On November 9 at 6pm, Friends of Samuels Library (FOSL) will host an event to benefit the library, featuring journalist Peter Houlahan, author of Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History. Including cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a multimedia presentation, and book signing, tickets for An Evening with the Author are $30 each or $50 per couple. All proceeds will underwrite improvements to the Library’s services, programs, and collections. Tickets, and an optional copy of the book for $25, can be purchased online at www.samuelslibrary.net or in person at Samuels Public Library, 330 East Criser Road, Front Royal, VA.
Norco ‘80 tells the story of how five heavily armed young men attempted a bank robbery that turned into one of the most violent criminal events in U.S. history, forever changing the face of American law enforcement.
NPR’s Michael Schaub says, “… Houlahan proves himself to be an astonishingly gifted writer, breathing urgent life into a true story that still resonates today. Norco ’80 is a fascinating true-crime account that seems likely to be one of the best nonfiction books of the year.”
The New York Times states that “…Houlahan sure knows how to dramatize a scene. His cinematic treatment of the robbery itself reads like wildfire, the fatal shootout with the police ends in colorful chaos, and the huge manhunt through San Bernardino National Forest conducted by ‘Hunt & Kill Teams’ is a nail-biter.”
According to Melody Hotek, President of Friends of Samuels Library, “The Library is very excited to host Peter in November. We haven’t had a book signing in a long time and we’re lucky to get Peter for our fundraiser.”
Peter Houlahan is a freelance journalist and book review contributor to the Hearst newspapers and AP wire. His work has appeared in CrimeReads, Police One, Salon, L.A. Magazine, Criminal Element, The Daily Mirror (UK) and the Southern California Newspaper Group. His book “Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History” was released in 2019. He holds an MFA in fiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College. In his career as an emergency medical technician, he has contributed to a number of articles related to his profession. A native Southern Californian, Houlahan now lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Publisher: Counterpoint Press, Berkeley Calif.
- Editor: Dan Smetanka.
- Release: June 11, 2019
- Literary Agent: Jeffrey Ourvan, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.
- Film Agent: Judith Farkas Management, Los Angeles, Calif.
- Web – www.peterhoulahan.com
- Twitter – @pchoulahan
- Facebook – Norco 80
- Amazon – Best Nonfiction Books of the Month. Best History Books of 2019 (so far).
- New York Times Book Review – Summer Reads.
- The Wall Street Journal – Reader’s Pick.
- CrimeReads – One of the Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer.
“[An] alarming account of a bank heist that rocked the country in 1980 and reflected ‘the peculiar zeitgeist of that decade’ in all its cockeyed drama . . . For a first-time writer, Houlahan sure knows how to dramatize a scene. His cinematic treatment of the robbery itself reads like wildfire, the fatal shootout with the police ends in colorful chaos, and the huge manhunt through San Bernardino National Forest conducted by ‘Hunt & Kill Teams’ is a nail-biter.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“Gripping . . . Houlahan, who based his account of the robbery and its aftermath on interviews with the civilians, officers and robbers involved, proves to be a master at pacing—he writes with a narrative urgency that perfectly captures the quick and chaotic nature of the robbery. His prose incorporates the vernacular of the officers and criminals; it’s hard-boiled, shot through with profanity, but never forced. It reads like a crime novel in the best way possible. But what’s truly remarkable about the book is the depth Houlahan brings to the story . . . With his first book, Houlahan proves himself to be an astonishingly gifted writer, breathing urgent life into a true story that still resonates today. Norco ’80 is a fascinating true-crime account that seems likely to be one of the best nonfiction books of the year.” —Michael Schaub, NPR
“Thrilling account of a violent California bank robbery . . . Houlahan’s debut is remarkable for the exhaustive . . . level of detail he brings to every stage of the story, transforming a pulpy true-crime narrative into a reflection of social transformations and class conflict as the countercultural 1970s faded into the Reagan era . . . An impressively well-rendered true-crime saga.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Like American Heiress in the summer of 2016, this looks like the true crime book that will launch a hundred conversations.” —CrimeReads – One of the Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer
“[A] deeply researched, thrillingly paced tale.” —Peter Larsen, Southern California News Group
“Norco ’80 blends meticulous details with a strong sense of story arc, character and place . . . Addressing the origins of the push to arm police with higher-caliber weapons, the increasingly strained relationships between police officers and their communities, and the effects of trauma on multiple generations, the book has a universal message that is needed now, according to Houlahan.” —Jo Kroeker, Greenwich Time/Hearst Newspapers
