With warm weather just around the corner, it's one of Tim Gowen's favorite times of the year.
And with St. Patrick's Day today, March 17, Gowen is proud of his Irish heritage and the traditions he's had passed down to him from the motherland.
Gowen, a resident of Breezy Point and co-owner with his wife, Julie, of Jag Interior Solutions in Crosslake, said he's about 90% Irish. He knows both sides of his family at one time migrated to the United States, though he admits he knows more about his father's side.
He knows his mother's family had settled a couple generations back in Kennebunk Beach in Maine. As for his father's family, he can go much further back.
"I know my great-great-grandparents, both sets (on his father's side) were from an area called Shannon, Ireland," Gowen said. "Our given name in Ireland was spelled 'McGowen.' The 'Mc' was dropped. I know it was dropped because of religious persecution."
His father's family settled in Sanford, Maine, when they came stateside in the 1700s. The property sold to Lowe's sometime around 2012, but not before Gowen got to visit.
"All the family's been there," he said. "They've been to the farm and met their cousins. It was a very lucrative farm. It was a potato farm where they also raised cows."
Both sides of his family eventually moved to Minnesota.
"Both my mom and my dad's parents moved to Minnesota in the late '30s and my dad's dad was a doctor," Gowen said. "They moved to Minneapolis and started what was known as the Minneapolis Heart Institute, which is now known as the Hennepin County Medical Center."
Gowen was born the youngest of six children, with his eldest sister born 22 years earlier. One of his sisters died before he was born, but the remaining family stayed close, though in dynamic ways.
"I asked my mom one time, 'Who are these people?'" Gowen said. "They were like sisters but they were my nieces. We were with them all the time and went to school together. Mom had to draw a family tree to explain it. I was probably 8 years old."
Gowen realizes that with such an age gap, his parents likely raised him differently than his older siblings, especially when it comes to his eldest sister who lives in Breezy Point.
"She has different memories than I do," Gowen said. "My parents were having kids when they were still kids. When they had my brother and I, they were already seasoned veterans of being parents. There's certain things we got away with that when they were kids they didn't."
Regardless, there were certain universal experiences in the Gowen household.
"My parents were very traditional about doing the right thing and being on time for dinner," Gowen said. "Those values were passed to them by their parents. You discussed everything at the dinner table. I think that was passed on from them to us. That was their tradition in their family. That was when everything came out, at the table. You talked about everything. What was going on in your life and what's going on in school or at work. It was very traditional. We had a lot of Irish dishes."
"My parents were very traditional about doing the right thing and being on time for dinner. Those values were passed to them by their parents. You discussed everything at the dinner table."
— Tim Gowen.
Gowen was especially close to his brothers, Mike and Jim. They played sports together in Richfield, including football, hockey and baseball. In addition to spending dinner times together, his family celebrated their Irish heritage.
"St. Patty's Day was a big deal in our house," Gowen said. "The house was decorated St. Patty's Day traditional green and a lot of orange. There was a traditional dinner of corned beef and cabbage. It was very good. My mom made the best."
It's still one of his favorite foods. He has passed all these traditions on to his own family, which got its start in 1990 in a Dayton's store. He was shopping when he spied a woman named Julie working there. Later, he met her again at a bar, after which they started dating and eventually married and raised three kids together in Breezy Point.
"We had a tradition when the kids were young. We tried to have one sit-down dinner every week the way I grew up," Gowen said. "That was at our house in Breezy Point. It was Saturday night when it was kids night. We made what they wanted for dinner and watched a movie and got to know what was on their mind and basically check in."
They grew close together, just as Gowen had been raised. Their two sons and one daughter were all active in sports and recreational activities. Tim, Julie and the kids all supported one another during their years in high school.
"Those are some cherished memories that I'll never forget," Gowen said.
In the meantime, while Gowen was working in manufacturing, they also started Jag Interior Solutions together in 2012. In 2013, they excitedly entered a float in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Crosslake. They have gone to great lengths to keep the tradition going ever since. Gowen seems to enjoy it even more than before.
"What makes it even more fun now is the amount of effort we put into the St. Patty's Day Parade in Crosslake," he said. "St. Patty's Day could and should be all of us having a great time."
Life is somewhat different now. Gowen now runs Jag Interiors alongside Julie ever since retiring from manufacturing. Their children have all grown up and gone their own directions. He's still proud of his heritage and all he learned from it, especially now after a rough year.
"Spring is coming, though it doesn't look like it is," he said. "It's a great way to get people out. They've been cooped up all winter. After everything we've gone through this last year, it makes it more special."
Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.