Restoring ‘good light’
December 19, 2006
Norman and Judy Greenspan’s business deals often start with a plea: “Can you please fix this?”
The are asked to mend crystal chandeliers that have been stored in a garage for 30 years, coated with grime and missing parts; to repair family heirlooms that are in danger of going up in flames because of old wiring. From the dirt and spider web, they reveal sentimental objects that once illuminated homes for generations.
A second career for both the Greenspans, the Lamp Doctor is operated out of their chilly North Carson City garage. They do house calls. The workshop is neatly organized, containing only a few repair orders. Judy Greenspan said pre-Christmas is always a little slow. But then relatives come into town, life gets crowded, and lamps get broken.
“Our business is run off cats and husbands,” joked 83-year-old Norman Greenspan.
Repairs or purchases with the Lamp Doctor range from $50 to $500, which is a price most are willing to pay.
“Some people have beautiful lamps as decorative pieces, but the most important thing is good light,” said Judy Greenspan.
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The couple have worked together since 1973, when Judy Greenspan left her job with the Museum of Natural History in New York City to help her husband at his butcher shop in Englewood, N.J. She came on as a cook, innovating the “take-home dining” menu for a newly risen class of women re-entering the workforce. The pot roast, soups and side dishes boomed, giving them a successful brand with East Coast commuters. They decided to follow the grandchildren to Nevada in 1994, where they were surprised by the business-friendly climate.
“In New Jersey, it cost $1,000 just to have the business name. Here it costs $62,” Judy Greenspan said.
Norman Greenspan’s first lamps were made out of Disney World plastic drinking bottles, as gifts to their grandchildren.
“This is fantastic therapy,” said Norman Greenspan. “All my contemporaries are no longer here, but I keep going. It keeps me alive.”
He stands 5 feet 3 inches tall, stooped slightly from back surgery and arthritis. But he sits tall on his garage stool while fixing a milk glass lamp.
“You can make a lamp out of anything – a sewing machine, a picture, a toy train,” said Judy Greenspan, 66.
The work of the Lamp Doctor can be seen in several well-known Carson City places.
They can electrify oil and gas lamps and still preserve the historic object.
Norman Greenspan repaired the main crystal chandelier in the living room of the Bliss Mansion. It took two months to restore Adele’s 1875 crystal chandelier, which is in the main dining room.
The couple’s next project involves building 16 brass candlestick lamps for the restaurant’s dining tables.
Contact the Lamp Doctor at 887-5603.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.