Jewell spent her growing up years in the New Home Community and graduated from High School at Pryor. Soon after graduation she went to work for the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company as a switchboard operator. Her sister, Kathryn and her husband, Tom LaFoilette, had moved to Richland, Washington, where LaFoilette worked for the DuPont Company as a construction engineer. He contacted Jewell asking her and her other sister, Connie to come to Washington and help them when their baby was born.
Jewell and Sister Connie boarded the MK&T train in route to the state of Washington. Jewell said, “It was during the war about 1943, and there were lots of soldiers on the train going home on leave. A couple of the boys took a shine to my sister and me and we had dinner with them. They were very nice to us and visiting with them made the long trip go faster.”
After her sister’s baby was born, the brother-in-law asked Jewell if she wanted to stay with them in Richland and he would get her a job with DuPont. She agreed and was hired on as a switchboard operator for the company.
Jewell said that the Hanford Project was out in the desert where different building sites were situated a good distance from each other. The telephone company identified these sites by the names of trees like Hemlock, Alder, Pine, Juniper and fir. The company had an evacuation plan in case of an explosion or other catastrophe. As switchboard operator she had certain things to do in case of an evacuation. She said, “We had an evacuation drill one day at one of the strategic areas. I unplugged all my connections cutting off all calls immediately. I had a paper showing me where to connect the sites with tree names to places like Washington DC, the War Department, etc… Fortunately we never did really have to evacuate and the drill went fine.”
In 1944, they moved to Jeffersonville, Indiana, where DuPont had a contract to build a rocket fuel plant. Jewell called it “rocket powder.”
Before WWII was over, Jewell moved home to Pryor where she worked at the First Baptist Church as the Office Secretary. Her future husband, Don Raney owned a grocery store in Pryor. Her mother encouraged her to go purchase some groceries and meet the guy. Jewell minded her momma and soon after they began to date. About one and a half years later they were married.
Jewell’s husband, Don, came home one day after a fine day of fishing. He complained of chest pains so they went to the emergency room. He died there of a heart attack. Her daughter is deceased also. Her son is an engineer working for Toyota Automobile Co. in Dallas, Texas.
Following an illness, Jewell’s doctor said that she should not be living alone so she moved to Primrose Retirement Center, Shawnee, Oklahoma. She is very alert and active, loves the Lord. “It has been a good life and I have been blessed,” she said.
So, Jewell Bradley Raney has come from the covered wagon to Oklahoma; Oklahoma to Washington State and the atomic bomb; Indiana and the rocket fuel plant; back to Oklahoma and second graders-all in 94 years. A great adventure!