Categories: World War I Veterans | Benson, Minnesota | Appleton, Minnesota | Willmar, Minnesota | Weekly Newspaper Publishers | Sanitary Corps, United States Army, World War I | Appleton Cemetery, Appleton, Minnesota | Irish Roots.
||Pat McGowan participated in the First World War, "The Great War 1914-1918".|
Join: The Great War Project
Pat McGowan was a salesman, a Veteran of World War I, Minnesota State Printer, and a newspaper publisher. He was the seventh of ten children in the family of Patrick and Sarah Breen McGowan, and the fourth son. HIs father died when he was about five years old.
The childhood pronunciation of his name Raphael was "Faff," which his sister Gertrude continued to call him as an adult. It is not known how Faff became Pat. His first and middle names were unofficially transposed during his military service in World War I and he became Francis Raphael, or F.R. thereafter.
Pat grew up and attended school in Benson, Minnesota.He worked as a clerk in a general merchandise store in Benson from 1911-1914. Pat worked as a traveling salesman for Liggett and Myers Tobacco Company from 1914-17.
Pat enlisted in the US Army in December 1917 at the Fort Snelling, Minnesota, Post Hospital. He trained in the Medical Department of the hospital, before being transferred for further training at Camp Dodge, Iowa from August to September 1918. He had been promoted to corporal and to sergeant while at Fort Snelling, and was promoted to second lieutenant in the Sanitary Corps after completing his training at Fort Dodge. He arrived in France in September 1918 and was assigned to Base Hospital 88. He was posted in Langres, Haute Marne, for three months, and in Savenay for an additional six months before returning to the US. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in May 1919.
Pat married Helen Harrison in Appleton when he was 28 years old. They lived with their two daughters in Appleton for ten years before Pat was named assistant to the state Commissioner of Banks, in 1933, and subsequently named Minnesota State Printer from 1936-1939.
In 1939, Pat bought the Willmar Tribune weekly newspaper. In Willmar, he was a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Elks, Willmar Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Kandiyohi County Selective Service Board.
(Pat's older brother Mart devoted his weekly newspaper column to his younger brother at the time of his death.)
"It has always been a mystery to me why none of the boys ever took up boxing or wrestling professionally."
"AS IT DOES to all, death has come to my brother Pat. Of course, I shall miss him very much. It could be said that he was called ahead of his allotted time or that death was inopportune. And it could also be said that from the point of view of those who are left behind, there is no opportune time for death. In fact, for those who accept the Christian theory that our life span is merely a period of preparation for a bigger and better existence for the soul in the hereafter, the tragedy arises only for those left behind. For the one who is called it is a release from an existence beset by trials and tribulations, and certainly now from a troubled and unhappy world.
"When a family that has been close knit comes to the realization that one of its members will not again be a part of the get-togethers it seems natural that many memories of the departed one come to mind. Perhaps you would be interested in going along with me as I think about some of them on paper.
"One incident that stands out in my mind, occurred when Pat was probably four or five years old, and went to church in my charge. It was one of the holidays-Christmas or Easter-so it happened the church was overcrowded and we became separated. Pat had not made his First Communion and, of course, was not prepared according to the church law for receiving the Sacrament. However, so many were doing it he apparently thought it should be done, and the next time I saw him he was lined up at the rail, and it was too late for me to do anything about it. Our mother was very much concerned when she heard what had happened. In her eyes the family had been disgraced, for a lack of knowledge of the liturgy if for nothing else, and I was charged with being as much at fault as Pat for not keeping an eye on him.
"There were six boys in our family and we all slept in one attic room, the stairway to which had no protective railing around the top. On occasions the boys had a quantity of energy to work off before they could drop off to sleep at night and sometimes the unfinished business of one night session was taken up immediately the sun broke through the one small window in the morning.
"It has always been a mystery to me why, with so much experience gained in that period, none of the boys ever took up boxing or wrestling professionally. In any event on one occasion, Pat was thrown free from his adversary of the moment against John who was standing on the brink of the open stair well. John went down the stairs. It looked the next day as if he had made the trip largely on his nose. Small boys are heartless. We got a lot of good laughs just looking at him.
"Our upstairs quarters were very hot in the summer time and John decided to remedy that situation. He bought or borrowed a tent and set it up in the yard. His plan was to finance the deal by permitting the rest of us to sleep in it for one cent a night each. To this we all gladly agreed. But complications arose. The first night the mosquitoes were so thick they must have filled all the space in the tent that wasn't being used by boys. So the rest of us went on strike and refused to stay unless John kept the mosquitoes out. For a few nights he stayed up all night keeping a smudge going and taking other anti-mosquito measures. But this became too strenuous-and another big deal went kaflooie.
"However, Pat discovered it had one value while it lasted. He could pay John the penny for the night's lodging and then go on up town, which he could not have done if our mother knew about it. If John told her he wouldn't get the penny. Spread of this idea to the other tenants and the ultimate discovery of what was going on by mother may have had something to do with the collapse of the tent project.
"As in the lives of all children, the coming of the circus to town was a big event. Only those who were lucky enough to get jobs carrying water for the elephants were able to get inside the big tent. The others had to be content with the parade and watching the concessionnaires on the outside. On the following day Joe decided to operate a concession at home and fixed up a boy's reproduction of one. Then he had to have at least one performer, which no one wanted to be. He pressed Pat into service so much against Pat's wishes that he began to cry. I recall coming on the scene with Joe standing on an improvised platform, a stick in his hand, shouting in approved barker style, "Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, come one, come all and see the cry baby. One cent admission. Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!"
"As an adult whatever Pat did, he did with intensive application. He had a faculty for organization and promotion. His feeling that he wanted his newspaper to be better and better all the time kept him at work on it when he should have been taking things a little easy. Generosity was one of his lovable faults. His greatest pride was in his family, right down to his two little grandchildren who adored him.
"One thing that always impresses me on the occasion of a death in the family is the warm-hearted desire of so many people to be sincerely sympathetic, and of assistance in trouble. I do not think that it is necessarily a test of friendship to be among those who come forward on occasions like this-some people who want to do things of this nature find it difficult. But I do feel that those who do perform kind deeds and express sympathetic understanding are the salt of the earth.
"I am sure that if these things are in any way reflected to those who have gone beyond Pat is mightily pleased with the thoughtful expressions of those who have shown their high regard and true friendship for him."
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