I’ll never forget the day I first spoke with Albert F. Buffum, the 84 year old son of Norwich legend Erving N. Buffum (’21). His name and phone number were written on a yellow sticky note on my desk – the result of some pretty tedious genealogical research made worse by what seemed like endless spelling possibilities and sketchy record keeping from nearly a century ago.
I sat there looking at the sticky note for a good 20 minutes before forcing myself to just make the call.
He answered the phone after the third ring. I’d never heard his voice before, but I knew it was him the second he answered.
I introduced myself as a writer and proud graduate of the Norwich University Corps of Cadets.
“Oh, Norwich.” His interest was clearly piqued.
“Yes, Sir. And I think you know where I’m going with this.”
“My father went to Norwich.”
“But he never graduated.”
After a few minutes of conversation he dropped the bomb.
“Randy, would you be interested in my father’s Norwich memorabilia?”
The next morning I was up before dawn to start the five hour drive. Albert F. Buffum met me at the door and welcomed me into his home. I sat at the kitchen table while he prepared a pot of coffee that sat untouched during our four hour conversation.
His father, Erving N. Buffum (aka E.N.B.), left Norwich mysteriously in the Fall of 1918. And although he never spoke of Norwich to his family, he kept his memorabilia close by for the rest of his life. After his death in 1974, his son discovered the items and subsequently stored them in his basement where they remained until my phone call almost four decades later.
Albert Buffum and I quickly became good friends and I was honored when he offered to give me his father’s Norwich possessions. I’ll soon be donating some of it – E.N.B.’s “Memory Book” (pictured above and below) – to the Norwich University Archives and Special Collections where it will be properly cared for alongside many of his Rook Buddies’ memorabilia.
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