the BSI weekend. We all loved her, and she in turn loved being part of our world. Dorothy helped found the Brothers Three of Moriarty and went to all John’s workshops.
When she was building 221B Baker Street as a present for John, I remember how excited she was over the project. Whenever we were together, we went shopping for miniature furniture. (Editor’s note: Dorothy’s model of 221B, a 1” to 1’ replica of the entire house, is now on display at the University of Minnesota as part of the Sherlock Holmes Collections.)
In 1974, Dorothy was “The Woman” at the BSI dinner, and in 1995, she received the BSI’s Victoria Medal in recognition of her Sherlockian contributions. Because of the warm hospitality she provided to Sherlockians from around the world who made the pilgrimage to the Shaws’ residence in Santa Fe, her ASH investiture was most appropriate – “Mrs. Hudson.”
Dorothy was a very gracious lady, and I feel very fortunate to have had her for a dear friend for twenty-nine years. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.
JOHN BENNETT SHAW, ASH, BSI, 2s
Arcadia (BSI: The Hans Sloan of My Age)
Other links for John Bennett Shaw
A nice remembrance of JBS from Jim Hawkins of the Nashville Scholars.
John was one of the three men initially invested in ASH: the excerpt below from a paper by JBS in the Baker Street Journal (one of a series of papers on the retirement of Dr. Julian Wolff) explains why he was chosen.
from the Baker Street Journal 36,:1, pp 88-89. Used with permission .
Not long after I began regular attendance at the annual dinners, I began to present papers. On one occasion I shared the program with Rex Stout, and I noted that we made an interesting trio at the podium: Shaw at some 265 pounds, Rex at about 130 and Julian there the center of all eyes….
At the last dinner held at The Players (and I do not believe that I was the cause of its being the Last Dinner), I delivered my thoughtful paper “To Shelve or Censor” — on the many obscene passages in the Holmesian Canon, Noting considerable acceptance of my erudite theories on the part of the audience I asked Julian, the Editor, if he would consider publishing it in the JOURNAL. He hesitated, then began by paying me a rather bibliophilian compliment by saying that my talk “was quite a tail piece,” and then he stated that THE BAKER STREET JOURNAL was unworthy of such a composition.
Certainly my most memorable (and really not regrettable) encounter with Dr. Wolff, Editor, Commissionaire, Leader, was at the 5 January 1968 dinner. I was by some quirk of fate acting as an “adviser” (a concept utterly ridiculous) to a group of Sherlockian women, all students at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, banded together as “The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes.” And on that cold January night in 1968, six of these scholars deployed outside Cavanaugh’s Restaurant on West 23rd Street and, Heaven Help Us!, they picketed the BSI as being unfair to women. The first I knew of this, that they had lived up to their threat to defy custom, propriety, the laws of the City and our sacrosanct all-male literary society, was that a very red-faced, apoplectic, excited, and angry Julian Wolff said, “Shaw, your [bleep] girls are downstairs … do something!” I did, of course, for who can withstand a Wolff angered? I recruited my friend Peter Blau, an eligible bachelor (to save research: he still is), and we hastened to the scene of the crime. And it appeared so, for a nicely-spoken policeman (much nicer in speech than Wolff to Shaw) told the ladies that they could not picket without a parade permit. One of them rummaged through a purse and came out with a letter signed by Mayor John Lindsey giving them permission to parade. It was a stand-off, an open rebellion, a shocking reversal of roles, for it was women getting the attention, not the erudite gentlemen upstairs drinking away. Reason in the person of Shaw-Blau prevailed, and the six cold coeds were brought into the bar, warming liquid was purchased, and the then-flustered Shaw agreed to read a statement to the assembly. I still have this in my file, and it reads: “To Whom It May Concern. The A.S.H. wish to announce that, while not forsaking their noble quest for the admission of ladies to the B.S. I., they will graciously refrain from any public display that might be a cause of embarrassment to this august body. But we still want in!”
That message was read and booed, and to this day I catch Julian looking not pleasantly askance at me. Almost I feel that while I am not branded with a Scarlet A, I carry a brand that reads A.S.H.
It should be recounted that the next year they again returned and attempted to crash the Cocktail Party, which precedes the dinner. They were rebuffed, and I spent the rest of the evening vainly trying to look small and be unnoticed.
