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BMN: Your web site invites prospective members to “see the world from the other side of the weapon.” What’s that like? NF: I wouldn’t know. That’s the only way I’ve ever seen the world.

NF: It’s all a fantasy; that’s the reality. You’re simulating battles of the past, present, future or in a fantasy context. The soldiers don’t move by themselves; we move them, we paint them.

BMN: Well then, how does the Maestro of the Flying Pigs express his world view?

BMN: When separating the best from the rest in miniatures, what is your criterion? NF: Quality is quality is quality – whether it’s in coin, stamp, figure collecting or anything else. Some people will buy the cheapest they can buy and that works for them; some will buy the best they can buy and that works for them. We try to carry a nice selection of all different ranges in different prices.

NF: Life is like a buffet – you take what you want; you leave the rest. Not all people are going to go to the seafood BMN: What defense would section of the buffet and not you offer for the collecting of all people are going to go and military miniatures and battle try out the steak. Some are games to those who campaign going to eat salad. It’s a against weaponry? matter of individual taste. Fencing is not for everyone; NF: There are two different it appeals to some people. Moniteur, Norm Flam, with his 2006-2007 Foil Team (left to right): Phil Rose, groups of people in the world: There are those who fence for Greg Susa (Assistant Instructor), and Steve DeCosmo (Team Captain). those who like to control part of their lives and don’t other people and people who continue. I have found that a don’t want to be controlled. number of people will fence early in I happen to be an historical gamer; People that like to control other people life and then come back to it. Maybe that’s my favorite. But, I understand are the ones that say, “You shouldn’t they’ve fenced in college and when the that we are trying to give the best be playing those games.” I think they kids are grown they return to it. I have simulation of a different period of should find another hobby. had people come through the class history on a table. who were fencing in the 1930s and 40s BMN: How is it that you have come to and decided that they wanted to fence BMN: Does your gaming relate to the purvey toy soldiers on Ligonier’s Main again. video and online gaming so popular Street? Fencing is a very difficult sport, today? although it may not appear that way NF: I had sold my stores in California to people who don’t know anything NF: All the concepts for these games and we were living in Oregon in 1991. about it. It takes a great deal of work the kids are playing on computers That year we drove out to The to get to were you have to be. It’s also came from the miniature games that Historicon Convention in Lancaster, a very individualistic sport. People we’re playing now. Almost all the did very well selling our figurines there have differing characteristics – young, computer game designers have played and decided that the East Coast might old, tall, short, left-handed, rightminiature games in one form or be the place for us. (Historicon has been handed. They have different abilities: another. The advantage of a miniature hailed as “the mother of all wargaming they’re smart or not-so-smart; skilled game is that there are aspects that conventions” by the Wall Street Journal.) and not-as-skilled. We try to take each you can not get from a computer game. So, we bought a house in Ligonier and person individually. That’s part of the Computer games are nice, but they relocated. Incidentally, I almost drowned charm and appeal of fencing. are not social. There is not much in Ligonier when I was a kid. I’ve always interaction with another person – you believed when things are meant to be, BMN: Are you of the French or Italian don’t look at him across the table, you it just all comes together. In this school of fencing? don’t have a pizza with him while particular case it did. you’re playing a game, you don’t NF: I learned in the classical French discuss all the other things involved. ***** style. I teach that way, because I have found that French is more successful. Ralph Faulkner was often heard to say, The goals of the two schools are the “How can you retire from something same, but there are differing aspects. you love? When you do that, you might Greg Susa, my very talented Assistant as well be dead.” Stop in at Toy Soldier Instructor, learned in the Italian Gallery one of these days and ask the school and we had some modifications proprietor his opinion about that to do before he could assist me. statement. I’m sure he’ll comply, because any way you slice it Norm BMN: How do fencing students today Flam is an engaging fellow – behind compare to past students? his sabre or his counter! NF: Students are considerably more athletic now than fencing students of the past; athleticism was not necessarily a requirement then. You get one really good athlete in there and he (or she) changes the mix. Everybody has to rise to the competition. Right now there are a lot of spectacular athletes in fencing and it’s starting to show on the international stage. Look at the women who went to the Olympics last year. We came back with 6 medals. That is so far beyond anything the US has done in the past. BMN: Would you give us your thoughts on historical as opposed to fictional war gaming?

Every Story Begins At Home.

*Although Errol Flynn did not “put a bullet through his head” (as did Richard Cory of the poem of the same name by Edwin Arlington Robinson), he did commit a rather lengthy suicide.

The Ligonier Fencing Club meets for lessons and practice on Wednesdays and Fridays from 6-9 pm at the Ligonier YMCA. Beginners are always welcome!

Email Norm Flam at norm@toysoldier, call 724-238-0324 or visit 235 West Main Street in Ligonier. Visit to learn more about the 2009 Historicon Convention “Ride to the Sound of the Guns” (Napoleon’s 1809 Campaign and the Spanish Ulcer) to be held July 16-19 at the Lancaster Host Resort & Conference Center. To find out more about the Ligonier Fencing Club visit For more information about the Fencing Program at the Ligonier YMCA go to www.ligonier or call 724-238-7580.

3782 State Route 31 1 Mile East of Turnpike Exit 91

Saturday, July 4 and Saturday, August 1 Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity holds ReStore sales the first Saturday of every month from 8am-Noon at its Jeannette location: 17 17th Street and Penn Avenue. A donation and sales center, all proceeds from the center beneifit the organization’s ongoing effort to continue building new homes in the central Westmoreland County area. Items that can be found at ReStore include everything from lighting fixtures to doors, windows and other building supplies. There is also a nice selection of furniture such as desks, tables and chairs, dishes, tools and more. Do you have items to be donated? Contact Jim Miller at 724523-0308 to arrange a dropoff or pickup time and date. In addition to donations, the center also requires additional volunteers. If you’d like to give your time for a worthwhile cause, contact volunteer coordinator Brian Root at:

July/August 2009 - 17

Laurel Mountain Post July-August 2009  
Laurel Mountain Post July-August 2009  

A Magazine from the Heart of Western Pennsylvania