Couple sticks together like Super Glue
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 10:01 PM
"Super glue," was the comic answer to what keeps this week's duo together. Commitment, respect, keeping promises and working together wrap-up the real answer along with their commitment to the higher realm. After visiting his Uncle Chet, age 94 and Aunt Marge (92) recently, they decided to add, "Taking advantage of everyday," to their list.
Pat and Karen McDowell met during high school, he a Junior, she a Sophomore at the local drug-store hang-out in Lafayette. Friends of Karen had suggested she go but didn't because she enjoyed her babysitting money. When she did, the handsome Pat grabbed her heart because of his fun personality and strong values. Friendship is definitely part of their relationship of 50 plus years. Karen said he was her first basic beau and she the first he'd dated seriously. Well, they clicked and are still those high school sweeties. For their 50th anniversary their children gave a big party for them in the back yard. Karen said it was perfect.
Friendship and working together were drastically tested not long ago in the Birmingham ice storm. Cars were totally stopped and the McDowell's were about out of gas. The city was definitely not prepared for such a disaster. Finally they worked their way to an exit but could find nowhere to stay. Then noticing a hospital sign, they went there. Perfect choice as they slept (on chairs in the waiting room and felt blessed for the accommodations) there two nights and were fed three meals each day. Pat said they'd not take compensation and even sent 'em goodies for the rest of the trip. The kindness they found refreshes the belief in humanity.
As many know, the McDowells are North Montgomery Chargers. Pat said he's always been a teacher not only in his Science classroom or Drivers Ed, but in coaching, as a father and now a grandfather. A big grin erupted as he told me that he so admires his own children as they pass on Christian values.
His coaching career actually began early on as a Sophomore in high school when he coached 8th graders who won the city championship Pat's junior year. While at Purdue, he helped with Lafayette Jeff's football and was the PU basketball manager all four years there. His first big job was at St. Lawrence Catholic School where there was only one other male teacher. He taught 7th graders having 38 kids. Although the job was good, the money was a mere $3,000 so while looking at the P.U. job board he saw an opening for Coal Creek School where he spent 10 years. I giggled when Pat told me that his job interview took place in Byron Alexander's barber shop at New Richmond. Karen noted that the people in New Richmond were so nice and that the oldest lady in town brought them warm, homemade applesauce. Son Shawn was just a little tyke but made friends quickly, eating breakfast with his buddies or going to the farm with Mr. Glover.
Shawn now teaches Industrial Art classes at North Knox and lives in the country near Vincennes with wife Becky and their three children. Kelly "our artist," is married to Bryce Barton and has three children; Erin, a nurse lives in Zionsville, is married to Frank Leonard, and also has three children; Casey coaches and teaches at Fishers and lives in Carmel with wife, Stephanie and their two, totaling eleven McDowell grands.
Much of the kids growing-up years was spent in the rural area in North Montgomery county, but the McDowell's now live in Athens country! Pat began the football program at Coal Creek. This was a stair-step to a junior high, jv, and varsity schedule. During this time, Karen, a beautician, worked summers and vacations for various people in their shops but mainly was pretty busy raising four younguns. We had similar stories about our first electric typewriter experience, hers at NMHS where she spent 23 years as Guidance Secretary.
Several fun Drivers Ed stories came-out while talking at the McDowell's beautiful home. Once they had pulled into an old country church yard where there were phone poles laid out at the edge of a ravine. Chris L. drove right over one with the front tires looking at the cliff. With some rocking back and forth, they got the car off and everyone had a grand time teasing the driver. There were numerous key-related incidences and tricks played on drivers (hit the parking brake and the hood popped-up). Pat said after all the 45 years on the road, he knew where all the yummy ice cream places were and once at one, Mindy A. locked the keys in the car, another story to add to Pat's collection of tales.
In their retirement years, they've been active members of St. Bernard's as Eucharistic minister; Elizabeth Ministry for Newborns, Food Finders (distributes food to as many as 250 people lined-up), ushers, readers, K of C and the fun Bernie's Buffet, joining last week's Around The County couple, Bud and Sharon Wright.
Karen laughingly said she does a great deal of exercising with her C'ville Street Walker buddies. Reading and gardening are two other hobbies she enjoys. Pat also likes working outdoors, getting together with his Coaches' Corner pals and keeping in contact with old students and staff.
Travelling is another enjoyable activity especially to places with beaches (Florida), but Karen and Pat said that the best vacationing is family-oriented. It was lots of fun visiting with these two fab people and I appreciate their hospitality and also their allowing me to include them in my ever-growing ATC group!