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What we knew by 1990 about the 1940 dinner was published in Irregular Memories of the a€™Thirties. In this the first of the BSJa€™s revived Christmas Annuals (a pleasant custom begun by Edgar W. January 30, 1940, was a golden evening, an evening of a€?entertainment and fantasya€? as Edgar W.
Finally, after a Great Hiatus of nearly four years, plans were made a€” than to the imminent publication of 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes a€” for another BSI Annual Dinner, the first since 1936.
I had been planning to take a two weeks' holiday in the south toward the end of the month, but in view of this epic occasion, I have now changed my plans, and shall be leaving on January 12, and returning on the 29th.
Please inform the undersigned promptly of your intention to attend so that the Gasogene and the Tantalus may make accurate plans. And on January 30, 1940, the Baker Street Irregulars gathered for their annual dinner once more. The first order of business under the Constitution was the drinking of the canonical toasts. There is also extant a letter from Steele to Vincent Starrett about this drawing, quoted in the previously cited unpublished memoir by Steelea€™s son Robert: a€?I had an absurdly hard struggle with my Sherlock. This was also the first time the Baker Street Irregulars met at the Murray Hill Hotel, where the BSI dinners would continue to be held a€” cocktails in Parlor F, dinner and program in Parlor G a€” until the New York landmark was finally torn down in the late a€™Forties, to be great regret of many sentimental people. The 1940 dinner might not have included every Irregular of that era with whom one would wish to dine, but it was a fine list nonetheless. Denis Conan Doyle was the eldest son of Sir Arthura€™s second marriage (his mother, Lady Conan Doyle, would pass away later in the year), and Trustee of a very active literary Estate indeed. He went on to describe how, in the lore of the Irregulars, Doyle is pictured as a struggling young physician, delighted at the chance to a€?peddlea€? the cases his friend Dr. Certainly one would love to have been a fly on the wall that night, or, even better, archy the cockroach darting among the drinks on the table, to hear Denisa€™s charming discourse, and all the other scholarship and tomfoolery that transpired that night, the first BSI dinner in four long years.
Meanwhile, and with 221B still rolling off the presses, I am sending you a first very rough-and-ready copy of the Gazetteer which you have egged me on, from time to time, to write.
I hope things are going well for you, and again let me say that your absence was a matter of very genuine regret indeed to all of us who look to you as mentor and guide -- to say nothing of your status as sponsor and editor of the Book of the Day. Re the Gazetteer: I'm inclined to agree with you that it might be extended to advantage by a listing of the more important clubs and restaurants, etc. I imagine we should not too often bring out a volume of ana; the public might easily tire of us. In his essay in Irregular Memories of the 'Thirties discussing this first BSI anthol-ogy of Writings About the Writings, neither Robert G.
So it should be, from someone who (born 1915) had by 1990 long been one of the nationa€™s foremost authorities on Victorian literature and culture. I know of no other such study as the interesting one you suggest, although it is perhaps odd that the idea did not earlier explode in the skull of some devoted Sherlockian. It seems to me more than likely that Doyle wrote that scene in His Last Bow quite deliberately, knowing it for what it was - a friendly para-phrase of the parting between Johnson and Boswell; although it may of course have been subconscious.
You have chosen a delightful subject for your thesis; and you will pardon me if I hope that you will treat it not too seriously, but with a touch of humor.
I am leaving Chicago inside of a week, I think, for a voyage around the world; so in closing I must wish you - in my absence - all good luck in your efforts. A few years later, an editor was interested in publishing the essay a€” the best of all possible editors for Sherlockian work, Vincent Starrett himself. The quotation is from Christopher Morleya€™s a€?Notes on Baker Streeta€? in the Saturday Review of Literature, January 28, 1939, not from any letter Starrett received from him.
This independent Sherlock Holmes society had been founded in New York in 1935 by Richard W.
Since Morleya€™s letter of December 23, 2939, below was unavailable for Irregular Memories of the a€™Thirties, this reference in Edgar W.
A copy of Morleya€™s letter to Smith below went to Vincent Starrett in Chicago, with the handwritten note: a€?Merry Christmas, Vincenzio.
When I was in Chicago a week ago I learned from Vincent Starrett that his book 221-B is actually to be published on January 30. Since Christ Cella's place on 45 Street, where we used to hold meetings, has been modernized and the old upstairs room there no longer exists (he has only a not very attractive cellarage; which makes me think of The Fiend of the Cooperage; do you know it?) I am wondering if the Murray Hill Hotel would not be a singularly pleasant place for the meeting?
You yourself would, I hope, perhaps feel inclined to present a proceeding of some sort; I mean a few remarks on the Obliquity of the Ecliptic, or whatever may be momently on your mind.
Just for the fun of starting trouble, I am sending a copy of this both to Starrett and to Harold Latham of Macmillan; who will I'm sure see to it that each convive gets a presentation copy of the Book. I hope I may assume that like Peterson the commissionaire, or No, it was Henry Baker, you are carrying a white goose and walking with a slight stagger. Beginning in 1945, Titular Investitures were conferred at the annual dinners to denote membership in the BSI.
That it was the first one Smith prepared is indicated by a letter to Christopher Morley dated three days later (November as the month, in Irregular Memories of the a€™Thirties, p.
There are forty-eight names on the somewhat woolly list, below, and they bear some analysis, following Miss Mouillerata€™s cover letter. The other names on Smitha€™s list are familiar ones, though some of them are surprises to see here.
Members by 1935, according to Morley's list that year: Ronald Mansbridge, Harrison Martland, John Sterling, Lawrence Williams. Ones who came into the BSI at the 1940 dinner: John Connolly, Peter Greig, Howard Haycraft, James Keddie (his son James Jr. A few more details about some of these Irregulars of the a€™30s and a€™40s can be provided now, for the record.
Of other names on this list, Harold Latham was, as we have seen, Trade Editor at the Macmillan Company responsible for publishing 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes. This was a 1940 collection of essays by Vincent Starrett, published by Random House, with an a€?Unconventional Indexa€? by Christopher Morley. More serious still, two more toasts stipulated by our Constitutional ar-rangements are absent altogether, and missing ever since. As to The Second Most Dangerous Man: The query about his identity was a€” as Bill Hall will tell you a€” the original, first, quickie, abbreviated examination for eligibility to membership in the pre-natal Baker Street club. Resting imposingly on the long table at which the BSI dined on January 30, 1940, was an a€?orthodox coal-scuttle,a€? authentically Victorian, which James P.
The coal box was an ornament, and in it were stored such details of fireside comfort as slippers, unread magazines and so forth.
Although Keddie was a contributor to 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes, he came close to missing the 1940 dinner until Morley unearthed his address barely ten days before. Because of money, and his second wifea€™s health, Vincent Starrett never made it back to New York for a BSI dinner after the one in 1934. Bill Halla€™s copy bears the affectionate raspberry Christopher Morley often sent his old frienda€™s way. It also bears the notation a€?$5.00 casha€? which was probably the true cost of the evening.
The pattern followed by the BSI for quite a few years thereafter, of oysters (a€?shall the world be overrun bya€?), pea soup (as in London fog), curried chicken (minus one ingredient as served in a€?Silver Blazea€?), and a sweet, was set by Christopher Morley whose handwritten draft of the printed menu has survived.
The quotation from this letter, taken from an article by the artista€™s son, was incomplete. Meanwhile, Starrett was already building a new Sherlock Holmes collection, with a big start in August 1940 from Logan Clendening. When this was written in 1990, the hope was that Sir Arthur Conan Doylea€™s sur-viving child, Dame Jean, might come to New York for a BSI dinner. All this within your ear; but the circumstances being what they are, you will understand why I can't be any place but Reno on January 30.
I could and would, of course, if the dinner were postponed, keep you posted as to developments, and the probable time I should be free to make a New York visit.
