From the Center

Bob Mascaro in his shop, the tables nearly complete.

Recently, I mused to a colleague that I wished we had tables sized for our new meeting room. We’re starting to implement an ambitious three-year plan to extend the educational reach of this organization, which will prompt many gatherings at our new headquarters – for example, brainstorming sessions with creative folks about digital content linked to the magazine, and collaborative meetings with other forest stewardship groups.

Wooden tables would be best, sourced from trees in the Northeast. Given other demands on our budget, however, new furniture acquisition just wasn’t on the priority list.

I made this remark on a Wednesday. On Thursday, Bob Mascaro appeared unexpectedly in our office. He introduced himself as a long-term subscriber, took a quick tour of the premises, and announced that he’d like to build something for Northern Woodlands’ new home. I showed him our meeting room, and on the spot he pledged to make a set of white oak tables, sourced from New York saw logs, and customized to the room’s dimensions.

I’m still a bit stunned by this, both the timing and Bob’s generosity. I have my suspicions that he’s a genie, or at least summoned by one. When I told him I wanted to write about the tables for this column, Bob protested that he didn’t need any credit – “I’m doing this because it makes me happy!” He relented after I told him that it would make me happy to acknowledge him.

It’s fitting that the tables where we’ll convene are being made by a Northern Woodlands reader whose personal history connects in so many ways to the topics we cover. Bob has always enjoyed working with wood. He taught himself how to make furniture while he was still a kid, and started Mascaro’s Woodcraft Company in 1970, just after he finished serving in the Navy. He buys his wood wholesale from Holt & Bugbee Company, a fifth generation (circa 1825) lumber business.

Bob lives in Chicopee, Massachusetts, but has ties to northern New England as well; years ago, he began coming to Danville, Vermont, to hunt rabbits and upland birds. He and his wife Audrey eventually bought a parcel there with views of the Presidentials. It’s young forest, mostly; they’ve improved the trails, and this time of year, play hosts to a field full of bluebirds.

Above is a photo of Bob with the tables in production. They’ll have breadboard ends and an antique stain, in keeping with our nineteenth century office. What a perfect setting for our work.

 
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