My name is Anna Bowen and I have written a book called, "Me+You: Love & Other Various Emotions."
"Me+You" is different from the traditional book in that it is a book of interviews. It is a book of monologues and dialogue. There is no other book written in this manner.
I have interviewed 21 different couples from all over the country. "Me+You" is a compilation of these heartfelt interviews and gives a voice to couples ranging from thirty to eighty-seven years old about their love, commitment, hardships and why they decided to spend their lives together. Every couple has a story. Every story is unique and special. And more often than not, the truth is much, much stranger than fiction.
The following is my grandmother's chapter in the book.
Thank you for your attention and I hope you enjoy!
married 46 years to Emmitt, deceased.
I am eighty-three years old and I think I was about twenty-one when I met Emmitt. His brother introduced me to him. I worked with his brother ‘cause I was a teacher at that time. I had heard about the Bowen boy who was finally home from the service. I was curious, because he had been in the service and was missing in action.
When I was in high school I had a boyfriend who was in the service…not a real boyfriend I guess, but a friend who was close. He was missing too. His name was Fred. He didn’t come back. He was gone. They were looking for him and looking for him, and he never made it back.
I had heard about Emmitt through his mother when the war was going on. She would always say, “He’s not hurt. My boy’s coming home.” And he did come home eventually. But he did get hurt. He wasn’t a complainer, but he did get hurt. We were married for forty-six years and it was a long time before I realized what he had been through. It was a long time before I realized how hurt he had been…
We never talked about it, but he was a Prisoner of War for three years. He would always write about his experiences. He had just about finished his book before he passed. But he never completed it.
So I knew about the Bowen boy, but I never asked questions about him. I had a full life and I was busy. I used to see him sometimes passing my home with his brother, but I guess I wasn’t too curious. And I wasn’t the type of girl who was going to be too flirty-flirty. I just enjoyed myself. I did a lot of reading and listening to music. I taught. I went to school. Things like that.
But his brother introduced me to him and we went out on several dates together. Our first date was at “Little Harlem” in Montgomery, Alabama. I guess you could call it a nightclub. We talked about our school and our teachers. We both went to the same college. He went during the year and I went during the summer when I wasn’t teaching. So we discussed our teachers and the classes we were taking. And we danced. Did the jitterbug and that kind of stuff. The kids always looked at me funny when I told them daddy used to dance. “Yeah, but mom, daddy had trouble walking.” I’d say, “Well he didn’t always have trouble walking!” He was a handsome man! He used to dance and did all that kind of stuff.
We had a lot of fun. Emmitt owned his own car so we often took long rides. We took in a lot of movies. Went to see a lot of bands together. We enjoyed music and things like that.
I was so carefree. I didn’t ever feel that you “owned” somebody else just by dating them. I just enjoyed life. I think that young girls these days get so attached. Want to get married and do this and that. Why? Just enjoy yourself! I loved people and I enjoyed being around people. I didn’t think about getting married to somebody so he would take care of me. I never felt that way.
But Emmitt was so serious! I wasn’t ready for all that. He wanted me to get a ring right away. I’d say about two or three months after we started dating. I wasn’t quite ready for that commitment, so I didn’t accept the ring at first. Then we got more serious and we both was going to the same college so we decided maybe getting married would be the right thing to do. We hadn’t been going together more than six or eight months.
I think we fulfilled each other’s needs. We needed each other and it was time for us to get married, so we did. I wondered how I would really enjoy being married, ‘cause I had enjoyed the good old single life. I mean, really, it was a lot of fun!
We cared about each other. We were young, but we loved each other and enjoyed each other. Of course we had our ups and downs and misunderstandings. I can’t ever remember us breaking up though. Like people do these days; break up and get back together. Before we got married I can’t remember no arguments. I really can’t when I look back over it. Because he was a kind person. A sweet person. And he was reliable. If he said he’d be somewhere at a certain place at a certain time, he would always be there.
We had a quiet wedding. We were in college then and we went to school the next day. It was fun though. We got married at a preacher’s home, not at the courthouse. But it could’ve been that. It really didn’t matter. There was four of us there. Me and him, his brother and my best girlfriend. No family. My family was fine with that because they knew I was going to school and I had one year to finish. We thought maybe later we might do something. Maybe we’d have a big wedding. But we never did. We really didn’t care about it too much.
His mother died before the wedding so Emmitt took my mother for his. He always called her mom. And she loved him a lot.
It’s kind of unusual isn’t it? How he and I got together. But, really, it was nice. We liked each other and respected each other and so on. I wasn’t quite as popular on the campus as he was because he was a fraternity guy. I didn’t have time to join a fraternity because I worked during the year and went to school in the summer. But that year after we were married, my senior year, I decided to go back to college full time.
