Scott brothers - Hard work is their fountain of youth
By Pam Reinig
The fact that the Scott brothers seldom miss a day of work is hardly remarkable. The same can be said of hundreds of Northeast Iowans. But the fact that the brothers are in their 90s makes their accomplishment extraordinary.
Alvin, who turned 96 in February, and his “little brother,” Frederick, who’ll be 94 next month, have a solid work ethic that stretches back to their boyhood days on a rented 300-acre farm near Strawberry Point. Their father, Elmer, worked seven days, rain or shine—and he expected his sons to do the same.
“On the hottest days of the year like in the middle of July when thought maybe we’d get a break ‘cause of the weather, our dad would send us to pull weeds along the fence line,” Alvin said. “He said hot weather was the best time to kill weeds. He was proud of his clean fences. He was a good dad. He always made sure we had time to play. . . after our work was done.”
Both brothers credit their impressive longevity to hard work. And neither seems eager to retire though Frederick might consider it in another six years when he turns 100. And just in case you’re thinking these “boys” are pulling light duty since passing the age of 90, last summer Frederick painted two houses. He had a hand—literally—in helping to rebuild Back Home Country Cookin’ after a fire destroyed the business in January 2016. Frederick made the granite-topped island in the restaurant’s main dining room and installed a back splash. He does other carpentry work in the area and also installs windows and doors. Alvin tends a large garden and keeps the grounds at a local business where he also serves as a general purpose maintenance man.
The Scott brothers have stories—lots of stories—and most of them center on family and work. For example, in 1943 when Frederick and his new wife, Agatha, farmed near his folks, Elmer and Clara, Frederick would walk a mile to the home place carrying 15 dozen eggs on his shoulders. The eggs were taken to town and sold. A few years ago, the company Frederick works for had a contest to see who could sell the most windows. Frederick, who was in his 80s at the time, was the top salesperson in his territory, a feat he accomplished without a fax machine, answering machine or computer. What’s more, he installed most of the windows he sold.
Alvin, a WWII veteran and accomplished mechanic, worked for NAPA Auto Parts for more than 30 years. At the same time, he worked at an apple orchard and funeral home. He joined the Strawberry Point American Legion Post 218, served as president of the Strawberry Lions Club and Lodomillo Cemetery board, and was a board member and janitor at United Methodist Church. He’s been equally busy in retirement caring for his garden—he shares much of what he grows—and working at Strawberry Homes, Inc., and Strawberry Leisure Homes.
“I started with them in 2000 doing some mowing and cleaning the sidewalks,” he said. “Now somebody else does that work but I still help out where I can.”
According to Julie Meyers of Hertz Farm Management, owners of the homes where Alvin works, the elder Scott brother tends to downplay his contributions.
“The residents who ask for his assistance for everything from dripping faucets to changing light respect Alvin,” she said. “He’s always ready to serve when called. Each of the tasks he does is more than he’s compensated for. He simply does it because he truly enjoys helping people.”
Alvin saw some of the U.S, and world during his enlistment. But he was never tempted to stray too far from his corner of Northeast Iowa.
“This is my hometown,” he said. “I like the community. My daughter and her family live near Atlanta. When I come back from visiting her I know that staying here has been the right choice. It’s wide open spaces like this that I prefer.”
Frederick adds his own reason to never straying far from Strawberry Point: “I can make a living here,” he said. “I was never interested in going to the big city. This is where I belong.”