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The GASLIGHT GALA 2008

Damsels in Distress

Carol Cavalluzzi

with commentary by Karen Kozlow and Janice Weiner

Editors’ note: This year’s report has a slightly different twist. Carol has provided the primary report, and first time attendees Karen and Janice have given us their impressions. Karen and Janice’s remarks are in italics.

Quotes overheard during the evening: “Eat the mikes.” “After four minutes people start to throw things.” “I’m the world’s first consulting coloradiva.” “How many women do there have to be in Don Hobbs’ past for him to find one in Watson, Oklahoma?” “My wife said I couldn’t bring anything home, so I’m having it shipped.”

Seventy-five guests, representing at least thirty-six scions or societies, arrived at the Manhattan Club on Friday, January 11 for Gala 2008, co-hosted by Carol Fish and Laurie Fraser Manifold. The social hour was a chance to meet and greet friends from previous events as well as an opportunity to make new ones. We conversed with two young college men, secretly thinking what an evening it could have been if only they were thirty years older (or we were thirty younger)!

The fun began with a warm formal welcome from our hostesses and a rousing song—“The Gaslight Damsels” with lyrics by Warren Randall. Masters of Ceremonies Cynthia Wein and Drew Thomas cheerfully kept the program moving. The pre-dinner toasts were made by Sandy Kozinn to Kitty Winter and Will Walsh to Sherlock Holmes. Dinner was a groaning-board buffet with something for everyone and seconds for most of us. Toasts by Elaine Coppola to Julia Stoner and Jacquelynn Morris to Violet Smith began the after-dinner festivities. Ron Fish did the Roll Call of the Societies, followed by Carol Cavalluzzi’s toast to Elsie Cubitt.

For me [Janice], the funniest event of the evening was the video of Don Hobbs and friends on a quest to find Watson, OK and Sherlock, TX [introduced by Elyse Locurto]. There were many other laughs when Irene Adler and friends reversed roles in one skit [Warren Randall’s “That was no lady…That was my Watson!” starring Audrey Epstein, Robert Reeves and Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves]. Puns and clever dialogue enlivened the second skit [Timothy Evers’ “The Forgotten Damsel” featuring Evers, Lyndsay Faye, and Becky Robare—members of the Dinner Roll Flip It Society for Sherlockians 30 and under].

After the appearance of Carnac the Magnificent (Donny Zaldin, ably assisted by Ron Fish), the raffle prize—a Cynthia Wein sweatshirt with a hand painted “Damsels in Distress” logo—was won by Philip Elliott.

The auction, always a highlight of the evening, was exceptional. Auctioneer “Colonel” Billy Fields nearly lost his voice due to the large number of items and the very competitive bidding. Catalina Hannan’s quilt wall hanging “Clues in the Calico” went to Doré Nash. Carol and Ron Fish secured the iconic “Damsels in Distress” clock/sculpture by artist Joe Coppola based on Laurie Manifold’s original painting. Donny Zaldin bid successfully on John Hannan’s miniature shadow box, “Holmes and Watson and the Hound of the Baskervilles,” as well as a pair of oil paintings of Holmes and Watson donated by Bob and Terry Thomalen. Terry's sister, Kay Castilla, was the artist. Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves’ Sherlockian flag went to Jim Cox, while Maribeau Briggs obtained Laurie Fraser Manifold’s acrylic poster “Damsels in Distress.” Don and Patricia Izban’s book Investigating Chicago took on collector status because it was signed by Don with his left hand due to a broken right arm—Philip Elliott recognized the true value and outbid all others. The final item of the evening was triumphantly bought by Pj Doyle after it was described by the artist herself, Laurie Fraser Manifold. Laurie will create a customized book or magazine cover with Pj’s image and Canonical characters of her choice—talk about one-of-a-kind! As always, the evening closed with the singing of Jane Hinckley’s “Holmes’ and Watson’s Time.”