A Warm Tribute from our Chair to Joanne Yates

Dear Fellow Watsonians:

I am very pleased to see that The Watsonian has had such an enthusiastic reception among its readers. Many people, of course, have contributed to its success. Our “Buttons” has been a tireless cheerleader for the journal and the dozens of authors of the pieces included in the first two issues have borne out the belief that the time has come to turn more critical attention to the role of Dr John H Watson in the creation of Sherlock Holmes saga.

From the outset, my wife Joanne M. Yates has served as The Watsonion’s editor. I think that perhaps no one could have brought more consistent good judgment and taste to the preparation of the first issues of this new magazine destined for its many subscribers.

Anticipating a first issue of at most 80 pages, I was amazed to see that the two numbers of Volume I consisted of 152 and 172 pages, respectively; and the third number, due out this fall, gives promise of extending quite a bit beyond these totals to nearly 250 pages.

From its inception, Joanne has given her level best in establishing and maintaining the quality and readability of our journal, but its gratifying success has understandably required more time and energy than she had expected and she has come to realize that her attention was being drawn away from other previous commitments that she has made, especially that of serving as president of the non-profit 4Paws Learning Wellness Center.

I am sure that her achievements as editor of our magazine’s early issues will stand as a lasting tribute to her talent and devotion to our Society. When I realized that she would not be able to continue in her editorial capacity, she said that she had unhesitatingly devoted all the time necessary to the journal because it was, in a way, a birthday gift bestowed on her husband by Don Libey and other Napa Valley Napoleons back in 2013. She added that the friendships she has formed with so many contributors has been more than ample reward.

I have long received the benefits of her loyalty and dedication, so I am expressing my deep gratitude to her in this way, on our JHWS blog, where all our fellow members can acknowledge her service over the past two years.

With warm regards,

Don Yates “Pal”
The John H Watson Society
The Society joins in Dr Yates’ tribute To Joanne:

All of our Members join in expressing their sincere appreciation to Dr Joanne Yates for her wonderful creation of The Watsonian.  It is entirely due to her talent that the journal has become so well-regarded and appreciated by all of the Members. Thank you!

Weekly Forum: 26 August 2014 & Napa CA Earthquake

The Earthquake

We have heard from The Chair and our Editor, the good Drs Yates and they are okay. No damage at their home north of Napa at St Helena. Apparently other members in Napa and American Canyon (the epicenter) are–we hope– also okay; there has been no grapevine bad news as yet.  The Society has about 15 Members in the immediate earthquake area and we have had a number of emails from other Members asking if everyone is okay.We also heard from Vamberry at 221B Cellars in Kenwood, Sonoma Valley. He said one bottle of wine broke and two glasses, but the barrels came through completely undamaged.  Whew! That’s a relief!

The Weekly Forum

Our “Chips,” Ron Lies, writes in Chips’ Tid Bits this week expressing his heartfelt affection for the two friends and colleagues, Doctor Watson and Sherlock Holmes. For “Chips” their friendship has been a life-long joy and inspiration for him.  And, as he always does, “Chips” has expressed his appreciation of the many hours of pleasure he has found from the friends in a way that makes us think and reflect.Where does the “Magic Moment” in the friendship of these two occur for you? For Buttons it has to be the only time the mask is stripped away and Holmes is revealed as having affection and emotion:  when Watson is accidently shot.But the Canon is full of subtleties between the two. Perhaps you have observed those subtleties and have thoughts about their relationship, both the surface one and the one that exists much deeper.

Announcement of Appointment of New Director

Dear Fellow Watsonians:

he John H Watson Society is pleased to announce the recognition and appointment of Robert Katz, MD, BSI, JHWS “Willow” as Director and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Society. The Society Chair, Professor Don Yates, BSI, JHWS “Pal” has moved and approved this well-deserved appointment and recommends Dr Katz for his exceptional encouragement of Societal activities and his active and productive representation and member recruitment to the Society from organizations and scion groups within the Sherlockian and Watsonian communities. Dr Katz’s brief will be to continue to represent the Society as our official Ambassador and to encourage membership and inter-organizational relations among the numerous clubs and organizations in his sphere.

