Ok, youngsters! Gather ‘round while the old folks talk about life before the Interweb. Yes, such a time did exist, strange as that may seem. Before Google, we had encyclopedias, newspapers and magazines. Library cards. Used book stores.
What we did not have was immediate access to information. For example, last night at the West Berkeley Fencing Club I was watching the U-20 World Cup team finals of the Men’s Foil and Women’s Epee, an event that occurred just a couple of weeks ago in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Thank you, YouTube and the FIE Channel therein. The world (and your school teachers may not tell you this) was much, much larger in the 1980’s. Information, if it traveled at all, traveled very slowly. Events in other parts of the country might be read about in American Fencing Magazine, which came out every 3 months. Usually. Events in other countries? Well, if you subscribed to Escrime from France or Scherma from Italy – and you could read Italian and French – you might keep up to date, give or take a few months.
Imagine the happy surprise when the Southern California division started putting this out:
Fencing Times #1
This served a few purposes. First, it was the So Cal newsletter, announcing tournament results, upcoming events, etc. Second, they reviewed rule changes, National events, point standings. Third, they did bits of history – which of course I’m going to like. Plus, they would print results from International competitions. Eight pages of… ok, seven and a half pages of information that was not otherwise available. Imagine if Google limited your search results to seven and a half pages of information per month. Not a lot, right? But you’d still take it. Pretty much everyone on the West Coast who knew about it, devoured it.
Here are some cool examples of the kinds of announcements you found in this, the first issue:
Announcement for the inaugural Calvert Challenge Team Foil event, with a great picture of Maestro Delmar Calvert to boot!
Page 3 has some tournament results, some articles and the FIE calendar.
Results from an “Out of Town” event, the Terres Des Hommes, held in Montreal, Canada.
More “Out of Town” news.
Included with these articles on Page 3 is an announcement that a cable sports station called ESPN is going to carry some fencing events the 81/82 season. (Anybody have a VCR running for that? Did it ever happen?) There are also listing for the (limited) areas where you can sign up to get ESPN from your Cable TV provider.
Also on Page 3 begins a listing of the current point standings for the top 10 in each weapon (remembering that this is before Women’s Epee and Women’s Sabre had “official” national events, thus no points for those events). Keep in mind that this is the So Cal Newsletter, hence the particular emphasis on fencers from that region.
Page 4 is a full page continuation of the article from Page 2 about some history of So Cal fencing in the 1970’s:
I don’t think you can have a discussion of So Cal fencing in the 1970’s without including Delmar Calvert, Dan DeChaine, Bradley Thomas, Joy Ellingson and Andrea Metkus. They’re all here.
Pages 5 and 6 are taken up with the So Cal schedule through December, including some National events. Page 7 gets back into the news coverage, starting with a photo from the 1980 Olympics.
The caption reads: Jolyot (r) and Smirnov at ’80 Olympics
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is where this paper had me as a fan forever. An Actual Photo of Olympic Gold Medalist Vladimir Smirnov in action. Great stuff!
In other Page 7 news:
The below notification was like gold, because smart, organized people could begin to figure out travel and expenses to the circuit events. I’d have to go back and look at an American Fencing Magazine that would have been concurrent with this September paper, but it would not surprise me if this were the first place you might have seen a notice for the particulars of the upcoming national events. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Finally, on the last half-page, the continuation of the point standings:
The sad thing about the Fencing Times is that it didn’t last very long. I think I’ve got all the issues in The Archive and each one had interesting news, information and photographs. At the time, they were an unparalleled resource for fencing news and perhaps the So Cal division was just in over its head to keep it going for a long time. Perhaps it was the brainchild of one particular person who moved on for whatever reason. (My suspicion is the latter, but I know only bits and pieces from rumor, so I won’t presume to take a stand on the matter. I just really missed this resource when it was gone.)
There is more history to be mined from the pages of the Fencing Times. It will have to wait for another day – I need to scan another issue!