ANST - Master Beverly - In Memorium (fwd)

Pug Bainter pug at
Thu Nov 13 05:06:18 PST 1997

>From the Madrone Culinary List, an eloquent, moving memorial to honor the
First Laurel of the Society--Siobhan


The news came today that Master Beverly had died.  To many, it marks 
an era of passage in the SCA - the founders are passing one by one
and their loss changes us all.  But to me, it is a very personal
passage.  Master Beverly held a special place in my SCA life, 
and I would like to take a few moments to try to share some of that
specialness with my friends in the SCA.

I met Master Beverly when I was 22. I had been involved in the SCA at
various levels for about six  years at that time.  It was the
summer of 1975, and I was 're-entering' West Kingdom activities after two
years in Montana where there was no SCA.

It's hard to describe the SCA of those years to people who have only seen
its 90's (or even 80's) incarnation.  This was the era when Queen Carol
told us to make tourney clothes out of polyester double knit because it
washed easily and draped so well.  It was a time when, to me, the SCA
meant fighters, and fighting, and watching tournaments.  I had never seen
SCA dancing - although I had heard of it, had never even heard of a
'period' recipe (the West didn't do feasts in those days), and the only
reason I didn't bring potato salad to Crown to eat with my fried chicken
was that I was afraid the eggs would spoil in the heat.

I met Master Beverly at a Crown Tournament at Big Trees Park in the
hills up above Berkeley.  He seemed elderly to me, even then.  But he
found time to talk to a relative newcomer.  We sat and walked and talked
most of the afternoon.  Naturally, we started by talking about the
fighting.  Fighting was what the SCA was all about.  He told me that he
was a Laurel.  I'd never met a Laurel before and wasn't really sure what
it meant.  "I think they made it up to make me feel better since I didn't
fight."  I can still hear him saying that - the amusement, and a little
self-deprecation, clear in his voice.  

In truth, he was the first Laurel of the Society.  And when
I sometimes see the SCA loosing perspective about awards and rank and
honors, I remember Master Beverly and hear his chuckling voice telling me
that 'they' made up the Laurel so that an old man who didn't fight could
still feel appreciated.

The reason why meeting Master Beverly was so very important to me was that
it marked a turning point for me in the SCA.  From perceiving the SCA as,
quite naturally, a group for fighters and their girlfriends, I began, with
his help and a few introductions, to see it as a place where any
interested person could work to create some aspect of the middle ages.  I
began to notice things like tents (he was, after all, Master Beverly
Tentmaker...) and how some looked like the pavillions in an illuminated
manuscript and some looked like army surplus.  I noticed a lady with a
chemise made from some loosely woven white fabric rather than the
prevalent and useful doubleknit.  I began to ask -why- we couldn't cook a
medieval feast rather than take a break for fast food at 12th night and or
have a restaurant banquet after a University of Ithra session.

I wonder sometimes what my life in the SCA would have been if I had not
met Master Beverly that hot summer day.  Would I have begun to notice a
'wider' society on my own?  Would I have grown out of the
'all-fighters-together' society and moved on to join a bridge club like my
mother expected me to?  All I really know, though, is that this
knowledgable, gifted, and delightful man helped to open my eyes to a
brighter and broader SCA - one in which I am still active almost 25 years

And if I'm ever tempted to think that I'm "too old" for the SCA, all I
need to do is remember that Master Beverly was older than I am now when
he attended the First Tournament in Berkeley in 1966.  And every time I
watch a new Laurel made I remember his subtle but enduring influence.

He was a wonderful person. I will always miss him.

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