Pam Crispe has volunteered her time and energy to nearly every one of BMH’s Annual Clambake and Auctions, so it is bittersweet for her to acknowledge that this year’s will be the final of a 25-year run. She defines herself as a “project person,” and the clambake was a project to which she could readily devote her energies.
“People give money to the hospital because they feel they’ve done a service for them, but people volunteer because they like the people at the hospital,” says Pam. “I volunteered many years solely because I liked the people I was working with and the way that BMH treated everyone. I think that’s indicative of why BMH has such solid volunteer services.”
Pam often conscripted her husband, Lawrin, into service at the clambake. Lawrin’s family hails from “up the valley,” in Newfane, but his roots as a Brattleboro attorney trace back to his grandfather, Chief Superior Court Judge Orrin Hughes. The law firm, Crispe & Crispe, originated with Lawrin and his father, Luke, and continues now with Lawrin’s son, Spencer.
While he especially enjoyed his role as a bartender, Lawrin has many fond memories of past clambakes. “I’d be working on a Saturday, and I’d get a call saying ‘get up here immediately, it’s going to rain,” he recalls. “So myself and the other husbands would go up there and attach these flaps to the sides of the tents. I remember one year we spent two hours putting them on and it never rained.”
“Then you ended up taking them down because it got too hot,” Pam laughs. “Another year it rained so hard we were there with broom handles pushing up on the tent roof to clear the water. But we always had so much fun. I remember Sunday morning, after it was all over Susan Fenn, Janie Sherwin, and I would all be sitting there and feeling really good about its success.”
All four of Pam and Lawrin’s children (Spencer and Ashley Crispe, Jim Simson and Katie Simson Norfleet) were born and raised in Brattleboro schools and all but Spencer now reside out of state. Lawrin knocks on wood when he says that the family hasn’t had to use the hospital services, but his work has fostered a close relationship with many of the hospital doctors, and he himself served on the BMH Board of Directors for a time.
“When you really appreciate what someone is doing and their skill, you say, ‘hey, this is an organization that I feel good about getting behind,’ Lawrin says, noting that they always contributed to the clambake in addition to volunteering. “There are a variety of doctors there that I have a great deal of respect for and we felt it was worth our time to support their effort.”