ORLEANS, Vt. (WCAX) Bernie Matthews is keenly aware of time. Since retiring from teaching music, he hasn't wasted a minute, making over 100 timepieces. "I made them all," Matthews said.
And at high noon every day, a chorus of chimes fills his home in Orleans. A reminder that time marches on. "It sure does, it sure does. It doesn't stop for nothing," he said.
It's only fitting that just below the clocks are birthday cards congratulating him on a special birthday. "It doesn't seem possible that I got to 100!" Matthews said.
Turning a century-old, you could forgive Matthews when he retires to his bedroom mid-morning. But it's not to rest, it's to play his fiddle.
Reporter Joe Carroll: How long to you normally play for?
Bernie Matthews: Three-quarters of an hour or so.
Twice a day he sits down on his bed and gets his digits dancing. Music has been part of Matthews' life since he was a young boy growing up on a farm near Irasburg. He was partial to the brass instruments in the marching bands. Later, in World War II, he took a guitar on his ship to entertain the men. When he came home, Matthews became a music teacher, instructing kids all over the Northeast Kingdom.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Could you imagine life without music?
Bernie Matthews: It would be dull, it would be dull.
A while back, Matthews was recuperating at a nursing home after breaking his hip. His musical talents kicked in and he was soon crooning for the ladies at the home with songs of love.
But the girl of his dreams, Theresa, passed away over 20 years ago. The couple raised four kids. Three became professional musicians. There's a belief that a quality violin gets better over time.
Reporter Joe Carroll: How about you, do you get better with age?
Bernie Matthews: Well, some ways, yeah. Some ways... I think it's kept me young.
Or you could say, fit as a fiddle.