By Linda Emley
Two years ago this month, I started writing stories for the Richmond News. While reading over all the old newspapers of our past, I have grown to know and love several of the history “reporters” that were writing stories long before many of us were here. One of my favorites is Miss Bruna Luella McGuire, who wrote a column for the Hardin, Richmond and Lexington newspapers.
Miss Bruna was born on Dec. 16, 1882 and died 90 years later on Sunday, April 29, 1973, so she was an eyewitness to many of the stories that we have shared over the past two years. I never got to know her, but I have heard many stories from people that we fortunate enough to call Miss Bruna their friend.
The first time I heard a story about her, I thought they were making it up. They were telling me how she would park her car in the middle of the street when she went in a store. When Bruna started driving, this would have been a standard practice for most small towns, so I am sure she never thought twice about parking in the middle of the road long after the parking spaces had changed.
Bruna was the daughter of Sam and Frances Wall McGuire. One of my favorite Bruna stories was about her being born in a log cabin. The headlines read, “Miss Bruna Discovers She Was Born In Log Cabin.” Bruna had a way of writing where she seldom paused so I was not surprised to see her whole first paragraph was one long sentence.
“After reading the interesting log cabin stories in the Ray County Conservator, telling where folks were born, I’ve found out I was born in one, too.”
“I had remembered the old log house at the Bennett Stratton farm where I lived, and I remember going out and gathering eggs from a hen’s nest in the chimney corner. So while visiting my brother, Jas. B. McGuire and wife last Wednesday, I asked Jim, and he says, ‘You were born in that log house.’ ” Her second paragraph had two sentences instead of one, which proves that no one could link it all together like our Miss Bruna.
The log house where she was born was a two-story house with a breezeway. It was replaced with a new house in 1884, which was still being used when Bruna’s story was written. This log cabin article came out of one of Bruna’s scrapbooks, so I don’t know what date it was published.
We have two of her scrapbooks at the Ray County Museum. A scrapbook is a very personal item because it shows what that person treasured enough to save for their future viewing pleasure. Every time I sit down to look over her scrapbooks, I feel like Bruna is looking over my shoulder and explaining why she added some picture or story to “her” scrapbook.
Another Bruna article I enjoyed went like this. “Hey, You just orter been up at the Farris Theater last Wednesday and saw the stunts at Achievement Day of three clubs, the Happy Home Makers, Hickory Grove, and Henrietta Clubs.
“Our Happy Home Makers were first on, and put on what was representing the Atomic Age, so our hats were strung with silver things.”
“Now! When that Hickory Grove Club showed up they were representing hoboes, and first one came in to sit on the park bench. He begin to read the funny papers. In came another all dressed in overalls and straw and felt hats. He sat down close to read, too. Pretty soon something began to bit him, and he scratched so, and shakes his trousers, and then four or five come in, and all tried to sit on the same bench, and the biting and scratching still went on, and pushing so the first one fell off the bench on the floor. They looked around as if to find a cigarette butt. The bitin was so that the last one says good-bye. They never said a word; just acted it so funny. “
Next the Henrietta Club had a “Madam Hat Shoppe. A large number of classy, bright colored hats were for sale. One customer came in and tried on all 20 hats and left with the hat she came in with. All of the hats were made from colanders. Mrs. Barbara Foster from Morton was the pianist and Mrs. D. Johnson was the song leader from Dockery. Mrs. Frank Manning presided over the program because she was the county council president. A noon meal was enjoyed by 102 people at the Methodist Church.”
Bruna finished her article with, “I’d like to go again next year.”
Miss Bruna was a member of the Hardin United Methodist Church. She never married but was survived by a number of nieces and nephews. Her funeral was officiated by Rev. Brad Hunt and burial was in the Lavelock Cemetery. Her pallbearers were Harold Grove, R. W. Eslinger, Gene Wall, Lee Meador, Roe Fifer and Virgil Shirley.
Her obituary told the rest of her story. “For many years Miss Bruna wrote a column for area newspapers and often her reporting was based on items of historical interest. She was very interested in family histories and in 1953 compiled several of these into a book, ‘Pioneer Families.’ Miss Bruna had a style of writing that was unique — almost as unique as her means of gathering news. She purchased, new, a 1928 Model A Ford from James A. Swafford Ford Sales and for years traveled the neighboring communities visiting friends and relatives, gathering news and taking in events of interest. It was important to her that she and the Ford were in the parade marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and its re-enactment. Although she was in a rest home she returned to Hardin for its centennial parade in 1970 and the Model A was there.’
“The little green Ford was in a sense a landmark for when people spotted it they knew it was Miss Bruna. As the years went by, interest grew in the Ford and there were a number of offers to purchase it. However Mr. Swafford and Miss Bruna made arrangements whereby the Ford eventually was returned to the Swaffords as a keepsake.
“She taught piano for years as always looked forward to presenting her pupils in music recitals. She also loved fine things in life and kept several scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, among them many poems. Bruna attended Central College at Lexington and also attended Woodson Institute in Richmond.
She was nearly 80 when she took her first plane ride, a countryside view from the Lexington airport. And when she got home she sat and wrote about the thrill in her typical style. This could best describe her philosophy of life. It was a great ride and she loved everything about it.”
It’s been 39 years since Miss Bruna moved on to her next newspaper assignment. We can only hope that we will be remembered as fondly as she is long after we have moved on to our next assignment.
You can share your historical stories and family tidbits with Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.