As you may know, Bob Katz has been unstinting of his time, energy, guidance, wisdom and encouragement in all of our activities and our relations with other clubs, societies and scions during his time as a Founding Member. He has furthered our scholarship, not only through his papers for The Watsonian, but through his innovations and support of the Weekly Quizzes and the Weekly Forums. He, additionally, assists with proofreading and editorial suggestions for the journal. And, he is a tireless recruiter and mentor of new members.

Dr Katz is not only among the foremost Baker Street Irregulars, but he is also an accomplished Sherlockian scholar and leader of a number of respected Sherlockian organizations.

We look forward to his continued contributions to The John H Watson Society and to his influence in forwarding our Society’s goals and aims in the years to come.

Please join in welcoming Robert Katz, MD, BSI, JHWS “Willow” as a Director and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the John H Watson Society.

With best regards on behalf of the Directors and Members,

The John H Watson Society

Don Libey

The Society’s Birthday and that of our Founding Chair

Today is the birthday of The John H Watson Society. We are one year old.  It is also the birthday of our Founding Chairman, Prof. Don Yates, BSI “The Greek Interpreter” and JHWS “Pal.”

We extend best wishes to all Society members and, particular good wishes to Prof Yates on his birthday. It was all meant to be.

Limericks Beget Limericks . . .

Thanks to Ron Lies, we have our Weekly Limerick. It appears Ron has created renewed interest in this very old literary form,  as several members have commented and offered their own favorites. We will include these from time to time for the enjoyment of all. Our Chair, Prof. Don Yates “Pal” sends along this limerick and comment:

I’ll throw in a Sherlockian limerick of my own, in case you’d be interested in using it. It’s somewhat seasonal and requires familiarity with BLUE’s cast of characters, but most of our members will likely understand the play with words.

Sans hat and sans goose do we meet
This poor fellow roughed up in the street.
In the end such a winner,
He might have us for dinner.
Which could aptly be termed Baker’s treat.

Weekly Quiz 2014-01

The John H Watson Society Weekly Quiz:
A Tribute Quiz to Prof Don Yates “Pal”

Prof Yates offered a unique form of quiz to the members attending the recent 27 December 2013 Consultation at the home of Society members Andree and Chuck Youngson. This is a quiz of word association and is not as easy as it looks. Here is a poor rendition of Dr Yates’s diabolical quiz. Submissions should be sent to buttons@johnhwatsonsociety.com by 7 pm (Pacific) on Wednesday, 8 January 2014.

The questions are direct quotes or references from the canon, reduced to single letters. For example:

A quote: “Y. h. b. t. A., I. p.” = “You have been to Afghnistan, I perceive.” Holmes; SCAR.

A reference: the r-m’d M. W. = the red-moustached Mr Woodley. Violet Smith; SOLI.

For each question, complete the quote or reference and identify the speaker or the object and the book or story where it is found. Each question is 1 point with a 5 point bonus for total accuracy (25 total possible points).

  1. J. D. of B. C.
  2. The S. S. of J. S.
  3. “W. a. t. w.?”
  4. “The d. d. n. i. t. n.”
  5. “P. S. A. C.—“
  6. ‘S t. p. o. McC., P., a J. S. of St. A.
  7. Mr. H., t. w. t. f. o. a g. h!”
  8. E. W., D. D., P. of the T. C. of St. G’s.
  9. “ . . . I am the s. of the R t. o. C ‘V., and G. S. is my b.m.”
  10. ‘. . . R. F. of F. and M, t. b., of M. L., . . .’
  11. “That w. o. w. t. b. t., . . .”
  12. ‘ . . . the i. g. of N., . . .’
  13. “Some day the t. s. may b. t.”
  14. “S. w. m. h. u. t. t., . . .”
  15. ‘I. t. y. 1878 I t. m. d. of D of M of t. U. of L.,’
  16. “Shall the w., then, b. o. b. o.?”
  17. “Our b. are f. and the n. e.” Holmes; GREE.
  18. ‘ . . . I y. f. t. g. of the N. F., or t. s. of S.”
  19. ‘Must s. y. over C. W. C. at o. /s/ M.
  20. M. A. Upon S. H.