One could continue for many pages recounting the career of Julian Wolff as a scholar, a bibliophile, a raconteur, an efficient and organized leader of a disorganized and Irregular group of extraordinary people. One could relate many episodes evidencing his gentle wit, his understanding, his love of literature, people, and life. He has been a joy to behold, to listen to, and to follow. He has said on several occasions that for the Baker Street Irregulars at the dinner the best part of the program is the Intermission. Not so: the best part is Julian Wolff, a/k/a “The Red-Headed League and the Commissionaire.
Remarks at Presentation at Culinary Institute 4 May 1991 by Evelyn Herzog, Principal Unprincipled Adventuress:
…Without losing sight of the historical fact that first one and later two women were BSI members for some years (and ASH members, as well), many Adventuresses often expressed their extreme willingness to see the BSI become a co-educational organization. As you all well know, on 12 January of this year that happy day arrived, when Wiggins of the BSI inducted half a dozen surprised but deeply gratified women into that organization. Now that the excitement has somewhat abated and a more mellow frame of mind has returned, I would like to take this opportunity to look back and honor here tonight some people who have been of singular importance to the Adventuresses.
…As readers of the Baker Street Journal know, ASH’s earliest days of tutelage were spent under the indulgent and farseeing eye of John Bennett Shaw. I will be phoning John later tonight to alert him to the fact that a packet will shortly arrive in Santa Fe conveying to him two things: an ASH pin engraved with his initials and the date 4 May 91, and an ASH membership card.
I pause here for a word about ASH investitures. Ordinarily a new member chooses a name from among the females of the Canon — the definition of “female” being taken, um, broadly. That is, we have as our investitures the names of women and children, ships, books, works of art, and manifestations of nature. However, we can perceive another way — a very Canonical way — of making an ash of oneself; proving indisputably that gender is not destiny and that ASHes are made, not born.However, we can perceive another way — a very Canonical way — of making an ash of oneself; proving indisputably that gender is not destiny and that ASHes are made, not born. And so, to our dear John Shaw, we proffer the investiture of “Arcadia.”
In 1994, The Adventuresses lost the great John Bennett Shaw. While most Sherlockians think of John as a BSI, he was an Adventuress, too, and proud to be one. This poem appeared in The Serpentine Muse vol 13, no. 1, 1996.
TO DEAR JOHN – October 3,1994
by Robert Thomalen
How bright the light that just went out,
And left our world a darker place.
Sherlockians now grope our way:
His footsteps in the sand we trace.
How can it be that he is gone?
He was for us a guide.
Now rudderless, we wander on
With sorrow and despair inside.
How can it be that his great strides
No longer touch the earth?
For more than any other, it was he
Who gave the game its worth.
How can we stand another day
Without his genial wit?
He’d take the most demanding task
And make a game of it.
How can we bear another day
And suffer such great loss?
The absence of John Bennett Shaw
Shall be our albatross.
So, dear John,
Take with you all our thanks and love
To spectral Baker Street
For now, at last, and face to face,
You’ll Holmes and Watson meet.
JAN STAUBER, ASH
The Hotel du Louvre, Paris
FOND MEMORIES by Francine Kitts
“We’ll always have Paris.” That was the mantra we adopted after Jan and I spent a week there together this year — and yes, it was in April. It was my first trip to Paris and we stayed in Jan and Al’s charming apartment on rue Saint Dominique. We were positively giddy seeing and doing everything that wonderful city has to offer. Jan was thrilled that I was so enchanted with Paris, and I was thrilled that Jan was my mentor. She created a week of memories that I will cherish forever.
We did the usual things one does on a first trip to Paris because Jan was determined that I would see as much as possible, even if she’d seen these things umpteen times. But how many tourists get to buy a step stool and drag it home on a bus? We laughed until our sides ached. We took pictures at Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Moulin Rouge, the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Montmartre, and of course at the Hotel du Louvre, Paris, Jan’s ASH investiture. Adventuresses would never miss that opportunity!
As we traveled around Paris, I was fascinated watching Jan charm her friends, shopkeepers, waiters, and anyone with whom she was in contact. She didn’t think her French was up to par, and since my vocabulary consists of merci, oui, bonjour, and au revoir, I wouldn’t know, but what I saw was my amazing friend weave her magic spell. In addition to being able to make herself understood, she had the uncanny ability to banter, not only with friends, but with total strangers. Her sense of humor came through and she even made shopkeepers laugh. What a woman!
