Marietta man celebrates his 100th birthday
Ted Bauer takes time to reminisce on his life
It can be overwhelming when thinking of how things have changed in the last 100 years, but for Marietta resident Theodore “Ted” Bauer, he not only got to live them, he got to report on them.
He worked for the Parkersburg News from 1951 to 1956 before starting work with The Marietta Times.
Over the years, he said he wrote about much of what is covered today — the courthouse, city government and general features. When he retired in 1985, he wrote editorials and continued for several years after officially retiring.
“Your fan base insisted you keep writing,” his daughter, Cindy Winning, said. “They asked if he would do a weekly feature, so he decided to do a weekly feature of things of interest in town.”
He said he started his career with the Times as a paperboy at age 8.
“I went to the St. Mary School on Fifth Street at the time and we would get out of school at 3 p.m., where the public schools had to stay in school until 4 p.m. We got the jump on them,” he recalled.
He said he would run down to the Putnam Street newspaper offices to get his papers, then hustle down toward the Lafayette Hotel.
“We sold the paper at the time for 3 cents on the street and I think I made 25 cents one day,” he said with a laugh.
There was one man who stayed on a wharf boat that would pay the first boy with a paper an extra 2 cents.
“All the boats would come in and they would unload on the wharf boats,” he said.
The cargo ships would come in and wharf boats would take goods from the cargo ships to Front Street, where merchants would pick up their goods.
“He never just paid 3 cents for his paper. He always paid 5 cents,” Bauer recalled. “It was worth running two blocks down Front Street to get to his boat first. He’d buy from the first boy who came along. I could outrun the other boys.”
He said when he worked for the News as a reporter, he still lived in Marietta. When he finished his stories, he would give them to a bus driver who would take them to Parkersburg to be put on the page.
“I’d call and say my copy was going to be on such-and-such a bus at such-and-such a time and they’d go out and take it off the bus,” he said.
He was also able to solve a mystery with his inquisitive nature, Winning said.
“Remember the lady that died? They wrote about her because they thought she committed suicide, but you thought it was fishy and you started digging into it. You found out it was an accident,” she said to Bauer.
She explained there was a woman near Belpre in the 1960s who died by setting herself on fire. Bauer thought there was no way someone would commit suicide in such a way.
“It plagued him, so he started talking to her family. She was happy, she had no issues, financially or anything that might cause her to commit suicide by burning herself,” Winning said.
Bauer started digging into the situation and by talking to family members, found the woman had lice.
“In that time, you could put gasoline on your head and it would kill the lice,” Winning said.
“She had a gas stove in her kitchen and it had a pilot light. She walked by and it caught her whole head on fire. She went outside to try to put the fire out, but it killed her.”
The reporting was she had committed suicide, but Bauer was able to clear her name, she said.
“I forgot about that one,” Bauer said.
One story he was able to better remember was a nursing home fire in Harmar in January 1970.
Bauer had a phone in his bedroom and a photographer called at 3 a.m. to let him know a nursing home in Harmar was on fire.
Winning said the family went to Bauer’s bedroom to look out the window of their Front Street home “and it was just fire everywhere and the whole hillside was ablaze.”
“That would have been one of the top stories,” Bauer said.
During the fire, 31 people died and dozens more were injured.
He also interviewed actor Rock Hudson while he was in Marietta to promote his 1957 movie “Battle Hymn.”
In the movie, Hudson portrayed Marietta native Lt. Col. Dean Hess, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who helped evacuate war orphans in Korea.
Hudson stayed at the Lafayette Hotel during his trip and “there were thousands of women and it was raining and there were umbrellas and screaming”, Winning said with a laugh. “Dad said, ‘I don’t know what the fuss is. He’s not that interesting.'”
Journalism wasn’t Bauer’s first choice of career. When he came back from serving in World War II, he used his GI Bill at Ohio State University to study botany. After talking to his best friend and roommate, who had told him he was a good writer, his major was switched to journalism.
Bauer said when he interviewed to work at the Times, he was asked where he lived. When he told the interviewer 530 Front St., he was told the interviewer’s parents lived at that address during the flood of 1913.
“He said when the 1913 flood was coming up, he rode a boat up Front Street, parked it on the roof of the house and took his parents out through the bedroom window,” Bauer said. “You know if you can row a boat onto a porch roof, it’s pretty high water.”
Bauer also had a storied military history as a B-17 bombardier during World War II.
