John West, 95, is coming home. He was born on the Miner Farm, now part of the Miner Institute. It's an agricultural research facility in Chazy, New York.
Reporter Joe Carroll: This is like coming home, hunh?
John West: It is. It is. It's good for me... my roots.
John literally helped build the place by hand. He was a longtime bricklayer.
Joe Carroll: You took pride especially in this project?
John West: We did, we did, structurally sound and pleasing to the eye.
The buildings were put up in the late 1950s. Like John, they're still strong and solid.
"We worked hard but it was good work," he said.
Like so many of his generation, John enlisted during World War II. He also proposed to his sweetheart, Peg.
"We got married and we came back from our honeymoon, we were gone five days, we had gone to New England and there were my orders they had come," John said.
He joined the Navy Seabees, a construction battalion where he built ammo depots.
John came home and mastered the trowel trades.
"You do good work, you take the time to do good work," he said.
The '50s brought a building boom to Clinton County, especially on the Plattsburgh Air Force Base. John loved his job but it was physically demanding.
Joe Carroll: How's your back?
John West: My back is bad, yeah.
Joe Carroll: And do you think it's from work?
John West: I'm sure, the concrete work was what was bad for me, yeah, my back.
John has been a member of the Bricklayers Union for 75 years. On this day, a group of union officials from Albany came to recognize him.
"On behalf of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, I want to present you with the 75-year service award, to John B. West," said Bob Mantello, a union official.
A gold watch and a plaque came John's way.
"Thank you," John said, shaking hands.
A short presentation for a long and memorable career.
"I'll go out on a limb here, but I think he's the oldest member in our international union," Mantello said.
John hasn't laid a brick or poured cement in years but he's still a union member.
Joe Carroll: People like him are fading away, hunh?
Bob Mantello: Yeah, the old-time bricklayers.
Fading away perhaps, but the buildings throughout the region are a solid reminder of John's legacy.
"Things are good. Things are good," John said.
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