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Super Senior: Don Whitney - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Don Whitney

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WINDSOR, Vt. -

History is what drives Don Whitney. He's seen much of it in his town and is now preserving the past.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Have you lived anywhere else?  

Don Whitney: Not for more than a month probably. 

Don can tell you anything you want to know about Springfield.

"When you get to be 94, you've seen a lot of history," he said.

We're on a historic journey. Don's going to show some of his memories. The first stop is to the Spencer Hollow section of town to a one-room schoolhouse. 

Don is not only interested in documenting history, but preserving it.

Carroll: Well let's go inside.

Don: OK.

The school house needs work. Don has invested time and money to bring it back to its former glory.

"Vandals have broken all of the windows," said Don. 

Don and a crew have replaced many of the window panes. Plastering will come this summer. The lack of a modern bathroom is an issue.  

"Actually it's a three-holer, there are two covers that were down," said Don.

Don never went to school here, but three of his siblings did. It's part of the reason he's working so hard to save it.

Carroll: When did your ancestors arrive in Springfield?  

Don: In 1780.

The next stop is the now defunct Fellows Gear Shaper Plant, some of it is occupied by a health center.

Carroll: So you worked in here?  

Don: Yeah, I'll show you.

In a way, Don grew up here. In his sophomore year in high school, this farm boy apprenticed at Fellows and never left.

"Isn't that terrible, the only place I ever worked for," said Don.

He started full time in 1941 and worked until 1987.

Carroll: So this is the great hall?  

Don: Right.

The Great Hall was once humming with machinery, but now pop music fills the room and artwork hangs on the wall.

"Well, I actually ran machines in this area," said Don. 

And in the corner is an homage to its former glory-- a small museum that Don helped set up so people wouldn't forget the past.

"During World War II they had 3,000, but that was when the company ran 24/7," said Don.

We're on the road again, this time a dozen miles up the road to the American Precision Museum in Windsor. The museum is closed for the season but Don is always welcomed.

"Don is an amazing person that gets things done," said Ann Lawless, museum director.

Lawless runs the museum dedicated to industrial ingenuity. Don is their go-to guy.

"Don is a walking encyclopedia, he shares his knowledge and his own personal history is just remarkable," said Lawless. 

This machine is a Fellows Gear Shaper built around the time Don started there.

"We took this machine completely apart, there wasn't a screw or bolt or anything," said Don. 

Don worked on the first computer used in the state in 1955. From farm boy to computer programmer, that's some history.

And a bit more history, the American Precision Museum was once where guns were manufactured during the Civil War.

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