HODGDON, Maine — Gene Lenentine has labored 82 potato harvests, and at age 92, he’s nonetheless climbing on tractors at 6 a.m. to assist carry within the crop.
Born Whitney Eugene Lenentine on Jan. 27, 1931, in Bridgewater, Gene, as everybody calls him, was on one finish of a two-man crosscut noticed when he was 8 years outdated and selecting barrels of potatoes at 10.
The Hodgdon resident has been working largely seven days per week since; the important thing to his longevity and energetic life, he stated. He’s labored within the woods, on farms, repaired vehicles and even shoed horses. Lenentine by no means took a trip to chill out or go to different locations, he scheduled his trip within the fall to work the harvest.
“I’ve to maintain shifting. If I sit down, that’s the tip of me,” he stated. “I’ve seen that occur to too many individuals. They retire, they sit down and in three or 4 years, they’re misplaced and gone.”
In a state with the oldest inhabitants within the nation, Lenentine is probably going one in all Maine’s oldest energetic farmers. Though, the variety of Maine farmers age 75 and older has been steadily rising prior to now decade, in accordance with the Maine Farmland Belief.
Dwelling by means of the melancholy, Lenentine left college after the fifth grade to assist help his household of 12 kids, cementing a robust work ethic which he has since handed on to his 4 kids, 15 grandchildren and 24 nice grandchildren, stated his daughter Lori Lenentine.
“He’s an important instructor,” son Mike Lenentine added.
It’s all about passing on what he discovered from the outdated farmers when he was younger, a time when youngsters acquired 8 cents a barrel for potatoes, wages had been $1 a day and horses powered the potato diggers.
Each Mike and Lori snort about their Dad making them work the potato harvests with him after they had been younger. And he’s taught all the kids within the household the way to survive, ensuring they will change the oil of their vehicles, repair a flat and if one thing breaks, he’s nonetheless the primary individual most everybody calls.
“After we had been youngsters, he labored Monday by means of Friday for the state after which the weekend on farms, or within the woods, or fixing someone’s automobile, or placing footwear on their horses,” Lori stated. “And there was at all times someone exhibiting up at our home needing one thing. He helped all people.”
As Lenentine says, he’s at all times able to step as much as the plate.
For the previous 17 years he’s been working for Campbell Household Farms, in Littleton. He labored this fall’s potato harvest operating the two-row windrower that goes forward of the harvester and he additionally helps reduce seed and plant within the spring.
“He’s reliable, you’ll be able to at all times depend on him,” stated Heather Campbell. “It amazes me. About two years in the past I had to enter the sector and he wasn’t on the tractor. He was beneath fixing it.”
Campbell stated Lenentine typically stops by to let her know he’s prepared and capable of do something, if she wants assist.
The opposite day she was fixing a fence and one in all her horses had gotten out. Lenentine simply guided the filly proper again into her stall, she stated.
“Different individuals would possibly cease and say, ‘your horse acquired out. However Gene stayed to ensure all the pieces was OK,” she stated.
Within the winter, he nonetheless plows driveways for his kids and in addition for the City of Oakfield, maybe an extension of his 28-year profession with the state when he did winter plowing and operated most any sort of heavy gear from the Aroostook County line to the Allagash, he stated.
“I used to be a grader operator, however something that had wheels or legs on it I might function,” he stated.
He lives alone together with his pug combine Dixie, drives his truck and nonetheless cooks all his personal meals which normally embody potatoes.
“I eat them by the barrel,” he stated. “I like them cooked all methods.”
His signature breakfast that he’s been cooking for his kids since they had been small is eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast. And Ruth, his late spouse of 46 years, liked when he cooked dropped eggs, often known as poached.
Lenentine took day off from work to maintain Ruth earlier than she died 20 years in the past.
“He didn’t ask for any assist till about two weeks earlier than she handed,” Lori stated. “He’d say, ‘no I don’t need assistance, I’m good.’”
He remembers one harvest in 1942 or 1943, he isn’t certain. There was an October snowstorm and so they hadn’t gotten all of the potatoes out of the bottom. However they nonetheless harvested and he needed to stroll over snow banks to get to work, he stated.
One other massive occasion he remembers was within the Nineteen Eighties when the potato farmers in New Brunswick had been getting more cash on the barrel for his or her potatoes than the Maine farmers.
“In Houlton they dumped a great deal of potatoes proper within the highway to dam the border,” he stated, including that he was not concerned.
Campbell stated she doesn’t know what they’d do with out him. And so he’ll preserve doing it so long as I can, he stated.
“He’s a part of the farm household though we’re not associated. He’s nonetheless sharp as a tack. I hope I’m half as ready after I get to be his age,” she stated. “He actually is wonderful. He’s labored laborious his complete life and that’s all He is aware of. Work, work, work. He makes 92 look straightforward.”
So far as wanting again on all he achieved, Lenentine sees it simply as one other day.
“It’s simply on a regular basis life,” he stated.