Super Senior: Lucille Holton

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ARLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) If you're dining at Chauncey's in Arlington, there is a good chance you'll be served by Lucille Holton.

"Our soup today is the Butternut Squash bisque," Holton told a customer on a recent day.

She's here five days a week. It's truly a family restaurant. Son Stan owns the place.

Report Joe Carroll: How's it to work with the family?
Lucille Holton: Well, he's my boss.

"Every morning she has a smile on her face," Stan said. "Customers come in just to see her."

Stan is king of the kitchen, but many come to see Lucille. Not just for her customer service but for who she was-- the model for Norman Rockwell's famous illustration, "The Babysitter."

"If they don't know and they are talking about it, I say 'Well, I'm the model.' And they will say, 'Oh, oh!' They really don't believe you," Holton said.

Rockwell was a resident of Arlington and he hired many people in town to pose for his paintings. Lucille was 12 when she caught the attention of the artist with her flaming red locks.

Reporter Joe Carroll: How much were you paid?
Lucille Holton: Five dollars.
Joe Carroll: Five dollars!
Lucille Holton: Everyone was paid the same.

The painting illustrates a young girl holding a screaming baby. It's close to midnight and Lucille is visibly frustrated, pulling her hair while attempting to read a book on baby-sitting.

Joe Carroll: has anyone told you that is my favorite Norman Rockwell painting?
Lucille Holton: Oh, yes.
Joe Carroll: You've heard that?
Lucille Holton: Oh yeah, lots of times.

But it took a few years before Lucille saw the finished project. Rockwell had given the painting to a Burlington class of a girl who had died of cancer. The girl and her class had visited Rockwell a year before. The painting hung in relative obscurity in the Taft School for years, but it did make a splash on the Saturday Evening Post, then a hugely popular weekly.

The bingo-playing grandmother became the poster child for saving the painting from going into private hands. The city of Burlington, realizing the value of the painting was perhaps in the hundreds of thousand of dollars, was facing a budget crunch and was looking at selling it. A group called Save The Babysitter raised enough cash to satisfy the city. It's now hanging in the Fleming Museum, just a short walk from the school where it hung for almost 50 years.

Lucille's granddaughter, Jessica, works at the restaurant, too. The red hair continues even to Jessica's baby, Robert.

Joe Carroll: Did she ever babysit you?
Jessica: All the time.

Now 83, the mother of six has a bunch of grandchildren and great grandchildren. She has baby-sat them all-- no need for an instructional book.