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Someone You Should Know: Field Museum Volunteer Sheila Reynolds

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(CBS) – She works in a place that’s familiar to many of us: the Field Museum. But in a part of the building few of us ever see.

CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield says Sheila Reynolds is someone you should know.

It may surprise you, but only 1 percent of what has been collected at the Field Museum is ever put on display. The other 99 percent is carefully stored for study in an area of seemingly endless hallways.

For 38 years, Sheila Reynolds has been a volunteer at the museum. Originally, she was assigned to numbering animal parts. Currently, she’s translating a book from French to English.

“My siblings always said to me that I belonged in a museum,” the 92-year-old deadpans.

A graduate of what is now Mother McCauley in 1939, Reynolds takes two buses to get to the museum. She is the mother of 12.

Reynolds worked as a cryptographer for the Army during World War II — a skill she picked up through a mail-order course. The coded Japanese messages she deciphered related to troop movements.

“The Army did all the reasoning and acting. All I did was change the language,” she says.

Bill Stanley is head of the small animals department where she works.

“It’s vital that every bone from a given specimen is given a number of that specimen. It has to be legible and it has to be accurate, and this is why Sheila numbers these bones, and I won’t let anyone else do it,” he says.

What is Sheila’s secret to a long life? Is it being a mother 12 times over?

“They at least taught me self-defense,” she says.