Laura Grace Bauman
Laura Grace Bauman (pronounced “Bowman”) born on February 19, 1910 in Bonners Ferry, Idaho to Solomon and Florence Hoagland Bauman, grew up with two brothers, Everett “Bud” and Warren and one sister, Phyllis. Grace’s father bought the Dell Cane homestead, a two-hundred acre farm south of Bonners Ferry. Grace wrote: “that was in the country back then, surrounded by wood.” Twenty acres were on the south bench and her father cleared the land using dynamite. Grace’s mother said, “All our money goes for powder, but not face powder!” One hundred eighty acres was bottom land which overflowed in the spring. When the water receded, wild hay grew on the land; this was harvested for the cattle. In 1921, District 1 was formed and the land was planted with grain and alfalfa.
Grace’s father raised Holstein cows that he bought from Karl Klockmann at Porthill, Idaho. He built a barn on the homestead in 1914 using recycled lumber from the Odd Fellows Hall which burned on Main Street in 1912. Her favorite place in the barn was the hay loft as her pet hen nested there. The barn had a smooth wooden floor and Bud and his pals played basketball on it. Grace remembered a cistern for water near the back door of the barn. The water supply came from the gutters which caught the rain from the roofs of both the barn and the house. If they ran out of water for the cows, her father hauled water from the slough in District 2. Grace’s favorite cow, Rooney “would lie down in the meadow; I would sit by her and put my bare feet on her back,” she said.
Grace loved her childhood and recalled stories in her writings. She, her brothers, and sister walked a quarter mile to the Paradise Valley Road to catch the school wagon and attended the wooden school and the brick school on Cemetery Hill. She attended the Bonners Ferry High School on Oak Street graduating in 1927. Grace attended Lewiston Normal school for one year. During that year, she experienced a severe case of home sickness; so her mother sent long letters describing the many activities at home. Every letter ended with “something to laugh at.” As Grace finished her first year, she could not focus her eyes enough to read. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent surgery in Seattle to remove the tumor, spending one month in the hospital. Grace lost her sight.
Grace said her father whistled through good and bad times; this helped her remain cheerful.
At eighteen years old, Grace knew she was meant for something. She did not want to go to school for the blind, so her mother taught her to read and write Braille and to use the typewriter putting tape on the backspace and letter z keys for finger placement. She started selling magazine subscriptions through advertisements in the Herald; with her parents help, she had this business for 30 years. Grace contributed to the household by winning cash and merchandise prizes by entering radio contests and writing limericks and slogans.
Grace’s father died in 1951. She lived with her mother until her death in 1969, after which Grace decided to move into the Restorium. She lived in the first building with the many stairs, and was excited to move into the “new” building. She was given Room # 1, and counted the steps to the dining hall.
In 1980, the Restorium wanted “to get the word out for more publicity.” One day, Board Member, Tommy Hopkins, entered Grace’s room and told her that she was to write a newspaper column because she “was the only resident with a typewriter,” and he walked out slamming the door behind him!
Being a “recluse”, as she called herself, Grace began talking and listening to other residents, staff, and visitors. She listened at meals, Sunday church service, daily bible studies, trips to the hairdresser, bingo games and to visitors to her room. “I went back to the corner of my mind where I keep my memories on file and I discovered a whole host of episodes” to write about. “I have worn out three typewriters since then. My last manual typewriter, an Underwood-Olivetti has been kept going by LaMar!” (Underwood in Museum collection) Eventually, loss of sensitivity in her finger tips made it impossible to use her typewriter or to read Braille. She gave up the weekly column, but not her visiting time!
Laura Grace Bauman passed away on April 30, 2006 at the age of 90. She was laid to rest in Grandview Cemetery.
Grace’s weekly column: “Tappings from an Ancient Scribe” ran in the Herald 13 years starting in 1980; the last column appeared on January 12, 1994. The Museum Staff has gathered all of Grace’s articles, placing them in browsing books for all to read. Remembering her mother, at the end of each column, she took a light hearted look at life and wrote “Something to Laugh At.”