Download Week 1 Questions




Download Week 1 Questions and Answers

A Consultation of the Society: 27 December 2013

Two days after Christmas, as per the Canonical text, a Consultation of the Society was held in Napa, California at the home of Charter Members Andree and Chuck Youngson, “Belle” and “Jeeves.” The gracious hosts prepared the wonderful classic British dinner of roast beef with all the trimmings and additional dishes, appetizers, and desserts, as well as a liberality of wines, were brought by members. Suffice it to say that the warmth of hospitality, conviviality and superb cooking have seldom reached such heights in the post-Christmas quietude.

The afternoon also served as a meeting of the Napa Valley Napoleons of S.H., Dr Don Yates, “Pal” in the chair. The “Blue Carbuncle” radio drama starring Sirs Richardson and Geilgud was listened to and discussion followed.

Prof Yates called the Society’s third Consultation to order. The nine Founding and Charter Members present included Prof Yates and Dr Joanne Yates “Pal and “Sandy,” Andree and Chuck Youngson “Belle” and Jeeves,” Bruce Taylor “Booker,” Alice and Donald Schueler, “Goldie” and “Ascoyne,” Andrea Stewart “Asta” and Don Libey, “Buttons.”

Prof Yates called the Consultation to order at 3:00 p.m. A toast to Dr Watson was offered and celebrated. A motion was made to proceed with Bylaw #5 and to adjourn the meeting as no other business was before the Society. The motion carried and the Chair adjourned the Consultation at 3:05 p.m.  Following the meeting, a fine bottle of aged port was poured and sticky toffee pudding was enjoyed by all.

Prof. Don Yates, JHWS “Pal,” BSI “The Greek Interpreter” Presented with the Dr Bryce L. Crawford Award

Our Founding Chair, Don Yates, has received the following award from the Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections:

The 2013 Dr Bryce L. Crawford, Jr. Award for an outstanding essay in the tradition of the purist form of scholarship was presented in absentia to Dr Donald A. Yates, BSI for his article “Sherlockian Memories” which appeared in the September 2012 issue of the Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections Newsletter.

Announcement of the award was made by Richard Sveum, MD, JHWS “Marco,” BSI “Doctor Hill Barton,” President of the Friends of Sherlock Holmes Collections. Dr Sveum commented:

“Congratulations, you were given the Bryce Crawford, Jr. Award at the Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Annual Membership Meeting held in conjunction with the triennial Minnesota conference, Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Place. The award is given to the best article published in the Friends Newsletter in the last year. You will be sent the certificate by mail. There were over 140 people attending the conference and we were sorry that you had to be awarded it in absentia. We did highlight your ongoing work with the John H Watson Society and that organization’s generosity to the University of Minnesota.

Bryce Crawford was a distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota and a founder of the Norwegian Explorers who like to say that Sherlockian scholarship was the purist form of scholarship, no money, no academic advancement, just pure love of the subject. ”

The Society congratulates Prof Yates on his award and is pleased to reprint the article in its entirety for our members to enjoy. Reprinted courtesy of University of Minnesota Libraries. Sherlock Holmes Collections; first appearing in “Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections Newsletter”, Volume 16, Number 3:

Sherlockian Memories

I have just read Alexander Woollcott’s essay, “The Baker Street Irregulars,” which first appeared in The New Yorker over seventy-five years ago (December 29, 1934) and was later included under the heading of “Shouts and Murmurs V” in Woollcott’s Long, Long Ago (New York: Macmillan, 1943). The spirit of the B.S. I, as I have come to know it, is magically evoked by Woollcott in this essay. I recall that this same rollicking, pseudo-serious tone was somehow transferred intact to the gatherings of the Amateur Mendicant Society that I began attending in Detroit in the mid-fifties. That mood was lovingly evoked by Russell McLauchlin and Robert Harris, the group’s leaders.

