Attendees of the First Event in Berkeley in 1966 reminice. From
left to right: Marianna Silversea, Diana Listmaker, Duke Henrik
of Havn, and the moderator, Duke Frederick of Holland.
How the first event got started.
Duke Frederick turned the floor to Mistress Diana Listmaker, OL, OP, to answer this question. She told us about how she was in school at the time and how she loved medieval stories. She happened to read fantasy books regularly, which was rare in those days. One friend of hers introduced her to another friend who happened to have some medieval shields hanging on their wall at home. Since Mistress Diana happened to like medieval stories so much she immediately became excited and started asking questions. The two gentlemen that lived in this house were doing an experiment in medieval armor. They were constructing the shields to see what the process involved. They had wooden swords to fight with and saber cages. Mistress Diana asked these would-be fighters to come to her home so that she could sketch them in action for a college newsletter. The fighters did come over and Mistress Diana sketched them (the originals are on view during 3YC). She was thinking about all of this and looking at her back yard and thought, "Let's have a Medieval Tourney in the back yard." When she went in to talk to her room-mate to see if she could talk her out of the whole idea, she instead thought that it was an excellent idea. Mistress Diana then made up the flyers seen on the cover of the packet that was given at the front gate at 3YC and passed them out around the campus and around town. When the day arrived, nobody had shown up by noon and Mistress Diana was getting discouraged, but about fifteen minutes late, everyone seemed to show up at once.
Marianna Silversea, Mistress Diana's room-mate, spoke of her excitement of attending the event.
Duke Frederick spoke at this point about his arrival to the tournament. He was excited and had sewn a tabard and a banner for the event, which was hung on the yard clothes line. When he arrived, he didn't know anyone there, but he was really getting excited watching the fighting. When he built up his courage he asked the fighters if he could try and they let him go ahead and try. His first two bouts were double kills, and in his third he was killed. In fact, his very first strike with the wooden sword ended up destroying the sword.
Duke Henrik of Havn spoke next. He talked about some friends of his he knew in the dorm where he resided. They showed him the flyer for the event and he became very interested. He belonged to a campus medieval fantasy club and already had a tabard and a sword. He thought that he also had a shield, but he could not find it.
The next question was what the fondest memories of the First Eventers
Duke Frederick's fondest memory was of the two banners he hung on the clothes line at the First Event. He constantly compares them to the hundreds and hundreds of banners that he can see at events today. At the very end of the First Event, all of the attendees took a march down Telegraph Avenue through Berkeley to protest the Twentieth Century. They marched singing 'Greensleeves' because that was the only medieval song that they all knew.
The third question was what has changed the most in the SCA since
those first few days.
The First Eventers commented constantly on the technology changes that have happened since that first event. Armor has changed from saber helms to freon cans to the sculpted metal armor used today. The First Event happened before rattan or even duct tape. The skills involved in the SCA today are sophisticated beyond anything dreamed of then. People are making a living today from medieval skills learned through the SCA. The First Eventers mentioned how impressed they are with the elaborate pavilions people routinely use at today's events. Back then, excitement was an old army tent. They were also impressed at the size of today's events. They didn't think their experiment would last beyond two years.
The last question was what has stayed the same since that first
The thing most mentioned was the sense of community generated by the atmosphere of the SCA. It doesn't matter where in the Knowne World you are, SCA people think of each other as fellows in a very large family.
Marianna Silversea likes how she can come to an event and feel safe at night. She knows that when she needs any help at all, all she needs to do is ask and she has plenty of assistance.
The floor was opened for questions at this point. Many people stood up to give accounts of how the SCA has changed their own lives for the better.
The Gab Fest was very interesting. They told many stories of the first few events. Not all First-Eventers were there, but they had correspondance from the others that were there. They told so many stories that my article would never end. I think that I will never forget the stories that they told and hope that my SCA life is as much fun.
-In Service, Yrsa of Lionsdale
Observations and other musings from the meeting of the First Eventers:
Funny quote from Sir William the Lucky: "They're knighting people younger than my armor!"
The four people on the panel were striking in their intelligence. One, Henrick of Havn, said that he was a shy, bookish type of person not much interested in the typical team sports of modern America. In the SCA he found people who accepted him as he was, he found fighting to be just the kind of individual activity that suited him well, and he found ways to escape being a wallflower. Frederick, Diana, and Marianna all nodded in agreement at this assessment of the type of people who started the SCA.
Marianna Silversea had an interesting tale. It was in her and Diana's backyard that the first event was held. Very shortly afterward she went into the Peace Corps, only to come back two years later to find a functioning Kingdom where a party had been! For one reason or another, mostly her foreign travel, she had very little contact with the SCA until she moved back to her hometown in A.S. XX. There she found a small shire and got very active in the SCA for the first time and has remained so since.
Felice (to Steven after he had taken a hard blow during the first
tournament): "Are you hurt!!?"
Steven McEnrugh:"I've never had so much fun in my life."
Felice: "I'll never understand men!"
Right from the start people always came in costumes (albeit fairly primitive varieties), people of all ages participated, and you always tried to defeat your opponent not injure him (or later, her).
Why was the SCA destined for success? "It took the vigor of the fighting and mixed it with the grace of the arts".
Further: "Everyone was a participant and not a spectator; the society that grew up was a total culture not just a fighting club".
"The cooks among us said "Oh boy! A whole new territory to explore".
We created "something rare, new, and wonderful".
-Submitted by Master Edward, An Tir