In addition to being an eternal optimist, Jan was the most positive, upbeat, no-nonsense person I’ve ever known. She met every battle with fierce determination and never lost her sense of humor through it all. She never wanted sympathy and fought valiantly for almost three years without ever feeling sorry for herself. Even at the very end, Jan was still asking how everybody else was doing – and she could, amazingly, still laugh. She was a true tower of strength and a hero to all her friends.
Jan’s husband Al [Gregory] was her soul mate and they were the best of friends. We who were lucky enough to count ourselves as her friends will miss her every day. She taught us so much and we will carry her indomitable spirit with us forever. We’ll always have Paris.
Remembering Jan Stauber by Alexian Gregory, BSI
Janice (“Jan”) Carol Stauber was born on 29 November 1943 in Newark, NJ, the second of 4 children born to Theodore and Gertrude Stauber. She had an older brother, Donald, a younger brother Richard and a younger sister, Kathe.
Jan was brought up in Verona, NJ in a house purchased by her parents one year before her birth. She went to the Forest Avenue Elementary School one block away from her home. She then went to Verona High School from which she graduated in 1961.
She attended Westminster College in Pennsylvania. This Presbyterian college was where she broke from her Presbyterian faith. She would not accept its doctrine that everyone is predestined for either heaven or hell regardless of whatever good or evil they committed in their lifetime. She graduated in 1965.
Jan received her Masters in counseling from Montclair State College in 1977. She taught for some 17 years in Verona at the F.N. Brown elementary school. Her secondary job was working at Turning Point, an outpatient facility for those with drug/alcohol problems.
Jan was a very gifted drug and alcohol counselor. She was a highly sensitive person who could “read” people and understand them on a very deep level with few if any obvious clues. I witnessed many examples of this preternatural gift which almost never failed her. Her use of this arcanely derived knowledge helped her enormously in guiding her clients to clean and sober lives.
In the mid-1980s Jan left education and studied computer programming at the prestigious and very demanding Chubb Institute. She graduated with flying colors and was subsequently employed as a computer programmer. But after a few years of this she felt very dissatisfied. She needed contact with people and not machines. Her interaction with people energized her.
Jan found work as a Substance Abuse Counselor at Roxbury (NJ) Middle School. After a few years there she transferred to Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Clifton, NJ. Here she worked as a Student Assistance Counselor for some 15 years. Her students respected and loved her. Many students loved come down to the office to spend time with her and find great comfort from their home and school problems. Not a few of them invented reasons just to see her.
On several occasions Jan received letters from these former students who had gone on to college and were now raising their own families. These letters emphatically and lovingly described the difference Jan had made in their lives by her attention and guidance. One particular instance comes to mind. A girl was distraught because she could not go to the junior prom. Why? Her family could not afford to buy her a dress. Jan bought her the blue dress that this girl had her wistful eyes on. The girl went to the Junior Prom. It was a happy ending the student never forgot.
Jan would have been the first to tell you that she was no intellectual. But she was extremely intelligent. She joined Mensa, the high IQ society which admits only those who have scored at or above the 98th percentile in a standardized intelligence test.
Like many great people Jan was very self-effacing. She could never understand why people marveled at her counselor skills, nor could she understand how she qualified for Mensa.
Jan served Mensa well in a number of capacities: as local secretary (president) of Northern NJ Mensa; as a proctor in administering IQ tests to prospective members of Mensa; on various Regional Gathering committees; and on one (National) Annual Gathering Committee.
On 21 August 1984 Jan and I had our first date. In September of 1986 I moved in with her to live in the house in which she grew up. On 2 July 1988 we became engaged on our third trip together in Avebury England under an ancient tree. On 7 June 1989 we were married in our Verona home.
Jan loved to travel. The world was her treasure chest she often explored looking for gems. In the course of her life she visited 30 countries. When we began our joint travels starting with a trip to England and Wales in 1985 Jan was an Anglophile. She enjoyed seeing the British countryside, churches, quaint villages, etc. She took especial delight in seeing sheep in rural settings. Jan even took to collecting sheep in the form of sweaters, T-shirts, and stuffed animals.