In 1956 I presented a paper to the Mendicants entitled, “A Final Illumination of the Lucca Code.” Russ McLauchlin like it and suggested that I submit it for possible publication in the Baker Street Journal, then edited by Edgar Smith. Smith wrote back that he wanted it for the magazine and I received a total of six two-cent postcards from his leading up to the essay’s publication later that year. Smith was extremely friendly, outgoing and encouraging, making me feel very welcome to the Journal’s pages, urging me to subscribe and putting in a plug also for The Sherlock Holmes Journal. The following year he enthusiastically accepted a crossword puzzle that I had constructed, based on The Hound of the Baskervilles.

When I moved from suburban Farmington, outside Detroit, to East Lansing in 1957 and resurrected the Greek Interpreters of East Lansing, which Page Heldenbrand had founded in 1945, I carried the style of the Mendicant gatherings with me and passed it on effortlessly to the faithful there who joined in our celebrations of Baker Street for a period of more than two decades.

I wrote Smith about the Intrepreters’ resuscitation dinner, and he wrote again, indicating that “As representing a full-fledge Scion, you are now eligible to send a delegate to the Annual Dinner.” Of course I went.

So in January of 1960, when I attended that first Baker Street Irregulars dinner in New York City, I discovered —perhaps not to my surprise but to my wonderment—a reverent and at the same time playful mood that was identical to that I had encountered at the gatherings of the Detroit Mendicants. We met that night at Cavanaugh’s Restaurant, at 258 West Twenty-Third, where, as Edgar noted in my invitation, “the penalty is sixteen dollars, and the rewards will be out of proportion. Old Irregular Rex Stout will be the Gasogene’s chair.”

I have to say that my association with the bright and witty people who share a singular regard for Baker street and its two most famous roomers has been one of the keenest pleasures of my lifetime. That night I met and talked with—among others—Edgar, of course, Rex Stout, Basil Davenport, H. W. Starr, Thomas McDade, Ernest Zeisler, Howard Haycraft, and Earle Walbridge. It was a wonderful evening: filled with the singular delights previously enjoyed in the company of the Mendicants, but now somehow raised to a more intense level.

I also met for the first and only time Page Heldenbrand, one of the youngest of the Irregulars, whose life was sadly so brief. It was he who had preceded me—as a student at Michigan State back in the mid-forties–as the founder and moving force behind the short-lived Greek Interpreters of East Lansing. Since the group met first in 1945 it thus qualified as the fourth or fifth such group to be established in the U.S. It was, in any case the first of the many academic scions founded thereafter.

I had a long conversation that evening with Earle Walbridge, who, it turned out, was the curator of the magnificent library housed at the Harvard Club. I remember strolling with him afterwards as far as Gramercy Park, where he lived, engaged in a long chat about subjects Sherlockian. His gift that night was to make me feel as an equal among the luminaries I had rubbed elbows with at the dinner.

When in 1982 Joanne and I pulled up stakes and moved from East Lansing to St. Helena in California’s Napa Valley, we were greeted most cordially by Ted and Mary Schulz of San Rafael, and were welcomed to the gatherings of San Francisco’s scion, The Scowrers and Molly Maguires, which we have enjoyed for more than a quarter century.

In 1984, Joanne and I founded the Napa Valley Napoleons of S.H., a convivial group of Holmes admirers that thenceforth came together four times a year to greet the new seasons and to try out a new restaurant each time. (I want to point out that we followed this program out of a desire for variety and not because we were unwelcome at dining establishments where we had raised a ruckus before, restaurants whose other diners never failed to be astonished when around our dessert time some forty or fifty souls suddenly broke out with “God Save the Queen.”) One highlight that stands out in my memory was our S.H.-to-the-third-power dinner—Sherlock Holmes in Saint Helena at Sutter Home, an occasion celebrated at the winery’s Victorian mansion.

In April of 2004, our loyal members got together for dinner at St. Helena’s Pinot Blanc restaurant and that night lifted our glasses to the memory of twenty years of the Napoleons’ doings in our valley.

