‘We all have a game in our lives’

Published 10:06 am Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Paglia, 90, has never been one to shy away from a task so he met the birdhouse head-on.

&dquo;So I went to work on the birdhouse and I enjoyed it,&dquo; he said.

He loved it so much that his wife, Van, suggested he buy the machinery to do woodworking. Not long after, he added an addition to one of his barns on his farm on Fairwinds Drive in Tryon that he used for just woodworking.

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Now his house is sprinkled with different things that he has built. In addition to birdhouses, there are chests, benches, wall mounts and he also has a shed filled to the brim with birdhouses and other things, which are for sale.

Paglia will take a picture that he finds in a magazine, figure out the measurements, draw up plans and make a trip to a store to buy the wood.

But Paglia&squo;s used to building things and having an eye for detail.

For 54 years, he worked on teeth as a dentist in his hometown of Medford, Mass. He was born in Worcester, Mass., in 1917. His father was an immigrant and had moved to the United States when he was 8 years old.

Paglia grew up in Medford and attended university at Tufts. He got enough class credits to enter dental school after his third year in college.

While he was in school, however, World War II broke out. He tried to enter the Army twice and was rejected twice.

However, ten years after he graduated from dental school and was building his practice, he was called into action. He and Van had only been married for three years and were expecting their first child.

But World War II had depleted military physicians and the United States was in another conflict ‐ the Korean War.

The military needed medical personnel desperately, Paglia said. So he was drafted by the Army, but allocated to the Air Force where for one year, he served as chief of surgery. He didn&squo;t have the top qualifications to be the chief of surgery, but chance placed him there.

One year later, Paglia returned to Medford to continue his dental practice and would remain there until he retired 11 years ago.

It was 11 years ago that Lillie Brown showed him his current home on Fairwinds Drive near Green Creek. To this day, Brown still buys birdhouses from Paglia to give her clients as gifts after purchases.

&dquo;It makes a wonderful gift for someone moving in,&dquo; Brown said. &dquo;People tend to put them in their houses and not outside.&dquo;

The Paglias&squo; house was the first house he looked at in the area and he knew then that his wife would love it, he said. Without coming down and looking at the house, Van showed great faith in her husband&squo;s knowledge of her taste and took the leap of faith that landed them in Tryon.

As Paglia sat in their house this day, he watched a preseason game of the Boston Red Sox. At one point in his life, he thought that he might make it to the majors as he played baseball at Tufts. But as he realized that wasn&squo;t going to pan out, he shifted direction and became a dentist, cleaning teeth and building bridges.

It was an effortless transition from building dental bridges to woodworking for Paglia.

Her husband has a tremendous eye for detail, said Van, who paints the different things that Bill builds.

&dquo;He&squo;s made teeth all his life,&dquo; she said. &dquo;He&squo;s a details man.&dquo;

For Bill, the woodworking is something that fills his day.

After tearing a miniscus in both of his knees at different times, he can&squo;t go as hard as he would like to on the farm. The woodworking gives him something to do.

&dquo;I&squo;m not one that can sit around a lot,&dquo; he said. &dquo;(The woodworking) keeps me occupied.&dquo;

As Paglia stared out his back doors to the cleared acreage surrounding his home in Tryon and he turned to
see one of his birdhouses on his dining table, built to look like a schoolhouse, he smiled.

&dquo;We all have a game in our lives,&dquo; he said.