My brother Felix has a subtle scheme which he will bring direct from the State Department in Washington. The errata slip in 221B, as by Jane Nightwork, reads: a€?In the unavoidable absence of the Editor, a volunteer hand must call attention to the curious incident of what the Proofreader did in the night-time. Everybody is too pooped this morning to be able to give you any intelligible report but I must let you know at once that the evening was a grand success in every way. The only sadness is that I intended to have a copy signed for you by all those present, and in the general uproar this did not get done.
Since you seem not to have heard the news, I am sending this by pony express so that you may know at once that the Irregulars met, feasted, d---k, and thought of you.
Denis Conan Doyle made a neat little address in which he stuck to the tradition of the Irregulars and told us about his father's acquaintance with Holmes.
Of course Christopher himself in person (but he WAS a moving picture!) was the glowing heart of the nebulae. And, by the way, I think having vindicated Watson in the matter of the coal scuttle, it now behooves me to vindicate him in the Persian Slipper. BOOKS ALIVE: Man, oh man, WHAT a title, and doubly good for your book because none has a greater faculty for bringing books ALIVE than you.
I was glad to get your note of February 27th, and to learn from it that you may be coming back East soon. Since the first draft of the Gazetteer, I have added about 150 more names - still without resorting to bars or theatres - but more important, I have fallen in with Dr. Who the members were of the Irene Adler Division with which Christopher Morley and other Irregulars convened immediately following the BSI dinner in New York is a mystery, however. For many years, it was believed that BSI dinner photographs commenced after World War II, with the one of the 1946 dinner. So it was a surprise when James Keddiea€™s letter above referred to a dinner photo, and a thrill when a print turned up in the hands of Mary Hazard, daughter-in-law of the late Irregular whose it had been: Harry Hazard, a solver of the Sherlock Holmes Crossword in 1934. But to confound us, in the photograph are at least two men whose names are not in Smitha€™s minutes: William C. None of the seven surviving copies of 221B I have seen bears all the signatures of everyone we can say was at the dinner. Comparing signatures in one copy of 221B after another makes for further confusion Some men seem to have stayed glued to their seats throughout the signing session, as the copies of Starretta€™s book made their way around the table, while others seem to have gotten up and roamed around the room, signing one copy here, another copy there. Three particular signatures appear as a trio in one copy after another a€” James Keddie, Edgar W. Bill Vande Water has picked up where Harry Hazard left off, and carried on with his typical valiant job of assigning names to faces, but a few remain unidentified. The photograph a€” Ia€™ve been having enormous fun, showing my friends what I looked like nearly sixty years ago. I was also given a bit of a nudge by Archie Macdonell, who founded the first Sherlock Holmes Society in England in June 1934.
I remember David Randall, and discussion of the cash value of certain Sherlock Holmes first editions. The man who got me started in all this Sherlock Holmes stuff was not present at the dinner. Chapter 1 takes place between February and September 1933, and introduces young Woody Hazelbaker as a junior member of a Wall Street law firm in trouble thanks to the Depression.
When Woody Hazelbaker got there at the end of the 1920s, he thought it grand, even after the breadlines that followed the Stock Market Crash in October a€?29: New York was Americaa€™s greatest and most bustling city, its port the gateway to the world.
Owney Madden was no scientific genius like Professor Moriarty, but he handled things the same way. In Chapter 2, during the autumn of 1933, Woodya€™s deepening involvement with Owney Madden jars his cultural preconceptions loose when he visits the flagship of Maddena€™s nightclubs, the Cotton Club in Harlem. Club DeLuxe opened in 1920 at 142nd and Lenox Avenue, but Owney Madden bought it three years later and turned it into the Cotton Club, offering not only booze but the best jazz to be had, launching meteoric careers for Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and others.
Bleecka€™s had opened as a speakeasy in the mid a€™20s, and though ruled with an iron hand by its irascible owner Jack Bleeck, it was instantly and permanently adopted by the newspapera€™s editors and reporters. Bleecka€™s saloon was a few paces from the Herald Tribunea€™s back door, a stonea€™s throw from Seventh Avenue.
Nevertheless Walker and Beebe become important resources about New York social life for Woody, their perspectives stretching from the 1920s into the a€™40s.
Prohibition ends December 5th, 1933, just about when Harvard Club librarian Earle Walbridge a€” later a€?The Sussex Vampire,a€? BSI, and at his death in 1962 the only man whoa€™d attended every BSI dinner back to its a€?first formal meetinga€? in June a€™34 a€” takes Woody to Christ Cellaa€™s speakeasy on East 45th Street, where he meets Christopher Morley and some of his friends just as the nascent Baker Street Irregulars are about to burst out into the open. In Chapter 3, over the winter, Woody is incurably bitten by the Sherlock Holmes bug, but his work for Owney Madden is not done.
New York Police Commissioner Grover Whalen estimated in 1929 that there were 32,000 illegal speakeasies in the city. It will take all of $5.00 to pay for a dinner for two at Christ Cellaa€™s little hideaway restaurant in the basement of a brownstone front at 144 East Forty-fifth Street, just a block from Grand Central Palace. Cella, sleek, brown-eyed and chunky, is a born innkeeper, though he gives mural painting as his profession.
But in the early 1930s it was a speakeasy, where around a table in the kitchen Chris Morley and his Three-Hour Lunch Club friends met to drink, laugh and talk, gestating The Baker Street Irregulars. He sat back and sipped the drink that Chris brought him, watching the room through half-closed eyes. The crew Woody met that day were about to bring the BSI out into the open, once Repeal took effect. In Chapter 4, stretching from spring to autumn, 1934, a chance meeting with Lucius Beebe at Bleecka€™s propels Woody into a more cosmopolitan circle at the Plaza Hotela€™s Mena€™s Bar.
It still exists a€” known now as the Oak Room: a€?by far the hotela€™s most significantly historic space, virtually unchanged since the day the Plaza opened for business, Oct. It was then known as the Mena€™s Bar, an all-male enclave said to be the favorite room of the hotela€™s architect, Henry J. For the next 70 years, it was patronized by some of the most celebrated folk of the 20th century.
Alsop was younger than me, short and pudgy with a pale face and dark-rimmed glasses beneath thin brown hair.
When the National Organization for Women decided to challenge the men-only policies at restaurants and clubs, it chose the Oak Room, which refused to serve women at lunch on weekdays, as a test case, knowing the kind of upscale publicity it would lend to the cause.
The Mena€™s Bar Oak Room is sadly the only venue this chapter that still exists (with a close escape a few years ago when the Plazaa€™s barbarian redeveloper intended to gut it). If Ia€™d seen the place empty I might have wondered what the fuss was about, but it was busy when we arrived. Shake well with ice cubes and dash of orange bitters, twist of lemon peel and just a touch of sugar.
Owner John Perona and maA®tre da€™ Frank Carino made El Morocco, once a speakeasy, the place to go and be seen for all manner of celebrities, including Broadway and Hollywood stars. People kept stopping by to speak to Beebe, hoping to find themselves in his column the next day. I must have snickered, because he went on reprovingly: a€?Believe it or not, fortunes and careers are made by sitting at the right table. Beebe basked, and started to reply, when suddenly behind me a silvery voice spoke out of the blue. In Chapter 5, December 1934 through the next several months, Woody attends the first Baker Street Irregulars dinner at Christ Cellaa€™s and solidifies his position in Chris Morleya€™s BSI. Suddenly, with an explosive burst so nobody would miss his entrance, Alexander Woollcott arrived. Chapter 6 stretches from the spring of 1935 to New Yeara€™s Eve in 1936, more than a year and a half of political turbulence in America, and in Woodya€™s life as well. Woody attends the a€™36 annual dinner at Christ Cellaa€™s a€” neither he nor anyone else there realizing that it will be the last for four years. In the early 1930s the New Schoola€™s snazzy new Greenwich Village building, with an informal left-wing faculty and ties to outfits like the John Reed Clubs, was just the place for a Wall Street lawyer to validate his anti-Wall Street feelings, as long as he could duck. Chris Morley looked down the table at me, elbows propped up on it and chin resting on tented hands. After taking Diana to see After the Thin Man on New Yeara€™s Eve, he finds himself finally, truly, completely alone with Diana a€” and this time all escape cut off. And Diana snatched the paper from me, dropped it on top of the others, and pushed the entire stack off onto the floor.
