- Associated Press - Sunday, July 20, 2014

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) - As Allen Bauer scraped wallpaper from the master bedroom in his new, Bay City fixer-upper, he discovered a message and caricatures drawn by a past resident from more than six decades ago.

Instead of simply admiring the history, the former Marine dug for information on past owners of the property on Bay City’s West Side.

He ultimately found and brought a 92-year-old Bay County woman on a heartwarming trip down memory lane, according to The Bay City Times ( https://bit.ly/VLnStn ).

The message, “Lois Loves Jerry, Jerry Loves Lois, Married Aug. 17th, 1947” included cartoon-like caricatures, with a wavy-haired Lois on top and a big-nosed Jerry on the bottom.

“I was curious who it was,” Bauer said. “The history of these old houses is something that I find very cool.”

His digging brought him to Lois Wieland, a spunky woman who has a hard time hearing, but remains sharp in conversation.

Her sense of humor has also flourished over the years.

Bauer tracked Wieland’s two daughter’s down, who also live in the area, and invited them and their mother to his house. When she laid eyes on the drawing, there weren’t tears of joyous memories. Instead, she laughed.

“He always put his name on stuff he worked on,” Wieland said. “That was a habit of it his.”

Wieland paused to show off a small, wooden pedestal on her dining table that her husband built. “Handcrafted by Gerald Wieland,” was stamped on it.

“Big deal,” she said with a contagious smile and laugh. “That was Jerry.”

Gerald Wieland, who served in World War II as a member of the U.S. Army, died in December 2003. After marrying, the couple bought the Bay City home in December 1947 and started fixing it up.

The couple raised their two children, Marilyn Westphall and Susan Wenglikowski, in the home, and lived there until 1960. They sold the house to Bernice Dolney, and Bauer purchased it for $22,500 from the Dolney trust 54 years later.

“We did so much work in that house and once we were finally done with it, we decided to move and build elsewhere,” Wieland said. “That’s OK, though. We had a good family and lots of memories in there.”

The visit also gave Wieland’s daughters an opportunity to walk through their former house. Marilyn Westphall, 63, said it was a special moment stepping into the home she grew up in for the first time in 53 years.

“Everything looked smaller than what I remember,” Westphall said. “But then again, I was 10-years-old. I used to think that our backyard was huge, but really, it’s just a tiny backyard.”

Bauer, who grew up in Bay County, but has spent the last nine years as a military contractor in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, is hoping to have the house in good shape by September when his wife is expected to move to the United States. He met her in Kyrgyzstan and is currently working through immigration procedures to bring her home.

He said he wanted to buy a home in a nice neighborhood where he could begin creating memories with his new family.

Hoping for a stroke of good luck in the new home, he has opted to keep the Lois and Jerry drawing in-tact and put a fresh layer of drywall over it.

“This was such a sweet couple and they had a lot of good memories in the house,” he said. “I hope we some of those good memories, too. Who knows who will find this one day.”

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Information from: The Bay City Times, https://www.mlive.com/bay-city

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