Warren Dowling, Arvada resident and author, just published his memoir, From Wagons to Moon Walk, a decades-long dream that became a reality just before his 93rd birthday. A book-signing celebration is scheduled for Thursday, November 15, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Community Recreation Center, 6842 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada.
Warren discovered the joys of writing 20 years ago at what was then called the North Jeffco Senior Recreation Center, where he began attending writing classes taught by Hilda Sperandeo. Since then he has published a number of articles on many topics, and has been hard at work on several books. The common thread running through all his efforts is a simple, powerful mantra: “Tell me a story.”
That’s the advice Hilda gave Warren many years ago. And what a story it is! The title From Wagons to Moon Walk offers a clue to what makes the book so extraordinary. Warren says “I think the world changed more in the past 92 years than it did in all the years back to the birth of Christ.”
There’s a lot of history packed into the book’s 312 pages…the Great Depression, World War II, the turbulent 60s, and the dizzying pace of technology. Through Warren’s eyes and in his words, the journey through American history sparkles with adventure, humor and love. “Warren has a natural voice and his words come from the heart,” says Danielle Steinfeld, who currently teaches “Writing Your Memoir” at the Community Recreation Center. Danielle has helped facilitate the publication of From Wagons to Moon Walk, and although she is the book’s editor, she stresses that she did very little beyond correcting a few spellings.
The book will also be published in serial form in The Arcata Eye, a weekly newspaper in Arcata, California, where Warren spent many years. Editor Kevin Hoover describes it as “An ordinary person’s extraordinary life, as unfettered by literary flourishes as it is rich with the plainspoken wisdom of an American everyman.” In other words, American history through the eyes of one who lived it.
How did he end up here in Arvada? To find the answer, and to treat yourself to a great read, buy the book. In the meantime, here’s a quick summary. Warren was born in Atoka, Oklahoma, in 1919 and had three brothers and six sisters. Warren’s father was a sharecropper on cotton farms, and Warren said his large family came in handy as his dad had a ready-made work crew. They had their share of troubles, as did many Americans during the Depression and amid the Dust Bowl. Later, Warren served four years as a communication specialist in the Air Force, including two years of active duty in the South Pacific. He was awarded a Purple Heart.
Warren met his first wife when they were both high school students in Oklahoma, and they spent most of their married life in northern California. They raised their family there and Warren worked as a Chevrolet mechanic. “I have a plaque on my wall recognizing my 30 years as a master technician, but the way cars are built now, I don’t think I could do the job,” he says with a laugh. Warren says he got the job offer the same day he applied, started work the next day and worked there for 30 years.
When asked what was the hardest part of his story to write, Warren says it was the loss of his first wife to cancer after 47 years of marriage. “The parts about hiking in the redwood forest – those were easy. Writing from the heart about loss is hard.”
Warren then moved to Denver to be near his oldest son and met his second wife, Wanda, at the North Jeffco Senior Recreation Center. He says he knew right away that he wanted to marry “that beautiful lady all alone at the end of the table.” After a 19-month courtship they became husband and wife. They have had a happy life together ever since, and they celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary in September 2012.
The book’s cover illustration shows a photo of Warren as a young boy with his brother Lester in Oklahoma. Warren says that when he looks at the photo, he thinks “Did that little urchin really sit down and write a book?”
He says it won’t seem real until he has the piles of books sitting next to him at the book signing event. It’s sure to be a grand celebration on November 15 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and a way to honor a significant historical contribution.
“All I have is my history,” Warren says. That simple statement says a lot about this kind and humble man who has worked hard and long to share a part of American history through his remarkable gift of storytelling.
Congratulations to Warren on this achievement. To order the book, visit www.bookstandpublishing.com or call 1-866-793-9365.