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Community Portrait: An aptitude for fixing things carries him through

By: Story and photo Michael Kirby
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Auburn’s Bill Carpenter has lived a lot of life in his 76 years. He has the looks and has the energy of a man 10 years his junior; he has seen many things over the years and has formed a firm foundation of beliefs. Carpenter learned how to weld at 17 years old, at 18 he joined the Naval Reserve and at 21, Carpenter was in the U.S. Navy, active from 1956 to 1959 working as a jet aircraft mechanic. He moved from Pennsylvania to Salinas in 1960 on the advice of a friend who said there was plenty of work on the west coast. “There was a steel strike on the east coast and welding work dried up,” Carpenter said. Once in California, Carpenter started a career in appliance service. “I was hired by Sears and rode around with a service man for a week and then was given a new set of tools and truck for work on my second week,” he said. Until then, Carpenter had no experience in appliances but was told he had the aptitude. He had a successful career in appliance service and sales, eventually owning an appliance franchise store. His company serviced and sold name-brand appliances, and life was good. The letters to the editor page is one of the most well read pages of any newspaper. Individuals from the community can express their views on various subjects. It may be a comment on a recent story, an opinion on a political issue or an opinion on a candidate in an upcoming election, or just on how to do something better. Carpenter is one of a group of community members who frequently write letters to the editor, published as “Reader Input” in the Auburn Journal so his name might be recognizable to regular Journal readers. He would write more but the Journal has a once-a-month policy for letter writers. Carpenter writes at least once a month on a variety of subjects, whatever is in the news, local or national. As a young man, Carpenter started out as a Democrat but early on as he pursued his career, he became a Republican. “My political views started mimicking reality, how it is on the ground, how things actually worked,” he explained. Carpenter was a big fan of the politics of Ronald Reagan and describes himself as halfway between right and center on the political scale. “I have a lot of opinions on many subjects and they do tend to go conservative, but not blindly. I’m not an ultra-right wing nut,” Carpenter said. He is a big supporter of Sarah Palin, impressed by her accomplishments, her rise in national politics, and her run for the vice presidency in 2008. Carpenter is a strong supporter of the tea party movement and their politics, which Palin is also associated with. He is a computer junkie, and reads the national and world news online, and the Auburn Journal for the local news. “I read the Journal cover-to-cover every day,” he said. “How else would you find out what is going on in town?” Carpenter has been an Auburn resident for only three years, but he’s dug in and loves the area. That’s why he writes his letters to the editor. His opinion and the opinions of other letter writers make Auburn better. Carpenter likes to dance to old rock ’n’ roll and ride his motorcycles. He and his just-turned-100 year old mother live in North Auburn. “When people ask me where I live I tell them heaven,” Carpenter said. “I would have moved to Auburn in 1960 if I would have known how nice it was here.”