the all-seeingeye Hugo August Bauss

Hugo August Bauss (1878-1939)

Photographs of Hugo August Bauss

Recollections of My Father

by Herbert Bauss, 1974

Hugo August Bauss was employed at various times by Packard Motor Car Company, Detroit Penberthy Injector Co., a brass foundry in Detroit also. The Gayety Theater as scenery artist, in which theater he also sang, as he had a very fine tenor voice. He was also pianist for the Detroit Jazz Sextette, and among other places, played for the LaPorte Dances. He was a gold prospector in Arizona, Nevada and California, street car conductor in Saginaw, worked in the Bromine plant of Dow Chemical Co., then operated an auto body and paint shop on the second floor in the Foster Livery Stable in Midland, where the cars were hoisted to the second floor by a manually operated elevator driven by a rope gearing system.

As many as 200 used Model T Fords were stored there and sold whole sale to a St. Louis, Missouri dealer after a shiny coat of Asphaltum Enamel was applied in his paint shop. Other projects included building a sports car roadster body, a step hydroplane and busses for the R. L. VanCott and Rogers bus lines in Midland. The busses were constructed on Ruggles Truck Chassis, using wood frame and streetcar hardware.

Summer projects often included painting one room country schoolhouses where he had been the low bidder. He seemed to be most happy with a paint brush in his hand. Especially so with the various fine brushes with which he did water and oil painting of the scenery wherever he happened to be. Another early occupation was teaching music where the lessons on the parlor organs were given in the home of the student, and travel from one student to another was by horse and buggy.

The stage curtain for the old Community Center on Townsend Street was artistically decorated by him, as was the curtain and walls and ceiling of the old Frolic Theatre. He also painted the scenery for the Odd Fellow Lodge for initiation rites.

Later activities included the operation of his Art and Photo Studio in which he gave oil painting lessons. In his spare time he did oil paintings, a number of them are hanging in the Odd Fellow Hall in Midland, where he was a member for many years.

Another talent was the production of hand carved wooden letters for many signs that were on Midland store fronts including an electrically lighted sign for Solosky's store. Many of the wooden letters were coated with 14 K gold leaf, with the background coated with "Smalt" or particles of colored glass imbedded in asphalt paint. Some gold leaf signs were on plate glass with mounting holes drilled by hand, using triangular files ground to a point with turpentine as cutting agent. Much patience and skill was needed to avoid glass breakage. One source of glass for signs was the windshield glass of worn out Model T Fords which could be obtained at low cost from junk dealers.

Dad was gifted in many areas, especially so in music and fine arts. He was versatile as the above indicates. He liked people and had many friends. He was compassionate and generous with the hard-pressed, frequently unwisely so.


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