“Norco ’80 is enthrallingly detailed, down to the pencils thrown by opposing counsel in the criminal trial that followed ‘the most spectacular bank robbery in American history.’ Despite the depth and breadth recounted by journalist and EMT Peter Houlahan, the urge this book generates in readers to explore further this devastating true crime is impossible to suppress . . . Houlahan has admirably mined and winnowed the boundless material . . . He has compellingly translated a high-octane story to the page without losing traction, leaving the reader satisfied yet craving more.” —Lauren O’Brien, Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“Norco ’80 is an expertly rendered accounting of these events that reads like a crime thriller and courtroom drama, with all the brutal gravity of a true story. This is true crime at its best.” —David M. Olsen, The Coachella Review
“Norco ’80 is one hell-raising ride through 1970s Southern California with an apocalyptic prophet and the prosecutors bent on turning the tables on the policemen involved in the most violent bank heist ever committed on American soil. From the minute you meet the charismatic George Smith and his flunky friend Christopher Harven, you’ll be hanging on for dear life, waiting for the next catastrophe to take your breath away with each heartbreaking turn of the page. It’s part law and part order, and it’s outstanding!” —Kristin Bates, McLean & Eakin Booksellers (Petoskey, MI)
“On May 9, 1980, what we usually only happens in action-thriller movies come to life in Orange Country, California. I don’t usually read true-crime, but Houlahan’s writing pulled me in. While reading this meticulous researched and documented account, I could almost smell the gun power, hear the cacophony of gunfire making my ears ring and see the dust clear as the largest crime scene in American history came into view. Documented here is how an attempted bank robbery and it subsequent trial would forever change a town, its people and law enforcement nation-wide. The crime and court case may have been an unbelievable fire-storm catastrophe, but this book is pitch-perfect.” —Shannon Alden, Literati Bookstore (Ann Arbor, MI)
“In 1980 in California, a group of religiously inspired survivalists set out to rob a bank. With assault rifles and homemade explosives, they significantly outgunned the law enforcement officers they encountered. Peter Houlahan approaches the tale fully armed with facts culled from interviews, police reports, and court documents. He deploys them in steady bursts that hold the reader steady in a literary bullet time while the fast motion mayhem plays out. Norco ’80 is a riveting true crime adventure that also explains one of the predicates for the militarization of modern police departments.” —Keith Mosman, Powell’s Bookstore (Portland, OR)
“If you’re one of those people who don’t read true crime, this book will change your mind about the genre. Loved it!” —Tom Beans, Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe (Bend, OR)
“Norco ’80 is a wild ride! The action plays out like a heist film, but the author also shows immense empathy for the wide range of characters—from the robbers to the first responders to the passersby. If you want to have a ton of fun while learning about an event that shaped the way our country responds to crime.” —Hadley Turner, Towne Book Center & Cafe (Collegeville, PA)
“Norco ’80 somehow makes meticulous research and devotion to the truth fuse with suspense and excitement until the reader is right there, a witness to this guns-blazing account of a crime that changed American law enforcement’s readiness for violence in the extreme.” —Joseph Wambaugh, bestselling author of The Onion Field
“Simply put, Norco ’80 is one of the best true crime accounts ever written. Harrowing, incisive, and important. But also? A goddamned thrill ride. This is a book you’ll read and then talk about for weeks.” ––Tod Goldberg, author of Gangsterland
“As the astonishing mayhem chronicled in this book unfolds, you’ll find yourself wondering, ‘How much worse can this situation get?’ Answer: a lot. Turning the pages, I kept flashing back to the desperate, duck-for-cover urgency of Black Hawk Down. Meticulously reported and artfully written, Norco ’80 is an utterly absorbing, unforgettable, and haunting study of how a series of bad decisions can snowball into something truly disastrous.” ––Dave Howard, author of Chasing Phil
“There is no doubt that Norco ’80 is poised to become a true crime classic. It’s a marvel of pacing and information—at times racing ahead like a speeding bullet and others slowing down to provide a perfect panorama of a hairsbreadth moment. Houlahan has left nothing unexamined in his obsessively detailed account of this heist, from the emotional to the logistical to the spiritual. Trust me, you’re going to want to read every word.” —Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley
“Norco ’80 reads like a pre-apocalyptic nightmare, and it’s all true. Houlahan’s writing is intimate and stark, and the pacing relentless, as it tells the story of a group of young men who robbed a bank to prepare for the end of the world and succeeded in bringing fire and brimstone to one unfortunate small town and the police sworn to protect it. The reader will feel like a witness to these events as they unfold. Be warned—you will not get anything done until this book is done with you.” —James Renner, author of True Crime Addict
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia.
