They tarry awhile

Excerpt from: "They tarry awhile in days of yore," by Diane Baltozer
published in the Patriot Ledger, March 24, 1980, p 25.

[Master Kali Harlansson (m/k/a Caleb Hanson) seems to have been the main subject of the reporter's interview. After a summary of the history of the SCA is the following tale.]

At the Barony of Carolingia in the Boston area, society members often get together several times a week for guild meetings at Hansen's [sic] and other members' home, The Buttery on Kenwood Street in Dorchester. It is a Victorian, wood-framed house decorated inside with medieval banners on the walls, closets overflowing with hockey knee-pads, home-welded helmets of the armory, and emblem books consulted frequently by members seeking to establish a coat-of-arms.

It is here that the hard-core members of the local barony often meet, with Lady Peridot of the Quaking Hand (Carol Pierson of Brookline) teaching calligraphy and lettering invitations and award certificates. Others teach medieval folk dances and Hansen checks coats-of-arms for authenticity and to be sure "no one else has the same emblem."

It is not unusual, as happens while I am there, for a member to swoop in in civvies to consult Hansen on the obscurer points of developing a persona or coat of arms and launch into a cryptic conversation filled with "bears rampant" and "unicorns on a field of rouge [sic], stars transverse."

The local members here, including most of the half dozen inhabitants of the rambling Buttery, frequently call each other by their medieval society names as often as by their real ones. Their medieval names often are more indicative of their talents and personalities, Hansen says.

The personas, Hansen explains, must be of pre-1650 personalities, "who did not exist in history, but could have." Hansen, for instance, is the wrong-way Harlansson so to speak of the Norsemen — a merchant among the few from the Scandinavian countries who preferred to travel East toward Mongolia and the Orient, rather than to the New World.

The personas, Hansen said, "seem to develop more and more over time." His own, the more he added to his costume, becoming quite a bit older than himself, "almost an old man." To fit his persona, Hansen like many others among the male members, grew a beard which enhances his large-framed Eric the Red image.

Members are expected, he said, to attend functions not just in costume "but always in persona — acting as their persona would under all circumstances, and according to the rules of courtliness."

Some have even known each other long enough — both in the present day and "in history," that they spend more than the usual guild and festive time together. Several couples, Hansen says, have married — in medieval dress, of course. One of the last such couples to marry received as a wedding gift from the society "a beat-up old wagon we made for some event or other at the tourney." The wagon is passed, like the fickle finger of fate, to whomever it can be foisted on.

Occasionally their expertise in the period leads them into other, related activities. Hansen, for instance, began teaching a "Dungeons and Dragons" medieval-fantasy group at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, where he and others play roles of magicians, dwarves and others straight from Tolkien.

What happens when these Medieval folk descend on a place for their revels? Usually, not much says Hansen. The group regularly meets for its larger functions at the Cambridge Baptist Church without comment from outside. And, when they pitch their graceful medieval-style tents elsewhere, they always have permission and a few curious onlookers.

But the street outside the Buttery, in the Dukedom of Dorchester, is quiet and unfazed as Caleb Hansen escorts one to the door with his armor helmet under his arm.

of Edwinstowe at the University of Carolingia

PRESIDING OVER THE FEAST following the Society for Creative Anachronism's "Medieval University" lectures in Cambridge is Marian Edwinstowe (Michal Walke of Dorchester) looking strikingly like Chaucer's Wyf of Bath in the "Canterbury Tales. (Patriot Ledger photos by John McDonnell.)

Harlansson at the University of Carolingia

IN GOTHIC SPENDOR at the Cambridge Baptist Church, Kale of Harlansson (Caleb Hansen) lectures in medieval professor's robes to some of the 300 to 350 persons who came from as far as Philadelphia and New York for the "Medieval University: event this month.