World War II memories and artifacts, the topic of Bruce Janowsky’s tent talk at CWC



Little more than a century ago, the Treaty of Versailles officially ended World War I and inadvertently laid the groundwork for World War II. In the aftermath of the latter, many kept silent about their experiences, including atrocities they witnessed and heroic acts they engaged in.

It’s one thing to watch films and read about World War II. And it’s another to be taken into the confidence of family friends and neighbors who were personally involved, with stories that may never be written down or depicted on screens or on stages.

At 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 12 within the tent on the front lawn of the Chautauqua Women’s Club House, Bruce Janowsky will present the first Tent Talk of the CWC’s 2021 local speaker program: “Walking Through History: World War II Memories (My Childhood Heroes).”

“I grew up in Jamestown, New York,” Janowsky said. “People my parents knew came over to our house. There were World War II veterans everywhere. Probably most didn’t talk about it. But if you sat them down and talked, they answered questions. As I got older, I probably got bolder.” 

Among the World War II memorabilia from American and German servicemen that Janowsky has acquired or purchased over time are guns, an escape map, a comical Mussolini ashtray and a bottle of Scotch.

“It’s not the memorabilia that’s important,” he said. “It’s the stories.”

Consequently, he encourages Chautauquans who possess World War II artifacts and have stories to tell to come to his talk and share them with the audience.

A graduate of Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Janowsky earned his master’s degree in business administration at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

He is president and CEO of Jamestown Container Companies, a first- and second-generation packaging solutions business founded in 1956 to serve the needs of companies surrounding the Great Lakes, particularly those in the U.S.-Canada Lake Erie and Lake Ontario region.

Headquartered in Falconer, southeast of Jamestown, JCC encompasses packaging facilities located in New York and Ohio. As a founding member of the Packaging Alliance Network, it is connected to independent corrugated box manufacturers located throughout the United States and around the world.

I grew up in Jamestown, New York. People my parents knew came over to our house. There were World War II veterans everywhere. Probably most didn’t talk about it. But if you sat them down and talked, they answered questions. As I got older, I probably got bolder.” 

– Bruce Janowsky,
President and CEO,
Jamestown Container Companies

For 60 years, minimizing negative environmental impacts by using sustainably produced packaging has been a core JCC policy. Nearly all of the corrugated boxes made in its facilities use material certified as sustainable by credible eco-label standard-setting organizations — the Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the American Tree Farm System.

“Probably 98% of what we sell is corrugated boxes,” Janowsky said.

Polyurethane packaging is the last resort, Janowsky said. It is used only when the products being packaged — such as aviation ball bearings — are worth too much to get damaged. Janowsky said he hopes someday that corrugated pieces will be used for ball bearings.

“We are part owners of a paper mill in Niagara Falls that makes 100% recycled paper for linerboard,” he said. “We take in paper that would be going to the landfill. We’re not breaking down wood chips into paper … (During the screening process) every waste product that comes out — staples, metals, tape, et cetera – is reused. We had to create a market for it.”

In 2017, Smart Business Network honored Janowsky with an Evolution of Manufacturing Award recognizing “Northeast Ohio manufacturers that best demonstrate the ability to adapt to the changing world and take manufacturing to the next level.”

Given his interest in history, and particularly World War II, Janowsky became a founding director of the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, which honors the Chief United States Prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trial (1945-1946) and “envisions a global society where the universal principles of equality, fairness and justice prevail.”

“Maybe what spurred my interest (in World War II memories and memorabilia) is that these people are heroes,” Janowsky said. “Artifacts probably inspired me.”

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The author Deborah Trefts

Deborah Trefts is a policy scientist with extensive United States, Canadian and additional international experience in conservation. She focuses on the resolution of ocean and freshwater-related challenges and the art and science of deciphering and developing public policy at all levels from global to local.