By Lady Mary of Montevale
Mistress Signy Dimmridaela (currently of Meridies), one of three people here this year who have attended all 40 Pennsics, stopped by the Pennsic Independent on Thursday to share her memories of Pennsics over the years.
Some of the features of the first Pennsic might surprise you. There were merchants, scouts, and mud. Since it was late September and the campground was located not far from Erie, it was cold enough late in the day for some snowflakes to fall, but they didn’t stick very long. She agreed it was not only the first but probably also the last time for snow to fall at Pennsic.
There was a timed woods battle fought in which each side was given a length of rope from which to mark the “walls” of their fortification. The East was situated atop the hill and were winning the battle until they decided to abandon such an easily-defended position and (in Signy’s words) “snatch defeat from a certain victory.” In the battle she was an accidental non-combatant “fatality” when a fighter emerging from the trees with steamed-up glasses was unable to tell that she was someone in garb who was not wearing a helmet. Fortunately, it was a body shot, not one to the head.
Another of the activities on that first weekend was a live chess game. Also, Mrthton the Rotund (Middle) brought a real live duck with him to the event (almost certainly another never-repeated fact of a Pennsic War). After a number of cars were towed from where they were stuck in the mud, there was a large gathering at a nearby drive-in restaurant that offered curb service.
Everyone present agreed that the first Pennsic War had been so much fun that they ought to do it again.
Mistress Signy told how at Pennsic IV (the infamous Mud/Rain/Flood Pennsic) there was one pavilion which remained dry the entire time. It was a small round pavilion belonging to Alia (now Mistress Alia) of Bhakhail on which the roof—or a cover laid over the roof—was a brocade-print plastic shower curtain which easily shed all the rain which fell. Pennsic V was notable for many of those who attended it mostly for being so much drier.
Here at Cooper’s Lake, Signy remembers pioneering Bow Street—now a merchant row one over from the open space in front of the west side of the barn. It was raining so heavily when she arrived one year and, not wanting to go down tht hill, she simply set up her camp at the most convenient spot. For many years, she was a Pennsic merchant who sold tunics she had made and was also the first merchant to carry trim. “I’m a trim-a-holic,” she confessed and admitted to having owned one length of trim for 40 years before finally putting it to use.
One of her most memorable moments at Pennsic came one night as she was trying to fall asleep in her tent and heard the voices of the young King of the East and some of his squires, singing a boisterous drinking song as they came away from the Pennsic Inn. Suddenly she heard the King comment loudly enough for her to hear, “Shhh. This is Mistress Signy’s tent. We have to be quiet.” And they were, at least until they had passed by, when they began singing again.
Signy says she keeps coming to Pennsic because it is a combination of family reunion, international convention, and “the best medieval shopping anywhere.” She still enjoys watching a good battle, although for her “Pennsic is less like a war and more like a village.”
“I’m looking forward to Pennsic 50,” she stated at the close of the conversation.