Super Senior: Joe Gagnon

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PITTSFORD, Vt. (WCAX) It's a milestone -- the 300th Super Senior on WCAX. For photographer Joe Carroll, it's been a six-year journey to capture their story. Tonight he stop's in Rutland County to visit Joe Gagnon.

Just off Corn Hill Road in Pittsford, Joe Gagnon has a yard full of rusting relics. "They don't seem to bother me a whole lot by having them around," Gagnon said.

It's a collection of cars, trucks, and even a fire truck. Joe's not even sure how many.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Boys with toys, huh?
Joe Gagnon: Well that's just it, some boys get a fire truck when they're a young lad, and I didn't get a chance to get one until I was 80 years old

The vehicles are a hobby -- inside this building was his livelihood. "For many, many years, turned out an awful lot of lumber," Gagnon said.

It's now a kind of museum of memories -- part of Joe's past.

Reporter Joe Carroll: When you look around here, what do you think?
Joe Gagnon: Well, I think the damn thing is ready to fall down.

But like everything, there was a beginning. The almost 300 acres of land has been in Joe's family for generations, it was strictly a dairy farm, until one day he came home with parts of a saw mill. His dad wasn't happy. "Well he wasn't impressed to start with," Gagnon said.

His dad said, 'Boy, we don't need a saw mill on this farm.'

For a while, the younger Gagnon milked in the morning and went into the woods in the afternoon. They were long days. Eventually the cows were put out to pasture. This mill served Joe from the late '50s to the early '80s. "Safe to say it serves as a foundation for the one we're running today," Gagnon said.

With the closing of this mill came the opening of another.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Quite the difference from up the hill.
Joe Gagnon: Oh yes, definitely.

Gagnon Lumber is now state of the art. Computers help out with precise cuts. Joe's son Ken also runs the business. They now employ a half-dozen people. With temperatures in the 90s, Joe is just warming up. He's already been to New York to pickup a load of lumber. "You get your hands dirty and you get cuts and scratches and scrapes, but hell, they heal," he said.

What will never heal is the loss of sight in Joe's right eye. He lost it working in the woods. His chainsaw kicked back and hit him in the head, nearly killing him. "I was able to get in my son's car and drive myself a mile and-a-half to get help," he said.

They got him to the hospital quickly, and soon he was back at work. "I was two weeks and I was back down the mill, trying to crack the whip a little bit," Gagnon said.

But Joe worries about the future. "To me it's too bad to have something going in the family and have an end come to it, but that's reality and we have to face it," he said

His son Ken is pushing 60, and Joe's worried that there isn't a next generation to take over the business.

But for now, the final cut is far away. "I like to think I'm doing something worthwhile," he said.