Saturday night's banquet was held at The Lemp Mansion and the room was packed. I don't know if another chair could've fit in the room. I made the mistake of spending too much time in the bar at the beginning of the evening, so my seat was at the very back. But I had good company, so I'm not complaining.
Gasogene of the group, Randy Getz, always plans a great event, and this program was just as packed as the dinner tables! After Randy welcomed everyone and a toast to Queen Victoria was given, Paul Schroeder toasted Sherlock Holmes:
In A Study in Scarlet Sherlock Holmes says “No man...has brought the same amount of study and of natural talent to the detection of crime which I have done.”
Some 130 years later that is still true. And that commitment has encouraged thousands upon thousands of devoted fans to follow suit and pursue the detection of crime with a passion.
People from all walks of life gather like we are tonight to celebrate Sherlock Holmes. So raise your glasses and join me in a toast to the Great Detective.
Following that, Nellie Brown gave a toast to Dr. Watson:
A toast, to Dr. John H. Watson, late of the Army Medical Department, Assistant Surgeon to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers, and to all of the other veterans and civilians who have made sacrifices in the Afghan wars, past and present. To Dr. Watson.
Christopher Robertson wrapped up the evening's toasts with her words about The Woman:
Her intelligence blended with kindness
And she merited more than a throne.
By her wits she avoided deception,
And when Holmes returned she had flown.
So he saw in the lovely contralto
The talents that mirrored his own.
To the best and wisest woman
The Master has ever known.
Dinner was served and conversation flowed. I was lucky enough to sit with Heather Hinson, Tassy Hayden, and her husband Bill Michalski. Tassy and Heather are some of the people who keep our Parallel Case of St. Louis meetings popping with spirit, knowledge and curiosity. The dinner conversation with these three was something everyone should be jealous of!
After dinner, Randy took to the dais again to award this year's Noble Bachelor of the Year award to Nellie Brown. Tassy has a great write up about Nellie on her blog, so I won't reinvent the wheel here, but Nellie is a stalwart Sherlockian, and one of those great folks that you wish more people knew of. A well deserved, if overdue, award!
Like I said earlier, The Noble Bachelors of St. Louis has had different Gasogenes during its fifty years. Started by Phillip Shreffler, the society later passed to Joe Eckrich and then onto Mary Schroeder before Randy's time began. Shreffler moved from St. Louis quite a while ago, but Joe and Mary continue to be pillars in the St. Louis Sherlockian community (You can read a blog post by Joe about his Sherlockian collection on The Parallel Case of St. Louis' blog).
Joe and Mary both took turns at the mic to talk about the history of the group before the night's entertainment, a radio play written by the late Art Schroeder that envisioned what life would be like if George Presbury (CREE) and Henry Wood (CROO) lived in the same retirement home. After a long and wonderful evening, it was time to call it a night and we all went our separate ways, looking forward to the next fifty years of The Noble Bachelors of St. Louis.