MANSFIELD - "Bits and Pieces: Mansfield from the Beginning," is how Chester P. Bailey titled his fifth and final book. The soon-to-be centenarian turns 100 years old April 29.
Bailey, who grew up in Mansfield and has lived most of his life here, is a former newspaperman.
He started out in the news business when he was a teenager as a "printer's devil," someone who performed a variety of duties as an apprentice in the pressroom for Edwin Coles, who owned the Mansfield Advertiser.
Bailey learned how to set type by hand on the press, which is how it was done in those days.
He also covered high school sports for the paper under the pen name "Chetta," a childhood name given to him by his younger sister Nina, whose attempts to say his name came out that way.
After high school, Bailey went to college at Mansfield State Teacher's College.
After graduation in 1935, he received a full scholarship to Peabody College, now Vanderbilt University, in Louisville, Ky., where he earned his master's degree, and then went to work for the college, teaching printing.
Bailey and fellow teacher Mary Godbey married in 1940, had two children and moved to New York City, where Bailey worked for American Airlines as a printer. In between, he served in the Army during World War II.
In 1948, the Baileys moved back to Mansfield, where they bought a half interest in the Advertiser from Coles. When Coles retired in 1954, the Baileys became the sole owners of the paper.
They operated the paper until 1970, when they sold it to Tioga Publishing Co., publishers of the Wellsboro and Gazette. The Advertiser, now called the Mansfield Gazette, is still published today.
In 1966, Bailey was appointed secretary-treasurer of the borough council, a job he held for 18 years.
Bailey said his latest book was three years in the making, and started out by saving items he had either written or collected in a notebook, which Bailey painstakingly typed into a 1988 word processor.
Other items were taken from Bailey's column, "History Minutes," for the United Methodist Church's newsletter, The Messenger.
Historical facts were taken from Tioga County histories and other sources.
As with most people, memories of childhood stand out in stark relief as the aging process continues.
Bailey is no exception, and tells the following tale of his time working as a "printer's devil," when he was sent on an errand to pick up a replacement belt for the printing press from Jupenlaz's Leather Shop.
"I remember one time Mr. Coles wanted me to tell Mr. Jupenlaz that the belt he gave me was running the wrong way," he recalled with a laugh. "They would try to pull things like that on me sometimes."
The name of the book, "Bits and Pieces" came from a column Bailey wrote for the Advertiser that Mary later changed to "As Seen From Our Window."
The book was edited by genealogist and historian Joyce M. Tice, who also illustrated it with old photographs supplied by Bailey or gathered by her or Mansfield resident Steve Orner.
"He is a very generous, humble man, and I have learned something new each time I have talked to him," Tice said.
The book's forward was written by Mansfield University public relations department director Dennis Miller, who encouraged Bailey to write the book back in 2009.
Bailey also has written two books about the Civil War, one about the Great Mansfield Fair and one about monuments.
When asked if he planned to write another book, Bailey said with a smile, "I think I am going to take a rest now."
A birthday party is planned for Bailey from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at the Mansfield United Methodist Church.
It is open to the public and cards are welcome, but no gifts, said Bailey's daughter, Barbara McConnell.