After graduating from St. Mary High School in 1940, he attended the college training detachment from Jamestown College in North Dakota in 1943. He went to pre-flight school in Santa Ana, Ca., in 1943, had aerial gunnery training in 1944, advanced bombardier training at Deming Field, New Mexico in 1944, and was a commissioned flight officer in 1944.
He was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1944 to 1945 with the 711th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb Group based out of Rattlesden, England. He kept a written account of each mission, including seeing 11 of his group go down in flames while 208 enemy fighters were shot down in Merseburg. In Frankfurt, he had his engine and oxygen shot out, and his plane caught fire before going into a dive. He noted he pulled out as ready to bail out and the fire miraculously went out.
On his 36th bombing mission, his notes included “this was to be our last mission. Bad weather set in for six days and flights grounded. During this time, our replacement crew arrived. On the seventh day, it was determined the new crew would take its first mission and we would fly upon their return. They never returned.”
Bauer was inducted in 2019 into the Washington County Veterans Hall of Fame. On his nomination form, it notes he successfully completed 35 bombing missions in Germany as a bombardier on the B-17. He received the Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters; the European, African, Middle Eastern Service Medal; and the ETO Ribbon with Bronze Star.
Over the years, Bauer has received several honors.
He was named Civitan Citizen of the Year Award in 1986 for outstanding achievement and unselfish service in the betterment of the community; received recognition of 50 years of service to the Knights of Columbus; received recognition for his years of service to the American Legion Post 64; and is a charter member of the local Ancient Order of Hibernians, the largest and oldest Irish Catholic organization in America.
He and his wife, Ruth, have been married since 1950.
Bauer said he’s never sat down to think about all of the world events he’s lived through.
“Jiminy, there were so many,” he said.
Michele Newbanks can be reached at email@example.com.
A look into those 100 years
From staff reports
Theodore “Ted” Bauer was born in December 1921. Some of the major events that have occurred during his lifetime include:
¯ May 21, 1927: Charles Lindbergh flies nonstop from New York to Paris aboard The Spirit of St. Louis. He became the first person to fly nonstop over the Atlantic Ocean.
¯ June 17-18, 1928: Amelia Earhart became the first woman to pilot a plane across the Atlantic Ocean.
¯ Oct. 24-29, 1929: Wall Street crashed, with stocks dropping 23 percent in two days.
¯ Sept. 1, 1939: World War II begins. A German battleship opened fire on a Polish stronghold in Westerplatte were the first shots of World War II.
¯ Dec. 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor attacked. Some 2,403 people died, including more than 1,100 sailors aboard the USS Arizona. The U.S. declared war on Japan the next day, and three days later against Germany and Italy.
¯ June 6, 1944: D Day invasion in Normandy, France. Over a 24-hour period, almost 5,000 Allied soldiers were killed.
¯ Sept. 2, 1945: World War II ends with the surrender of Japan.
¯ June 25, 1950: Korean War begins.
¯ Jan. 31, 1958: U.S. launches its first satellite, Explorer 1, from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
¯ Aug. 13, 1961: Berlin Wall was built, separating East and West Germany for 28 years.
¯ Oct. 16-28, 1962: Cuban Missile Crisis in which the U.S. has a naval blockade around Cuba, where the Soviet Union built nuclear missile installations.
¯ Nov. 22, 1963: President John Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
¯ March 1965: U.S. enters Vietnam War.
¯ April 4, 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.
¯ July 20, 1969: U.S. astronauts land on the moon.
¯ Aug. 8, 1974: Richard Nixon becomes the only U.S. president to resign.
¯ June 5, 1981: First reported cases of AIDS in the U.S.
¯ Jan. 28, 1986: Space Shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after takeoff.
¯ Oct. 19, 1987: Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 22 percent in one day, making it a bigger crash than the one in October 1929.
¯ Nov. 9, 1989: The Berlin Wall is taken down.
¯ Jan. 17, 1991: U.S. sends forces to the Middle East as part of Operation Desert Storm.
¯ Feb. 1, 1992: Cold War ends between U.S. and Russia.
¯ April 19, 1995: The Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City is bombed, killing nearly 170 people.
¯ July 5, 1996: Dolly the Sheep is cloned in Scotland.
¯ Nov. 2, 2000: International Space Station opens.
¯ Sept. 11, 2001: Nearly 3,000 people killed after terrorists crash four commercial aircraft.
¯ Aug. 29, 2005: Category 5 Hurricane Katrina destroys most of New Orleans and kills more than 1,800 people.