Memories of Madeira’s Bauer family fading

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published June 13, 2001 in The Suburban Life, added June 13, 2015.


Ruth, left, and Eleanor Bauer, right, sit on a bridge over Hosbrook Pond in the early 1930s.

Ruth, left, and Eleanor Bauer, right, sit on a bridge over Hosbrook Pond in the early 1930s.

I’ve had this story on the back burner for a long time.  If I simmered it long enough, I reasoned, I’d run into someone who could tell me all about it.  That has not happened.  There seems to be few people left who remember it, and little of it was ever written down.

I go around telling people, “Write it down.”  Unless someone writes it down, local history and people stories fade into the haze of the past.  People pass on, and the people who knew them pass on.

That has happened with this story.  The family was once important in Madeira.  Everyone knew them.  Now they are only vaguely remembered.  They moved away.  All, or most of them have passed on.  A daughter might still be living, but I’ve found no one who knows where she lives.

My sources for what I know of this family are people who have helped me with stories over and over, for years.

Oscar Meyer died a year ago, June 2000, at age 97.  When it came to history, Oscar knew it all.  He was “Mr. Madeira,” and I have notebooks filled with notes and stories he told me.  Oscar’s big talent was telling stories.

Another source for this story is Drucilla Bain.  A former teacher, she has lived in Madeira all her life.  Her family, on both sides, is a big chunk of Madeira’s history.  Her grandfather, Samuel Kitchell Druce, was Madeira’s first mayor.  Drucilla has helped me with many stories.  She has lent me books, letters and old newspapers.  She’s a reliable, treasured source.  Whenever I’m stuck, I call her.

I also call Dick Valentiner when I’m stuck, or just when I want to talk about earlier days.  His mind is a photograph of the years when he was growing up in Madeira.

The most reliable written source of Madeira history that I have found is a thin booklet written by Graydon DeCamp in 1960, Madeira’s 50th anniversary.  I always turn to it.

The family I’ve long intended to write about, a family that all but disappeared from Madeira’s history, is the George Bauer family.

The Bauer family was once prominent in Madeira.  All that remains now are two buildings, a couple of dates, and a few vague memories.

George Bauer was one of Madeira’s mayors, in 1924-1925.  But three years ago, when former Madeira Police Chief Gerald Beckman set up a Mayor’s room in Madeira City Hall, he could locate no photo of Bauer or any member of Bauer’s family.

According to DeCamp’s booklet, George Bauer built the old Village Hall in 1916 on Laurel Avenue.  This building still stands and is now occupied by a shoe repair shop.  This building is important in Madeira’s history.  It was the City Hall for a time.  And when Bauer was appointed postmaster in 1922, the post office moved into that building.  He served as postmaster until 1933, when he was replaced by Howard DeMar.

People do remember Bauer’s Department Store, but details about this are hazy too.  One source told me a few years ago that Bauer’s Store was in the Bean building.

Dick Valentiner emphatically disputes this.  The Bean building was a residence around the corner, facing Miami Avenue.  Bauer’s Store, he say’s, was in the Bauer-built building, also the City Hall and post office building, now a shoe repair shop.

The dates of the store are hazy and guessed at.  Both Drucilla Bain and Valentiner guess it was the 1920’s and early 1930’s.

Drucilla remembers the store well.  She and her sister would stop every day on their way home from school to admire and gawk at the big “picture” window in front of the store.  It would be decorated for various seasons and special days.  There were always exciting displays at Christmas time.

Halloween was a big season for the store too.  Drucilla says, and the Bauer family gave the best treats.  Trick-or-treaters always got big candy bars.  She remembers them fondly.

Dick remembers the Bauer Store window and says he would gaze at it on his way home from school.  The incident he remembers most, however, is falling into a puddle in front of the store on his was to school.

Drucilla remembers that the store sold yard goods, household and personal items, “a little bit of everything.”

The Loveland-Madeira bus stopped in front of the store.  “The called it a bus,” Dick said.  “It was only a big auto.”

George Bauer left behind another building in Madeira, which still stands.  The old Bauer home is on Miami Avenue, three houses down from Wesley Court, on the east side.  Polly Gregg lives there now.

The  Bauers had two daughters, Eleanor and Ruth.  In going through old photos of the Madeira Historical Society, I found a snapshot of them.  Fortunately, someone had scribbled their names on the back, and Drucilla identified them.  She thinks Ruth might still be living, but she doesn’t know where.

These scraps are all that remains of a once-prominent family.

So, you see how important it is to write things down.  All too soon, people and families dissipate into unknown corners of history.