Storyteller and veteran Ted Rose has become a familiar voice for those with impaired vision.
Rose, 79, records tapes for a special radio station broadcast to receivers dispersed to the blind. He gets up early Wednesday mornings to take the VA shuttle from the Ohio Veterans Home to Cleveland, where he is dropped off at the Cleveland Sight Center.
"Ted is certainly a recognized voice here at the center and one of our most dedicated volunteers to come all this way to record," said Lynn Brummer, supervisor of communication services at the center.
Reading about black issues, the New York Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, popular magazines, obituaries and even shopping lists, Rose fills the airways with his voice for an hour time slot.
The booming vocal chords of the theatrical speaker articulate the English language with perfect staccato and inflection.
Rose began volunteering at the sight center after the retirement community where he lived previously encouraged its residents to volunteer to do something -- anything.
The trouble was, their suggestions weren't what Rose had in mind.
"They had things on this list like 'empty waste paper baskets' or 'help in the dining room.' Well, I didn't want to do that," he said, drawing out the last word with a deep boom of his voice.
Rose auditioned at the sight center and, in his recollection of events, they loved what they heard.
"Of course they wanted me," he said, laughing at his lack of modesty.
"I like what I do. I enjoy listening to myself, or that is, hearing myself," he said, chuckling.
Rose's life itself has been a story worth narration.
He grew up in Cleveland, where he recalls hanging out at outhouse parties before he joined the armed services on the buddy system with his cousin and friend.
As it turned out, Rose didn't end up serving with either of them.
At Fort Knox, Ky., before the Korean Conflict began, he can recall there only being one operational tank at the military base.
On his first night in Korea, Rose found himself alone on guard duty.
"I remember hating Korea with a purple passion, looking around and saying, 'We're fighting for this?'" he said, laughing at his youthful reaction.
"I guess I was a bit of an oddball because I was one of the only black soldiers around," he said. "I was even odder since I knew French, Spanish and Latin. I was educated."
Rose's military career later took him to Europe, where he managed sports teams and entertainers, serving as their translator and agent as they traveled across the continent.
His last stint was managing munitions from an office that was inside a safe, and because of his security clearance, he was not allowed to take leave to countries with Communist ties. His unhappiness with the situation prompted Rose to get his discharge and travel the world.
When Rose returned to America, he was disenchanted with the country, he said. Several years after his return he was working as an actor in Washington, D.C., where he was brutally mugged.
"They did a good job," he said.
While recuperating at a friend's home in New Orleans, he fell back in love with the United States.
When Rose left the states in the 1950s, things weren't nice. "There were things I couldn't do, places I couldn't go," he said.
But things had changed, and so had Rose.
Rose returned to Cleveland, where he became a regular in the East Cleveland theater.
"This all went very well until I began taking myself too seriously, and I realized I had become a bit too big for my breeches," he said. "With an attitude like that you can disenchant a lot of people."
Rose now lives at the Ohio Veterans Home.
"I ended up here because my social worker and doctor in charge decided I belonged here," Rose said.
But Rose brags about the home to volunteers and employees at the sight center all the time, Brummer said.
These days his audience isn't a crowded theater, but he's just as happy being the living room entertainment and a source of news and information.
His voice was recognized by a blind gentleman at a wellness retreat Rose attended.
"I was talking to someone and he heard my voice. He said, 'Ted Rose.' I said 'Yeesss.'
"So you never know, you never know who's listening."