Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Strand-ed in a pizza parlor.

It was in October of 2015 that the good Carter and I found ourselves in a garish Italian restaurant in Yorkshire (Plaza, Kickapoo, at least in the mistaken mind of the iPhone photo location assignment). Whom we were waiting for there, and the outre events that followed their arrival, must remain among my unpublished notes of those matters which had little to do with Sherlock Holmes. But as we reflected upon the events of the morning, I noted the framed cover of a familiar publication on the wall behind us.

The November 1902 issue of The Strand Magazine.

"1902?" I thought. "Wasn't that the year The Hound of the Baskerville was serialized in Strand?"

Of course, the lack of depth to the matted and framed magazine strongly suggested that even in Hound had appeared in that particular issue, it did not lay behind that cover any more.

A closer examination revealed that it was the international edition of Strand. And the above-the-border fiction being touted was either "The Sorceress of the Strand" or "A Spirit of Avarice" . . . neither of which would probably have been there if chapters of The Hound of the Baskervilles was inside to be touted.

But even though it was just one sheet of that entire issue, even though it was a perfectly improbable candidate for containing Holmes material, it was The Strand Magazine. I had to know whether or not a cover from the first North American appearance of that famous novel was absolutely not hanging on the wall of a Peoria pizza joint.

First stop for the quick info: . The handiest Sherlockian reference point on the web.

Second stop to make absolutely sure the North American edition didn't run differently: A Bibliography of A. Conan Doyle by Richard Lancelyn Green and John Michael Gibson. (The tale of how Jack Tracy, the author of The Encyclopaedia Sherlockiana, wound up paying for my copy of that book always comes to mind whenever I pull that particular tome down from the shelf, but that's for another day.) There I confirmed that Hound was over in that magazine in May of 1902, six months before this destroyed issue hit the news-stands on its way to the wall of a Monical's Pizza restaurant.

Being a Sherlockian always has its little moments of obsession. And sometimes they come upon you when you least expect it . . . even when you're waiting for a pizza.

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