If it weren’t for a piece of candy, my life would have taken a left turn and I would not have met my life’s partner, Warren Bowlus. When I was in 5th grade, a piece of round, wafer candy became caught crosswise in my throat. My mother called our doctor, who in those days made house calls. In the ensuing conversation, we learned that our doctor, Dr. Johnson, was on the board of directors of Milwaukee University School, where my older sister, Elizabeth Carman MUS’45, was a student.
We learned that the lower school’s 6th grade was looking for one more student, so it was decided that I should attend MUS in the fall. Though I didn’t know it at the time, it had a huge impact on my life.
The next year, the junior-high girls decided to have a Sadie Hawkins-themed hay ride party in early February where the girls could ask the boys. Of course there was only one guy I wanted to ask, and he was Warren! Warren likes to tell everyone that I asked him out on our first date—telling them, “Imagine a February hayride in Wisconsin! You know how cold it was?” Regardless, neither of us looked back and soon thereafter we were going steady.
We took long walks along Lake Michigan, south to downtown Milwaukee or north to Whitefish Bay. We didn’t care how long they were because we were together. We often went to the movies, many of which were double-headers with headliner Big Band stage acts between them, for 15 to 25 cents.
We both went on to college—I went to Milwaukee’s Layton School of Art on a scholarship and Warren attended UW-La Crosse for physical education, but the distance did not hinder our growing affection. We were married in December 1950, and that was the beginning of the next wonderful chapter in our life together, including the births of our two children who are both now retired—imagine that!
We have been enjoying our retirement for 31 years, and have traveled to many countries. We enjoy cruising and, on one of our 73 cruises, I was asked, “What’s the secret to a long marriage?” My answer is this: Be friends first, then get married, then have children, then go cruising like we do!
Every year we celebrate two anniversaries—our first date in 1943, and our wedding anniversary; we look forward to celebrating our 69th wedding anniversary this winter! We know long relationships like ours don’t always happen but we are so grateful that a piece of candy turned my life right instead of left, and set the wheels moving in the right direction.
– Marcia Bowlus MUS’49