August 14, 2013

Ken Lord: 'You do the best you can'

COOPERSVILLE — The belt was loose on the sawdust blower for Ken Lord’s saw, close to sliding off.

He leaned over the log that sat on the carriage, his feet a little off the ground, to check it out. But one leg hit the lever, the carriage moved forward, and the spinning saw was aimed right at the Coopersville man’s neck.

“I threw myself over the top,” said Ken, who’s 90 now. “But I had a wool jacket on.”

It caught in the saw guide, and in the space of just a second or two, Ken lost his right arm.

Matter of factly, he said, “if the blade had been turning, I would have been dead.”

Instead, he got on his feet, told his wife, Gloria, to take off her flannel shirt, wrap it around what remained of his arm and make a tourniquet.

“I kept a level head,” he said. “Gloria, she was pretty well upset.”

But she drove him to the hospital in Plattsburgh as he held a stick of wood twisted in the fabric.

“I got out of the car and walked in the emergency entrance,” Ken said.


Then he got on with his life.

Ken never wore a prosthetic arm; instead, he found ways to adapt.

“You learn pretty fast what you can and can’t do,” he said.

The sawmill business was no longer possible, not that he didn’t try.

“It was too hard to turn the logs,” he said. “I was right-handed.”

Instead, he took a job driving truck on a milk route, but he couldn’t renew his license when the time came because of his missing arm.

He kept driving his pickup truck, though, after moving the shift lever to the left, a simple solution.

“Didn’t have to change anything else.”

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