Now for a look back at my own beginnings. My introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes came in 1944 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when my mother bought for me—as a gift on the occasion of my graduation from Slauson Junior High School—the Doubleday edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes. I read through it, assiduously underlining
significant passages, making marginal notes, keeping track of all of Holmes’s disguises, all the unrecorded cases, the official police figures participating in each adventure, and so on. Why I attacked the Holmes stories in this way, I do not know. I suspect that I had become alerted to such particular features of Holmes’s universe in the head notes (composed by editor Fred Dannay) to the stories that were appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, which I had discovered in 1943. Another possible source for this fascination with the minutiae of the Baker Street scene was Ellery Queen’s (Fred Dannay’s) anthology, The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes (wonderful title!), published in 1944, along with two other books devoted to Holmes—Edgar Smith’s Profile by Gaslight (evocative title)—and Christopher Morley’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Textbook of Friendship, both also published in 1944. Somehow, at age 14 I was able to dig up the money and I bought all three of them.

These books were the cornerstones of the large collection of Sherlockiana that I assembled over the years, including Doyle first editions (English and American) of all the Holmes adventures (except, of course, for the Beeton’s appearance of A Study in Scarlet), many bound Strand magazines with Holmes tales, many works of criticism, complete runs of theSherlock Holmes Journal, The Baker Street Journal, The Baker Street Miscellanea and other periodicals, and a signed and inscribed copy of Doyle’s autobiography, Memories and Adventures.

I received my Titular Investiture in the Baker Street irregulars at the January, 1972, dinner. It was Will Oursler who proposed me for membership (which was the way things were handled in those days). When I heard him read the credentials for the recipient of the Investiture of “Mr. Melas,” I said to myself—being totally unprepared for this honor—“That sounds a lot like me.” And so it was. Later, when the Investiture of “The Greek Interpreter” became available, Julian Wolff, at my request, withdrew “Mr Melas” and bestowed the former title on me.

I have made many contributions to Sherlockian magazines—poetry, essays, articles, scion reports, obituaries and book reviews. At the B.S.I. dinners I have offered toasts and read papers and poetry composed for the occasion. And over the years I have enjoyed lasting friendships with many Sherlockians, one of the earliest of which (and most fondly remembered) was my acquaintanceship with Vincent Starrett of Chicago whom I visited on numerous occasions when my travels took me to that city. Cherished mementos of my decade-long association with him, one of the last great bookmen of the century past, are his handwritten letters, a signed photograph and a holograph transcription of his immortal sonnet, “221B,” with a dedication to me. It stands alone as the most prized and meaningful symbol of the pleasure I have taken from a life-long and unflagging admiration for Sherlock Holmes and enduring devotion to the saga of Baker Street.

Finally, I would like to describe what was for me a memorable—and possibly unique–occasion of Holmes-inspired theater that took place recently in St. Helena, the spiritual home of the Napa Valley Napoleons. For five years we have met at the Silverado Restaurant and Brewery on the second morning after Christmas to dispatch an appropriate goose dinner and commemorate the events of the Holmes adventure titled “The Blue Carbuncle”. Long in advance of the December 2010 gathering, I wrote a short story using as its setting the previous 2009 goose dinner and discussion of “The Blue Carbuncle”. I imagined a genial local chief of police and threw in speaking parts for a handful of identifiable Napoleons and put together a story that had the chief describing the details of a St. Helena murder case and, withholding the solution, challenged the group to solve the crime. I called the story “A Study in Scarlatti,” the latter being the name of the stabbing victim who was discovered murdered in the guest home of an estate winery.

Jasnet Hutchings, editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, liked the story and agreed to run it in the next February issue (2011), which traditionally always carries some Holmes-related material. That issue was released in December in time for me to have some three-dozen copies sent for distribution at the dinner. Beforehand, I assigned the speaking parts to willing participants, so that that year’s meeting featured a dramatic reading of a story that had as its setting to the very circumstances in which it was being read. In its way, it was a very strange and dizzying experience. The non-speaking Napoleons enthusiastically joined in with appropriately timed gasps and applause and we all agreed that we had felt a very curious sense of other-worldliness. And everyone went home with a printed version of the events of the goose dinner that they had just participated in!

Donald A. Yates, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Romance Languages from Michigan State University. He is a foremost translator and scholar of the works of Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentine writer, and Dr Yates is currently at work on a new biography of Borges based on his personal friendship with him over many years. He and his lovely bride, Dr Joanne Yates, reside in St. Helena, California in the beautiful Napa Valley wine country.