The consolation of BSI seems to be denied: there is no Annual Dinner in 1937 (nor will be in 1938 either).
Pratt stood only 5'3", had thin receding red hair, and wore round-rimmed eyeglasses with tinted lenses. In 1937 even Irregulars have foreign dangers on their minds, and not just those convening at the Mena€™s Bar Sundays for martinis and chicken soup. The British Empire may no longer be able to regard itself, as it reasonably could until 1914, as the leading power of the world; since we let opportunity slip through our fingers in the early twenties, it may be doubted if the world has had any leading power, which may be one of the things that is the matter with it. When the crisis that ended with the abdication of Edward VIII had been quickly and smoothly settled the English indulged in a good deal of excusable self-congratulation.
Americans are not particularly proud of their countrya€™s isolation from world politics, but do not see what else can be done about it at the moment. People who try to describe the Czechoslovak Republic in its nineteenth year seem driven to metaphor.
Diana has her own response: use her family money to fund groups opposed to Nazi aggression.
Everyone did after Benny Goodman took the Paramount Theater by storm, people clamoring for tickets nearly rioting in Sixth Avenue.
The first time I heard them do a€?Moonglowa€? it was three in the morning, Diana and me listening to the sweet haunting music through a dreamlike haze of smoke and alcohol. Bleecka€™s had opened as a speakeasy in the mid a€™20s, and thoughA  ruled with an iron hand by its irascible owner Jack Bleeck, it was instantly and permanently adopted by the newspapera€™s editors and reporters.
A A A  Cella, sleek, brown-eyed and chunky, is a born innkeeper, though he gives mural painting as his profession. A A A  He sat back and sipped the drink that Chris brought him, watching the room through half-closed eyes.
It revived the BSI after four years of dormancy, and ushered in a new era at the Murray Hill Hotel. Smith in the 1950s, but lost along the way), we begin by reprinting the account of the 1940 BSI dinner which appeared in Irregular Memories of the a€?Thirties. I didn't get a blue carbuncle, or, for that matter, did I even get a goose - but the day was a very pleasant one notwithstanding. The date crept up very quickly, and when I finally reached Earle Walbridge yesterday, to look over the proofs of my section, I found a number of errors which it is now probably too late to correct, since Miss Prink at Macmillans tells me the binding has already started. There being no Goldini's or Marcini's available, the Murray Hill Hotel seems to meet the necessities next best.
Anything I can do toward contributing to the preparations for the event I shall therefore have to undertake during the next two weeks. The errors will probably be discernible only to the inner circle of the cognoscenti, and to those select few they can easily be explained away. Shortly afterward, Edgar Smith a€” now the BSIa€™s Buttons, an extra-Constitutional office later to be superceded by the grander and rolling title of Buttons-cum-Commissionaire a€” sent out to those on the mailing list he had received from Christopher Morley some minutes of the annual dinner. Revision of this constitutional requirement was, however, adopted, viva voce, and amendment to the Constitution hereby imposed, in that it is required hereafter that the toast shall not be canonical but Conanical. Christopher Morley announced that the meeting, which was held as usual on a date at variance with the constitutional specification, had been called to celebrate the publication by Macmillans of 221B - a compilation of the writings of various members of the Society. Vincent Starrett, whose unfortunate absence from the meeting can be compared only with the intolerable absence of Mrs. We are able to reproduce opposite the appropriately fanciful menu of the evening a€” it initiated a custom of oysters, pea soup, curried chicken, and a sweet which was observed by the BSI for many years (until, Robert G. I tore up two or three attempts to do it from an old drawing, finally put on my old dressing gown and posed for it in the mirror.a€? And in a letter to Edgar Smith dated December 13, 1942, Christopher Morley wrote: a€?Would Freddy Steele like to design a menu card or would we use again the one he did years ago? Located at 41st and Park Avenue in Manhattana€™s Murray Hill district, the venerable hotel had seen better days by the time the Baker Street Irregulars arrived in 1940, but it captured and preserved the atmosphere of Victorian London far better than any other possibility in New York at that time (let alone today).
In the United States on Estate business, making Sherlock Holmes publishing and radio and motion picture deals, and doing some lecturing on his fathera€™s Spiritualist cause as well, he had been invited to the BSI dinner by Christopher Morley. Smith, prominent Sherlockian and secretary, or a€?Buttons,a€? as he is called, of the Irregulars, informed this writer that the trouble began several years back, when Denis Conan Doyle attended a Baker Street dinner in New York. He added that it was probably the highest compliment ever paid in the history of literature.
Hudson to sit down at a meeting of the Baker Street Irregulars and to count you among the missing. It isn't as comprehensive a thing as I had thought it might be -- perhaps I should add hotels and clubs and restaurants to the list of countries, U.S. Altick wrote his paper on Holmes and Johnson as an undergraduate at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. Certainly I shall be happy to have a copy of your paper - entire - and I trust that you are right in believing it to be publishable.
I am sorry you had to wait so long for an acknowledgment of your MS - which I received, read, and enjoyed. I had thought that he was sent to China by the Chicago Tribune as its Far Eastern correspondent. The photograph below is of the lobby, looking past the reception desk and grand staircase at the corridor which led to the private meeting rooms.


Smith, eager for the BSI to convene again for what would be his first annual dinner, had suggested the Murray Hill Hotel as an appropriate place. We could have one of their private dining rooms, which are so entirely in the Baker Street manner and decor.
I might tell you that the addresses may not be 100% correct, but I think you will find them O. Smith is about the busiest person on earth at the moment, although he has taken time out to read your new book BOOKS ALIVE which he thinks is excellent. Warren Force, Harry Hazard, Harvey Officer, Allan Price, Harrison Reinke, Stuart Robinson, and Earle Walbridge. Since Smith was working from a list supplied by Morley a€” Woollcotta€™s name was on the 1935 list, but crossed off on the only copy surviving to be printed in the September 1960 Baker Street Journal a€” we must wonder about the legend of Woollcott cast out into utter darkness after crashing the 1934 dinner, and publishing his mocking account of it in The New Yorker.
In a letter to Morley on May 10, 1939, discussing the progress of 221B, Vincent Starrett mentioned that a€?Incidentally, Ia€™ve included tentatively Woollcotta€™s bit on the Gillette dinner in 1934, from the New Yorker, as a sort of pendant to Fred Steelea€™s contribution from the same journal, which mentions the dinner. It was not until 1945 that any of the original Pips a€” Gordon Knox Bell, Richard Clarke, Owen Frisbie, Norman Ward, and Frank Waters a€” began to attend the BSIa€™s dinners. Starrett later used the title for his bookmana€™s column in the Chicago Tribune, which appeared Sundays for some twenty-five years. In the first place, they were declared no longer canonical but Conanical a€” Christopher Morleya€™s whimsical way of tipping his hat to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his son Denisa€™s presence.
When, in the course of luncheon at Christ Cellaa€™s or elsewhere, some acquaintance would hear about the Sherlock Holmes society and ask how to get in, he would be asked a€?Who was the Second Most Dangerous Man in London?a€? If he could answer that one, he might get asked others if anybody present wanted to ask them.
That was getting late to make plans to attend, apologized Morley; but Keddie made it nonetheless. On the occasion of the 1940 dinner, however, the editor of 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes was not even in Chicago, a mere overnight run on the 20th Century Limited to New York. Smitha€™s minutes say that a€?The meeting voted simultaneously to send greetings and a fully autographed copy of the book to Mr.
