“Growing up I had seen Daffy Duck and Bullwinkle J. Moose wear the Holmes’ deerstalker and Porky Pig and Mr. Magoo wear Watson’s bowler, but my first introduction to the detective was in the sixth grade (then the last grade of elementary school) when the class had to read The Hound of the Baskervilles in Scholastic Books “Easy Eye” edition–dark green type on light green, glare-free paper. I will admit that there were a few things that went over my head, such as Holmes’ dry wit (“You saw me, perhaps, on the night of the convict hunt, when I was so imprudent as to allow the moon to rise behind me?”) and Watson’s wonderful word-pictures (“Again the agonized cry swept through the silent night, louder and much nearer than ever. And a new sound mingled with it, a deep, muttered rumble, musical and yet menacing, rising and falling like the low, constant murmur of the sea.”)
In junior high, I sought out Holmes for my own pleasure and the school library had a copy of The Adventures and The Memoirs bound in one volume. When I came to last page with Watson’s stirring epitaph of Holmes, I could believe that the stains on the old and well-worn paper were the tears of past generations of readers.
It wasn’t until high school that I discovered that the Canon didn’t end at “The Final Problem” and that there was a whole world of scholarship and pastiche to help slake an unquenchable thirst. That was the beginning of the Great Boom of the seventies and there always seem to be something new at the bookstore. I found Pinnacle Books paperback editions of the Solar Pons Canon and was made a member of the Praed Street Irregulars by Luther Norris; I subscribed to the Baker Street Miscellanea ($4.00 a year for four issues of incredible scholarship); The Sherlock Holmes Journal and then The Baker Street Journal.
For over thirty years I’ve considered myself a Sherlockian, but it has always been a solitary pursuit. It wasn’t until I went on to the internet in 2010 and discovered Scott Monty and Burt Wolder’s I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast that I was inspired to seek out others. I became a member of the Speckled Band of Boston in 2012 and corresponded electronically with wonderful and generous Sherlockians.”
And thank you, James, for this delightful, nostalgic and poignant recalling of our own similar first encounters with Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson and the adventures that have filled our lives.
Please extend a welcoming and warm greeting to our new friend and fellow Watsonian, James C. O’Leary:
“You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.”