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Super Seniors: Ray Parent - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Seniors: Ray Parent

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ENOSBURGH FALLS, Vt. -

Ray Parent was born in Enosburgh, but if you listen carefully, you wouldn't know it. His first language was French.

His French-Canadian dad insisted it was spoken in the house. Learning English wasn't difficult, but something was. He stuttered.

"It still comes back to get me!" Parent says.

He can chuckle now, but as a boy it wasn't a laughing matter, the other kids picked on him. Tussles happened.

"What ya going to do, you can't fight the whole school," he says.

He found a way to vent his frustrations and improve his speech. Ray started singing country music.

"It's going to be a hot one and I want to be prepared a little bit," he says.

It's a scorcher in Enosburg Falls and Ray and the rest of The Rhythm Ramblers are ready to perform.

He's been loading and unloading band equipment for 60 years.

"It gets a lot harder," he says.

Inside the church hall just a few people are trickling in.

"There's still time for them to come," he comments.

But Ray says the future of country and square dancing is fading away in Franklin County. He says the young people aren't coming. If they did the would get some exercise.

Square dancing gets the ten couples to the floor.

"If they are having a good time, I'm having a good time," Parent says.

And that includes Ray's wife Charlotte. They met at a dance. Both were widowed; she liked his music and had a hankering for him.

"We just fell in love and got married a couple months later," she says.

But life for Ray has also been like the lyrics of a sad country song. His house burnt down in the 60s, had a heart attack and has battled the bottle. Now sober for years, music has been his outlet.

"Sometimes you can sing a song that tells a story and the person has almost lived it," he says.

But people are here to be sad, there here to have fun.

"He is the conductor, he's telling them what to do, they have to listen and he's directing traffic out there," says Joe Smith, a member of the band.

And as long as Ray stays healthy, he will continue to sing and unlike this song, his time on the stage isn't over.

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