This meeting was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sherlock Holmesa€™s first appearance in American ink (Lippincotta€™s Magazine, February 1890).a€? Not a great way to sell copies of the real reason for the 1940 dinner, Vincent Starretta€™s 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes a€” especially since lack of funds had forced Starrett to sell that superb collection of his the year before!
Dame Jean Conan Doyle did not share her brothersa€™ antipathy toward the Baker Street Irregulars, and in fact was pleased to accept membership in 1991. Keddie, a publisher of his as well, at the company where he was vice-president, took it upon himself each year to write Starrett a report of the dinner. On January 30, barring accidents, I shall be four weeks along in a Reno residence of six, in an effort to procure a divorce which will enable me to marry Ray.
Indoctrinated students will deduce that (by an innocent misunderstanding) a portion of this work was set from unrevised copy, and this first edition will remain identifiable by a number of irregularities, notably in Mr Edgar Smitha€™s valuable concordance. However, it was signed by several at a most successful meeting of the Irene Adler division or Ladies' Auxiliary held immediately after the dinner. Copies of 221-B were distributed and autographed more or less by all present, and a jolly good time was H.
Now, as Holmes has pointed out, Curry is an excellent disguise for the taste of opium, and (you remember) would be the logical flavor to use in food into which opium was to be introduced. He said that his father had known Holmes very intimately, and he even went so far as to say that Holmes's mental processes had influenced his father's thinking. He also suggested that only Hitler could have written the impetuous and irresponsible letter which caused all the trouble. Julian Wolff, who made a couple of neat little maps of spots in the stories about a year ago (I asked him at the time to send copies to you), and he is doing a bang-up job with London, England, the Continent and the world - creations that will be well worth framing and hanging.
I had photostats made of it, and am sending you a copy herewith, in case you haven't seen it.
And none have been found from 1941 through 1945, though some pictures were taken by others at the BSIa€™s special Trilogy Dinner at the Murray Hill Hotel on March 30, 1944. Christopher Morley (still beardless at this time) is at the head of the table, in black tie, leaning to catch something Frederic Dorr Steele is saying to him. Absent from all seven are the signatures of Elmer Davis, Malcolm Johnson, and Warren Jones, all of whose names are in Smitha€™s minutes.
Smith took on the work of Buttons in January 1940, sending out dinner invitations to the rather casual list of members Christopher Morley provided, and preparing minutes afterward, it was all new to him. His name appears in Smitha€™s minutes, but his signature does not in any of the seven surviving copies of 221B.
Some names do not appear on either the 1935 or 1940 membership lists, and we will not see them again after this night. Yet one man there a€” the man with the dapper mustache, raising a wine-glass in salute a€” is still in the ranks.
Of course no one of my generation can forget the overwhelming, all-pervading atmosphere of the Depression, the atmosphere of fear, fear for onea€™s job, fear for all onea€™s friends, half of whom were out of work. My friend Basil Davenport, the one man I knew who literally lived in a garret, in the depths of the Depression, supporting himself by writing for that same Saturday Review of Literature a€” precariously, because the Saturday Review didna€™t always have the money to pay contributors. He gets a chance (and despite trepidations, takes it) to hang on by undertaking work for a clandestine client, the kind his firm would never accept in good times: bootlegger Owney Madden, and his No. What I knew about them came from Walter Winchell in the Mirror and movies like Little Caesar. Owney Madden was in the bootlegging business and everything else that went with it, including his chief aide and enforcer Big Frenchy DeMange. Black entertainers performing for strictly white audiences reflects the eraa€™s racial segregation, but the Cluba€™s showcasing of brilliant talent helps make jazz a national treasure.
Beside the entrance was a tarnished brass plaque saying a€?Artists and Writersa€? a€” the admission policy? It finally comes to an end a year after it started, with Madden retiring from the rackets in New York and departing for a new life elsewhere.
Lexington Avenue could still be followed south to 45th Street; and on 45th Street Chris Cellini should still be entertaining his friends unless a tidal wave had removed him catastrophically from the trade he loved .
The kitchen was the supplement to the one small dining room that the place boasteda€”it was the sanctum sanctorum, a rendezvous that was more like a club than anything else, where those who were privileged to enter found a boisterous hospitality undreamed of in the starched expensive restaurants, where the diners are merely so many intruders, to be fed at a price and bowed stiffly out again. The flash of jest and repartee, the crescendo of discussion and the ring of laughter, came to his ears like the echo of an unforgettable song. On the far side, back to the wall, was a burly man with a broad hearty face, thick brown hair, and lively eyes full of mischief. 1, 1907,a€? wrote the Times five years ago (a€?What Would Eloise Say?a€? by Curtis Gathje, Jan.
One day in February 1969, Betty Friedan and several other women swept past the Oak Rooma€™s maA®tre da€™ and sat down at a table.
The Biltmore Hotel is gone, turned into office space despite protected-landmark status at the time. I froze, then scuttled out sideways like a crab, and turned to face the most stunning girl Ia€™d ever seen.
At Decembera€™s BSI dinner, he observes a Worlda€™s Champ and a Fabulous Monster, both of whom he will meet again, but more importantly he makes a new friend for life in Basil Davenport. Everybody knew his face from magazines and high piping voice from the radio a€” and some people hated both. Woollcott and Morley might be rival bookmen, but Chris didna€™t look half as annoyed as Bob. One of his dislikes was Alexander Woollcott, whose presence at the December 7, 1934, annual dinner Leavitt always insisted was uninvited, unwanted, and obnoxious. Woody can use one: his regained professional calm is jolted the self-possessed young heiress he met at El Morocco has daddy switch his legal work to Woody.
The still young phenomenon of radio carries not only FDRa€™s reassuring Fireside Chats into American homes, but also the demagoguery of former Louisiana Governor, now Senator, Huey a€?Kingfisha€? Long, and the maverick priest Father Charles Coughlin.
Not only cana€™t he get started with Diana, he doesna€™t even seem to have her attention when theya€™re together a€” and is silly enough to look for answers in the movies, as if life were one big screwball comedy.
For some it was Shirley Temple, for others Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, for more than you could count Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Diana is beautiful and wealthy, but comes with a father-in-law whose politics Woody can barely abide. But Woody and some others, instead of shrugging, organize occasional Irregular three-hour lunches of their own. But into those sessions now is injected an isolationist note even Anglophiles like Elmer and Woody cana€™t ignore, from Chris Morleya€™s brother Felix, a€?the Second Garrideb,a€? editor of the Washington Post sharply critical of FDR and his policies.
Elmer Davis gives up fiction to write serious foreign policy articles for Harpera€™s Magazine, about the dangers in store for an indifferent and unprepared America. Not only had they disposed of a troublesome situation with less fuss than almost any other nation would have made over ita€”the reaction abroad, they told one another, had demonstrated that all men of good will realized that the stability of England was vitally essential to the stability of a somewhat unsteady world.
You still meet Europeans who ask you why America does not come into the League and help to do something about world peace; but most of them, after recent collapses of the system of collective security, know why, and only wish that they could do as we do.
President BenA?s, in his radio broadcast last Christmas Eve, said that a€?Czechoslovakia stands like a lighthouse high on a cliff with the waves crashing around ita€”a democracy that has the mission to keep the flag of peace, freedom, and toleration flying in Central Europe.a€? The propaganda German radio stations and newspapers have been pouring out for months sees the country as a a€?sally port of Bolshevism,a€? And K.
If you could go back in time to attend just one BSI dinner from years gone by, which one would it be? It was a publication party for the first BSI anthology of Writings About the Writings, Vincent Starretta€™s 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes, with most of its contributors present that night.
Mistakes can be corrected, assumptions confirmed, missing passages filled in, and hitherto-unsuspected aspects revealed. Starrett could be excused for overlooking it, since he had been out of the country at the time, on an extended tour of duty.
