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The View from the East End (23)

By Inspector Hopkins

October 9, 2005
 

An Afternoon at the Dobry’s

Earlier, in "Recreating the Baker Street Rooms", I had related the description of the efforts of Paul Churchill in creating an exciting Sherlockian museum out of his very own home. I had also written about my experience of meeting "Mr. Sherlock Holmes" himself in the Cambridge Yacht Club, at the "Denizens of the Bar of Gold" meeting.

Now . . . just imagine combining those two experiences . . . PLUS adding "Dr. Watson", "Mycroft Holmes", "Percy Armitage", "Mrs. Turner" and "Mrs. Hudson" to the mix.

What do you get?

You get an absolutely enjoyable afternoon at the home of Dennis and Joann Dobry, that’s what! I was fortunate enough to attend the recent "Return to Baker Street" event at their home out here in the East End at Reading, Pennsylvania. Dennis Dobry has also created his very own version of the Baker Street Rooms in his house, but this time they are in a basement! He has very cleverly created the illusion of being on the second floor by making the "bow window" out of a false wall with a street scene and a lighted backdrop behind it. One enters the Rooms via a hallway and set of steps lined with many photographs of Sherlock Holmes portrayed by various actors. You only need to use your imagination to reverse "down" with "up" when you enter the famous rooms.

There is everything you would expect to see: the chairs, the fireplace, Dr. Watson’s desk, his Tin Box, his medical bag, and the dining table where he shared meals with Mr. Holmes. This table has already been set with plates and silverware, in anticipation of Mrs. Hudson coming upstairs with the next meal. There is the famous sideboard where you can find various mementos of different Canonical stories. A set of false teeth mentioned in IDEN, a Chinese coin mentioned in REDH, an orange or two from FIVE, etc. There are gasogenes, and glasses, and a tantalus.

An invitation to the "Gasfitter’s Ball" from IDEN and Mr. Holmes’s pipe can be found on the small table between the two Chairs in front of the fire. Of course, his mail is held in place with the jackknife on the mantle. He also has a bust of Napoleon there. But to make the experience totally complete, "Mr. Holmes" (aka John Sherwood) and "Mycroft Holmes" (aka Paul Churchill) were also there to show us around, and answer questions! When I asked Mr. Holmes about the extra Napoleon bust for instance, he replied that it was an extra copy he had made for his own remembrance of that case. Well done!

In the corner of course, is his famous chemistry table littered with beakers and test tubes. The ceiling appears to be made of tin, the lights are made up to appear as "Gas Lights" with adjustment valves to regulate them, and the floors are covered with Persian rugs. All these things are reminiscent of the era, and altogether it certainly gives anyone a feeling of the atmosphere at Baker Street.

We were treated to a delicious authentic Victorian luncheon provided by "Mrs. Hudson" (aka Flo Spector). She greeted us at the door clad in Victorian garb and was most gracious in her service. Joann Dobry portrayed "Mrs. Turner" and assisted here and there. "Dr. Watson" was portrayed by BSI member Bill Hyder. Dressed in a Victorian suit and looking every bit the respectable physician, he showed us his medical bag and his fabled Tin Box which was lying just inside the doorway of the rooms.

Mr. Holmes gave more demonstrations of his deduction and logic. This time he also was able to demonstrate his ability to predict and influence a person’s tendency to choose a particular object out of several which he had laid out.

The highlight of the afternoon was the "mystery" to be solved! Our task was to determine the name of the Canonical story defined by seven different clues provided by our host, "Percy Armitage of Reading" (aka Dennis Dobry). During the course of the afternoon, we asked each other different questions based upon these clues that he had handed out to each of us in sealed envelopes at the beginning of the event. It took quite a bit of discussion and interaction amongst ourselves in order to sort out these clues, but even after several hours, we were stumped. When Dennis later reappeared as himself, he gave us one or two hints which helped wrap up the mystery. Dana Richards was the first of four people to correctly identify the story (A Case of Identity), and each person won a prize.

Mr. Holmes then wrapped up the afternoon with a question and answer session, and we all had more delight in asking him various questions about himself and his illustrious career. It was a beautiful ending to a beautiful event on an absolutely beautiful autumn day out here in the East End!

For more information regarding Dennis Dobry’s creation, be sure to visit his website:

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze8fmw3

And for more information on how to contact Sherlock Holmes, see John C. Sherwood’s website:

http://www.mysteryvisits.com

Until next time, and thanking you for your attention, I remain,

Yours faithfully,

STANLEY HOPKINS