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Super Senior: Fred Webster - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Fred Webster

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COVENTRY, Vt. -

Fred Webster's homestead has 300 acres of land with 80,000-square feet of barn space.

Reporter Joe Carroll: So, Fred, you grew up in this house?

Fred Webster: I grew up here.

The hodgepodge of structures aren't full of cows, but something else.

"As a child, I always ran somewhere," Fred said.

He's still running; now, it's to preserve a menagerie of machinery from the past. He has more than 1,500 pieces of farm equipment.

"We hope that we are documenting the past and we think we've done a pretty good job," Fred said.

His vision is to show the progress of farm equipment as it evolved. Fred would like to have a kind of information center for people to understand the early age of agriculture in New England. People do stop by, but it's mostly collectors.

"We started tearing down old barns and we started to put these buildings up when I turned 65," Fred explained.

Now 92, he's still collecting.

The retired school teacher did hold another job in the past-- milking cows. His dream growing up was to be a farmer, get married and have a bunch of kids.

"My dream was coming true," he said. "I had a lot of children."

Eight in all, but life threw him a curveball, Fred said his wife abruptly left him. He had to raise the kids on his own.

Joe Carroll: How difficult was it for you to be a single dad?

Fred Webster: Very, very difficult. I can't express it in words.

He persevered and learned a life lesson.

"Don't rise above pain, let it be part of your life, let it be part of who you are," he said.

In 2004, there was a concert in the Northeast Kingdom and thousands of young people came to the area. Organizers wanted a little bit of Vermont for their venue, so they came to Fred. It was the Vermont-based band Phish playing on their native soil.

"It was positive energy moving forward," Fred said.

He says it was the best thing to happen to Coventry. He rented out a handful of his farm equipment as a kind of rural art landscape. His rustic machinery was a success, but the concert had it problems. Traffic jams and days of rain made it difficult to move about the concert grounds. Fred was unfazed.

"Probably the night before they done partying up there; they didn't care about the mud," he said.

Fred loves music and dancing. One day a woman named Vivian came down from Quebec to square dance.

Joe Carroll: So, he showed you the moves?

Fred Webster: She made a move on me; she kissed me!

Vivian Webster: I stuck my head into the window, our lips touched!

The two fell in love. They were married less than a year later. Fred was 69.

"She's my lifeblood, yeah," Fred said.

The self-described devout atheist says his life in a scenic part of the Northeast Kingdom is like heaven on earth.

Fred and his son, Daniel, have tagged and videotaped every tool and tractor for posterity. They think they have the largest collection of farm tools in New England.

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