Living in a Town of Memories
A Biography of the Life of Bob Bauman
By: Kelcey Norris
While North Canton resident Robert “Bob” Bauman may seem like your average, run-of-the-mill neighbor, his story is one that encompasses the history and legacy of this town. A resident of North Canton for the entirety of his life, from childhood to retirement, Bob has seen the many local changes. In the city he grew up in, worked, and raised a family, he feels at home. When Bob was just five years old, he and his parents moved from Canton, Ohio to North Canton, a smaller, more family-oriented town. His mother, who immigrated from Scotland, sent Bob walking to kindergarten every morning. He often looks back at this, amused by the fact that if a young child was seen walking a few blocks to school, his parents would certainly be in trouble. Throughout his educational experience, Bob walked to school from their house on Royer Street, taking in the sights and sounds of his hometown.
Bob remembers doing everything an average kid did in his free time: playing basketball in his friends’ driveways, going to the local movie theatre and shops, just hanging the boys. At school, he enjoyed playing baseball and basketball for the majority of all four years, and his favorite subject had always been science. Many summer days and nights he spent working at the root beer stand, a local favorite previously located on seventh street. He and his friends did many other activities, such as swimming in the old outdoor YMCA swimming pool. They would often leave home at noon and not return until dinnertime on weekends, doing whatever they felt like doing that day. In the winter, family and friends often went skiing in the Arrowhead golf course, which had once been owned by Bob’s grandmother. Many of these places Bob only sees in his memories, as they are no longer around. His mind is a map of the original North Canton; he was able to describe and point out to me all of the original buildings and what had previously been located where just by looking out his window.
After graduating high school, which was actually the building that currently holds the middle schoolers, Bob left town to attend Grove City College, PA. After graduating and officially becoming an engineer, he returned home to look for a job. However, Bob’s early adulthood was haunted by every chance of danger: the Vietnam War. His draft lottery number was low, and upon returning to his hometown, he had a difficult time finding work because of this. One day the engineer looked at the Hoover Company, a local factory which employed ten thousand people, including his father and grandfather. Thankfully, he was never called to duty and fell into a rhythm at the company.
In the town he was raised, Bob soon decided to have a family of his own. After having met in college, he and his wife, Elizabeth, married in 1973 and decided to move to where he grew up. Bob’s wife, who had originally lived in Pennsylvania, has owned the Chestnut Hill Gifts in town ever since. They also had a daughter, Amanda. She attended the same high school her father did and was a member of the school marching band. Amanda’s class was the first to graduate from the new high school. To know that he successfully raised a family in his own town has been gratifying. He takes pride in North Canton, and particularly the fact that his current house is only two blocks from where he grew up.
During the beginning of his career, Bob remembers it as a very busy time. The company was just starting to make the Elite vacuums, manufacturing about 14,000 daily. From 1973 to 2011, Bauman worked at the Hoover Company as a product engineer. These 38 years he remembers as a happy time. Not every day was the same, as the hustle and bustle kept him busy and interested in solving problems. In the early 70’s and 80’s, Hoover sold other household items, such as frying pans and washing machines. He lived through the changes, the ups and downs, successes and defeats of the company. During the last decade or so of his career, Bauman also traveled between NC and El Paso, Texas for product testing and developing new improvements to Hoover products. He enjoyed playing golf with his colleagues, spending lunch together in the cafeteria, and being on a co-ed volleyball team. The company felt like a family to him, a place where everyone got along and could go from work to play, and he remembers the sadness in the office when the company closed.
As life continues and he has entered retirement, Bob often sees many familiar faces from his past. Meeting for breakfast with some of his past high school friends is a great reminder of the old days and occasionally seeing a familiar face around town surrounds him with friends and recollections. Living in a town of memories never gets boring for Bob. He can often be seen walking to and from the public library or mowing his lawn.