Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The 43rd Anniversary Meeting of the Hansoms of John Clayton

 There are those who say that because something can't be what it once was, maybe you should just let that thing go. You find that sentiment a lot among fans of different fandoms. Fear of overlaying old memories of thing they enjoyed I guess. But the world never ends with any of us, and sometimes things go on.

And last night, Peoria's Hansoms of John Clayton went on for one more night.

It's been a bumpy road since Bob Burr gave the group up with the turn of the century. He was the heart and soul of the Hansoms during its peak, and my biggest challenge in carrying on the group, especially during those dark times of the early 2000s between Brett and Cumberbatch, was those clear memories of all that came before, and moments never to be recreated. 

But when the Cesspuddlians of London, Ontatrio (whom I always think are in England, for some reason), tweeted last Friday that the Hansoms were coming up on a birthday, well it nagged at me for most of the weekend.

At some point Sunday night, I realized that any attempt at a 43rd anniversary meeting was better than no attempt at all, so I started inviting the few members and nearby friends I still had connections to, and those fellows we all know who are attempting to attend a Zoom meeting for every scion society ever. I didn't want to try to beef up the numbers too much, as I had no program for the meeting as of that moment, and it was two days away. So I started to throw together a program, with the help of two Hansoms who have came aboard at least as early as me -- one was the good Carter, of course, and the other was George Scheetz, youngest of the club's three founders.

We ended up with a dozen fine folk in attendance, and I got out the old podium with the club logo on it and managed to zoom from behind it.

We kept to the basic rituals that we observed at every meeting: Start with the Clayton Ritual, end with Starrett's "221B." As our banquets had forever had a letter from Sherlock Holmes writing as to why he couldn't attend at the outset, we had one of those. The meeting minutes of the first meeting forty three years ago, held only a few hundred yards from where I was currently hosting the meeting, were read, and we rolled through a slide show with random talk of Hansom history. I kept it to an hour, as I promised those in attendance. (It was a school night, after all.) And after that hour, I offered the option to view the video of the Hansoms' lowest-possible-budget recreation of "The Three Garridebs," which featured some of the worst line-reads imaginable, and was a little sleep-inducing. But it was only twenty minutes long (with at least four or five of that being hand-written credits being . . . hand . . . written), and eight of our dozen dutifully suffered through.

It was definitely more about the Hansoms of John Clayton than Sherlock Holmes, which can be a bad thing for any club -- becoming more interested in itself than the great detective -- but the Hansoms hadn't had a meeting in a many years, and it seemed a good way to do a reset. This is where we've been, where are we going next, if we are at all? Who knows?

People always ask me if the Hansoms of John Clayton still meet in Peoria, and I like to think they do. And since we just had a 43rd anniversary meeting, with old members and new, I can now say we definitely do. Some clubs meet annually and leave it at that. Maybe that will be what the Hansoms do now as well, until someone triggers something further and new traditions are built underneath the name, should it be carried on.

Next year, there will be a 44th anniversary meeting, and since I have a year to prepare, it should have a program that's something new and not about the club of years gone by.

Because the world never ends with any of us, and sometimes things do go on.

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