TOM ATWELL, PORTLAND PRESS HERALD REVIEWS
“Croswell Bowen: A Writer’s Life, a Daughter’s Portrait.” By Betsy Connor Bowen. Potomac Books. September 2014. 270 pages. Hardcover. $23.96.
Often, reading about the times in which the subject of a biography lived is as interesting as reading about the subject himself.
That is the case with “Croswell Bowen: A Writer’s Life, a Daughter’s Portrait,” by Betsy Connor Bowen of Winthrop. Continue reading
How is another story entirely.
Here are some of the things I’ve done along the way.
Croswell Bowen (1905-1971) was born in Toledo, Ohio, the son of a newly wealthy real estate entrepreneur and an Irish-American southern belle, and was sent east to the elite schools of Choate and Yale. After a “grand tour” of Europe, he returned to Depression-ravaged America and settled in New York’s Greenwich Village, where he weathered the loss of his father and his family fortune but grew into his vocation as a writer. Continue reading
By TOM ATWELL, Special to the Maine Sunday Telegram
Croswell Bowen, a successful magazine and book photographer, signed up to take photographs for the American Field Service in 1941, before the United States entered World War II.
Going to be on the Greg Berg Morning Show talking about my father’s WWII memoir Back From Tobruk (Potomac 2013) — this coming Tuesday, 12/3, 10:00 am ET, for half an hour. The station is WGTD-FM/Milwaukee WI, NPR affiliated.
Last week, talked about it for 7 mins. on the PaulMillerShow — click for podcast.
A home town crowd of over fifty packed the room and spilled into the hallway for a Back From Tobruk book talk yesterday. Songs of the British Eighth in the air. Images helped tell the story, projected onto the wall. Creamed chipped beef and tea served. Many WWII memories shared. A beautiful day. Continue reading
Just released: Croswell Bowen: A Writer’s Life, A Daughter’s Portrait
My bio/memoir about my journalist and biographer father, CROSWELL BOWEN: A Writer’s Life, A Daughter’s Portrait has just been released by Potomac Books.
The book tells the story of my father’s life through his eyes as he experiences the great events of the 20th Century, from the Crash of ’29 to WWII through the McCarthy era to VietNam. Continue reading
“What’s a liberal?” I asked my father. We were in NYC, I was 22, and it was 1966, and I was leaving the luscious sylvan acres of my women’s college to go west of the Hudson for the first time ever, about to enter the “War on Poverty” JFK had inspired and LBJ was carrying out. Continue reading
I found my fire-breathing liberal journalist father 220 light years away, in the constellation Perseus, on the edge of a black hole with the mass of 17 billion Suns. It didn’t surprise me he’d ended up here, about to be sucked into the biggest black hole ever just so he could check out dark matter. He was like that.
I skipped the preliminaries: happy to see me after forty two years? Want to know how things turned out for the family back on earth? The edge of the black hole was drawing perilously close.
“Dad,” I rushed. “Have you read the recent Genome-Wide Analysis of Liberal and Conservative Political Attitudes? I’ve got a few questions for you.” Continue reading
Is climate change a liberal issue? It appears not.
“Let’s go to the Trans-Lux and hiss Roosevelt!” satirized this 1936 Peter Arno cartoon in the liberal New Yorker. Continue reading
In food memories we store our autobiographies. In food memories, too, we find material for biography. Memories of empathy among former enemies reinforced my father’s liberalism: his hope for world peace; for the social safety net.
Born in the last months of WWII, by 1948 I was a strapping four-year-old in a country farmhouse kitchen oblivious of the food rationing that had ended two years earlier. Continue reading
The year was 1942; Croswell Bowen was returning to wartime New York. From the ferry’s deck he watched as the Statue of Liberty grew small and blurry in the morning mist. He pondered what he had seen. He had huddled in foxholes as Rommel’s bombs rained down on Tobruk; had lain in stretcher lines and hospital beds alongside soldiers of many nations. What would give all that suffering meaning? Continue reading
UPDATE -5.18.12 – The Fiddlehead Focus, Aroostook’s online newspaper, ran positive student ink on my school visit to Fort Kent. I can blog till I’m blue in the face, but what students take away is what counts. So for the real deal, click the Fiddlehead logo below and read the story.
Fort Kent, Maine 5.15.12– met with Don Chouinard and Jocelyn Saucier’s classes. Continue reading
Here’s what happened. It was 12:20; lunchtime. They could have been over in the cafeteria, clumped up tight around the tables, but here they were, hanging out in Christina Benedict’s classroom. A few girls sat around a laptop, absorbed. A tall young man wrote out word scrambles on the blackboard, and the guesses flew — silly, funny, hit or miss. “This isn’t a test” was his attitude. “It’s fun.” Continue reading
Up at 6 a.m. and driving on snowy roads by 7 to meet Amber Jeskey’s class, which had just read Spring Bear. She turned out to be a top-notch, no-nonsense English teacher with a sharp literary mind and the skills of a drill sergeant. Continue reading
So! Have an author visit to Waldoboro a week from today. I will talk to Amber Jeskey’s class. Bob’s driving. He somehow came by a paper copy of a Maine Atlas so we won’t have those infernal conversations about whether or not the GPS device is wrong. Last night I went out, turned on the deck light, and there it was, just a bit, floating down. Then this morning, from my greenhouse — voila! Snow dripping off the branches, a thick, heavy one, and the light is stunning.
SPRING BEAR found its audience one warm spring day in in this high school English class in Winthrop ME . It was one of the happiest days of my life. (I’m the lady on the left in the purple blouse, sitting on a desk). Those spectacular teenagers seated to the right either know someone like — or could themselves have been — my Evvie Mallow or Rich Parker. Connecting with them over a world I’d imagined and they’d come to know through the book was –um — sorry, I just can’t find words for it.
But they did. They wrote me letters. Here is some of what they said.
Day dawned cloudy and raining. Just what we wanted. Up at first light. Fetched Dave Bubier, holding down the lead role of Lester Darrow. He brought the guns. Drove to Roberta and David Manter, gracious providers of the perfect location. Met up with producer Dean Gyorgy (dgmediaarts.com) and his wife Margot, playing the lady from Massachusetts. Dean scouted out the the best camera angles, called for Lester Darrow to come on set. Mounted his Canon 5D Mark II on his Manfrotto monopod and began shooting. Continue reading
Croswell Bowen was my father. He began writing and taking photographs for Back from Tobruk in 1941 while en route with his unit of American Field Service volunteer ambulance drivers to serve alongside the British Eighth Army in North Africa. Armed with camera and notebook, war was an assignment he could finally sink his teeth into — until the bombs dropped and the story began.
I began editing the manuscript of this book back in 2006, spurred on by the questions a nephew asked about what had happened to his grandfather in the war. Continue reading
What a powerful story Heath Lee has to tell in Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause (Potomac: 2014). Even in 1864 as Yankee gunfire pounded Richmond, the birth of Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ daughter Winnie was hailed as a good omen. On her tiny frame a desperate South hung its hope that the noble cause would prevail. That she would embody the four ideals of Southern womanhood: Piety, Purity, Submissiveness, and Domesticity. Continue reading