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Super Senior: Jim Davidson - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Jim Davidson

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RUTLAND, Vt. -

If you need a Rutland history lesson, just ask Jim Davidson.

"This area was the complex for the Howe Scale Company," Jim said. "The railroad made downtown Rutland-- it moved it from uptown to downtown... No longer a railroad yard, it's shopping plaza."

The longtime educator is retired. At 85, Jim spends most of his time at Fire Station Number 2, now the Rutland Historical Society. He's the curator who helped establish the society in 1969.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You care to gather how many hours you've put in through the years here?

Jim Davidson: (Laughs) I wouldn't even make a guess.

The New Hampshire native has called Rutland home for more than half a century.

Joe Carroll: Is Rutland rich in history?

Jim Davidson: Absolutely rich in history. Long history, a rich history.

But it's also a race against time. Jim and a team of volunteers are digitizing delicate old newspapers before they fade into the past.

Jim's passion and knowledge run deep.

Jim Davidson: How many people realize that a native, native black population before the Civil War.

Joe Carroll: And where was that?

Jim Davidson: Here in Rutland, people, families. They provided 25 black soldiers to the Massachusetts 54th Regiment for the Civil War.

The all-black regiment was made famous in the movie "Glory." Also Martin Freeman, the first black college professor in the United States, was born in Rutland.

A picture captures a moment in time-- Rutland has many of them.

"That's the fire of 1906," Jim said, showing a picture.

Joe Carroll: Why are you so interested in the history of Rutland?

Jim Davidson: Because it's home.

Jim wanted to show me one other landmark that hit home.

"This is what we perhaps would call the old Carroll place," Jim said.

Jim and his wife, Helen, bought the house my great-grandfather Patrick Carroll built and my father lived in until he was about 10.

Joe Carroll: I'm anxious to see the inside of the house.

Jim Davidson: Well, the house has changed a little bit inside.

Joe Carroll: It's my history.

Jim Davidson: Yes, it is!

It's a relatively small house where the Davidsons raised seven children.

Joe Carroll: To be clear, I had no idea when I set this interview up the connections we had.

Jim Davidson: (Laughs) No! You did not.

The history detectives even found some Carroll documents in the floorboards of the attic.

"Nineteenth day of March, 1934," Helen read from a document.

Joe Carroll: So, it's a deed?

Helen Davidson: Yes.

"In a way, the whole community is family," Jim said.

Rutland is the place of my birth and my history, richly preserved by a man with a passion for the past.

"It's a place you can call home," Jim said.

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