Jan and I visited 22 countries together. We traveled from Iceland to China, from the USSR to Egypt and from Turkey to Sweden. But after we went to France together for the first time, Jan’s “loyalties” changed. She went from anglophilia to francophilia. She loved everything about France—food, people, sights. Visiting France never became old for her. Each time she went there her batteries were recharged. This was never truer than in the month after she was diagnosed.
Family was very important to Jan. She loved organizing our annual Christmastime dinners when her siblings would come over and we’d feast and exchange gifts. Jan combined this love of family with travel. She took at a few trips to France with them, and one trip to China. On one of her French trips the Stauber clan biked through Burgundy stopping at numerous local vineyards to improve Franco-American relations and to courteously sample the local wines.
Jan had no interest in Sherlock Holmes before I came into her life. In May 1984, a few months before we began dating, I was scheduled to give a talk on Sherlock Holmes at Northern NJ Mensa’s Regional Gathering. Jan came to hear my talk, not because she had any interest in the subject, but because she feared I would be addressing an empty room. After all, she reasoned, who would go to a talk on Sherlock Holmes of all things? Jan arrived late and there wasn’t an empty seat in the room!
She grew to love Sherlock Holmes and become active in the Sherlockian world. She was a founder of the Baskerville Bash, the alternate dinner to the annual BSI event in January. She performed many roles for the Bash, but her absolute favorite was performing as a Sherlette.
The Sherlettes were a group of ladies, (and occasional men) organized by Jane Hinckley. They performed rock and roll songs whose lyrics had been changed to Sherlockian themes. Jan loved getting up in front of an audience and making them laugh and smile. Jan usually referred to the Sherlettes as “a bunch of old broads having a good time.”
In 1997 she presented a very well-received talk at Autumn in Baker Street entitled “A Pin, A Cork, A Card.” It analyzed Stapleton as a lepidopterist (and was scientific and informative). But most of all, it was funny.
In 1998, along with me, she was appointed as a Director of Mrs. Hudson’s Cliffdwellers of Edgewater, NJ. Jan loved this role. She performed many functions as a Director, but one of the most notable ones was her designing of the games to be played at our meetings twice a year. She also enjoyed leading our group in Sherlockian songs.
Jan combined her love of Sherlock Holmes with her love of children in a unique and important way. Each year Jan would borrow my Inverness, deerstalker, a pipe, magnifying glass, some Sherlockian plush dolls etc. Then she would go to the 7th and 8th grades in Woodrow Wilson Middle School and pretend to be Holmes himself.
She would “study” various children under her lens and make “deductions” about them. Then she’d give a talk on Holmes, Doyle and the Victorian world. The children listed with rapt attention. There was no whispering, yawning, or mischief. Jan did this in conjunction with the English teachers who were studying a Holmes story. I believe that the particular adventure was the Red-Headed League.
She did this each year she worked in that school, about 15 years in all. So many hundreds of students became interested in Holmes as a direct result of Jan’s engaging presentation.
When the school designed a poster to encourage reading, it showed Jan as Holmes reading the Canon!
In 2004 the Beacon Society, a scion devoted to introducing young people to Sherlock Holmes, presented its first Beacon Award. It was given to Jan in honor of her many years of addressing those 7th and 8th graders. I was told that when the committee had to vote on the first honoree, it was unanimously for Jan.
Jan had a very strong artistic/creative side. She learned to make beautiful objects from stained glass. She was very proficient at needlework, even its most difficult demanding, and unforgiving variant—counted cross-stitching.
But the greatest expression of her artistry was in our garden. Jan spent countless hours there under a blazing hot sun planting, transplanting, weeding and watering. “I love getting dirty in the garden!” she would say with that broad smile on her face under her floppy straw hat. Many were the times that I witnessed neighbors stopping by to compliment Jan on her horticulture.
In January of 2003 Jan was diagnosed with stomach cancer and given a maximum of 18 months to live. She flatly refused to accept this. In addition to surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy Jan embarked on a dedicated course of self-healing. She did various physical exercises, meditation, guided imagery, affirmations (telling herself out loud that she was getting better), aromatherapy, and massage therapy, and hypnotherapy.
All of these activities did, indeed, make her feel good about herself. This boosted her immune system immeasurably. So instead of a mere 18 months, she lived healthfully and energetically for nearly three years. People were absolutely amazed when she told them she had cancer, so “normal” was she in appearance and so energetic in manner.
