Crooked . . . But Not a Criminal
March 23 was National Puppy Day this year. Perhaps it should have been National Mongoose Day instead. Twenty-two Garridebs gathered at the Hastings-on-Hudson Library on that day to discuss “The Crooked Man”—and the snake-catcher Teddy.
Sue Vizoskie called the meeting to order and welcomed all the attendees. She then read the toast (from an unnamed source) to “The Three Garridebs.” One of the distinguishing characteristics of our scion’s namesake story is how it illustrates the depth of Holmes and Watson’s friendship.
In his toast to Sherlock, Bob Ludemann explained how he has always enjoyed sharing the thrills experienced by the Master.
Becca Reynolds read Will Walsh’s toast to Dr. Watson. Will drew our attention to an unexplained mystery in “The Adventure of the Empty House”: the gap on Watson’s shelf that would require five books to fill.
Some attendees may have wished they had a stronger beverage than soft drinks for the toasts, as the quiz came next. Sabina Hollis earned the top score, followed by Margaret Fleesak and Fran Schulz.
For the first paper of the day, Paul Astle shared some historical background about the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Tony Czarnecki then gave us a brief overview of mongooses in culture and literature throughout the ages.
Sue discussed a fantastic new resource for Sherlockians, the Baker Street Almanac. The book includes a recap of the Garridebs’ 2018 awards luncheon as well as a virtual tour of Indiana University’s Lilly Library collection by Sue and Ben Vizoskie. The almanac can be viewed online at www.greenbag.
Watson Time followed, and as always, there was much discussion about the good doctor’s writing. Nearly everyone had a favorite and/or thought-provoking passage.
For the short reports and reviews, Becca Reynolds noted that the next book in Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar’s Mycroft series is scheduled for release in September. Michael Bush gave a resounding recommendation for the recently restored 1929 German film Der Hund von Baskerville.
Richard Wein had the sole Show-and-Tell item, a lovely blanket showing the door to 221B.
Then came the break for refreshments and conversation. This month, we had a special contest during the break. Troy Reynolds had acquired a poster of several Sherlockian actors drawn by artist Steve McGarry, and the Garridebs were asked to try to identify them. Whoever correctly named the most
actors would win the poster.
After the break, we revisited a Sherlockian-themed game of Risk, which we had played at a previous meeting. It proved as engaging as the first time, with lively participation and some challenging questions. Before we knew it, it was time to end the game and close the meeting.
Greg Darak was named winner of the poster, being the only person to correctly identify each actor. We then ended with announcements and the traditional “A Long Evening With Holmes.”
— Troy Reynolds
A Sip or Slip of a Sherlock
After plowing through four novellas and more than 50 Sherlock Holmes short stories, most neophyte readers of “The Veiled Lodger”—the penultimate (original publication-wise) of the Canon’s stories—must find themselves asking, “Why is it so brief?” At roughly 4,500 words, the story is no longer than some The New Yorker movie reviews of films that no one outside a two-square-mile area of Manhattan will ever see. My best answer to the reader’s question is that Doyle, tired of putting in the effort, decided to write a “quickie” tale of a human tragedy, slip Holmes and Watson into it, and collect a paycheck.
If Doyle had wanted to develop a decent-sized work, he might have be-gun the story immediately after the report of the animal trainer Ronder’s death, supposedly at the hands (actually jaw and teeth) of the lion. Then Holmes and Watson could have visited the circus—a unique location for a Holmes story—and conducted their investigation.
What we are left with instead (and alas!) is an OK tale of a somewhat tragic encounter between the detective, the doctor, and a sympathetic female character who, years after the murder of her husband, repents of her part in the crime.— Len Poggiali
Film No/Radio Yes
Even Eille Norwood didn’t find enough story in “The Veiled Lodger” to fashion a 20-minute silent film out of it—and he produced all but 13 of the Canon’s 60 tales.
Radio has been more receptive to dramatizing the story, however. The relatively recent BBC series featuring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Judy Dench’s late husband, Michael Williams, as Watson presented “The Veiled Lodger” on March 15, 1995. This series is available on Amazon. The collection containing “The Veiled Lodger” is appropriately entitled The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, as it covers all 12 stories from the Doyle collection of the same name.
“The Veiled Lodger” was also recorded as part of the Classic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series, with John Patrick Lowrie as Holmes and Lawrence Albert as Watson, on August 27, 2006. It is also available on Amazon and at www.radiospirits.com.
The John Stanley and Alfred Shirley radio version of June 20, 1948 attempts to make an entertaining mountain out of a literary molehill. Holmes and Watson are on the scene to witness the killing of Ronder and the disfigurement of Eugenia. This is followed by a second violent episode in which Leonardo is dispatched by a sympathetic member of the circus. Unfortunately, this version is padded to the hilt with an extremely talky opening scene. It does not include any of the “present-day” material that makes the original story, if not a great mystery, at least a moving portrait of a brave and tragic woman.
— Len Poggiali and Troy Reynolds
Upcoming events on the Three Garridebs’ calendar
May 18, 2019: Hastings Library, “The Veiled Lodger”
July 28, 2019: J.C. Fogarty’s, Awards Luncheon.
And other notable events
May 19, 2019: The Men on the Tor, East Haddam, CT. Contact Greg Darak: email@example.com
May 25, 2019: ASH Spring Luncheon, New York, NY. Contact Ev Herzog: HerzogBaesch@aol.com
June 2, 2019: The Hudson Valley Sciontists, Poughkeepsie, NY. www.hudsonvalleysciontists.homestead.com
July 27, 2019: The Priory Scholars, New York, NY. prioryscholarsnyc.wordpress.com
For more, see the Sherlockian Calendar. Ron Fish created and, for several years, has tended www.sherlockiancalendar.com, which lists special events (often highlighted in red) and/or meetings on the Sherlockian horizon— with contact information and/or websites.