I hadn’t planned on children much. Emmitt had planned on being a doctor and we were going to move to California. We weren’t going to have kids for a long, long time. I don’t remember what changed his mind about that, but we both became teachers instead. He taught English and I taught math. And we had three beautiful children. I stopped working for a long time, till all the kids were in elementary school. I missed working, but the kids were a lot of fun.
He thought I was pretty when I’d go out. I’d always live up to that. And I thought he was handsome. I didn’t have much jealousy ‘cause he was just such a sweet person. I can’t remember no hard arguments like young people had. I can’t even imagine what our arguments would be about. I guess other girls. He was a high school teacher, so he came in contact with a lot of young ladies. But I was always his prom night date. That would be my test: to keep myself together for prom night. My hairdresser always knew when I was going to prom. I would start off with my own long hair and got it all done up for the day.
He would love to show me off. We danced the first dance and the last dance. We had a lot of fun.
The ladies and I had a club down south. I can’t remember the name of it now. But we’d get together and have a meeting once a month. We’d have refreshments and talk about life, you know. And once a year we’d have a dance. The fellas would come and see what we’d been up to. We’d have a band and wear the same color dresses. Boy, I missed that when I came up north. I tried to have a club when we moved, but nobody up here was ready for it.
Emmitt made me be self-sufficient. He could type and write so well. He could do a lot of things so when we first got married I thought he should do them for me too. If I had to type a paper, I’d want him to do it for me. I mean I was his wife! But he would always make me do things for myself. He never would treat me inferior to him. He learnt me how to drive. A lot of men didn’t want their wives driving, but he taught me how to do it so I could take care of myself.
After we had our children, and they were all in school, I began to teach math over in Georgia. And that was a big challenge. Nobody around teaching math but the men and myself. But I did alright. I missed my family though. We were separated. My son and husband in Alabama and the girls and me in Georgia. I taught in Georgia for about four years and I would drive home on the weekends. I was actually driving home the evening of the march from Selma to Montgomery. They were throwing rocks and everything, but we made it okay because I had my kids with me.
I didn’t have time to march in the riots. I was too busy teaching. I approved of it but I just didn’t have time to be a part of it. Some of those people that were walking, they didn’t have jobs. I had to keep my job, you know?
We moved to Detroit in 1967. The same year as the riot. We came up here because I hadn’t been able to get a job in Montgomery. But I would have stayed in Montgomery, even with all the stuff going on. Yes, I believe I would have stayed. Alabama was home. I liked it. We had a lot of fun down there. I guess it was a chance for my kids to have a better education up here, but we had good schools down there too. My son was anxious to come up here though, ‘cause he was the oldest. He was fifteen. But I came to Detroit mostly to connect the family together. I didn’t want us to be apart the whole week.
I didn’t really ride the bus much because we had a car. But if you messed up and sat in the front of the bus, wasn’t nobody gonna bother you much. It wasn’t as bad as some people make it. I mean, it is bad sitting in the back and I disagree, but I never came in contact with all that. Though it was uncomfortable, I’m sure, to those people who worked every day and had to ride the bus.
Moving up here wasn’t easy. This was a completely different town you know. And then I had to get used to teaching in a different situation and whatnot. But it was okay because I had more education than anyone at my school so I didn’t have no inferiority complex. My college taught us well, so I did okay. I didn’t have no trouble at all. I didn’t even realize that I was being observed as I taught for two years. I had a very good principal. I guess I must’ve impressed him. When I was done being observed, he came in and sat in my chair at my desk and said, “Mrs. Bowen, you’re off probation. You made it okay. You did beautiful.” So that was done and I stayed at that school till I retired. I had good coworkers…not all good you know…because I was from the south and maybe my language might’ve been a little different than theirs, so they treated me a little differently. Where I was from, we’d all say “hello” and “good morning.” We’d all speak to each other in the morning back down south. But up in the northern state they’d walk by and act like they didn’t see you sometimes, so I had to get used to that. But I learned how to do that too eventually, so it wasn’t too bad. And I had family up here so that helped too. My sisters and my brother and whatnot. It was alright.
They loved Emmitt a lot here in the city. Being a Prisoner of War, he was written up in the local papers. He’d come into the city and talk and teach. But he still never talked to me about his time over there. I guess I learned patience from that. When you get married you usually learn how to communicate, but he didn’t really. Or not as well as I did. I don’t know, I guess what he had been through and all that…it affects you, you know. That kept him holding back.
But I had a pretty full life and he did too. I would think it was the best life for me. I don’t know no other way it could’ve gone that would’ve been better. I did enjoy my life and I’m still enjoying it. Some of the younger people on my street ask me questions about how to get along with their boyfriends and so on. I try to give them the best advice I can. Some of them aren’t married and I listen at ‘em and I don’t think some of ‘em will ever marry. But they a lot of fun.
So that’s that. I still miss him a lot. I never found no other partner that I enjoyed just talking with. My son said, “If you ever find somebody else you want to talk to, you should…”
But I never did.