Jan died peacefully on 7 October 2005 in our Verona home that she loved so much.
In accordance with her specific wishes I deposited most of her ashes in the Seine. I buried a smaller portion in L’Esplanade des Invalides, that wonderful park near our Paris apartment. Small portions of her ashes were also buried under the tree in Avebury where I proposed to her. And another portion are now under the magnolia tree in front of our house. She is in those places she loved most —Paris, Avebury and Verona.
This self-effacing and incredibly modest woman was posthumously honored with several Sherlockian obituaries: two in Britain, one in France, one in Denmark, and some in the US.
I lost the very best friend I ever had, but I continue to celebrate the 21 wonderful years we had together. She was very much the best and wisest woman I have ever known.
THOMAS L STIX, Jr., ASH, BSI, 2s
Shag (BSI: The Norwood Builder)
A Brief Appreciation
by Evelyn Herzog ASH, BSI and M.E. Rich, ASH, BSI
At first glance, Tom Stix was not the kind of person you’d have expected to become an Adventuress of Sherlock Holmes. In appearance, he certainly was not a typical member. Yet, when we consider the characteristics that make a woman a likely candidate for ASH investiture – commitment to the Sherlockian cause, humor, conviviality, and participation in the group’s activities, coupled with a willingness to make a fool of oneself in public – it becomes clear that Tom was a natural.
As you may know, the only men who have been invested as ASH have been special benefactors of the group, and each has received an investiture concerned with smoking. The investiture given to Tom – “Shag” – honored him with the name of the tobacco that Watson termed one of Holmes’ familiar institutions, while it winked at Tom’s habitual self-portrayal as a rough, scrappy guy. But this shag burned smooth and surprisingly sweet.
Tom Stix was not, at first glance, the kind of person you’d have expected to let women into the Baker Street Irregulars. He was a man with an informed love of tradition – the son of a beloved Irregular with personal ties to the great early days of the BSI; a patron of the sport of kings; a devotee of musical theater and longtime member of the Players Club. The histories of all these institutions were dear to him, and in particular he revered and promoted our remembrance of the BSI’s heritage of persons, events, and places. But, for Tom, championship of the past meant claiming the best of the future.
Indeed, quick glances are not enough, as Tom and many of the Adventuresses found, to their mutual satisfaction. He wanted to know who we were and what we thought. He met us as individuals and saw us as individuals. He asked us for our opinions and actually listened. He was by no means quick to agree or to flatter. What he did do was admit women into full membership as Baker Street Irregulars. No small gift.
ASH, too, came to know Tom better. We had been aware he was a man of strong feelings. Now we found that among them was a sense of playfulness: he had a taste for goofy haberdashery; he sang with enthusiasm (if with only moderate tunefulness); for costume events he was an inspired dresser-up (with his henchman Dorothy); and he loved being an Adventuress. He wore his new initials proudly, even if he did insist on bickering over which “ASH” or “BSI” ought to come first after one’s name.
One of our favorite Sherlockian photographs depicts the heads of the BSI and ASH perched side-by-side in the Algonquin lobby, sporting matching deerstalkers… well, not fore-and-afts but side-to-sides… each bearing the motto, “I’m Their Leader: Which Way Did They Go?” The way Tom went, we would all be honored to follow.
FRANCINE MORRIS SWIFT, ASH, BSI, The Woman
Hatty Doran (BSI: The Wigmore Street Post Office)
by Evelyn Herzog
Francine Swift was Francine Morris when we first met back in the early 1970s. She was a recently-arrived resident of Washington, D.C., and an enthusiastic member of The Red Circle, a group I visited as often as possible. Francine was a university librarian, an experienced Sherlockian, an independent woman, and an acute raconteur with a deceptively mild Southern accent. When ASH was reborn in the mid-70s, we signed her up as soon as possible, with the investiture “Hatty Doran.” She was an Adventuress for more than thirty years. I can’t possibly do justice to her whole life, so let me just sketch out some of the highlights of her career as an ASH.
Francine was one of the happy seventeen who attended the first planned ASH dinner in January 1976, and then caused a sensation at the 1977 costumed birthday dinner when she attended as Hatty in rugged female prospector’s garb (left) and subsequently got into a mock-tussle with lady-of-the-evening Kitty Winter as portrayed by Kate Karlson. (A rock hammer beats a feather boa every time!) But Hatty Doran was a lady, too, with a fine needlewoman’s accomplishments: That same 1977 January weekend, she had a featured piece in our “Quick, Watson, the Needle!” needlework exhibition — a magnificently-decorated chambray shirt she had embroidered with insignia from each of the Canonical tales.
