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Weekend feature

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Weekend feature

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Snowmen, bears, spiders....you name it, Norm and Linda have made it

RANDOLPH — When Norm Lulow would describe something he made and placed on his and his wife Linda’s, two acres at Randolph, it started with a head nod. 

“See that over there,” he pointed to a white-frame covering, yellow bench seating centered around a wood burning grill.

Then there was a pause. 

A space for the guest to take a shot at what it’s made of.

The answer.

“Satellite dish,” he would say, shaking his head almost surprised it served another purpose before he turned it into art.

Then he would chuckle. Short, but full. Filled half with pride in his work, half with amusement that someone else would care. One hundred percent genuine.

“We just had to have one.”

***

At first sight, it’s clear they have more than one.

As visitors pull into the driveway, they are greeted by two metal peacocks that line the gravel lane. Soon you come up on a fenced-in pen, corraling a cast of animals who wouldn’t wander away.

There’s a pig made from a beer keg.

“Yep,” Norm said, carefully imitating Linda. “‘You just have to make me one of these.’”

Next to the pig is a small group of roosters made from hay rakes and motorcycle forks.

Then there’s a cow that looks more like a goat. It’s a bit rusty, as it’s created from shovels and iron.

There are angels from satellite dishes, a wooden train and an eight-foot-tall Ferris wheel that Norm said “had to work.”

“Sometimes it takes some redneck creativity to come up with these things,” Linda said with a smile. “I just see something and think ‘oh, that would be cool.’”

***

The couple have been married for 33 years. When they moved to Randolph, the property wasn’t in the shape it is today.

“It was a mess,” Linda described, “a wreck.”

They have spent most of their retirement improving and growing their collection.

“We just find things around, or people bring us stuff, and she has the ideas,” Norm said. “She’s kind of a celebrity around here.”

Linda blushed and was quick to deny any fame.

Popularity among pieces isn’t the goal when the pair sets out to create something. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

“The Carol Duvall Show, did like a craft show and called her up, wanted her to be a part of it,” Norm said of the Chicago-based program.

Linda declined the invitation. “Oh, no I was not going on that. No way.”

The item that was to be featured was a snowman made of dryer vents. Despite not making it on to TV, Linda’s creation had taken off and found a home with many from around the country.

“The next thing I know, we’re buying dryer vent hose and making snowmen out of them,” Norm said. “We made over 300 of them. They were in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, California, Oregon, Washington, Iowa and Mexico.”

Not all artwork the pair have made or installed has left their property with permission.

The two, while not frequently, have been the victims of theft.

“We had a bear, heavy thing, sitting out at our corner,” Linda described.

“And overnight,” Norm said with his familiar headshake, “They just took it. And they had to be prepared. I mean this thing was anchored and just heavy.”

Other items, big and small, end up in the hands of criminals, but the couple take it all in stride.

“You know maybe they want it more than we did, I don’t know,” Linda said.

Since the bear theft, the couple anchors items with five gallon buckets of concrete buried feet in the ground, acting as footings.

***

You may not come home with a unique item, but you will come away with a unique experience if you stop by.

At least a friendly one.

“We have people come by and want to take photos with all the stuff we have here,” Norm said. “Can you believe it? We don’t know these people at all. They’ll pull in or park on the street and wander to something for a picture. Guess they just want to know.”

Tours of the property don’t require tickets, as Linda welcomes travelers.

“Sure, if you want to see something and we have a moment, just knock.”

Their willingness to share their crafts and space has allowed them to play host to one of the neighborhood’s gatherings.

Once a year, the Lulows will invite the residents living down Wayne Street in Randolph to come up and have a meal and enjoy the company of friends and neighbors.

“It used to rotate out between houses up and down Wayne Street here. Now, everyone just comes down here. We send out flyers for people and they come for the evening,” Norm described.

***

As often as friends and strangers visit, family was first in mind when the Lulows began creating.

The story for each piece, inside the house and out, typically begins with an idea for one of their seven kids, their “18-20 grandkids that they know of,” as Norm would joke.

 

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