Sunday, August 12, 2018

Holmes in the Heartland Day 3

Our last day of Holmes in the Heartland started off with a nice group tour of the Rare Book Room at the Becker Medical Library.  Our guide had personalized the displays for us with many items relating to Victorian London and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

We were presented with the history of Doyle's medical college in Edinburgh, how dissection had previously relied on grave robbers, a book written by Dr. Joseph Bell, "The Manual of Operations," "The Doctors of Hoyland" story written by Doyle, as well as many other important pieces of medical history, including the brief rhinoceros fad that swept England.  It was a nice and informative tour of a hidden, but important, part of our city!

After the Becker tour, we moved on to The London Tea Room, where we took up the large back room for a delightful afternoon tea.  Finger sandwiches, scones, desserts, and of course, a wide selections of teas were enjoyed by everyone before we all had to go our separate ways and bring the weekend to an end.

Homes in the Heartland was a huge success, and such a fun weekend!  After months of planning, it was beyond rewarding to see all of our local Sherlockians and out of town guests enjoying and intermixing.  We have received lots of positive feedback from people and thank everyone who joined us this weekend.

And if you are in the St. Louis area, don't forget to join us for our next Parallel Case of St. Louis meeting on September 8th to discuss "The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk."  Come at once if convenient!

Holmes in the Heartland Day 2

Today was a big day!  Almost 50 Sherlockians converged on the Carnegie Room at the St. Louis Public Library today for the "Curious Collection" of the Holmes in the Heartland speakers. 

Rob Nunn started the program off by thanking the weekend's planning committee, and they should also be mentioned here as well.  Stacey Bregenzer, Nellie Brown, Joe Eckrich, Randy Getz, Tassy Hayden, Mary Schroeder, and Paul Schroeder have done a huge amount of work to make this weekend happen, and today's events really showed their hard work!

Mary Schroeder gave the first talk of the program, discussing the history of the St. Louis Sherlockian Research Collection and how it became part of the Rare Book and Manuscript Room in the Central Library building.  She then shared the lineage of the Sherlock Holmes portrait on display in the Rare Book and Manuscript room that sits next to the collection.

Bill Cochran followed Mary's speech with a passionate talk about the importance of just the right book that can set the course of your life.  For Bill, it was the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes that he read as a kid and led to a lifetime of friendships and discoveries.  He talked about his decision to donate a complete collection of the Baker Street Journal to the library and why it should be accessible to anyone who wants to read them.

Tim Johnson's keynote speech started off by calling Mary back up to the front of the room so he could present the St. Louis collection with three titles, and then pledged the University of Minnesota's help in building up the St. Louis library.

His talk about curating a library collection was told in three small vignettes, each one touching our heartstrings and showing us just how powerful books can be in a person's life.  By the end of his keynote presentation, there was more than a few of us that needed a minute to collect ourselves.  Tim has posted his speech on his blog, and whenever you have a few minutes to read the entirety of his talk you should definitely check it out.

Bill Mason took the program in a new direction with his talk titled "A Pun for All Seasons: The History of 'No Police Like Holmes.'"  We were treated to the history of puns and the most famous Sherlockian pun of all.  While the pun was based off of the famous song, so we were treated to hearing Bill sing it himself.

After lunch, our surprise guest took the stage, Mark Twain!

Mr. Twain, or Samuel Clemens, talked about his life growing up in the heartland and how he tried his hand at detective fiction with "Tom Sawyer, Detective" and a Sherlockian story titled "A Double Barreled Detective Story."  After that, we had a lively Q&A session with him followed by some time for pictures before his steamboat took Mr. Twain back up the river.

Our very own Tassy Hayden was up next with her talk titled "Singlestick and the Science of Fingerprints: Holmes and Saint Louis in 1904" in which she informed us of the evolution of fingerprinting in detective work, and the Scotland Yard detective who popularized the practice at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.

Brad Keefauver followed that up with "Conan Doyle's Curious Collection of Continuities" where he proposed that all of Watson's dates are correct, even if they don't match up with a calendar that we would use.  Brad proposed the theory of deep continuity and that many of the stories existed in parallel universes.  It was quite a ride!

Don Hobbs then gave his talk, "Collecting Sherlock Holmes," which was a great collection of stories of the life of a maniac collector.  His talk was filled with laughs from the audience and a well-deserved appreciation of what his wife deals with in Don's worldwide collecting shenanigans.

The Black Knights fighting group was scheduled to join us today, but they only let us know last week that they had disbanded, so Brad whipped up a quick presentation about other forms of self defense that Sherlock Holmes used in the Canon.  Narrated by Rob, Andrew Schroeder played Sherlock Holmes, and five other audience members showed us how to save yourself from being choked to death by yelling for help, how hiding behind curtains is a worthwhile strategy, why jumping on someone's back is a good opening move, and how grabbing a man by his collar seems to incapacitate him.


After the presentations were over, we adjourned to Favazza's Italian restaurant for some amazing food, drinks and games.  People mingled at the bar, conversation buzzed throughout the meal, and groups dove into their games of choice.  Sherlock Holmes Tarot cards, 221B Master Detective, Cluedo, and Werewolf were all big hits at the gaming tables tonight.

When our time at the restaurant was over, we all headed our separate ways.  Some folks' time at Holmes in the Heartland ended tonight, and we are very thankful that they were able to join us.  But we still have one more day, and we are looking forward to some medical history and an afternoon tea tomorrow!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Holmes in the Heartland: Day 1

We had a great turnout for our first day of Holmes in the Heartland!  Our group met in the lobby of the National Blues Museum and had time to mingle and meet some new folks.  Plenty of local Sherlockians were on hand, as well as our speakers and visitors from plenty of other states! 

We had the museum to ourselves and spent 45 minutes walking through and checking out lots of displays, videos, and interactive exhibits.  If you've never been to The National Blues Museum, it's a great spot in downtown St. Louis!  Even if you're not a fan of blues music, there are plenty of hands-on activities and ties to other forms of music to make it a must see when you're in town.

After we'd exhausted the museum, our crowd filtered into Sugarfire Smokehouse right next door.  We commandeered a big table in the middle of the restaurant, and still had some folks on a spillover table!  It was great to see everyone intermixing with other attendees.  The St. Louis Sherlockians were mixed all throughout the group and having some great conversations with our out of town visitors.  A lot of new friendships were formed over BBQ tonight. 

Registration starts at 10:00 sharp tomorrow morning.  See you for a curious collection of speakers followed by a great dinner and social time!