Always reliable as a speaker, whether scheduled or extemporaneous, she for many years gave the toast to Queen Victoria at all ASH gatherings. Only in her absence did that honor pass to Bertie Pearson and then to Mickey Fromkin. Over the years Francine treated us to quizzes, sketches, and impromptu anecdotes. None raised greater hilarity than her account of her scientific culinary investigation of “the parsley in the butter” (SIXN). You can find it in Serpentine Muse-ings,Vol. Two, but it’s hard to convey in print the rising pitch and increasing outrage of Francine’s voice as she detailed her frustrations in the quest. Francine also assisted as the narrator in the world-renowned Reverse Strip Tease performed at the January 1980 ASH dinner by Marina Stajic.
Once Francine and Wayne Swift married – one of the great Sherlockian romances – Wayne often became a collaborator in her contributions to the ASH dinners and the Muse. The themes of many of their shared avocations – including horse-racing, their dogs, their travels with the London society, Gilbert & Sullivan, puns – all found their way into their writings and performances for us. At right is the drawing of Hatty Doran that Wayne made into a card for Francine – note the crossed rock hammer and roses below the portrait.
Already an Adventuress of long-standing, Francine became “The Woman” for the BSI in 1983, then, deservedly, a Baker Street Irregular in 1994 – one of the few to achieve that “triple crown”. Her BSI investiture “The Wigmore Street Post Office” was a wink at Francine’s prolific interest in the happenings of her friends and willingness to circulate information.
Wayne’s death in 2001 after twenty-four years of marriage but twenty years of fighting cancer was a blow from which Francine never really recovered, despite her strong Christian faith, her gallant spirit, and the support of her large circle of friends. Her death now brings back to us the image of Francine in her prime – her erudition on so many topics, her enthusiasm in Sherlockian activities, her brilliance as an anecdotalist notwithstanding a pesky stutter, her generosity, her love of God and enjoyment of the minutiae of church worship, her cultivation of her friends throughout the world, her ability to alternate between a Southern lady’s gentility and an outdoor woman’s bluntness, and her rollicking humor. So thank you, Francine: you gave us all a lot, most of all an example of how to be a good Sherlockian and a good woman.
So long, chum.
ADELINE S. TINNING, ASH
The Duchess of Holdernesse
by Susan Rice
Addie died on June 23rd, leaving behind an ashen ghost of graciousness to all who knew her. She dressed most frequently in simple tailored suits appropriate to her professional attainments, but I always thought she looked like the good queen in a fairy tale and had no trouble picturing a diadem on her head. She was soft-spoken and serene with a light girlish giggle when she was amused which, of course, was frequently since she was usually in the presence of Herb.
Addie came to the Sherlockian world on the arm of a proud Herb Tinning late in the 1970s. By the time he presented her to us, Addie had lived an active life starting with her birth in 1920 in Newark, New Jersey, then a handsome, bustling port metropolis. She graduated from New York University with an MA and began a career in education which culminated in 1966 when she became a founding professor of the Essex County College, later serving as its dean. The college continues to thrive and has gone from a small beginning to an institution offering seventy majors and 564 courses to students from forty countries. She retired from Essex as dean in 1993. She had also had time to marry and bear four children, all of whom mourn her passing. When she and Herb married, she gathered his two children into her flock and thus has also left behind six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She died at home in Milburn, New Jersey surrounded by her family.
Addie joined ASH in 1983 as the Duchess of Holderness as (I presume) there was no appropriate Canonical queen. She was very much part of the merriment at many of the January ASH convocations while Herb was at the BSI dinner wishing he were with Addie. In 1995, Evelyn’s records show that she delivered the toast to Queen Victoria, confirming that I am not the only one who saw royalty in her person. She and Herb have been absent from our midst for several years, and we are sad to learn that we will not raise a glass with Addie again.
BARBARA IRIS (ULAN) VAN BUSKIRK, ASH
A Remembrance of Barbara
by Paula Cohen
With the passing of Barbara Iris Ulan Van Buskirk (Violet Smith) on August 30th, 2006, the Sherlockian world, and the world in general, lost a dear, sharp, funny, bright, and wonderfully talented member and friend.