The changes I would have made are of a rather minor character, and probably if it were not my own child I would not be conscious of the few warts that disfigure it. Our dearly beloved public won't know Staphonse from Staphouse (if that's not in the eight pages) and even if they do find ground for pinning us down, the controversy might actually be profitable. I hope everything comes out satisfactorily, and that you will be East again before too long. It was the first of an unbroken series of annual minutes prepared by Smith through 1960, the year of his death. A copy of the book, presented with the compliments of the publishers, was put at each place. Cecil For(r)rester, who expressed his sympathy and pledged his assistance in the Society's research in the matter of his ancestral relations with a certain governess.
Harris says, the Irregulars meeting every January, at Cavanagha€™s by then, grew so many for the room, that diners no longer had the elbow-room to wield an oyster fork). His talk that evening, Morley reported in writings reprinted earlier in this volume, was a€?probably the most charming discourse to which we have listened.a€? Later, though, as Morley also observed, Denis Conan Doyle (not to mention his sometimes volcanic younger brother Adrian) came to regard the BSI as some sort of conspiracy dedicated to usurping their fathera€™s reputation and accomplishments.
Very different from Woollcott, he wrote in a vein of decorous modesty asking if he could be put on the waiting list and offered to undergo any sort of inquest of suitability. In every respect but this the dinner at the Murray Hill Hotel last week was a roaring success, and the book -- however it may ride the seas -- was properly launched.
Altick is the author of many books, including the evocatively titled Victorian Studies in Scarlet in 1972. How he came to write to Vincent Starrett in Chicago, he no longer remembers, but from his papers at Franklin & Marshall come these two letters from Starrett, who encouraged him, commented on his paper, and saved it until 221B came along as a convenient outlet a few years later. It seems to me that you have made out an excellent case and I hope you may find an editor who will publish the paper.
It was, instead, a trip around the world of his own, paid for by the sale of his 1935 novel The Great Hotel Murder to the movies. Unable to identify Latham, I offered a complimentary copy of the next volume of BSI History to anyone who could. I propose that you and I appoint ourselves a committee, perhaps together with Harold Latham of the Macmillan Company, to arrange this matter. It isna€™t so hot, in my opinion a€” only about 400-500 place names, and many of the richest ones not geographical at all. Just as soon as he gets a little breathing spell he is planning to write you a lengthy epistle.
His paper a€?The Creator of Holmes in the Flesha€? reads as if it had originally been a talk a€” perhaps at the a€™36 dinner, about which we have few details. Warren Force (died 1959) was in the tar business a€” founder and chairman of the Hydrocarbon Products Company, Inc., and a director and the treasurer of the Tar Distilling Company and Old Colony Tar Company at the time of his death. The Five Orange Pips had been founded in 1935 independently of the BSI, perhaps in blissful ignorance of its existence; and for ten years they regarded the BSI as the lesser body. Leavitt, BSI by way of the Grillparzer Club well before 1934, railed about it to Julian Wolff many years later, when Wolff had succeeded Smith as the BSIa€™s Commissionaire. An uncle of mine who must have been a contemporary of Watson in Edinburgh continued to put the sundries of his evening comfort in the coal box a€” which never had held coal a€” until his death a few years ago. He was across the prairies and over the Rockies in Reno, Nevada, in the process of getting a divorce from his first wife, Lillian Hartsig, in the days when six weeksa€™ residence in a€?The Biggest Little City in the Worlda€? was the quickest way. Starrett, an action which, in the preoccupations which ensued, was probably not accomplished.a€? But other Irregularsa€™ copies did make the rounds of the table.
Steelea€™s hand was steady, but some signatures show signs of having been inscribed a few rounds of drinks later.
I tore up two or three attempts to do it from an old drawing, finally put on my old dressing gown and posed for it in the mirror.a€? The parenthetical passage which had been missing held the clue. Randall hoped to resell it intact to someone, perhaps a library where it would be available for scholarly use, but in 1943 finally offered it up piecemeal.
Latham writes me from Macmillan that he will see that a complimentary copy goes to everyone.
I carried a coal scuttle of the Baker Street variety to New York, and it was placed in triumph, and, I hope, in complete vindication of Watson's reporting, in the middle of the table - we kept the cigars in it.
And, yes, I'll hang on to the remaining two chapters I have and use them (I am sure) before your book goes into print. We are thinking of putting out the Gazetteer together about June 1st, as a private effort, illustrated with reductions of these maps, which would really touch it off. This was his first BSI dinner and he was meeting virtually all these men for the first time that night. Ronald Mansbridge was born in England in 1905, attended Cambridge University, and came to the United States in 1928 to teach at Barnard College.
6, sitting next to my old friend Basil Davenport, who has another old friend of mine, Peter Greig, on his right. When I arrived in New York in 1928, I had a letter of introduction to Chris from Sheldon Dick, whom I knew at Corpus, Cambridge. I missed that one, but I happened to follow Archie on a trip across America, about a week behind him, staying at some of the same hotels.
Basil was too proud to accept money from a rich aunt Juliet; but he did let her pay his membership dues at the Yale Club, which he called a€?the most inclusive club in New York,a€? and which he liked because he could take their thick correspondence cards and cut them to fit inside his shoes perfectly when the soles wore out. Like so many others, he was hit by the Depression, but made ends meet by doing public relations work for various and sundry. I remember an animated discussion with him once about a book on Horace we had published at Cambridge University Press.
Although he didna€™t attend the dinner, he made arrange-ments for copies of 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes to be distributed at the dinner.
Member of Hudson Dusters gang, convicted twice of safecracking with 13 arrests total, including one for murder.
And as winter approaches Woody makes a third discovery that will change his life for good, this time at the Harvard Club library: Vincent Starretta€™s brand-new and magically evocative book, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Ellingtona€™s a€?Cotton Club Stompa€? captured the beat and drive as well as the venue and era.
Astora€™s Horse (1935) are available today; The Night Club Era especially evokes the New York popular culture in which the BSI gestated and was being born in the early a€™Thirties. Woody has weathered the Depressiona€™s worst year and learned a lot a€” but the ending of his clandestine association with Owney and Frenchy DeMange leaves him feeling blue.
One was opened in a brownstone at 144 East 45th Street in 1926 by an Italian immigrant named Christopher Cella, whose boyhood friend Mike Fischetti was on the NYPDa€™s a€?Italian Squad,a€? one of the toughest cops in town. Although there were no familiar faces seated round the big communal table, the Saint felt the reawakening of an old happiness as he stepped into the brightly lighted room, with the smell of tobacco and wine and steaming vegetables and the clatter of plates and pans. It was the same as it had always beena€”the same humorous camaraderie presided over and kept vigorously alive by Chrisa€™s own unchanging geniality. Its German Renaissance design features walls of sable-dyed English oak, frescoes of Bavarian castles, faux wine casks carved into the woodwork and a grape-laden chandelier topped by a barmaid hoisting a stein. Cohan, the Broadway hyphenate, a composer-playwright-actor-producer-theater owner, and the only person ever awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for a song, the rousing World War I anthem, a€?Over There.a€? Cohan made the Oak Room his pre-theater headquarters, his preferred table being a booth in its northwest corner.
There was an air of privilege about him even in the way he held his drink and his cigarette. The waitersa€™ response was to remove the table, leaving the women sitting awkwardly in a circle. Banquettes along the walls, and backs and seats of chairs, were in the blue zebra print identifying El Morocco in newspaper pictures. At a podium outside the arch, the maA®tre da€™ greeted us and led us inside, where Beebe was perched on a stool watching a bartender perform with a cocktail shaker. On his favor and discretion hang feuds, romances, careers, ambitions, the very foundations of the most bitterly jealous and competitive social hierarchy of our generation.
