|Longtime Auto Dealers Engendered Our Trust|
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Ed Patenaude So I’ve Heard
This isn’t to comment on the demise of Bayer Motors Co., the automobile agency established around 1939 by the late J. Otto Bayer, but to recognize a family enterprise that served this region with integrity.
While the Bayer logo remained on the garage at West Main Street and Schofield Avenue in Dudley until it was shuttered, others managed the Cadillac-Pontiac place in its final months.
The attempt here is to remember J. Otto Bayer and to salute his sons, John C. and David S. Bayer, both retired, and grandson David S. “Buzzy” Bayer. John and Dave are of my generation, so it is fair to say that my dealings with them welled from friendship. There were infrequent business relations, but personal trust was the overwhelming factor.
J. Otto Bayer was all but retired by the time I came to know him. He was living with a heart problem and, after periods of hospitalization, seemed to be doing quite well. He knew my wife, Jeanne, because she was a staff nurse at what is now Hubbard Regional Hospital.
We purchased a used Pontiac around 1956. Mr. Bayer happened along and took $50 off the tab because he remembered Jeanne’s help and concerns during his hospital stays. It might not sound like much today, but $50 was a week’s pay at the time. I have to paraphrase, but son John had a comment, “Otto just blew the profits.”
J. Otto Bayer once bought a Tucker automobile agency, and built a garage to Tucker specifications, with service bays to accommodate a sleek, close-to-the-ground vehicle. It was a premise that never materialized, and organizers lined up so many potential dealers that Hollywood produced a movie after Tucker went into bankruptcy.
John and David Bayer put all of the documents to the vehicular fairy tale together, building a paper agency for my benefit. The story got Page One treatment. Between them, the brothers were a great news source, providing lines to everything from Thompson Hill to Dudley Hill, where they lived. To offer my take, Bayer Motors seemed a good place to work, was customer oriented and, as a business entity, supported municipal life.
This is the Bayer Motors I’ll always remember.
Hats off to Ellis F. “Cappy” Bateman, owner of Webster Electric Co. on Main Street in Webster. His store has a bright new front to display fixtures and the like.
“I paid for it myself,” says Mr. Bateman. “I didn’t ask the town for a nickel.” My point of view: Looking to Town Hall for state-financed grants isn’t generally necessary.
Edmund A. Martin’s April 19 recollections about the fire that destroyed Webster’s original St. Joseph School in October 1924 stirred recollections by others.
“He was right on target,” says Edward J. Papski, raised on Spring Street, across from Whitcomb. “My old boyhood neighborhood,” he smiled. Several people, including Dudley’s Helen J. Hession, mentioned grammar school days at the parochial school, although their recollections dated to more recent times.
Mr. Martin filled in the blanks to his Whitcomb Street review. Distribution of debris from the school was supervised by brothers Tim and Tom Toomey, then owners of a small gasoline station on Thompson Road near the now Action Marina.
“Tim was an aggressive person, active in town affairs,” said Mr. Martin. “Tom was a quiet guy.” The parish built a new school and rectory after the school fire, Mr. Martin recalled. Two power shovels were on the scene, including one operated by Ernest R. Wallis, later town roads superintendent, and the man who developed The Show Boat, the Webster Lake venue now known as Indian Ranch.
The other machine was a true steam shovel, according to Mr. Martin. “All I know is a man named ‘Kiley’ was the boiler man. He kept the coals going and watched the steam pressure.” The steam shovel didn’t have any tracks, according to Ed Martin. “It had heavy iron wheels that l
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