The Æthelmearc Gazette is saddened to announce the passing of Mistress Esperanza Halevi of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands on April 11, 2016.

Mistress Esperanza (mka Esther Tucker) was a long-time member of the Society known for the antiquarian bookshop she ran with her husband, Lord Guido Halevi Aldina, who passed away in 2003. While she had a physical shop in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, she and Guido would often sell books on medieval and renaissance topics at SCA events until age made it too difficult for them to lift and tote heavy boxes.

Esperanza and Guido came to the SCA rather later in life than most of us, being in their 50s when the joined in the mid-1980s. Nevertheless, they jumped in with both feet, merchanting and helping out in whatever ways they could. They were members of the Peacemakers household, founded by Baroness Serena Lucia of the Peacemakers and now headed by Sir Alonzio of the Peacemakers.


Esperanza and Guido, probably late 1980s. Photo taken by Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi, provided by B.D. Wahlberg.

Esperanza received her Laurel for poetry from Yngvar and Caryl, first King and Queen of Æthelmearc, at 12th Night in A.S. XXXII. She was known for her wit and her sometimes pungent sense of humor, and was a regular contributor at bardic circles.

Although ill health and limited mobility kept her from attending SCA events for most of the last decade, Mistress Esperanza is remembered fondly by many in the Debatable Lands.

Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi recalls, “Esperanza halevi was a wonderful woman. Her poetry was fun and full of humor. She and her husband Guido merchanted books, when they could bring themselves to part with them.”

Master Michael Alewright remembers, “She was (among many other things) a poet extraordinaire, devoted bibliophile, and friend with open heart and wry perspective. She will be greatly missed.”

Their Majesties, Byron and Ariella, commented “Our interaction with Mistress Esperanza was pivotal. When trying to locate the SCA (after a search for a perfume merchant led us to drive to the gates of Pennsic) someone told us to find Tucker’s Books and she told us about the local Barony meetings at CMU. So, approximately 20 years ago, she was the clandestine gateway into the SCA for us.”

Here is one of her humorous filks, courtesy of her grandchild B.D. Wahlberg:

 (Tune: “Hava Nagila” – more or less!)

Pennsic! It’s time for Pennsic! Oh yes, it’s Pennsic – the very best time of year!
Turn off the highway, onto the byway; over the one-lane bridge – and we’re here!
Ooh! Ahh! How medieval!
Look at all the lords and ladies – garbed and armored, hot as Hades!
Look at all the grand pavilions – boy scout greens to bright vermilions –
And on the grass – oh, what a gas! – six barbarians swilling beer!

Oh, oh – a court’s in session! Here’s a procession of V.I.P.’s up the aisle:
Heralds in tabards, swords in their scabbards; proud heads adorned with crowns in high style!
Eh, what? Heralds mumble!
Cannot hear a word they’re saying; maybe the King is A.O.A.-ing;
Maybe he’s making knights or laurels (chosen for talent, not for morals!)
Who can it be?Wish I could see… The acoustics here are vile!

 Guess I’ll be moving on now, behind the barn now, to see the merchants’ display;
Shopping! How I love shopping! So I’ll be stopping at every booth on the way!
Ooh! Ooh! I can’t stand it!
Look at this gown of antique satin, yellow and green (like leeks au gratin);
Look at this gorgeous belt I found me (wish it would reach the whole way round me!);
A darling stuffed rat!  Gotta have that – mustn’t let it get away!

Oh, look – a Punch and Judy!  Oh, goody, goody, a puppet show, what a lark!
And when that’s ended (how simply splendid!) actors will come and play “Noah’s Ark”!
Oh, oh – is this period?
Belly dancers, dressed in scanties – shove some money in their panties!
That’s all right for Medes and Persians – I like classier diversions!
Shall we pavane? Galliard, anyone?Or just party after dark???

Hey, now it’s time for dinner! Though I’d be thinner if fancy foods I’d forgo,
Still, I would rather feast now on roasted beast now, with almond pudding to go…
Say, what? What’s your problem?
What’s all this annoying prattle, asking if I enjoyed the battle?
Everything here is so exciting – why would I want to look at fighting?
…Pennsic’s a war??? That’s what it’s for???? HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW??!!!

And here’s another ditty of Mistress Esperanza’s:

Song to a Certain Tune

I’ve written songs to ‘most every tune
From “Malaguena” to “Clair de Lune,”
From “Bobby Shaftoe” to “Bonny Doon” –
But not one to the tune of “Greensleeves.” 

But “Greensleeves” is a lovely song,
And if you use it you can’t go wrong
Your authenticity’s firm and strong
If you sing to the tune of “Greensleeves.”

Now, Lady Greensleeves, I’ve heard them say,
 Used to lie around in the grass all day;
With all the men she was making hay,
And that’s how she got her green sleeves.


As bard, I’ve written songs in the past,
And some are slow, and some are fast;
But this one’s over and done at last –
It’s the one to the tune of “Greensleeves!”


Her obituary is available here. Mistress Esperanza was 86.

Contributions in memory of Esther Tucker may be made to Congregation Dor Hadash, or Friends of the Squirrel Hill Library.