There was a birthday in our newsroom on Thursday worth noting. Sam Bauman, our entertainment editor, turned 79. For all I know, that might make him the oldest editor in the state, although I've no proof of that. You see, I don't want to dwell on the age too much because, while it's my excuse for writing about him, it's hardly what's most remarkable about the person who shows up faithfully every day to the desk in the northwest corner of the newsroom.
In fact, you might say what's most remarkable about Sam is how young he is, even after having seen more places and having lived more adventures than most people would in multiple lifetimes. He's still speaking up and getting involved in issues important to him and he still hikes and skis with an agility many people a third his age will never possess. His breezy writing style harkens back to an earlier day, as does his gentlemanly demeanor (he's been known to leave roses on the desks of all the females in the newsroom on Valentine's Day).
And we're lucky enough to have him here at the Nevada Appeal.
Sam's background is so long it would take up most of this column, but suffice it to say it includes reporting and editing jobs around the world for the Associated Press, Stars and Stripes, The New York Herald, New York Daily News, L.A. Times and others. Invariably, the job that draws the most interest is his eight years with Playboy. Sam came out west some 15 years ago to ski and teach skiing and that's how he came to be at the Appeal.
But you wouldn't know these things about Sam unless you asked him. He's a quiet, thoughtful person who disappears easily behind the computer screen in his cubicle. I don't know Sam nearly as well as many others at the Appeal and in our community, so I used his birthday a bit selfishly to tap into some of the wisdom he's compiled during his life. I told him I'd like to write this column about him, and then asked if he would answer some questions I'd written down.
I've never seen him turn down an assignment, and he readily agreed to this one. The results are below, which he finished in just a few minutes.
As you look back on your experiences, what stands out as some of the most memorable highlights of your life?
Marriage, sons, covering the Langarone dam disaster in Italy, 3,000 killed; covering the 1960 revolution in South Korea that ousted President Rhee; tracking down a Polish MG-15 defector that the USA was trying to hide; being the only reporter on the scene of a BOAC plane crash between Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Somma in the Valley of Death (what a dateline!).
What wisdom do you think is most important to pass on to children?
Don't wait for things to come to you - go after them.
What do you look forward to the most?
Continuing to write and read and ski and hike.
What do you think are the most important things in life?
Being honest with yourself about your capabilities.
What's your favorite place on earth?
Paris, France, where the food is the world's best, the art the finest on display and women the best dressed.
How do you stay so "young" physically and mentally?
I exercise daily for an hour, hike or ski regularly, read at least two books a week, talk with friends who do not agree with me on politics and become involved politically.
Who are some of the famous people you have met and what are your impressions of them?
Anthony Quinn, superb actor; Ted Sorensen, writer excellence; John Dos Pasos, novelist who changed political views in mid-life; Hugh Hefner, an editor who knew what he was doing; Richard Nixon, whom I met during college years when I was stringing for the AP and rode a campaign train from Washington Court House to Athens, Ohio, and heard him say as he was making a whistle-stop speech and was asked an embarrassing question "get this F-ing train going" to an aide and then started answering the question, crying out "Wait, don't go yet!"; Sophia Loren a real pro and Raquel Welch ditto plus being beauties; Charles de Gaulle (I rode a political train with him and almost got blown up when they tried to assassinate him) ... and the list goes on and on.
What are you most proud of in your life?
Writing news stories as fairly as I could and not letting my political beliefs intrude.
Do you think there is a "meaning of life?"
As a Buddhist, yes, and that meaning is to be one with the world.
If you had an opportunity to live your life over, what would you do differently?
Not much, worked harder, drank less, hiked more mountains and skied more.
Any other observations about life, the state of the nation and world, etc.?
As for the U.S.A., I fear that our American century is over. We've wasted it in a meaningless war, fought in the wrong place and executed it with the skill of a 2-year-old. Not the troops, but the chiefs.
Why do you continue to work at the Appeal?
Chiefly, it's because I enjoy the relationship with readers that I never had overseas or at major papers like the L.A. Times or Chicago Tribune or Playboy.
Happy birthday, Sam.
• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. You can reach him at 881-1221, or at firstname.lastname@example.org