I met Barbara on a drizzly November 1975 evening at an establishment on 56th Street off Seventh Avenue known as The Office Pub. This was my first encounter with the then-members of ASH: Ev Herzog, Pat Moran, Kate Karlson, Mary Ellen Couchon, and Barbara Ulan. How well did we hit it off? Five months later, Ev, Pat, Barbara and I, and Pat’s godmother, Claire, all went to London, on a trip Kate arranged. Barbara and I shared a hotel room, and from that happy propinquity arose a fast friendship that is not over even now… and never will be.
On our first morning in London, we listened ecstatically to change-ringing on the BBC. Later we tracked down the plaque commemorating Holmes and Watson’s first meeting at Bart’s. Our friendship never wavered, and I had the great honor of being one of her bridesmaids. The sun never shone on a more beautiful and justifiably joyous bride or on a more devoted and loving husband than Charlie Van Buskirk.
Sherlockians who never met Barbara (she moved to Asheville, NC fifteen years ago) nevertheless know her by her work. A fabulously talented graphic designer, artist, jewelry maker and needlewoman, she designed the Muse’s ASH logo as well as the ASH pin with the magnifying glass casting the shadow of the woman’s symbol. She also did unbelievably detailed petit-points, one of the quartering of the Stars and Stripes and Union Jack and another of Paget’s drawing of Holmes in his dressing gown.
I will miss her more than I can say…her husky voice, her laughter, her sympathy and kindness. Barbara leaves behind a husband who adored her and a very special daughter who made—and will continue to make—her proud. She leaves behind, too, a legacy of grace, patience, and courage. We are all better for having had her among us.
One of Barbara’s cards–Sherlockian themes in “A Tangled Skein” and “Studies in Stitches.” (The card unfolded to reveal her name and address.)
Thom David Utecht, BSI, ASH
GLORYA WACHS, ASH
A Bijou Villa
Editors’ Note: Our thanks go to ASHes Evelyn Herzog, Bob Katz, Andy Peck, and Ben and Sue Vizoskie who contributed to this remembrance of Glorya.
Glorya Wachs, ASH, A Bijou Villa, passed away on February 15, 2015. She joined ASH in 2005. She was also a member of the Epilogues of Sherlock Holmes and the Three Garridebs. She frequently gave toasts and papers at the Garridebs’ gatherings and, in 2010, she received the Amick Award for the best paper presented that year at a Garridebs’ meeting. Her investiture in that group was “A Twinkle of Amusement.” Sue and Ben said this was particularly apt as she always had a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.
Sue remembers her as being both sympathetic and empathetic, always interested in others, and friendly, warm, and funny. At a Garrideb costume meeting, she donned a black plastic garbage bag from the neck down and had large lavender petals around her face—she was “a lovely violet growing upon one of those black slag-heaps.” (VALL)
Glorya had been an Epilogue for approximately 25 years. Bob Katz remembers her as an enthusiastic and erudite member who will be greatly missed.
A lifelong educator, Glorya taught in schools in Chicago, San Lorenzo CA, and South Orange-Maplewood NJ. A member of Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, Glorya was a teacher in their religious school for 45 years and in their Early Childhood Center for the past six years. She was a life member of Hadassah National Women’s Organization and the Brandeis University National Women’s Committee. An avid traveler, she was very proud of having visited every continent except Antarctica.
MARGARET “MAGGIE” WALSH, ASH, The Woman
The Third Cab
July 28, 1921 – July 7, 2005
by Dorothy K. Stix
With comments by Susan Rice
When I first met her, people called her Margaret or Marge. Tom and Marge met when they both worked for the same book store, long before I came on the scene. She was a friend not only to Tom, but also to Tom’s parents, and her friendship continued with me right on down to our children. Somewhere along the way, I started calling her Maggie and the name stuck. It was only recently in a telephone conversation that she told me she still had not forgiven me for that.
Maggie was a regular at Silver Blaze races from the very beginning, and also attended many of Julian and Eleanor Wolff’s cocktail parties. In 1992 she was named The Woman for the BSI and she became an Adventuress in 1995, choosing as her investiture The Third Cab.
