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Senior to Senior: Home is Where the Heart Is

By Katherine Taylor

Senior to Senior is a program, which pairs a WHS senior with an older individual with local ties, and has the high school senior interviewing their partner and writing an article about them. Senior to Senior is brought to you by The Savings Bank, JC Marketing, The Room to Write, Wakefield Memorial High School English Department, and the Wakefield Daily Item.

Wakefield native Mary Bowen could never fully let go of the charming town she grew up in. Born August 1, 1934, she continued to live in Wakefield with her parents and her younger brother, throughout her childhood and young adult years. Mary’s father worked as a milkman until he got sick in 1946 when Mary was only twelve. With her father temporarily unable to work Mary’s mother had to step up and work in the tax collector’s office as a way for the family to make money.

As Mary got older, she attended high school at Nazareth Academy, while also  working as a babysitter to earn extra money. She describes the nuns who taught at Nazareth as kind, unlike the mean nuns portrayed in movies. They would even allow boyfriends and friends to come around the school to attend school events and dances.

Once Mary graduated high school, she attended Merrimack College in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in education. Mary carpooled to school every day with some of her friends that lived in Wakefield because she did not have a car of her own. During the summers she worked various jobs to pay for her tuition, including as a park counselor, a flower delivery woman, and a typist for an office building. Upon graduating from Merrimack, Mary found it very difficult to find a teaching job in an accessible location (she still did not own a car), so she found a job answering telephones.

In 1954 Mary met her husband, Warren Bowen, through friends of friends, who set the two of them up on a blind date. Warren was an Army vet who had served and worked as a welder in Korea. He was also a promising baseball player, but a shoulder injury ended his career. Upon arriving home from the war Warren was offered a job as a baseball coach, but turned it down because he just wanted to go home. This paid off because this was when he met Mary.

Mary and Warren got married in 1957 and moved in together to an apartment in Wakefield. Warren needed a job and as luck would have it, the town of Tewksbury was building a new school and needed to hire more staff. Mary’s husband took this opportunity to drive up to Tewksbury for an interview. He was hired as a history teacher and baseball coach, and soon the family began to look for a house closer to his work. Since money was tight, the house search was not easy. The Bowens finally found a house because a man Warren had met previously during his job interview offered them a deal on the price of the house.

After Mary had her first child, Margaret, in 1958, she stopped working full-time. She would occasionally work as a substitute teacher at Tewksbury high school. As their family began growing rapidly, they decided to move again. In 1965 they ended up buying a Victorian-style house in Reading and did major renovations. Mary and Warren went on to have six wonderful children: Margaret, Ann, John, Richard, Kathleen, and Patrick.

Once all of her kids were grown and moved out, Mary and Warren decided to move back to her hometown. Warren, unfortunately, passed away six years ago. Since then Mary has been keeping busy with classes at the senior center, knitting, and going to lunch with her friends. Mary Bowen has had a wonderful life filled with family, friends, and love for her hometown.

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