'Dr. Freddy' Still Going Strong at Age 95
Some people have different attitudes about retirement. Some can't wait to hit retirement age and then hit the golf course. Others have no desire to leave the working life behind.
Fred “Dr. Freddy” Johnson is the owner of Dr. Freddy Truck Cap City on East 21st Street in Erie. Fred could have retired decades ago. He's 95 years old. But, he is still working at the business he founded 74 years ago in 1949. He still hops down to the floor to work underneath vehicles. He still pushes a large hoist into place to secure a cap onto a pickup truck. Yeah, there's been times he thought about retiring, but he always talked himself out of it.
"I was hardly making anything at all but I was just so happy coming to work. Got me out of bed in the morning. Got me going. Get some exercise,” says Fred.
Fred opened his first shop when he was 21 years old after getting out of the service and after working for other repair garages for a couple of years. His first shop was located at his mother's house. He was there for three years. He then moved to the current location on East 21st street... and he's been there ever since.
His business focused solely on auto repairs for 10 years. The focus switched to travel trailers for the next 30 years. It's been truck caps for the last 34 years.
"It was a struggle and everything,” says Fred. “But we got through it. Yeah, we made it.”
Fred mans the shop all by himself. When he turned 65, he did cut one day off his schedule. The shop was open four and a half days a week instead of five and a half. When he turned 75, he cut another day off the schedule He's always there for his three and a half work days...doing whatever he has to do to please his customers.
"I bend. I twist. It's really nice down here. I love this place."
Fred credits good family genes for the longevity in his career and his life. He is admired by his 71-year old son Robert, who reached retirement before his father.
"He loves being down here," says Robert. "I think that's what keeps him alive. It's actually doing his work, helping people, and enjoying his work. Gives him something to do. I don't have those genes."
Dr. Freddy turns 96 in July. He says that may be the time to think about selling his business.