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 November 30, 2011
More On Norm's Luncheon At Old Sturbridge Village

David: Rather explain how the luncheon went, I will post info from a blogger who attended the luncheon and also sit with Patty Soria at Norm's table, who said it doesn't pay to be late.

This is from Barbara's blog, hope you enjoy it.

"Lunch With Norm and Bruce"

This is one of those posts where I almost don't know where to start. There are so many different facets to the whole "Lunch With Norm" story that it almost seems like there are several different stories in one. I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

It's probably no secret that I've been crazy about Norm Abram for years. I've always loved watching his PBS program The New Yankee Workshop as well as This Old House. I'm drawn to his humor, his genuineness, his passion for his craft, and his incredible talent and knowledge. He's adorable in his own quirky, unpretentious way. And those plaid shirts ... how can you not adore those plaid shirts?

Dave has been equally enamored by Norm's incredible talent and knowledge of tools, carpentry, and woodworking. There have been many mornings and afternoons spent watching one show after another when we would happen upon a This Old House marathon.

Norm, of course, is a lifelong New Englander (the PBS shows are based out of Boston) and many of his projects were influenced by furniture on display at Old Sturbridge Village. In fact, it might be the shows that highlighted OSV that sparked our desire to make a few weekend trips to Sturbridge years ago while we were still living in New York.

Well, to fast forward a bit, we are now living here in Massachusetts and are within about 30 minutes drive of Old Sturbridge Village. As a special treat, Dave bought me (us) a membership for my birthday and we've loved being able to pop in for a visit whenever we've wanted.

Since Dave purchased the membership, all the emails about upcoming events are sent to him. One morning in September, he received an email from OSV saying that they were going to host a "Lunch with Norm Abram and Bruce Irving". Bruce Irving, former Executive Producer for This Old House and renovation consultant, had just published a book called New England Icons and Norm had written the foreword. The event included lunch in the Oliver Wight Tavern, a discussion with Norm and Bruce about what makes New England so special, with an intimate book signing opportunity to follow.

Dave didn't hesitate -- he figured this was going to be a sell-out event and purchased tickets for us to attend that very day. Of course, he couldn't keep it a secret and spilled the beans as soon as he got home. Needless to say I was thrilled and we both happily anticipated the event.

The week leading up to the lunch was a bit stressful. OSV was without power for the entire week after a freak snowstorm hit our region on October 30th. The day before the lunch their power was restored and we found out the lunch was still on. Phew! However, we hadn't printed out the confirmation or anything in advance and as we were getting ready to leave, realized we needed to do that. A series of mishaps followed -- the printer was out of paper and once it was reloaded, it had several stalled print jobs that it insisted on completing before printing our confirmation. And then there was the Daisy incident that occurred when Dave ran into town to get cash from the ATM ... we won't go into that but she's not allowed in the car again -- EVER.

All this to say we got a late start. The lunch was planned to begin between 11:30 and 12:00. Norm and Bruce's talk was scheduled for about 1:00 - 2:30 and the book signing was to follow. While our hope was to be there when the doors opened, we actually didn't arrive until about 11:45.

We parked the car, hurried into the building and were surprised that there weren't signs indicating which way to go for the lunch, and no one at the entrance to seat us. We knew where the luncheon was going to be held, but there didn't seem to be an easy way into the room. We were approached by a woman who was also looking around for the luncheon (her name was Pat and she had come all the way from California to be there!) and finally Dave just decided to open the side door leading into the banquet room and led the way.

Lunch was already underway (it was a buffet) and so Dave quickly looked around for empty seats ... there were 3 seats open at a table in the front of the room -- the rest of the seats at all the other tables were taken. Dave (my hero!!) went up to someone at the front table and asked if the seats were taken. We were assured they were not and quickly sat down. A waiter came right over and suggested we help ourselves to the buffet so we barely said hello to anyone before we stood back up.

The buffet was lovely and the room was beautifully decorated in a primitive and quaint New England harvest-time theme. We soon realized that we had come in the wrong entrance when we saw a reception table near the buffet (and realized when we left there was indeed a sign pointing the way to the correct entrance -- we had just parked closer to another walkway and totally missed it!) We filled our plates and headed back to sit down to a lovely lunch. As I was walking back to our table I looked up and was startled to see Norm Abram coming towards me. I don't know what I was expecting -- I mean, this was a lunch with Norm after all, but somehow I just wasn't prepared to see him standing right in front of me. I think I stopped dead in my tracks, gave him one of those deer-in-the headlight looks and muttered something that resembled a weak hello.

Dave and I sat back down and started to eat, made polite conversation with the people already seated and then, at what seemed to be at the same time, we both looked over at Norm. We were sitting at Norm's table. How on earth did that happen?

It eventually dawned on us that our table was "Reserved" -- for the OSV President, the Director of Operations, the Marketing and Communications Director, Norm and his wife Elise, and Bruce. There was one other guy sitting there that must have arrived just before us and grabbed one of the unoccupied seats. It just happened that these were the only remaining seats available. So -- Dave, Pat, and I just got incredibly lucky!

There was a slide show playing on a screen in the front of the room (actually, right in front of our table ... being in the front, we had perfect seats!) and we watched that as we ate and then the conversation started. We were all introduced, Pat told about coming from California, we told about our recent move to Massachusetts ... Dave mentioned seeing Norm when he appeared at Chase Pitkin several years before which led to a discussion about Wegmans, their new store in Massachusetts, and so forth. I had the chance to talk with Bruce about his book, how he was inspired to write it, and to share with him that it was everything I felt about New England.

We were able to listen in as Norm and Bruce talked about how they were going to present their talk ... I just couldn't believe we were actually sitting there and privy to their conversation!

Norm and Bruce were soon introduced and went on to give a wonderful talk about the special aspects of living in New England. Bruce started -- sharing about his inspiration for the book, his work with This Old House and with Norm. He did a few readings from the book ... it was wonderful. Next Norm came up and gave similar accounts -- what he loved about the book, what sparked his interest in the topic and why it was such a meaningful project that he was happy to be a part of. He spent a long time talking about his connection with Old Sturbridge Village which I particularly enjoyed.

To read the rest of the article, you need to go to Barbara's blog, to do that, click here.

To view Barbara's pictures, click here.



Thank You Barbara, and a very big thanks to Patty for all this info and for getting me Bruce's book, New England Icons, which he, Norm and the photographer, Greg Premru all signed and personalized, now how cool is that.