As a 62-year-old knight, Terry Glidden has far outlived his 14th-century contemporaries, and he has no plans to give up his knighthood anytime soon.
Glidden is part of the Society of Creative Anachronism, an organization dedicated to researching and recreating pre-17 century crafts and skills. It's something he's spent more than 30 years doing after first seeing it on a morning national news program.
Get him talking about it and you may leave with a new hobby yourself -- just ask the man who recently came to repair his fence. Glidden showed the man his 12 1/2-pound helmet and in doing so, recruited a new fighter.
Glidden's persona, "Theodweard l'Archier," is the son of a rich merchant who bought a barony and was able to afford armor and started fighting during the 100 Years War. Glidden said he chose the 14th century because so much happened so fast, including the Black Plague -- twice.
"You can just never run out of material," he said.
How did you get started in SCA?
"Back in college, I was a classic role-player computer geek guy, and I was working at Musicland in the Galleria. And I had seen one of those Good Morning America's where they were talking about Pennsic War, which is our biggest war in the known world. People come from all over Australia and everything to fight this. At that time that was like 200-on-200, and I saw that as a gamer I'm like 'oh yeah.' I'm working at Galleria, and I look out in Peace Plaza and they're doing it, there's a bunch of guys in armor fighting. So I called my manager said, 'I need to take a break. I need to go downstairs and see what this is all about.'
How is SCA different from something like the Renaissance Festival or LARPing (Live Action Role Play)?
SCA, is by charter, an educational group. Our key phrase is 'We do the Middle Ages as they would have.' So we'll use plastic armor, we'll use modern conveniences. I use a sewing machine when I make my surcoat, but we try to do things as close to the way they did with our modern conveniences.
The other organizations like the Ren Fair is entertainment. It's all about entertaining. We do this for ourselves, because we think it's cool. We have people that make scrolls because they love calligraphy and the artwork.
We have people fight both the rapier, the steel, and the cut and thrust, which is slashing with steel and the rattan. Some of the C&T folks, cut and thrust, they are actually replicating Italian schools, and trying to fight as historically as possible based off of manuscripts. Us rattan guys, we're just out there to have fun.
We want to look as period as possible, for whatever our chosen period is. But it's mostly about the camaraderie of going out there and hitting your friends with a three-pound stick and not going to jail.
So that's different and the LARPing ... they're more science fiction based, science fantasy based, than we are. We are very historical base. And that's not to say we're snobs.
Because for the first seven years, eight years, I played in a poufy shirt and sweatpants. You know I came, I fought and then you have to make an attempt at period garb, so I put on a poufy shirt, sweatpants and a pair of boots, and nobody cared. Now I dress in 14th century cotehardies and braise and chausses. And again, nobody really cares. So you can take it as far as you want.
What is the Rochester SCA like?
We have folks do the calligraphy and do the Arts and Illumination. Big into archery here, which is what I started. And we use all recurve and self-bows, no compounds, no sights. You can do crossbow. But right now, the main gig is fighting. I think it's a lot because people have been cooped up with the plague that getting out and doing things out in the park with people has been pent up for 18 months so our fighting is more than doubled our size.
When we first started this spring we had basically three people that were doing it regularly. And then a couple more started coming in ... And then all of a sudden we got five new people.
What is it about this hobby that has kept you going for decades?
I think the major thing with this hobby is there are so many other hobbies within the one hobby. I've done woodworking.
There's brewing, which I did. There's the fencing. There's the needlepoint. Anything they did in the Middle Ages, we try to redo.
Feasts, a lot of people will study and try medieval cooking.
It's a hobby that never ends. But what's kept me going is fighting. You fight the same guys from all over the area and you develop friendships and even when I was hurt and couldn't fight, I would still hang out at the field and marshal and make sure that they could fight and have fun.
Who is a good candidate for this hobby?
"If you like to learn because you never stop in here. You could be athletic, you can be non athletic. If you like history. I'm gonna say that most people who get involved are a little history nerdish, even if they're only a closet history nerd.
Really I started fighting just because I can fight.
Pretty much anybody can and we can find something to do."