She looked at me with indignation, rubbing the top of one gold-sandaled foot against the back of her other ankle. His acquaintance with Elmer Davis moves beyond the BSI into other realms, and Woody comes to understand what Morley had told him: they do all have Sherlock Holmes in common, but the BSI is primarily about friendship. But a September 9, 1938, letter from Elmer Davis to Vincent Starrett gives a different impression: an older friend of Morleya€™s than Leavitt, Davis took up merrily with Woollcott that night.
While Elmer Davis worries about a native despot poised for the a€™36 elections, Woodya€™s worries are closer to home. For me, it was one romantic comedy of William Powella€™s after another until my mind turned to mush. Yet Ambrose Converse is also his most important client now, as if Jimmy Stewart had gone to work for old buzzard Potter in Ita€™s a Wonderful Life. The big stories were the Prince of Walesa€™ abdication, Italy invading Ethiopia, and FDRa€™s new term. Four columns were marching on the city with a a€?fifth columna€? inside it waiting to strike like a snake.
To Basil Davenport, Peter Greig, Earle Walbridge, and Dave Randall are added two more, one a kinsprit already, the other someone who will become important to Woody as the world drifts closer to war. Wiry and muscular, with a neatly clipped mustache, he resembled a wary bird whoa€™d bite off any finger poked in his direction. I believe that every democratic nation in Europe today would get out of Europe and stay out if it could; out of the neighborhood of Germany . But for them both, 1937 is their newlywed year a€” out on the town, taking in the movies, seeking out the coolest jive joints with the hottest jazz, and going dancing with the Age of Swing in full blast. One night I overheard a callow youth say something to his girl about a€?shaming the old folks off the floor,a€? and realized in dismay that he meant me. He said he could play drunk because he practiced drunk, and he sure could play, but we were watching self-destruction right before our eyes. We went on that way into 1938, celebrating our first anniversary without even a BSI dinner to break the mood. The very first, in 1934, when Alexander Woollcott rode across Manhattan in a hansom cab with Vincent Starrett to crash the party?
And we can get a glimpse of the magical evening of January 30, 1940, in a BSI dinner photograph a€” apparently the first ever taken a€” which in 1990 we did not know had ever existed.
Much new is there: the dinner photo and a key to it, letters from Vincent Starrett, Edgar W. But he went on to implicate Christopher Morley in defense of such a deplorable situation: a€?To quote Mr.
I doubt that time remains to enable the development of an essay on the Obliquity of the Ecliptic, but it is barely possible, if I apply myself assiduously, that I might have ready for confidential distribution for those present, a typewritten copy of the Gazetteer on which I have recently been making fairly decent progress. I was altogether too finicky, anyway, in writing you as I did, and I hope you'll forgive me. The meeting voted spontaneously to send greetings and a fully autographed copy of the book to Mr. There were some veterans of the Three Hours for Lunch Club and the Grillparzer Sittenpolizei Verein, like Frank Henry, Malcolm Johnson, Bill Hall, Mitchell Kennerley, and Robert K.
In my capacity as Buttons, I shall be sending you as sober an account of the evening as I can see my way clear to put together.
Anyway, let me know what you think of it, and how it might be improved, and perhaps for Christmas or some time before I can get my bargain-price printer to put it in type. There was a short session of the Irene Adler division here in Reno, at which I presided - Basil Rathbone being at the Wigwam Theatre in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. He is still at work, and his most recent book, a study of the first ten years of Punch, was published in 1997. You will be more likely to find one favorable to the idea of publication, I think, if you will abbreviate the essay skillfully; its length just now is against it, I'm afraid. Starretta€™s journey began in the Orient and ended in Europe, with his first visit to London in some years. The suggestion of the Murray Hill, as well as the impetus for the 1940 BSI dinner, came from Christopher Morley.


A cost estimate I recently saw for a businessman visiting New York in 1941 gave $3.35 a day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Smith as Buttons communicated with the membership through memoranda to the BSI, sometimes enclosing whatever membership list was current at the time. Bell, who was unaccountably omitted from the list of those invited to last Januarya€™s celebration; and that of Dr. Stolper and Howard Swiggett, respectively a professor of English at Columbia University who scandalized his colleagues by contending that literature should be taught by writers, and a novelist well-known in his day, with links to the New York Police Commissioner, and later to certain cryptic wartime British missions in New York. Leavitt, and Gene Tunney, plus at least one other, non-fiction and mystery writer Hulbert Footner, whose only known connection with the BSI is his name on this 1940 list. Leavitt swore to this version of history in a€?The Origin of 221B Worship,a€? his 1961 memoir of the BSIa€™s early years. Smith eventually coaxed the Pips into the BSI, and then struggled to save them in 1947 when Christopher Morley felt the BSI had grown too large and unruly. Hence the membership of people like Don Marquis, Frank Henry, Bucky Fuller and other friends of Chris Morleya€™s who couldna€™t be annoyed with studying the Sacred Writings. It was, I tell you, an ornamental piece of furniture, and when the fire needed replenishing, the bell-pull at the end of the mantel-piece brought the servant lassie from the kitchen with a cannily measured a€?scuttlea€? of coal, from which the fire was fed with great daintiness and dexterity.
Smith sat next to Keddie at the dinner, and the two men hit it off a€” less than three months later, Smith was in Boston to join the Keddies Sr.
To do so, he and Starrett produced a catalogue still highly desirable for its own sake, both for the many splendid items at what today seem sheer giveaway prices, and for the rich canonical fantasy which Starrett and Randall wrote into it. We will try to keep the actual dinner within the blood royal, but as soon as it has taken place Macmillan can make good boblicity out of it to help the book. Watson, but probably not so well - at least he didn't seem to understand him as well as he did Holmes.
Denis Conan Doyle is off to himself a bit in the corner; not intentionally perhaps, but capturing a sense of the remove between the Conan Doyle Estate and the BSI. How well he managed to associate names with faces that evening, when high spirits and hard spirits were the order of the day, is unclear. A few of them, Irregulars active today were able to know in person before they fell from the ranks.
In 1930 he was appointed Cambridge University Pressa€™s representative here, a position he held for forty years.
It was clear that he had made quite an impression; at one hotel they asked me whether I wanted whisky for breakfast. Roberts, author of A Note on the Watson Problem, and then Doctor Watson, which Frank Morley at Faber & Faber published.
For the green and rather innocent Woody, Madden, DeMange, and the work prove quite an education. Then decades later, in Francis Ford Coppolaa€™s 1984 movie The Cotton Club, its life and times were recreated superbly, with Bob Hoskins and Fred Gwynne playing Owney Madden and Frenchy DeMange. A chorus line of nearly naked colored girls ran out onto the stage and went into a routine never seen south of Central Park. Its big room, mahogany, brass and mirrors with a forty-foot bar, served as clubhouse for Trib reporters and editors. Tables are covered with clean white cotton cloths and the waiters wear long white linen aprons that flap about their ankles. It took him back at one leap to the ambrosial nights of drinking and endless argument, when all philosophies had been probed and all the worlda€™s problems settled, that he had known in that homely place. Why were there not more places like that in the world, he began to wondera€”places where a host was more than a shop-keeper, and men threw off their cares and talked and laughed openly together, without fear or suspicion, expanding cleanly and fruitfully in the glow of wine and fellowship?
It drove me across town to East 39th, the wet streets dark and nearly deserted at that hour. Offering a fine view of all comings and goings, it became known as the Cohan Corner, where the great man was courted by theatrical types looking for work. A man at a nearby booth offered breadsticks, which were declined, and the group decamped to form a picket line in front of the hotel.
But the movie Woody saw there that night has lasted: The Thin Man, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. Ita€™s comical that the Nobel Committee gives its Peace Prize to do-gooders like Jane Addams. Ia€™d struggled through it in high school; they talked about Horace as if he were a mutual friend.
