On a cold morning in Randolph, Azel Hall makes his way to his garage. He's working on his 1949 Jeep Willy, a vehicle he knows inside and out.
"It's relatively simple," he said.
Azel remembers a time when most people could tinker on their car, no onboard computers to fret about. He's fixing this classic to sell.
Selling Jeeps was a large part of his life. Azel started a dealership in town in 1964. He and his wife, Myrtle, ran the franchise with another business partner. On a good year, he sold 50 vehicles. For over 20 years, the shop hummed along, but then a corporate decision changed everything.
Reporter Joe Carroll: It was like a kick in the teeth, wasn't it?
Azel Hall: Yeah, it really was.
Chrysler bought Jeep and demanded he sell 300 vehicles-- six times more than normal. A number he couldn't reach.
Joe Carroll: To see that sign come down, that must have been hard.
Azel Hall: Yup, it was.
He lost the franchise. But in true Azel fashion he moved on, continuing to fix cars with his son, Kim.
"I've always told people, I'd like to be half the man he is. He's an inspiration," Kim said.
Azel is a giving man. A free oil job or a lube for somebody in need was a daily practice. He learned that life lesson 68 years ago.
"Six fellas died and I was with the five fellas in the back end that lived," Azel recalled.
It was during World War II and Azel was a gunner on a B-29 on the tiny island of Tinian in the Pacific. They had a brand new plane full of fuel with an inexperienced pilot and a faulty engine. A perfect combination for a disaster.
"So he put the power all on to try to get back up there and with one engine dead on one side, the plane kind of veered to one side at a 45 degree angle and flew it right into the rocks," Azel said. "We opened the bottom door and it was all on fire."
Azel found an opening and jumped 35 feet to the ground, suffering burns on his hands and face. He was the last one out of the plane, but he says there was somebody banging on his back, saying hurry up and get out!
Azel Hall: 'Cause I can hear the voice...
Joe Carroll: And who was the voice?
Azel Hall: I have no idea who or what.
Joe Carroll: Higher being?
Azel Hall: I think it was, I think it was.
Since that fateful day, he lives and gives to the fullest.
"If you get every day and do a little something, that amounts to something, maybe helps someone somewhere, then that's worth doing," Azel said.
Wisdom from a 90-year-old who's seen the world, but is at peace in Vermont.
When Azel's not in the shop, he's a regular in town. He and his wife have been married for 70 years. They have three children.
PO Box 4508