Saturday, May 26, 2012

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Harry Dow, 1940, part 1

Dow Harry Dow lived at 34 Monroe Street in 1940. He was 36 and an attorney for the federal government. In his household at the time was his wife Louise, age 30 and his son William, age 6. Read the biography of this remarkable man here, A Singular Career, A Shared Ethos an excerpt:
...But the story of the man in the photo is anything but typical. In 1929, Dow, a newly minted graduate of Suffolk University Law School, was poised to make history as the first Chinese American admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. And though he couldn’t have known it at the time, he was also on the verge of a groundbreaking career in public service, one that would reflect his selfless values, his indomitable spirit, and the ethos of the institution that first gave him the chance to succeed. The script for Dow’s extraordinary life is now at Suffolk Law. His children have donated Dow’s collected papers to his alma mater-24 boxes of photographs, legal files, letters, press clippings, and other documents-where they will become part of the Suffolk University archives. For Suffolk Law Dean Alfred Aman, the papers represent a vital piece of Suffolk Law’s legacy. "It’s important to realize that a big part of Suffolk’s history as a law school is that it provided opportunities for individuals of great ability, like Harry Dow, who would not have had the chance at any other place," Aman says. "This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about his life and his career-and how it reflects back on our institution." An Early Promise The early decades of the 20th century were an era of official prejudice against Chinese immigrants. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited entry to the U.S. by all Chinese people except merchants, teachers, students, officials, and existing legal residents. "The coming of Chinese laborers endangers the good order of certain localities," the law stated. Initially enacted as a 10-year policy, the act was made permanent in 1902. But Hom Soon Dow was a business owner, and so in 1902 he and his wife Alice immigrated to rural Hudson, Massachusetts, from the Toisan district of China. When their first child, Harry, was born in 1904, the family moved east to the city of Boston, eventually settling on Shawmut Avenue in the South End. An ambitious man with an entrepreneurial spirit and an idea for a new business, Hom Soon Dow opened H. S. Dow Laundry, the first fully mechanized wet laundry in Boston, in 1907. With a head start over the competition and an edge in technology, Hom Soon’s business began to thrive. Soon he had customers all over Boston and purchased several trucks for deliveries. His family grew at a similarly rapid rate: after Harry, the Dows added three girls and two more boys to their brood. In 1916, Hom Soon Dow died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 40, leaving behind a cloud of uncertainty over the fate of the family’s lifeblood. In the United States in the early 20th century, it was rare to find a company owned by a woman, let alone one run by a Chinese widow with no business experience and six children. But Alice Dow decided not only to manage the laundry-with help from young Harry-but to expand it.

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