So Woody dwells uncomfortably in a higher social and economic stratum of an increasingly disturbing world, as he takes stock of it when they return from their honeymoon. Fierce debate had started over his court-packing scheme, to circumvent the Supreme Courta€™s a€?nine old mena€? striking down one New Deal program after another. Frank of the Czechoslovak parliament, a German belonging to the half-Hitlerized Sudetendeutsche Partei, has said that the state must be a€?either a bridge between Germany and the southeast or a barricade against Germany.a€? . But when I walked into a jive joint with Diana, nobody took me for a rootietoot, let alone a lawyer. He had an about-town column in the Herald Tribune called a€?This New York.a€? It wasna€™t Woody Hazelbakera€™s New York. Or the 1941 dinner, when Rex Stout came for the first time, and electrified Irregulars with a€?Watson Was a Womana€?? That a photo had been taken that night came to light later in a letter from James Keddie of Boston to Vincent Starrett.
Smith, James Keddie, and Christopher Morley, Starretta€™s telegram to the BSI dinner, Morleya€™s handwritten menu, autographs of the Irregular diners that night, the picture of Sherlock Holmes that Frederic Dorr Steele drew that night, the first BSI membership list Edgar W. Incidentally, I think you did us all a service by naming Mycroft Holmes as the detective who solved his problems without ever visiting the scene of the crime or seeing the evidence. Later that year, he wrote the few words about it that follow, in a letter to Allen Robertson of Baltimore (then unknown to the BSI, but later founder i??of The Six Napoleons of Baltimore, and a€?The Reigate Squires,a€? BSI). After the Woollcott condescension most of us were content to go on without any Stated Meetings . It includes the membersa€™ chosen noms de canon, a practice of the Pips which may have inspired the Titular Investitures adopted by the BSI later under Smitha€™s leadership.
But it bespoke his confidence in Smith, who had yet to attend a BSI dinner, when he turned first to him for help organizing the 1940 affair. Julian Wolff, whose notable Sherlockian maps qualify him, I think, beyond any suspicion of a doubt for membership.
This list has been compiled in a piecemeal fashion from many sources but as time goes on we hope to show improvement! Christopher Morley cited Swiggett in an Irregular way once, in his March 4, 1939, a€?Trade Windsa€? column. Stone of Waltham, Mass., had been in Sherlockian circles since the late a€™Thirties, was a contributor to 221B, and had at-tended the 1940 dinner a€” as he would the a€™41 dinner a month after this list.
As a matter of fact, by God, I doubt like hell if Bill Hall could ever have passed a really probing quiz in those early days.
Keddie, who had come from Scotland as a child, had a particular interest in this Baker Street relic in which Sherlock Holmes kept his cigars. I have in my possession a coal box which to my knowledge is nearly fifty years old, but which, until it fell into the hands of the philistines in this country had never held so much as a spoonful of coal. Across the table from him, a nonchalant David Randall tilts his chair back, his hand stuck in his pocket. Of all his twenty years of writing up BSI dinner minutes, it seems safe to say that this is the one most likely to contain some errors in the list of attendees. On the basis of the signatures plus the dinner photograph, thirty-seven, if that is Elmer Davis at no. He arrived in New York with a letter of introduction to Christopher Morley in his pocket; and, with no less a Holmesian than S. Cambridge University Press had published Shakespearea€™s Imagery and What It Tells Us by Caroline Spurgeon, and I wanted to get publicity for it.
He was the BSIa€™s food-and-drink expert, and worked with me on the annual Oxford and Cambridge dinners in New York too. But his agents are numerous and splendidly organized.a€? Same with Madden, and I discovered a separate and different world beneath the surface. Formed alliance with Tammany Hall chieftain Jimmy Hines, went into bootlegging including many speakeasies and night clubs. Kidnapped and held for ransom by a€?Mad Doga€? Coll in 1931 (an unwise career move on the lattera€™s part). It was nearly empty at eleven in the morning, but even busy I couldna€™t have missed Walker halfway down the bar, next to an arresting sight: another man dressed, at that hour of the day, in white tie and tails.
I carried the briefcases when we got there, and Owneya€™s driver lugged the rest up to my apartment. After his death in 1942, a bronze plaque was installed to commemorate his tenure; it still hangs there today. As the evening wore on and more and more people arrived, additional tables and chairs were brought out and placed on the dance floor until it almost disappeared. When I finally got a word in edgewise and asked what the hell, Basil shrugged off a€?two perfectly useless degreesa€? in classics from Yale and Oxford. Bradford, another Thin Man imitation, had come out while Diana was in Europe, but when she got back I took her to My Man Godfrey at Radio City.
Enlarging the Court had peoplea€™s backs up, while others felt the Court was so pre-Depression in make-up, it might as well be the Dark Ages.
It was the New York of El Morocco by night, people with plenty of money despite the Depression, Broadway openings instead of bank closings, charity scavenger hunts instead of breadlines, uninterrupted self-indulgence instead of the dole.
The 1946 dinner, when the premiere issue of The Baker Street Journal arrived arrived at the last moment to be handed out? It was the only one ever attended by a Conan Doyle, Sir Arthura€™s son Denis a€” and the decades-long feud between the BSI and the Conan Doyle Estate dates to that night. Only a few dozen men had been present that night, and it seemed unlikely that a copy would ever surface now, after all these years. According to Smith, Denis listened with bewilderment to the various toasts offered to Holmes and his entourage, and to the scholarly reports on various aspects of the investigatora€™s career. Keddie sent me a jolly letter about it, which, with yours, goes into the permanent records. The difficulty is that it is rather too scholarly for any of the really popular journals - and they are the only ones that pay worthwhile rewards.
I hope in my menial capacity as Boots [sic], I have not, in doing this, incurred the wrath of my Gasogene and Tantalus.a€? Presumably the Morley list from which Smith worked was the 1935 one printed in Irregular Memories of the a€?Thirties (pp. But beyond that, their Irregular con-nections in 1940 are a mystery, and their names do not appear again in surviving Irregular records. His inscription in the copy of Appointment in Baker Street that he sent Woollcott in 1939 read a€?To Alexander Woollcott in appreciation for loyal work as a Baker Street Irregular,a€? and in 1944, the year following Woollcotta€™s death, he referred to him in Profile by Gaslight (to Leavitta€™s lasting annoyance) as a founder of the BSI. What do you think?a€? I have not seen Morleya€™s reply, but Woollcotta€™s New Yorker article about the 1934 dinner did not appear in 221B. Other veteran BSIs-to-be not on it, but at the a€™41 dinner and many more to come, were Philip Duschnes the bookseller, Charles Honce the A.P. Watson,a€™ a€?The Game Is Afoot!a€™ and a€?The Second Most Dangerous Man in London.a€™a€? These were suggestions, if you will, at the original meeting, but they were approved, and the Davis Document makes them Constitutional. His defense, when threatened with inquiry, was to roar (and I use the word deliberately a€” ROAR), a€?Dona€™t put me to the question!a€? As him and dare him, for me, to deny it. In that instance, the coal box, which stood by the fireplace chair, had been used by my mother and by my grandmother before her for the odds and ends of sewing and knitting utensils that a Scotswoman picks up in the afternoon that even her time of rest may not be entirely wasted! Eliot), FVM had returned to New York in 1938 to be trade editor at the Harcourt, Brace company. Suit will be filed as soon as possible after my residence (six weeks) is established; and if there is no opposition there will be no delay. But, simply to put the reader on the alert, a few obvious corrections may be noteda€? a€” and Miss Nightwork, perennial Ph.D.
Elmer Davis was perhaps the best known national celebrity in the BSI at the time, from his work as a CBS radio newsman.
In those days the very best place to get a book mentioned was Morleya€™s a€?Trade Windsa€? column in the Saturday Review of Literature.
We played a game to see who would be the first to telephone the other each year on December 16th, with the words a€?O Sapienta,a€? which we always found on that day in our Cambridge Pocket Diaries.
