History of Bowman.
A.W. Bowman history coutesy of Merrill Bancroft
[This is the text of a letter received from the son of A.W. Bowman,
dated March 3, 2003. Mr. Bowman's son was 87 years old at the time.]
As for History, it has been many years since the early 1900's but much
of what went into the formulation of my Dads company was passed on to me by
my mother and is fairly fresh in my mind.
My Dad was a Die & Tool maker as a young man and worked for the
Mason & Hamlin piano company. He saw opportunity in the growing
technology of Radio and decided to set up his own business.
With only meager capitol he set up shop in an old barn on the property
of the home he rented in Lexington, MA. The exact date I do not recall but it
had to be either 1912 or 1913.
At first he concentrated on components for radio reception equipment
only and did obtain several patents. I can still see him, assisted by Mom,
making fixed capacitors from melted paraphine wax and other materials at the
kitchen table. The project grew and in time he rented space for a small factory
in Cambridge, MA. Here he manufactured crystal sets, two types of telegraph
keys, the heavy marble base spark key and a lighter model; oval metal base
with a shorting bar. His last product was the old familiar five tube (201-A)
hetrodyne, battery operated receivers.
The plant was open half day on Saturdays and may Dad would take me
with him when he went to work. I had my first indoctrination into Radio
watching the men putting together and wiring the Broadcast Band receivers.
Also the Plating area of the plant where the key components were chrome
plated intrigued me no end.
When the 1929 depression hit things went down hill. Unable to collect on
outstanding invoices from many of his customers the cash flow ceased. He put a
great deal of his personal moneys into an attempt to save the business and keep
his 14 employees on the payroll. This went on for a few months and as the
situation showed no signs of improving in the near future he accepted the advice
of his lawyer and closed the plant.
We survived the Depression as my Dad was able to find work at his original
profession. Following the loss of his business he worked for Waltham Watch,
General Electric, Gillette Razor, Polaroid Corp. and O.G. Kelly Co. The Kelly
Co. was a "Job Shop" where whatever it is you want made, they could make it
My Dad never did retire. When he passed away at the age of Seventy
(approximately in 1950) he was still working for the O.G. Kelly Co.
Incidentally, my Dad was the first employee of the Polaroid Corp. He
designed and made the machine that coated the film with the material invented
by Messrs. Land and Wheelwright that polarized light. That machine was
fondly named "Uncle Dudley".