LEICHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) You would normally find Lawrence Felion working the woods. But the ground is soft, making it difficult for the long-time logger to run his skidder.
Years of working those big machines and chainsaws has made him hard of hearing. Felion wears a headset with an amplifier to pump up the volume. He says hearing aids are a bother.
So with some time on his hands, the 81-year-old shows me what makes him tick. It's inside his garage where every nook and cranny is filled with tools.
Felion has a nickname, 'Tweeter.' It was given to him by his dad and it has stuck like pine tar. Tweeter's treasures are kept close to his 30-foot workbench.
"Even if it's dubbing around, just get my hands in the wood, you know," Felion said.
His tools are sharp as his wit. "I don't like a dull tool," he said.
Outside, Felion rolls up his sleeves an flexes the bicep he's gained through decades of hard work.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You going to show my your guns?
Lawrence Felion: Right there.. That's only just one side... I'm proud of it and I ain't bragging either.
Actually it is a bit of boasting for good reason. "I have a lot of stuff on him," said Jean, Felion's wife. She has piles of photos of Tweeter when he was a competitive lumberjack back in the '60s and '70s. There's even a Vermont Life article where Teeter is swinging an ax he calls Buddy.
Those were his glory days. A later competition might have been his last. His razor sharp ax glanced off a loose pole and the blade came back into his calf causing him to bleed profusely. He ended up in the hospital with 135 stitches. "I got somebody up there. I'm a great believer in the Lord," Felion said.
But he almost met his creator again about a decade later when a chainsaw kicked back and cut him in the abdomen, narrowly missing his heart. Both times he was hurt, Jean was close by.
Reporter Joe Carroll: What do you think of him still going into the woods?
Jean: I never worry about him in the woods. I worry about him always on Route 7.
It's truly a family business. Jean does the books and son Homer harvests the trees with his dad.
"The part of it was, his family didn't give it one year," Jean said.
"My grandmother," Felion added.
But one year turned into 59. "We fooled them," Jean said.
And that razor sharp ax used in competition? He keeps Buddy and in a special box.
Reporter Joe Carroll: That's pretty sharp.
Lawrence Felion: Oh, that's sharper than hell... One sweep and I could cut your head right off.
Keeping a level head, I ask one last question.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So you're not done with the woods yet?
Lawrence Felion: No. Don't make me quit, would you please.
A logger's life that hasn't been cut short.