March is Women’s History Month! It’s not just for those we read about in our history books, though. We all have women in our lives who have made their own contribution to their corner of the world and helped shaped who we are. I know this is a real estate column, but I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about a very important woman in MY history…
My great grandmother, Gay Buseman, was born in 1906 and one of five daughters. Her family did not have the means to send her to high school, so once she had outgrown her one-room schoolhouse, she went to work at the Seneca Glass factory to help provide for them.
When my grandfather was about the same age she went to work, she and her husband separated which was unheard of at the time. He left the area, and the business in which he was a partner, so being the not-so-traditional woman she was took over his role. She and her partner grew their business, Buseman and Kennel, and my grandfather Bill eventually joined in the fray.
Not wanting to rely completely on the fait of the company to sustain her, in her early 40’s she started investing in real estate. Over a course of years, she bought about 6 or 8 houses in the area of Snider and Willy streets which she divided in to multiple unit housing. All the work that was required she did on her own. Having a family of all girls and living on a farm off West Run Rd, her father had dubbed her the ‘son he never had’ and she had helped him build their home so knew all she needed about carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, etc. and was more than capable of handling such things.
Always pining for the education she never had, and understanding the value of it, she offered free rent to any of her student tenants that made the deans list. Another condition was to pay their rent in person so she could hear all about their studies and adventure that month as well as to provide the occasional poke in the ribs and pinch on the arm as was her way.
She was also a master gardener, quilter, collector of antiques, and all-around amazing woman who lived on her own until the very end. One afternoon just after her 96th birthday she was enjoying a piece of chocolate cake in her kitchen when she decided her time here was at an end. She sat down on the floor, put a smile on her face, and started on her next amazing journey.
To all the flag sewers, slave savers, and glass ceiling shatterers of our past we thank you! And to all those currently making history of their own we salute you. I encourage you to take the last days of March to remember those women who have helped make YOUR history, and perhaps pass a tale along to share with others. Take care…
Melissa Berube, 2019 MBOR President