Editor’s Note: I entered the world in 1942, exactly four years to the day after my brother Dick (Richard Gwinn Bowe). My father Bill (William John Bowe, Sr.), was typically off to work early most days with his brother Gus (Augustine Joseph Bowe). They usually left together from their separate Chicago apartments in our 18-story Elm Street apartment building and walked to the Loop. This had been their pattern since 1915, when my father followed Gus in graduating from Loyola University Law School. They had started their practice at that time as the Bowe & Bowe law firm. Their office was downtown at 127 North Dearborn Street near the courthouse . As usual, this of course left my mother (Mary Gwinn Bowe) with the primary task of caring for Dick and me as young children.
I had been conceived before World War II began and was born after it started. With so many men off to war after I was born, there was a labor shortage. For the first time, many factory and other jobs opened for women. My mother and her former Trinity College roommate and sister-in-law, Julia Bowe, did their part in helping the War effort by going to work as Gray Lady assistants at nearby Passavant Hospital. This hospital’s site is where I had been born. The hospital didn’t survive in the intervening years, but its site later became part of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s enormous Streeterville campus. As this first picture shows, helping the War effort also was surely on my mother’s mind in 1945 when she dressed me up in a sailor’s outfit for an end-of-war feel good story in the Chicago Sun newspaper.
As I grew up later in the 1940s, my best friend was my neighbor of the same age, Terry Randolph. Terry was the oldest of three young boys being raised in the apartment two floors below me. Our mothers had in common both the means and desire to give us a what they considered a broad schooling in life skills. One such life skill swimming and another was horseback riding. My father had first learned to ride horses on summer vacation visits to the farm of his maternal grandparents, Anthony Canavan, Sr. and Ann Hughes Canavan. He also rode horses later when he was stationed at the Illinois National Guard at Camp Rockford both before and after his service in France in World War I. When I was older he told me he used ride horses from one of the stables near Lincoln Park. He’d ride south on the lakefront bridle path from the zoo all the way to Oak Street Beach. You can see the bridle path he was talking about in these vintage picture of Oak Street beach taken around 1938 during the Outer Drive’s early days. Although I remember the bridle path along Oak Street Beach as a boy, the ever increasing width of the Outer Drive over time eliminated this relic of the pre-automobile era. So, it was no doubt with my father’s encouragement that both my brother Dick and I got horseback riding lessons. Before heading to Lincoln Park bridle paths on our horses, we practiced in the ring at a small stable on the southwest corner of Cleveland Street and Grant Place. When 1949 rolled around, my mother and Terry’s entered us in an annual horse show sponsored by the Sun-Times newspaper, the Chicago Park District and the Lincoln Park Riding Association. My dispute with Terry over which of us would ride our favorite horse Ginger made the news and was used to promoted the event.
The issue arose when Willie Bowe, 1120 Lake Shore Dr., and Terry Randolph of the same address, both asked for Ginger as their mount for the children’s horsemanship class in the Lincoln Park Horse Show. The lads, both 7, wanted to enter the big, city-wide event sponsored by The SUN-TIMES, the Chicago Park District and the Lincoln Park Riding Association. Both boys were eligible for the same class and each wanted to ride the chestnut horse. The boys flip a coin, but they decided neither wanted to compete against the other while riding the favored Ginger. So, together, they told their elders their decision: “Give Ginger to somebody else,” they said. “We’ll each ride some other horse.” Horse Inspires Gallantry (1949, Chicago Sun-Times).
As was also true with me over the years, my mother saved any snippets mentioning a family member, however obscure. In addition, and this became true with me later as well, she was also an inveterate collector of any other clippings that happened to briefly capture her attention. Most of these were cast aside, as interest in them quickly faded with time. But this was never the case with anything having to do with immediate and extended family. I similarly tried to save these rarities and file them away for God knows what. After I retired I had time to finally cull through her and my remaining clippings. The press items, articles and reports that remain mostly deal with family, my schooling, the Army, my time in private practice, my work at United Press International and Encyclopaedia Britannica, my activities in later years at The Cliff Dwellers arts club. and odds and ends of the day that for one reason or another occupied my time and attention in a significant way.