CARROLLTON – Like a ‘55 Chevy or a lawn mower, Parke and Betty Butterfield keep on cruising.
While the couple reached the speed limit (55) a few years ago and have passed retirement age, you would not know it. They keep a busy schedule that would leave many younger people in the dust.
Parke, 77, and Betty, 76, spend a majority of the year mowing and weed eating for the village of Carrollton. They mow the water plant, sewer plant, east tower, north reservoir, the old water tower lot, safety building, 11 water wells and Public Square.
They are responsible for mowing around 10 acres weekly.
If this isn’t enough to keep the Butterfield’s busy, they have plenty more “hobbies” to fill their time.
In their spare time, the couple takes one of their antique cars to car shows. They have a 1951 Mercury “lead sled”, a 1923 Ford Roadster and Parke’s 1955 Chevy he purchased in 1958. The Chevy convertible has been customized and is ready to go to indoor car shows.
Parke does the mechanical work and has help with the body work and painting. Even though all three cars are in car show shape, they still have to be washed and waxed and cleaned up before each show.
Cars have been a staple their entire lives. In fact, the couple came home early from their honeymoon to go to a car show in Pittsburgh, PA. They have done a lot of running and street rodding throughout the years. Betty said one year she and Parke and their sons, Kirk and Kevin, who were young, loaded up in the Roadster, pulling a little camper headed to Oklahoma for a car show. While at the car shows, they participated in activities. Betty won second place in a spark plug changing contest in Timonium, MD, and several “blind driver” competitions where she was blindfolded and Parke directed her through an obstacle course. Betty is quick to say she can still change spark plugs today.
In magazines from 1964, Parke shows pictures of his cars and noted the ‘55 Chevy was ninth in national points in the International Car Show Association.
They also travel to flea markets in Carlisle and Hershey, PA, each year, and attend tractor pulls.
Parke was a mechanic at Huebner Chevrolet for 44 years, retiring June 1, 2011. Betty has been a beautician since 1963 and is semi-retired. She previously traveled to the county home and several nursing homes to cut hair. She has pared back to just Bowerston Hills Nursing Home in Leesville, going about once a month.
She has been an Avon lady for 20 years, handing out around 70 books and delivering items every other week. Since his retirement, Parke assists her.
“Activity is good for you,” Betty said. “It keeps you going.”
Parke agrees saying, “I just went to the doctor and had a great check-up. He said he didn’t know what I was doing but to keep doing it.”
Do they follow a special diet?
“We eat good home-cooked meals,” she explained. “Parke likes meat and potatoes and desserts, pies.”
Parke and Betty have no plans to slow down or quit mowing. They have even had offers to mow for other people but have turned those down.
“We enjoy mowing for the village,” Parke said. “We do it on our schedule. It takes us probably eight to 10 hours to mow each week.”
There is a lot of weed eating which Parke does. Betty drives the lawn tractor and they both operate the push mowers.
It’s kind of a lark they are still mowing for the village. A village representative asked their boys if they would like to do the mowing in 1982. They each mowed until they graduated, Kirk in 1984 and Kevin in 1987. At that time, Parke and Betty told the representative they would continue mowing for a couple years.
Betty, who recently celebrated 12 years being cancer-free said she continued mowing and working through two rounds of chemotherapy and a round of radiation.
The couple both admit they don’t feel like they are in their 70s.
“My mom used to say you are just as old as you make yourself feel,” said Betty. “People will tell us we haven’t changed a bit.”