BY THE SWEAT OF HIS OWN BROW

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Stone and his wife Beatrice pose in front of their 1928 steam engine.
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Art Stone, owner and operator of six sawmills in Pennsylvania
and Maryland, was featured as a hard-working old timer in an
article by Bill Crawford in the AARP News Bulletin for June
1985.

Art has a 1917 Frick steam traction engine on his home property,
and keeps a 1907 Case at Williams Grove, Pa., where he and his wife
Beatrice have been members for 30 years. He also has a Frick
stationary engine, 9 x 12, 1917. He operates the sawmill at his
home site, Sandy Spring, Md., with a Rumely 40-60. ‘It’s a
big one,’ he comments.

This article is reprinted from the AARP News Bulletin with
permission.

Art Stone makes money the old-fashioned way. He works with his
hands and muscles. He’s an early riser, doesn’t drink or
smoke and says he can ‘do the work of two men.’

At 87, Stone is the owner and operator of six sawmills, two in
Pennsylvania and four in Maryland. He built the first mill near
Grantham, Pa., in 1932, and soon decided he had found his niche in
life. He loves the business so much that his wife, Beatrice, 77,
says, ‘He gets up at five o’clock every morning and works
all day…I can’t remember when he missed a day in the mill it
was so long ago.’

In 1964, the Stones moved to Sandy Spring, Md., a bucolic
setting only a few miles from the teeming suburbs of Washington,
D.C. On a 10-acre spread that is storybook stuff from a bygone era,
Stone can be found huffing and puffing, exhorting workers and
toiling as though he were a hired hand. Stone and his workmen are
sawing walnut logs that will become panels for a customer’s new
den.

As the speeding buzz saw cuts long slices from the walnut,
chunks of splintered wood fly through the air. The noise is
ear-splitting and no one seems to hear anything Stone is saying.
But they all go through the paces; they understand the
‘Boss.’

Stone and his crewmen punch wood through the rotating blade
until a loud bang erupts. Stone cuts the engine and says,
‘Damn, that log had a nail in it, boys.’ They rush to the
log and quickly extract the nail. ‘Gotta watch these logs,’
blurts Stone, not directing the warning to anyone in particular as
the roaring begins anew.

A customer, Charles Tyler, has been watching for a few minutes
along with Stone’s wife. ‘That man can do the work of three
men… he can outwork anybody,’ says Tyler. ‘I buy all of
my lumber supplies here because he has the best prices.’

Tyler adds that while Stone is ‘a tough man,’ he is also
‘a kind man. He is demanding, hard working, but he’d give
you the shirt off his back.’

About 30 minutes elapses before Stone takes a short break to
talk to his visitors. ‘I’ve been in the sawmill business
for over 52 years and I’ve seen a lot of tough men wear down
before a day’s work was over, ‘ says Stone. ‘You have
to get used to it… I love the work. Sure it’s rough.’

Why does Stone love this business? ‘It’s making
something from nothing,’ he responds, pointing out that some of
his wood has turned up in some better known addresses around the
U.S.A., like the White House and some Georgetown estates in
Washington, D.C.

A 1928 steam engine graces the surroundings. ‘A big company
offered me $100,000 for that baby…I wouldn’t part with
it,’ Stone says.

The engine could do ‘the work of a mule team and then
some,’ Stone claims. Today, when he’s ‘in the
mood,’ he travels around the country with portable steam
engines demonstrating what has made him perhaps the most colorful
miller on the eastern seaboard. ‘I guess I’m famous,’
he muses. ‘Lots of reporters and TV camera crews have been here
and up in Pennsylvania.’

Stone was born in Texas, studied at Notre Dame and later became
a Texas Ranger. ‘Those were wild and wooly days out there in
west Texas, but it was fun and you got respect,’ he recalls. He
says he chased ‘ornery cowboys and moonshiners,’ risking
his life for $2.00 a day.

A few years later, on a whim, he decided to ‘try the
East’ and became a Pennsylvania state trooper. Did he ever use
his guns? ‘You know I did,’ he says. ‘Pennsylvania has
moonshiners, too. And they don’t mind shootin’ at
you.’

Once Stone and a deputy chased some ‘shiners through the
Pennsylvania mountains in a blinding snowstorm. ‘We finally
found ’em and arrested ’em… but it took some climbing and
doin’.. .about two days, I believe.’

During the stint with the Pennsylvania state police, Stone
decided he wanted to start his own business. ‘I was driving
down the road one day, went by an old sawmill and I said,
‘I’ll bet that would be fun to run one of those.’ That
was in 1932 and in the years since, he has owned and operated more
than a dozen mills.

Another customer drives up to the Sandy Spring mill. ‘Time
to go back to work… gotta make some money today,’ he smiles,
walking back to the saw.

Stone’s old-fashioned way of making money has created assets
that exceed $1.5 million, according to one source. But as his wife
puts it, ‘It’s a living.’

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