Jean Bruffey, 90, of Ireland, like most members of her generation, has always been an avid newspaper reader, but unlike most others she’s spent most of her lifetime clipping and saving articles.
Whether the article pertained to her family, friends, one of the businesses her late husband Joel “Horner” Bruffey owned, or it just caught her interest, she clipped them. Today, she has a stack over 4 feet high, a pile of history.
By Bruffey’s recollection, she’s been receiving The Weston Democrat for nearly all of her life, noting that her parents were also readers.
“I just couldn’t do without my Democrat,” she said.
Bruffey also cataloged her own life and experiences proudly, mentioning that she kept a personal diary for over 70 years. She began after receiving one from her brother in 1939.
Bruffey hasn’t just been an observer of history, she’s also been a participant. Upon graduating from Walkersville High School at the age of 17, in 1944, she travel to Akron, Ohio, to join her parents, who were already employed there, as part of the war effort.
She tried to get a job upon her arrival, but was told she would have to wait until her 18th birthday. For the ensuing 6 months, she enrolled and took classes at Penn State University.
After turning 18, on Christmas day 1944, she returned and was given the task of riveting in the cramped spaces of a B-17 bomber, a job Bruffey excelled at due to her small stature.
Bruffey has many entertaining stories of her time as a Rosie the Riveter, a term now collectively applied to the women whose work was vital to the war effort, including one in which a few of the boys played a prank on her by filling her pocketbook with rivets.
She didn’t notice until she had left for the day, and she recalled while laughing, “I was scared to death they were going to arrest me.”
She was able to sneak the rivets back into the factory without incident the next day.
She also relayed the tale of her return to West Virginia on August 14, 1945, Victory in Japan Day. She recalled as she left on the bus for home that the citizens of Akron were, “Singing and dancing in the streets.”
She returned home and awaited her fiance until he returned several months later, having served in the U.S. Army for 2.5 years in Europe. They ran a gas station before founding Bruffey Trucking, a business that is still in operation to this day.