Super Senior: Alan and Everett Bills

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 11:10 AM EST
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WARDSBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - Sometimes you have to travel a bit to find treasures. The Bills brothers from the southern Vermont town of Wardsboro are pure gold.

The brothers -- Alan, 79, and Everett, 82 -- run their family sawmill on 430-acres of land. “We were all born at home,” Alan said.

“We gone a long ways,” added Everett.

They’ve worked side by side for over 60 years. It doesn’t take much imagination to feel you’ve stepped back in time. The mill went online when FDR was president. “That old motor been in there since 1952 -- that old Caterpiller -- never been rebuilt,” pointed out Alan.

But today, the old Cat isn’t purring. “Wet. This motor is some wet, Everett,” Alan said.

It’s just a temporary setback and the engine soon roars to life. Fortunate, because it’s all hands on deck. Joining the brothers are Everett’s son Mark and Alan’s “lady-friend,” Florence Crafts.

“It’s been a real good year,” Alan said. Call it the pandemic push. A huge demand -- and soaring prices for people wanting lumber for home projects -- has kept the Bills brothers busy.

“For me, it’s been the greatest. Didn’t have to go anywhere, look for anything else, it was all right here,” Everett said.

But with wonderful memories also comes an uncertain future. A for sale sign greets customers to the mill. “I dread selling it. I told them, selling the place is like dying. I know it’s going to happen, but I don’t look forward to it,” Alan said.

The land and mill are on the market. The brothers say time is ticking, and with other siblings in the mix, they want to settle the inheritance before they’re gone. They would like someone to take over the mill, but the place could use an upgrade. “Oh it does,” Everett said.

“Oh a lot,” added Alan. “We got to get with it, but we haven’t had the time. We’ve busy making lumber.”

Reporter Joe Carroll: Why didn’t you put some siding on there, you’ve got enough wood.

Alan Bills: I don’t know. I guess we didn’t want to waste the lumber. We could sell it!

But it’s not all work and no play. Alan doesn’t normally take out his trumpet at the mill, but “Stardust” on a mountain of sawdust brings out some memories.

“It’s been a great life here... nothing I’d rather do,” Alan said.

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