Profile: Jean & Buster Shaw

This is the first profile that features a couple: Jean and Buster Shaw.

What a pleasure it was to sit down with them in their home and review what has been a long and durable marriage; years of helping in the town of Chesterfield; pride in their three sons and a strong sense of family. Both shared many stories about the history of Chesterfield, childhood adventures remembered, and other rich images of growing up in the Hilltowns. Buster has wonderful witty ways of telling stories, which is one of the things Jean thinks attracted her to him.

During the time we spent together, I was reminded of the ad for Farmer’s Insurance. ”We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two”. Jean and Buster met at a dance at the Beechwood in West Cummington. As he was walking across the room for food, “I saw her looking at me, so I decided to ask her to dance”. Later he offered to drive her home. During the second date he met her parents. ”I was an only child”, she added. That was in 1949 when she was 18 and he was 25. They married in 1950. They have been together for 69 years and next year on April 15th they will have their 70th anniversary.

Jean was born in Pittsfield and Buster in Chesterfield. Buster and Jean lived next door to their current home, which was then occupied by his parents. When his parents passed, they moved into that home and now one of their sons lives next door. When Jean’s mother died, her father, ”Gramps”, lived with them for 22 years. At first, Buster tried running a milk farm, but “I could see that I wouldn’t make money doing that” and decided to do other things. Buster drove a truck at Bisbees’ for awhile, and later worked at ProBrush for 27 years.

Jean became the youngest post mistress in the country when she accepted the job at age 22. The post office was in one part of their home and she remained in the job for 37 years. In September of 1982, she enlisted the help of many young women and created a Samuel Eddy commemorative stamp and cancellation day in his honor. Eddy was a well known Civil War hero who had resided in Chesterfield.

Both Buster and Jean have volunteered in many organizations, clubs and other groups. She belonged to the Mother’s Club, Grange, Chesterfield Church, Historical Commission and Historical Society while Buster belonged to the Chesterfield Volunteer Fire Department, Grange, Chesterfield Church and the American Legion in Cummington.

When asked why they have liked living in Chesterfield, both agreed that it was great to raise children in the country where it was safe to play freely, even to swim in the canal near Healy’s. In looking back at what Chesterfield has lost, they, like so many, mention the loss of many businesses providing work in wood mills, making tools such as axe handles, basket making, milk farms, and farming in general.

Despite these losses in town, spending time with Mr. and Mrs. Shaw makes it clear that there are many treasures that remain in Chesterfield and we are grateful they are prominent among them.