Erwin West is a pretty serious guy, but ask about what he's built and he'll gladly chat.
If a man's home is his castle, then Erwin West has a kingdom. He and his family own half the homes on Saint John's Street in Rutland.
"We own five pieces of property on it, there's only 10 on it," said Erwin. "This is my son's house and this is our apartment house up here."
Erwin lives off busy Woodstock Avenue, just around the corner from where he grew up. He's now adding to his inventory.
"It will be a three-bedroom ranch," said Erwin.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You going to sell it?
Building and remodeling homes is just part what keeps him going.
"I just can't sit in a chair and vegetate, I can't look at retirement like a lot of people do," said Erwin. "My feeling has been, the day I slowdown is the day I won't be here."
"I took a picture of her and I proposed to her that day," said Erwin.
Erwin's world got much better when he met Phyllis.
"We knew we were going to get married from almost day one," said Erwin.
They became a team raising five children. All of them live in the neighborhood.
"Phyllis and I and the family has always been a unit, a close one. Everybody work for everybody," said Erwin.
Erwin isn't exactly a stranger to Joe. He lived one street over on Harrington Avenue and the West's owned a store. Joe would get Bazooka Joe bubble gum on his way to school.
Erwin ran the meat department and Phyllis worked the counter. The kids also made some spending money. It was a true family affair. The market closed years ago, but Erwin didn't stay still then or now. Erwin is a licensed plumber and electrician. The 88-year-old learned on the job and he still makes house calls.
"They're very grateful because if you're out of heat, you're out of heat," said Erwin. "All of the fellows who I started with have passed away."
To be clear, Erwin isn't looking for extra work. He's got enough on his plate. His bride of 67 years is sick; she recently had a stroke.
"You asked about how this affects me with my wife, I have a strong faith that my wife will get better," said Erwin.
Erwin is a man who shows few emotions, just a quiet resolve to get things done.
"I'm really thankful, I thank God that he's giving me the ability to continue on," said Erwin.
Continuing on with the work that built his business, but more importantly, built a family.
Erwin is determined that Phyllis will make it home.
PO Box 4508