Join us for our original adaptation of the Nutcracker and watch Little Mouse help Clara find the true meaning of Christmas.
Friday, December 10, 2021, at 7:00 pm
Saturday, December 11, 2021, at 2:00 pm
Sunday, December 12, 2021, at 2:00 pm
Skyline Middle School
240 Luray Avenue | Front Royal, VA
Children $5 (4 years and up)
Belle Grove decorated for the holidays and open for touring December 3-30, 2021
From December 3 to 30, Belle Grove Plantation is decorated for the holidays and open for touring. “Timeless Tales and Verse,” celebrating holiday-themed literature from the years of Belle Grove’s history, is the inspiration for this year’s decorations.
The Winter Time, a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson, is seen in the decorations in the carriage and on the front porch. Valley Garden Club has decorated the front hall with the poem Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in mind. The library decorations by Warren Garden Club feature the classic Christmas letter, Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus. In the day sitting room, the Winchester/Clarke Garden Club evoked ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. The plantation office has been transformed by the Middletown Garden Club into Ebenezer Scrooge’s office from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Across the hall in the dining room the Colonial Garden Club rings in the New Year with Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns. In the Parlor is a 12-foot Norway spruce donated from John and Judith Tole’s Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm in Woodville, Virginia. The Hawthorn Garden Club provided decorations in the Parlor based on the short story, The First Christmas Tree by Henry Van Dyke.
The nursery is a child’s wonderland thanks to the Shenandoah Garden Club’s toys and animals. It brings to life The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, the 1922 children’s story that begins on Christmas morning. The Little Garden Club adorned the bedroom using The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry as their inspiration.
Guests are welcomed into the lower level with decorations inspired by Christmas Carol, a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar. These decorations were done by the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association, which also decorated the lower-level room showing The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann, the story behind the treasured ballet. The kitchen has charming decorations by the Glen Burnie Garden Club conjuring The Elves and the Shoemaker by The Brothers Grimm.
Belle Grove Plantation including the Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center (which includes the Museum Shop, exhibits, and restrooms) will be open December 3, 2-8 p.m. and thereafter Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday 1-5 p.m. Belle Grove will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and will close for the winter on December 31.
Guided house tours are offered Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with tours beginning at quarter past each hour (first tour at 10:15 a.m. and last tour at 3:15 p.m.) and on Sunday 1-5 p.m. (first tour at 1:15 p.m. and last tour at 4:15 p.m.). On Friday and Saturday evenings 4-8 p.m. visitors are welcome to take self-guided tours, the Manor House will be lit by candlelight, and there will be live music in the Parlor from 6-8 p.m. (schedule at www.bellegrove.org).
There is a limit of ten guests per tour and admission is sold on-site only and on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests over the age of five are required to wear masks over their nose and mouth while on the property.
Admission for both guided and self-guided Manor House tours is $12 for adults, $11 for members of the military, AAA, the National Parks, and individuals 60 and older. Students 6-16 and National Trust for Historic Preservation members are $6. Children 5 and younger are free. Belle Grove members are free of charge as benefit of their membership. Visitors may join Belle Grove and immediately use this benefit at Christmas along with 10% off non-consignment purchases in the Museum Shop.
