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Somehow Girl Officers Always Comes Up When Talking About Lowell History

Paul and DickToday we had Paul Marion and Dick Howe talking about their latest books and taking questions from the large crowd. I love listening to these two – as a blow-in I always gain more insight into Lowell after being with them. Paul opened my eyes to the fact that the cultural side of Lowell did not not spring out of nothing – there was already a history of culture here – laying a ground work for places like Western Ave Studios. There was the Lowell Art Festival back in the day. There was a modern poetry journal published around the 30’s and 40’s – so it makes a bit more sense when you try and understand the Kerouac phenom – there was already some literary ground breaking going on here. There was also an amazing amount of musicians too – at one point there were 500 musicians in the local union – all working. This is Paul’s new book: Mill power : the origin and impact of Lowell National Historical Park

Dick Howe talked about Lowell after WW2 – a lot about different stakeholder views on urban renewal. Back in the day, room was being made for ‘electronics’ industry for the the city – which did not quite materialize. He also showed us a photo of a swordsman displaying his skill at one of the Lowell Regattas – a long time member of Lowell’s Syrian community. Dick had pleasant memories of going to his variety store as a kid. And of course somehow conversation will always lead to Girl Officers – there is one in his new book. Of all the cities in the country, Lowell sent the most women to the WACS. He interviews one who became an officer and she describes her interview to become an officer in the WACS. When she mentions she is from Lowell, the Lt. Colonel asks if she was a Girl Officer.  All she had to say was yes and she wasn’t asked another question – the rest of the interview was spent with the Lt. Colonel explaining how valuable Girl Officers were to the other committee members and what a good reputation they had. His new book is Lowell: Images of Modern America.