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NANPA Oral History Project -

Erwin Bauer

Erwin Bauer

Date of Interview: January 18, 2004
Interviewer: Shirley Nuhn (SN)
Transcriber: Susie Parrent
Length: 72 minutes
(Also present are his wife, Peggy Bauer (PB), and John Nuhn, photo director, National Wildlife magazine)

Track 14: (5:00 min.)

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EB: It was kind of a safari suit, the kind you buy when you go to Africa. You know, that safari [clothing]. I said "Oh, well, that's nice." And she says, "I sure wish I could get one of them." I said, "Well, you probably can. Just go down to the next floor here in the hotel and I think if they don't have one that fits you exactly, they'll make you one while you stand there." And they would. She says, "Ha ha ha, I'm going down there." And just before she left, she said, "I'm going to meet another lady here in this place. You watch for her." She kind of described her and then says, "If you just please tell her where I am - down there getting this suit - I'd appreciate it." So I went back to reading my newspaper and looked up a minute later and who is standing there? Peggy! [The same woman he noticed at Kennedy.] And she's looking for this other lady. She said, "Did you see another lady come by here?" And I didn't - I was really - how do you say it - wow. I said, "Yes, she's downstairs getting some clothes. She said you..." [To Peggy] I don't know what I told you, but whatever I told you was meant to keep you there instead of going down there to see what she was doing. And we talked and we had - oh, my goodness, it was wonderful. Then in time the buses came to take us to the airport [EB means train station]. We went to the airport [train station] and got on the bus [train] together. We're sitting side by side and I had never been on - this is on the Warona [cannot verify spelling] train to go down to Mombasa - I'd never been on that train before by that exact route. But I knew the whole area down through there - I'd been there a lot. As we're going down there I pointed out places to Peggy that I saw. She thought that was interesting, which, you know, you wouldn't think somebody would like. John Hunter, the old-time hunter, had a house on the way down there and I knew where it was. When we passed it, I said, "That's who it was that a couple of biographies had been written about." And she thought that was so thrilling. Then we went a little further and I said, "This is Tsavo. This is where two lions kept them [engineers] from building this bridge," because they were man-eating lions that you all heard about. She thought that was really unbelievable and I think maybe didn't even believe me. We got to Mombasa and we had lunch and I had to buy her a beer. And I've never been paid for it to this day.

PB: You did not. I bought you the beer and you haven't ever repaid me to this day.

EB: Oh, is that right?

PB: Yes, Tusker beer. It was a large bottle.

EB: Oh, I thought - I liked it the other way around better.

PB and SN: [Laugh]

EB: Anyway, it was a wonderful trip down there, you know, talking to her. She was so pleasant and enthusiastic [that] I thought there was something wrong with her. Then we got on the boat and had dinner together that night, too. [To Peggy] I don't owe you anything from that, do I?

PB: No.

EB: Had dinner that night. And from that day, that night, until this present day here, we've hardly been out of each other's sight.

PB: We stepped out on - the first stop was Africa Island which is, you know, nothing. It's a little pancake. I'd never seen anything like this and we waded ashore and these birds took off - a thunder of wings, this huge mass of white glittering in the sun. It was fantastic and I thought, "Wow!" You know, I didn't know such things existed in the world and I found out that they do.

EB: And the guy you were with took pictures of them.

PB: And took me around to show me.

EB: And I think the big part is maybe the next part. The next day, or two days later, we went ashore on Aldabra Island. That's a lonely, uninhabited place out in the Indian Ocean. There might be a British military station on it now. But anyway, there it was and you can cruise around the island or walk around or anything. Nothing, nobody, there except tortoises.

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