Belle Grove Plantation is a non-profit historic house museum that is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site and a partner in Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. It is located off Route 11 at 336 Belle Grove Road south of Middletown, Virginia. Information and updates on holiday tours may be found at www.bellegrove.org or at facebook.com/BelleGrove.
Triple your impact this Giving Tuesday
Today is Giving Tuesday!
What is Giving Tuesday? It’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, and was created to encourage people, after spending money on physical items for the holidays, to give back to charities and their local communities.
It’s an important day to support Blue Ridge Wildlife Center because your donation could be matched twice!
- Starting at 8am, donations made through Facebook will be matched with an $8 million dollar match pledged by the social media platform itself until the matching funds are exhausted.
- Your donation will ALSO be matched by our generous Board of Directors up to $15,000! (You can donate through our website, by check, or through Facebook to qualify for this match.)
That gives your donation the opportunity to be TRIPLED, going further than any other time!
We receive no state nor Federal funding for what we do. We rely on your donations to save wild animals and return them to the wild. Donations enable us to afford the foods and specialty formulas we feed out to our 3,200+ patients each year. They allow us to build and maintain our enclosures to house these patients and keep the lights on and water running. They pay for the surgical supplies, medications, and anesthetics needed for the 150+ surgeries we perform each year. They pay for the antibiotics and pain medications needed by the >60% of our patients that are suffering from some sort of human-caused traumatic injury.
We need YOUR help to maximize matching funds and to care for the ever-increasing number of patients we’re seeing each year. Please give generously on Giving Tuesday to let your donation go further!
Thank you for supporting our native wildlife!
FRWRC CenterStage: Lori Oaks and the Light Fight
This episode we have an extra special guest… Santa! Welcome Lori Oaks & Santa as they explain the details of the 1st Annual Front Royal Light Fight. Learn about the why behind bringing this event to Warren County.
Interested in participating? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Be sure to visit Lori’s website: loriloveshomes.com
Please Note: Due to the overwhelming interest in the contest, we are revising the guidelines so that we can get everyone’s photos posted in a timely manner. Here are the changes: Instead of having a photographer come out to take a photo, we are asking participants to submit their own photo. You can do so by clicking on this button on the website that states: Submit Photo: “My house is ready”
If you are unable to submit your own photo, please let me know and we’ll send someone out to take one.
Once your photo is submitted, we will place an entry number on it and post it on the website. At some point before December 15th, we will come out and place a yard sign in your yard with your entry number on it.
Front Royal Women’s Resource Center is featuring a new series called CenterStage. This is a chance for women in our community to share information about business, causes, events that are special to them. Host Jen Avery makes it fun, easy, and “empowering.” Contact the FRWRC for more information. Are you a member of the FRWRC? Consider membership too!
“Empowering Women to Change Their World”
Edward Jones partnering with Marines Toys for Tots program
Local Edward Jones financial advisor Bret Hrbek is partnering once again with U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on their Toys for Tots program.
If you would like to contribute a new unwrapped toy, please bring your donation to his office by December 15th If you are unable to drop off your donation, he’ll be happy to pick it up. Just call his office and let them know.
If you are an online shopper, you may have the items delivered to their branch at 986 John Marshall Highway, Suite C, Front Royal, Virginia 22630.
Additionally, Toys for Tots accepts toy donations online. Visit https://www.toysfortots.org.
This is a wonderful chance to make sure many others in our community enjoy a little bit of holiday cheer this season.
Thank you for your participation in Toys for Tots. Because of your thoughtfulness, children in our area will enjoy a brighter holiday season.
This week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of December 3rd
Are you looking for the full movie-going experience without having to wait in the long lines that often accompany that experience? Then look no further because Royal Cinemas movie theatre is the answer. Get the whole gang together and enjoy a movie! Reserved seating in all auditoriums.
Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Friday, December 3:
Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Join us for a Free Christmas Classic
This week “Naughty or Nice” Triple Feature – “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
Ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: $10
- Child (under 12): $7
- Military: $8
- Student (college): $8
- Senior: $8
- Matinees, All Seating: $7
- “Spider-Man: No Way Home”
- “Sing 2”
- “American Underdog”