Albert J. Woofter|
By Bob Weaver 2022
I thought of an old phrase - "Gumshoe," which in earlier times was connected to reporters and detectives, whose time intensive work was by walking hundreds of miles, often at personal risk, wearing the rubber off their shoes and often with low pay.
A reporter I thought of was Albert J. Woofter (1918-1990) who trudged for the Parkersburg News for forty years, never having a drivers license, and writing a column called "Town and Country."
Woofter, a native of Dekalb, Gilmer County, wrote often about the history of Blennerhassett Island and a plaque was dedicated to him regarding his efforts.
He was the stereotype of a tall gangling reporter on his beat, felt hat, long trench coat, a scarf, a cane, and "patent" shoes, with a pad and pencils.
In the 1960s, as an ambulance driver for the Sinnett (later Sinnett-Weaver Funeral Home) in Spencer, I often bumped into Woofter at one of the Parkersburg hospitals, usually after the midnight hour.
I was taken back that he knew most of the families in the Little Kanawha region, including my neighbors, the Hardmans of Calhoun, and was acquainted with Dr. Curtis Artz, a Calhoun physician during World War II and a few years after. Artz went on to become one of Americas experts on burn trauma.
The "gumshoe" reporter, while covering newsworthy events, had a vast repository of minutia about families and events, and could pull information quickly from his loaded brain.
Such minute "Town and Country" reporting vanished years ago with a threshold eliminating the ordinary.