She was a fun person to be around. As they got older, our sons enjoyed going into the city and doing something—usually the theatre—with Maggie. When we would arrange for her to come and visit in Norwood, she’d make it sound as if we were bringing her out to the wilderness; she was a city girl through and through. Maggie spent most of her working life in an administrative position at The New Yorker. She enjoyed her years there, and told remarkable stories about the writers and editors she knew and the lengthy cocktail hours the staff enjoyed. She made the New York City of the middle decades of the 20th century alive and vivid for all who listened.
In her prime, Maggie loved people and travel and martinis and books and theatre and New York. She was proud of her Brooklyn childhood and often shared stories of those distant days. Before walking became difficult for her, Maggie saw virtually every play and musical on Broadway. Knowing her love for the theatre, a friend invited her as a guest to a luncheon of former Ziegfeld Girls. There was a rather obscure actor present who Maggie immediately recognized from a play she’d seen years before, and enchanted him by describing his artistry in a well-remembered scene. Within weeks she received an invitation to join the club. She loved dining out almost as much as theatre, and seemed to have enjoyed meals at every New York restaurant founded prior to 1990 or so.
Above all things, Maggie prized her independence, so the fact that she died a self-sufficient woman, still living on her own in the center of Manhattan, tempers our grief at her departure. Her body grew increasingly feeble, but her mind was sharp and lively until the stroke that carried her away. It’s difficult to capsulate a friendship of over fifty years. She will be missed by my family and her many friends.
MARILYN (LYNN) WILLIS, ASH
April 22, 1921 – March 8, 1999
by Maribeau Briggs
The first time I met Lynn Willis was at a memorial service for Bob Brodie. I’d never met Bob, but everyone at the gathering was downcast. When it came time for eulogizing, no one wanted to speak first. After an uncomfortable silence, a diminutive lady sporting a deerstalker rose from her chair.
“I hate Bob Brodie!” she declared vehemently. The group gasped and chairs creaked. “He could do the New York Times crossword puzzle in 15 minutes,” she concluded and resumed her seat.
We laughed until we ached. From that moment, all gloom was dispelled, and the evening became cheerful and upbeat. I hastened to introduce myself to this wacky woman. We rode the subway home together that afternoon, and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Over the years, I saw Lynn Willis work her magic at similar gatherings, both happy and sad. No problem was too large, no tragedy so dire that she couldn’t face it with her own special brand of humor.
On April 25, a loving tribute was held to honor the spirit of this remarkable woman. It was attended by her Sherlockian friends, as well as those from the World Ship and the Gilbert and Sullivan societies, both of which she was an active member. As we passed the candle from friend to friend, everyone had a chance to tell their favorite Lynn Willis story. Even the sadness of her passing couldn’t keep us from laughing out loud. There were stories of shipboard mishaps, musical mayhem, and Sherlockian whimsy. No matter who told the tale or how long he or she had known Lynn, the verdict was unanimous. Lynn was unique — an adorable and audacious character, irritating and endearing all at once. She lived life on her own terms and won the respect and admiration of everyone she knew.
In the real world, Lynn served as a yeoman in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, she became a member of the National Secretaries Association and worked for various companies in the New York garment district. She circled the globe with her good friend and traveling companion Lucille Scofield.
But I think Lynn was happiest among her fellow Sherlockians. To the Adventuresses, she was our own dear Laura Lyons, and anyone foolish enough to disparage that Canonical character received a withering tirade of scathing rebukes. Other scions she belonged to were: The Three Garridebs, The Montague Street Lodgers, The Long Island Cave Dwellers, The Priory Scholars, The Epilogues of Sherlock Holmes, The Bootmakers of Toronto, The Master’s Class of Philadelphia, The Red Circle, and The Men on the Tor.
When the Baskerville Bash was founded, Lynn was one of the first to jump on the BBC bandwagon. She threw herself into the Bash with all her infectious enthusiasm. She was absolutely dedicated to an event where all Sherlockians could come together to celebrate the Master’s birthday and keep his memory green. It’s difficult to think about future Bashes without the benefit of her staunch support and the pleasure of her company.
But I choose to believe that Lynn Willis will continue to join in our reindeer games, as long as there are friends to celebrate her contributions and keep her memory green. In the Canon, Holmes refers to death as the final and greatest mystery of all. If that’s true, I hope for God’s sake that it is a well-written mystery with a logical ending. If not, God is going to get an earful!