I dona€™t remember his attendance at any of the BSI dinners; but I recall vividly that when we would meet him at dinner at the St. Owney Madden grew up in the part of New York called Hella€™s Kitchen, and had been in the rackets since he was a kid, starting with one of its Irish gangs, The Gophers. He held a drink in one hand, a cigar in the other, and on the surface of the bar rested a silk top hat.
I hung up my hat and coat, opened the briefcase Owney had given me and gazed at the money again, then stashed it in the back of my closet. Then as I started thinking of him as a pudgy intellectual, he said something to Gene Tunney across the table about their boxing a few rounds at the Yale Club before coming to Cellaa€™s. He and drummer Gene Krupa were from his band, but the others were colored musicians, cool Teddy Wilson on piano and excited Lionel Hampton on vibes, the first mixed group wea€™d seen. The 1948 a€?committee in cameraa€? dinner, when the BSI's future hung by a thread upon Christopher Morleya€™s discontent? There were Crossword Puzzle winners like Basil Davenport, Harry Hazard, Harvey Officer, and Earle Walbridge. Bell was there at the time, and when Bell died in 1947, Starrett recalled in his a€?Books Alivea€? column in the Tribune walking up and down Baker Street with Bell, arguing about which house had been Sherlock Holmesa€™s.
Jackson of Barre, Vermont, a Crossword solver, and Morleya€™s friend and Grillparzer crony Buckminster Fuller. Williams (died 1940), who brought his son Peter to the 1940 BSI dinner, was art director at the American Book Company, a well-known book and print collector, and an author of childrena€™s travel books. Would Smith have added Alexander Woollcott to the BSIa€™s membership list without consulting Christopher Morley? If we are met with hostility, the case will have to be argued, and I've no way of knowing how long it might take.
Smith is down the table on the opposite side, not yet at its head where he soon will be for the rest of his life. So are the signatures of two more men not named in Smitha€™s minutes, who may be among the unidentified faces in the picture: Ernest S. Following the dinner, Harry Hazard prepared a partial key to the photograph.Elmer Davis is not on it, and the face at no.
Roberts as a mentor back home, found himself a Baker Street Irregular on Morleya€™s 1935 membership list. I met him when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, attending his lectures on Samuel Johnson, but it was in publishing that he made his reputation.
Spurgeon showed the kind of man Shakespeare must have been by tabulating all the metaphors and similes he used, showing him to be familiar with the countryside, gardens, and domestic animals.
We thought it began one of the Collects in the Prayer Book; but we were puzzled at its having a special day.
Regis Hotel with that most generous host, Howard Goodhart, Rosenbach always had a full bottle of whisky at his place at the table, while the rest of us drank wine. He had to eat; and in all the world there are no steaks like the steaks Chris Cellini broils over an open fire with his own hands. Author: History of the New York Times, 1921, Times Have Changed, 1923, Ia€™ll Show You the Town, 1924, Friends of Mr.
I loosened my tie, poured myself a stiff drink, and sat down beside a window a€” sat there a long time, the untasted drink in my hand, listening to it rain. Anyone whoa€™d box Gene Tunney for funa€” I gave up, and went and got another drink myself.
Powell was a stockbroker down on his luck, plucked out of a hobo jungle to butler for the nuttiest family on Fifth Avenue. Or perhaps the dinner a€” the date still uncertain a€” when Jim Montgomery sang a€?Aunt Claraa€? for the first time. Recently (within a year) I had the same problem on my hands - and found no American editor whatever for a Sherlockian essay which has since found place in an English Symposium or anthology issued as a book. As a charter member, I call for a prompt and continued honoring of the wise provisions of The Founding Fathers. Weber declared himself a€?Judge Lynch,a€? his pen-name as chief mystery book reviewer in the Saturday Review of Literature.
James Keddie sits next to him, and on the table nearby is the orthodox coal-scuttle he has brought from Boston.
Colling, a former New York Evening Post colleague of Morleya€™s (its movie critic, who helped turn Morleya€™s 1922 novel Where the Blue Begins into a play in 1925), and H.
He attended the annual dinner for the first time in 1936, and is the only living person to have attended BSI dinners at both the Murray Hill Hotel and, before that, Christ Cellaa€™s speakeasy.
He was Secretary to the Syndics of Cambridge University Press from 1922 to 1948, and more than any other one man he had brought the University Press out of the academic backwaters into the mainstream of publishing. My wife and I spent three long evenings reading four of Morleya€™s books and doing the same to him. Staff New York Herald Tribune since 1929; writer, syndicated column a€?This New Yorka€? since 1933. 1919; professional boxer, 1919-1928, World Heavyweight Champ, 1926-28, a€?Fighter of the Year,a€? 1928, retired undefeated that year. The Times called Lombarda€™s Irene a€?a one-track mind with grass growing over its rails,a€? but that was a damn sight better than her mean sister Cornelia. Edgar Smitha€™s affectionate zeal, not less than his Sherlockian scholarship, his gusto in pamphleteering, his delight in keeping orderly records, and his access to mimeographic and parchment-engrossing and secretarial resources, all these were irresistible.
Henry Morton Robinson was a popular writer whose 1943 Saturday Review article about the BSI, a€?Baker Street Irregularities,a€? was reprinted in Irregular Memories of the a€™Thirties.
Weber, had been at the 1936 dinner, and the 1940 too, despite the silence of Smitha€™s minutes on that score.
Bell at the Victoria Hotel, to found the BSIa€™s first scion society, The Speckled Band of Boston.
Price, the American Bank Note Company executive who had solved the Sherlock Holmes Crossword in 1934.
Davis and Hazard had been at the 1936 dinner together a€” their signatures are both on a surviving copy of that nighta€™s menu. His a€?Profile of a New York Irregular,a€? about Basil Davenport, appeared in Irregular Proceedings of the Mid a€™Forties. Member Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Wine & Food Society of America, Republican. I dona€™t suppose that any society of Amateur Mendicants has ever had a more agreeable or competent fugleman. Simeon Strunsky at the New York Times, a€?dean of grammarians,a€? as Morley liked to call him, had been on the 1935 membership list as well, though he (like Rosenbach) never attended a BSI dinner.
Standing against the wall are two of Morleya€™s closest friends, Bill Hall in deerstalker, and Robert K. He was the author of A Note on the Watson Problem, 100 copies, privately printed at the Cambridge U.P.
John Winterich was a prominent critic who had also been a colleague of Morleya€™s at the Saturday Review of Literature. Mans-bridge lives in Connecticut, and it is an honor to publish the following reminiscence here.
Founded, with Cleon Throckmorton, Hoboken Theatrical Co., 1928, producing revivals of a€?After Dark,a€? a€?The Black Crook,a€? etc. Leavitt, Harvey Officer, James Keddie, Earle Walbridge, and other legendary figures from the BSIa€™s early days.
He could be serious, but never solemn; the lighter side of letters and life appealed to him, and he became prominent in the affairs of both Sherlock Holmes Societies (pre-war and post-war) in England. Guggenheim Fellow, League of Nations, Geneva, 1928-29, dir., Geneva office, League of Nations Assoc. Stone and Howard Haycraft, sitting against the wall further down, preserve a serious demeanor. He ended up with two-thirds of a column in Whoa€™s Who, and many honors: Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, and finally Sir Sydney. Across the table, Charlie Goodman and his brother Jack beam at the camera, while Mitchell Kennerley the bookman, who will take his own life ten years hence, studies the back of his hand somberly. Further down, Harvey Officer, soon to be the BSIa€™s first songster with his Irregular anthem a€?The Road to Baker Street,a€? smiles shyly at the camera. C.,a€? bluff, friendly but business-like, at ease in any company and in any country a€” even riding a camel in Egypt, winning a race against another one ridden by an Oxford man. The owlish bespectacled man at the bottom of the picture may or may not be Elmer Davis; across from him, Earle Walbridge makes another appearance in what will long stand as the record for unbroken attendance at the annual dinners. Basil Davenport turns toward Peter Greig, as Ronald Mansbridge raises a wine-glass in salute.



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