Billy Holt, 76, of Gardendale, is well-known to the people of Gardendale after working for 56 years in the grocery business and also because of what now keeps him busy after retirement.
• How did you get into the grocery business?
I got into it right out of high school. My dad, my older brother and my twin brother all worked in grocery stores.
• Where did you work in Gardendale?
I worked at Western for 17 years. I retired from there five years ago. Before that, I worked at the old Dixie Savers where the courthouse (annex) is now.
• Are you from Gardendale?
I’m from West End, but I’ve lived in Gardendale for 40 years.
• What do you do now that you’re retired from the grocery store?
I make puzzles.
• There has to be a story behind that ... what is it?
I worked every weekend when I was at the grocery stores. Now I take the time to make puzzles. I sell them at all kinds of festivals, arts and craft shows, fairs and flea markets.
• Do you have any shows coming up?
I’ll be at the Magnolia Festival on Aug. 18.
• What kind of puzzles do you make?
The most popular one I make is with Coca-Cola bottles, a nut, a bolt and a stick. I’ve made and sold over 7,000 of them. I make about 10 different puzzles.
• Did you have to drink all of those Cokes?
No, the first 5,000 I got for free because people would save them for me. But lately I’ve been having to buy them and pour the Coke out.
• What do you enjoy the most about the festivals?
It’s fun and a little bit profitable.
• Were you ever in the military?
I was drafted into the Army with my twin brother Bobby. We were in the Korean War, in the Signal Corps. We were together the whole time. I was in the supply room and he was an orderly in the next building. We even bunked together.
• Where were you stationed during the war?
We never had to leave the United States. We were in Texas, North Carolina and Kentucky.
• Tell me about your family.
I’ve been married to my wife Billie for 15 years. We have two sons, Louie Holt and Joey Roulaine, and a grandson, Chris Holt.