Super Senior: Brian Anderson

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 2:49 PM EDT
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SOUTH STARKSBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - For well over a half-century, Brian Anderson has made his living working with his hands.

“That’s what I do, I make things,” said the South Starksboro blacksmith. His shop is full of hand tools and projects. On this day he is finishing up a pair of hunting knives for a neighbor. “The blades are forged out of truck springs actually.”

Now in his 80s, Anderson’s hands tell his story -- weathered, well-used, and at times a bit rough. “There was a time in my 20s when I didn’t know what to do with people at all,” he said. Simply put -- he lacked focus.

A picture of him at that time provides further clues. With his back turned to the camera there’s a sense of paradox -- troubled but at the same time optimistic. “What it shows is my state of mind,” Anderson said. “It’s a state of curiosity and wonder.”

College was a bust for the Minnesota boy and he ended up in New Mexico. “When I got to Santa Fe it felt like home and I stayed,” Anderson said. He ended up there for close to 50 years, including getting married, raising a family, and then getting divorced. The one constant during those years was making things by hand.

“I started in 2002 going to New Mexico and that’s where I met him,” said Lausanne Allen, Anderson’s wife. She was a professional dance caller and musician, splitting her time between Vermont and Taos, New Mexico. “I noticed him sitting there and I asked him to dance. And you can’t waltz without holding hands and I noticed these very large and well-used hands.”

Reporter Joe Carroll: What did you see in his hands?

Lausanne Allen: I saw someone who knew how... who valued the work of his hands

Anderson earned a reputation for making high-quality hardware and artwork throughout the area. “I’ve always valued the practical and the traditional and this man puts it all together,” Allen said.

They started dating and Vermont piqued Anderson’s interest. “He said, ‘Let’s take a look around your land.’ And we went around the perimeter and found a stone wall, and ‘Let’s sit down on that stone wall.’ And he turned to me and said, ‘I can do this,’” Allen said.

The two have been married for 14 years. “I still felt a little rootless until I met him,” Allen said.

And Anderson needed support from Alen four years ago on Thanksgiving Day. His world went up in smoke when sparks off a grinder hit some rags -- smoldering at first and then flames. “You take a look at what you got to deal with and how it feels and you go ahead and dig yourself out of it,” Anderson said.

He has, and now his interests are in historic guns. “This is a project I’ve been working on,” Anderson said. “It’s a current version of a 400-year-old type of gun.”

The blacksmith has an affinity for how people struggle and survived, perhaps mirroring his past. “I related to that. Other people had made things as far back as there was people,” Anderson said.

“We both have a similar aesthetic. We enjoy things for their old and we enjoy the patina on old wood and we enjoy the beauty of nature in small detail,” Allen said.

A Super Senior forging a custom made lifestyle that’s positively unique. “My way of relating to it is making things,” Anderson said.

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