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Plane flight brings life full circle for Crozier

October 20, 2010
Times Leader
By MIKE HUGHES, Prime Times MARTINS FERRY — What was a major part of Anna Crozier’s life finally came full circle during an Aug. 28 trip to the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport. It was that day that Crozier, a Shadyside native and Martins Ferry resident, got to take a ride on a B-17, the Sentimental Journey. It was a short flight, only 30 minutes or so in the air and a quick jaunt around the Ohio Valley. But it was a trip that was 67 years in the making. When World War II broke out, Anna Kenjorsky was still a student at Shadyside High School. Upon her graduation in May of 1943, she intended on joining the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) with the U.S. Navy. Her brother, home for his 21st birthday from the Navy, adamantly was against that plan. But Anna wasn’t discouraged and found another avenue to do her part for the war effort. She wished to work in a defensive manufacturing plant and since there were no opportunities locally, she and her elder sister Josephine headed to Buffalo, N.Y. The two took jobs with the Bell Aircraft Corporation and went to work. Anna took a job as a riveter, working on the tail section of the famed B-17 Flying Fortress, later she helped bolt together the P-63 King Cobra. Ironically, a few classes she took while at Shadyside nearly pushed her in a different direction. ‘‘When I put my application in, they saw that I had clerical classes in high school and wanted to make me a secretary,’’ Anna said. ‘‘I told them I wasn’t cut out for an office job, I wanted to work and be out in the plant.’’ She told that story to one of the Sentimental Journey pilots on Friday, Aug. 27 after he overheard Anna talking to a few onlookers about her days as a riveter. The pilot was intrigued by her story and offered to make Anna his guest-of-honor the following day, complete with a ride on the B-17. It was an emotional day for Anna, but also one that was well deserved. Anna said she shook more hands and signed more autographs during those two days than she has in her entire life. A woman approached her with the 3-year-old granddaughter and asked to have her picture taken with Anna. A real-life Rosie the Riveter was among them and they came to pay their respects and hear her story. That story continued when she returned home after the Bell plant closed and Anna went to work at the Imperial Glass Company in Bellaire. She was trained as a glass blower, a job she held for six months before being forced to quit because a work complication was making her sick. When her husband passed away after 12 years of marriage in 1966, Anna Crozier went back to work. After short stints at Rigas’ Restaurant, and the Marx Toy Plant, Crozier again found her calling working for Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel. Her first job was in Wheeling at the former Wheeling Corrugating Plant. For two weeks, Crozier trained in Oct. of 1967 and then waited with her coworkers for the plant to open in Dec. of that year. She learned to be a welder and help make steel boxes that were sent to Vietnam during the war. After that plant closed, she worked at the steel plants in Beech Bottom and Follansbee before transferring back to Beech Bottom where she worked until retiring in 1987.She finished with 21 years and eight months on the job for Wheeling-Pitt. She was born in Wegee, the daughter of Polish immigrants who met and were married in Buffalo. She grew up in Shadyside and currently lives in Martins Ferry, but for the better portion of her life, Anna lived in Bellaire. It was only after an accident that injured her right hand did she decide to move to a smaller house, relocating to Martins Ferry in March of 1997 where she’s been ever since. She’s led a long and productive life though not one traveled by the majority of women. ‘‘Working in a factory was the only thing I knew to do,’’ she said. ‘‘But I also loved to garden and you should have seen the house in Bellaire, there were so many lovely plants and flowers.’’ True to form, Crozier remains very active to this day, noting she’s ‘‘seldom ever in the house.’’ Her son, who moved back to the Ohio Valley recently after living in Indiana helps her some around the house and cooks a few meals, but for the most part, she’s remained independent. Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com

Article Photos

ANNA CROZIER gets ready to board the B-17 Sentimental Journey when it made a recent visit to the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport. Crozier worked as a riveter during World War II and this was her opportunity to finally take a ride on one of the planes like the ones she worked so hard to help build during the mid 1940s. Photo Provided

 
 

 

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