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The View from the East End (14)

By Inspector Hopkins

June 5, 2005

The Denizens of the Bar of Gold

Wandering a bit further south and east from the "Tin Boxers" brought me to the "Bar of Gold" scion. This group meets twice a year, each Spring and Fall at the Cambridge Yacht Club, located appropriately enough in Cambridge, Maryland! It is indeed a scenic location, set right on the banks of the Choptank River on the Eastern Peninsula. The town of Cambridge reminds me somewhat of Cape May NJ with its picturesque and historic appearance, and it certainly has a nautical feeling. They don’t call it a "yacht club" for nothing, you know.

Being a private club, the dress code went up a notch, and I got to wear my blue blazer, red tie and white golf slacks, together with my "Docksiders". Believe me, folks, this is a really tough job, and someone has got to do it.

But there is no pretense here! The group is headed up by the newly investitured BSI member Art Renkwitz ("The Bar of Gold"), and he has a very special gift of putting people immediately at ease. As he indicated on the detailed handout given to each person in attendance, "It is a given that all those who come to these tables share their love for the Master and need pass no other test to become a Denizen of the Bar of Gold."

I was therefore presented with a Certificate that proclaimed my immediate membership in this scion! And, being the natural "denizen" that I am, I fell right in with the rest of the group. I recognized several other Sherlockians, and am coming to realize how small and tightly knit the East End really is. During the cocktail hour, I enjoyed a martini while gazing out at the Choptank River, visible from all the windows. The rooms are decorated with navy blue carpeting and gold-coloured swag curtains with "CYC" logos. The walls are painted combinations of dark blue and maroon, resplendent with numerous paintings and pictures of masted sailing vessels. At the bar area, they have a wooden spoked steering wheel from a ship which has been converted into a chandelier.

This scion has a formal agenda that they follow, using a small podium. Art Renkwitz opened with remarks, and traditional toasts were given. This group also toasts Hugh Boone and Mrs. Neville St Clair, because of their "Bar of Gold" motif. I am pleased to report that he also mentioned and included Brad’s "Biography of Sherlock Holmes" as part of the handout.

Dinner was delicious! The cost was considerably higher than the last two scions, approximately $31 per person, but of course, this reflected the venue. I had the "London" Broil, and was very happy with my selection. Together with the salad, fresh rolls and butter, potatoes, crisp vegetables, and the especially good cheese cake for dessert, I can assert that it was worth every penny.

Although, unlike the Epilogues, we did not discuss the story of the evening (BLAN), there was a "killer quiz" presented by Paul Churchill and Leslie Parkerson, on two levels: "beginner" and "expert". I made the mistake of applying for the expert level, and went home a more humble, if not a wiser, Sherlockian. These quizzes concluded the activities of their four hour long meeting, and prizes of "audio tracks" were awarded to the winners of both levels.

This is an easy-to-get-to scion! I enjoyed the drive down from NJ and, except for some road repairs being made to Maryland route 301, the roads were smooth, the tolls were cheap, and it was absolutely great. The spring scenery was indeed beautiful.

The highlight of the evening, though, was a visit from "Sherlock Holmes" himself (aka John C. Sherwood who I told you about last time). I am of the opinion that he is rather the reincarnation of Jeremy Brett himself! Once he gets into the "role", he cannot be budged from it, no matter how hard anyone might try. His hair, his eyes, his gestures, his mannerisms before, during, and after dinner, all support all mental images any Sherlockian might have regarding him! He presented a short lecture known as his "Seven Lessons", and then performed a remarkable feat by successfully identifying the owners of objects and questions submitted by five different people, out of the approximately 30 people who attend this scion. Quite very well done!

I was fortunate enough to have had a rather lengthy conversation with "Mr. Holmes" beforehand, and had asked him about his dress. He showed me the actual whistle that he used to summon hansoms and four-wheelers. He also showed me his coat and waistcoat, and the watch that he carried with him during his adventures. I also noticed a certain coin that was also attached to his watch fob, and asked if it was the coin that Irene Adler had given him during "A Scandal in Bohemia". He refused to discuss it, only saying that it "was from a special lady".

Further information and details about this group can be found on their website:

Until next time, when we will take an inside look at a most venerable Scion located deep within the heart of a great Metropolis, I indeed remain,

Yours faithfully,