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Super Senior: Paul Hartshorn - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Paul Hartshorn

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WAITSFIELD, Vt. -

It's late morning on the first day of spring and Paul Hartshorn has been at work for hours. He operates his sawmill, and to put it politely, the machinery is vintage.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Sounds like you don't buy too many new things.

Paul Hartshorn: No, no.

"She's warming up," Paul said, starting the engine.

It's synchrony between man and machine. Paul is 80. He figures the mill is about 100; he's not sure because he and his brother bought it in an estate sale over a decade ago. The parts were rusting in an overgrown field.

"I said, 'Jeez, Butch.' We'd never find all these parts. We got it all loaded on and I said, 'Where we going to put it?' He said, 'We're going to unload it down at your house,'" Paul recalled.

A lot of hard work and a little Yankee ingenuity got the mill up and running. Paul gets most of the wood from his property. He doesn't advertise; it's all word-of-mouth.

Paul Hartshorn: Well, it's a dollar a foot. I hate to charge you that.

Donnie Smith: No, that’s what it is.

Paul Hartshorn: That's what it is.

Handyman Donnie Smith is one of his regulars.

"You know, he does more work than most people do before they get out of bed in the morning," Smith said.

Joe Carroll: Sounds like you almost feel guilty charging people?

Paul Hartshorn: I do!  I do.

The mill is humming along but Paul is struggling just to walk. He will soon need a hip replacement.

Joe Carroll: Are you in pain at all?

Paul Hartshorn: Oh, yes. Constantly.

Hard work might be good for the soul but is tough on the body. Paul has worked all winter logging. Late spring he will have to rest.

Joe Carroll: You dreading it?

Paul Hartshorn: Yeah, I am. Not the operation itself but being laid up.

For a man in motion, staying still for four months is an eternity.

Joe Carroll: I have a feeling you might be out here before that time.

Paul Hartshorn: That's what my family is afraid of!

Paul has been working this land since he was 18, starting a dairy operation, soon to be joined by his bride, Marie. They had little money, sometimes selling a calf to buy the groceries.

"She was kind of the spark plug of the operation," Paul said. "She raised the kids, want to say all on her own because I was out working all the time."

They raised four kids. The dairy operation is no more.

Joe Carroll: What's the hardest thing that's happened in your life?

Paul Hartshorn: Losing my wife... We were married for 55 years.

Joe Carroll: I'm sorry she passed away.

Paul Hartshorn: She was sick for 15 years. She had a brain tumor.

Paul started the sawmill so he could be close to Marie.

"But I don't have no regrets," Paul said, "life has been pretty good to me really."

Besides maple sugaring, the mill is a big part his business. After the surgery, like his machinery, he'll keep on going.

"Yeah, but I like it," he said. "It keeps me out of mischief."

Paul is also the assistant chief of the Waitsfield Fire Department and he is on the select board.

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