Labyrinths by Luis Borges, edited by Donald A. Yates, JHWS “Pal,” and James E. Irby


By Jorge Luis Borges and Translated and Edited by Donald A. Yates, JHWS Chair and “Pal” and James E. Irby

Published by New Directions.

Available at Amazon    $12.00

Donald A. Yates, JHWS, BSI is a life-long devotee of Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, and the detective fiction and mystery genres. During his years as Professor of Romance Languages at Michigan State and the University of Michigan, Dr Yates emerged as a foremost translator and scholar of the writing of Jorge Luis Borges and, unlike Borges’s subsequent biographers, came to know the writer personally during frequent stays in Argentina. Dr Yates is currently at work on his definitive biography of the great Argentine writer written from this uniquely personal relationship and first-hand observation of the writer and his family.

Borges embodied the cultural and intellectual sophistication of Argentina in the pre- and post-WWII years, a sophistication reflecting its heavily European influence and its focus of the arts, science, and intellectual pursuits. Borges wrote in both a fantastical genre and a detective/mystery genre. His early years, spent living throughout Europe, gave him a great appreciation for the English language and he was a devoted fan of Poe and other writers of mystery/detective stories.

Labyrinths, among his greatest works, contains stories that can only be described as “Sherlockian Intellectual” as well as “Watsonian Descriptive Action Narrative.” Here, Sherlockians and Watsonians will find the qualities of Holmes that we so admire: his intense intellectual concentration and the ability to perceive realities in different ways and with outcomes other than the norm. Borges, like Holmes, thought deeply, intensely, and long about reality and, as a result of his profound insights into the nature of reality, produced a fantastical and wholly unique vision of reality, meta-reality, and unreality that has never been equalled. We can learn much about Holmes through a study of the writing of Luis Borges, especially with the advantage of the superb translations by our Society’s Chair, Donald A. Yates.


This is a book that will change forever your entire perception of reality. One of the two or three most significant reading and intellectual experiences of my lifetime.

-Don Libey, Author and former Publisher

The classic by Latin America’s finest writer of the twentieth century—a true literary sensation—with an introduction by cyber-author William Gibson.

The groundbreaking trans-genre work of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) has been insinuating itself into the structure, stance, and very breath of world literature for well over half a century. Multi-layered, self-referential, elusive, and allusive writing is now frequently labeled Borgesian. Umberto Eco’s international bestseller, The Name of the Rose, is, on one level, an elaborate improvisation on Borges’ fiction “The Library,” which American readers first encountered in the original 1962 New Directions publication of Labyrinths.

This new edition of Labyrinths, the classic representative selection of Borges’ writing edited by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby (in translations by themselves and others), includes the text of the original edition (as augmented in 1964) as well as Irby’s biographical and critical essay, a poignant tribute by André Maurois, and a chronology of the author’s life. Borges enthusiast William Gibson has contributed a new introduction bringing Borges’ influence and importance into the twenty-first century.

The First “Consultation”

The Society’s first Consultation was held at the home of Don and Joanne Yates on Saturday, April 13, 2013, from 12 noon to sometime after dark. Five of the Founding Members were present and a quorum was called. By-Laws 1 and 2 were, at all times, respected and By-Law 5 was given very adequate exercise.

The Chair, Prof. Yates, officially welcomed into Founding Membership Peter Blau, Michael Kean, Donald Pollock and Bruce Taylor. Appropriate toasts were made to each Founder.

The first “Consultation” was held as a part of a large gathering to celebrate the birthday of Don Yates. “The Woman,” Dr. Joanne Yates, prepared a sumptuous feast of authentic Argentine deliciacies, some specially flown in from the long, pointy country to the south, including chorizo, grilled sweetbreads (delicious), empanadas (beyond delicious), and Argentine beefsteak, grilled to perfection. A selection of Napa Valley wines rounded out the participants.

Much discussion was devoted to Watsonian and Sherlockian topics and speculation. Later, after feasting and liberal tastings, naps were noted.

A memorable day; a wonderful gathering; a singular and very special feast; an historic “Consultation.”