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The View from the East End (16)

By Inspector Hopkins

July 3, 2005

The Red Circle of Washington

It might have been a comedy, or it might have been a tragedy. It cost me part of my reason and a night’s sleep, and it was most definitely the longest and most arduous trip I have ever made in the name of to date.

Located within a few blocks of the White House, the Red Circle of Washington meets in the prestigious "National Press Club" on the 13th floor. The group is a bit younger than the Sons of the Copper Beeches, being founded in 1950, and has been meeting for the past several years at this location. Currently headed up by Peter Blau, the Secretary of the Baker Street Irregulars, this group meets there at "irregular intervals". Mr. Blau is a freelance journalist, a member of the National Press Club, and the editor of "Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press". His age of 72 years belies his dapper appearance, as well as his enthusiastic love of Sherlockiana!

As a neophyte to the ways of this big city, I called upon my friend Paul Churchill to help guide me through to this meeting via the Washington "Metro" subway system. Our Capitol is so vast, densely populated, and traveled, that you need to park your hansom several miles away, and get in via the "Underground".

A very short walk from the station brought us to the National Press Building at 14th and F Streets. Once there, we were whisked up to the 13th floor just in time for the meeting which started at 6:30pm. Altogether, it took me *six* hours to get there from my home! Due to the very heavy rains that day, the accidents, the delays, and the construction all took their toll on my sanity. It was thus with much relief that I finally sat down, martini in hand, at the single long table covered with white linen and sparkling glassware! A quick glance around the room gave me a literary feeling: the yellow painted walls plastered with myriads of historic photographs, accented here and there with polished mahogany shelving, and each shelf containing row upon row of leather-bound books.

For such a formal setting as this, it surprised me that the group itself was very informal. There were no traditional toasts, formal agenda, or handouts given out to the approximately 25 people in attendance, for example. And a simple show of hands was used to confirm our dinner order choices of Hanger Steak with crispy fries or Striped Bass with summer vegetables. Following a freshly-made green salad served in Red Cabbage leaves, I certainly enjoyed my selection of the very tasty steak. For dessert we were served generously thick slices of fresh apple pie, with unbelievably light and flaky crusts! The price of attendance was fairly high, about $37, but again, this reflected the venue and the quality of the cuisine.

After dinner, Peter Blau made a brief list of announcements, and there were several short reports from the members regarding recent Scion activities in the East End. If you have been following this series of articles, you’ve already heard some of these reports! At this particular meeting, (and unlike the others I told you about before), I did not know very many of the Sherlockians who were present, so it gave me a chance to meet others. One couple that I talked to came all the way down from New York and it took them *eight* hours to do this, thus beating my *own* effort, and humbling me even further. There are some truly dedicated Sherlockian souls out here in the East End, folks!

Following a brief break, and in conjunction with the opening line of this article, we had a brief discussion of the story du jour, "The Three Garridebs." A focal point of course was the origin of the name Garrideb, and how unusual it is. No one at the meeting ever saw it in a phone book either, so I’m sure this topic will continue to be examined in the future!

Although the group is informal in their format, they do have a very nice tradition of wearing name tags encased in plastic holders during the meeting. When a newcomer arrives for the first time, he/she fills out a name tag and wears it during the meeting. At the end of the meeting, the name tag is removed from the holder, and stacked neatly into a file box, from where it will be retrieved at the next meeting that he/she attends. This was a nice personal touch, and gave me a sense of the historical attendance at this scion too, because there were hundreds of name cards in the file box. It also gave me a nice feeling of belonging to this group, because my name card is also in that box now. Even in this large urban setting, I know that I will always be welcomed back!If unfamiliar with getting around Washington DC, the interested Sherlockian is advised to check out this link describing their Metro system:

And, although several years old, the following link describes a bit more about Peter Blau and the history of The Red Circle of Washington:

Until next time, when we will travel a goodly distance from the Potomac to the Hudson, and investigate an interesting East End scion whose meetings actually float on the water, I am as always,

Yours faithfully,