The Family Prospers

During this time Al Young was still working as a bookkeeper at Edison's. Colonel George Washington Goethals, builder of the Panama Canal and well-known New Jersey capitalist, had recently invested in several companies along the east coast. With the advice of his friend Thomas Edison, Goethals sought to put together a team of controllers from different callings to analyze the performance and troubleshoot problems in the companies he had invested in. Edison recommended his own employee, Al Young, to Goethals as an accountant and comptroller for the team. Al took the position and was assigned by Colonel Goethals to work with the New Haven Clock Company. He and Marie soon after left their home on Burnett Street for Connecticut.

Back in Orange, the Dowd's store continued to do well. Hired workers now did the more mundane jobs such as delivery. Besides Bea Gillespie the bookkeeper and Jake Kruegar the butcher, workers included "Chinky" Meyer, Bill Stanton, James McFarland, Spiros Mella (back from his service in the war). As early as 1917 Sarah and her children had discussed incorporating their business and in 1922 the Dowd Grocery became S.L.Dowd Inc. Officers of the corporation were John Francis Dowd, President; Charles A. Dowd, Vice-President; and Thomas A. Dowd, secretary and treasurer.

The brothers were developing as businessmen . Above all, they were "from the old school" - their word was good and could be relied on above all else. All three were ambitious and hard working, but each also had his own individual strength and style. John may have been picked by Sarah to lead, not just because he was the oldest. Although the shortest of the brothers, John was physically the strongest. Marie adored him, suggesting that despite a strong temper, John had a very kind, protective feeling for his family and the family business. John was "the muscle" in the team. Tom was the "lace curtain", the salesman and public speaker in the team. Although none of the boys had an advanced education, Tom was a voracious reader and cultivated his vocabulary and oratory through books. He was also good with numbers, having been a bookkeeper himself. "Tom and John made a good team". Charlie, the younger brother was a different character altogether; "one of the nicest people you would ever meet". He was "the caretaker" in the team. Naturally sensitive, compassionate and conscientious Charlie was a good manager and perfect to oversee the employees and the daily operations.

The war was over and the U.S. economy was flourishing. The roaring twenties were just beginning. Besides selling groceries, S.L. Dowd Inc. delved into the lucrative real estate market. Between 1922 and 1929 fourteen properties were purchased by S.L. Dowd Inc. and twelve properties were sold. These properties, lots and buildings, were not for their private use (each of the boys purchased their private homes under their own names); but were for legitimate business. At the same time, the brothers also started a separate real-estate and insurance office, Suburban Realty, at #239 Main Street across from the Llewelyn theater. The emphasis of the business was the resale of properties - but, common in the business of the time, insurance was simply an appendage to the real-estate sale. By 1920 Al and Marie Young had returned from Connecticut and Al joined the brothers as a partner of Suburban Realty. His strong business experience, close friendship with Tom and his marriage to their sister made it natural for him to join the brothers in the family business. He and Marie had moved back into their Burnett St. home and Sarah Dowd moved in with them.

Although it is difficult to confirm, according to some accounts, the real estate business in this period was the single most successful period for the Dowds. At the height of their business, at least twenty large properties were sold in an eighteen month period. They were resourceful, astute businessmen. They learned the intricacies of taxation and of forming one corporation to pay another, thus maximizing their profits. Trading was done under Suburban Realty Company, Suburban Realty & Investment Company, Suburban Realty Trading Company as well as S.L. Dowd Inc.

Years earlier, as they contemplated incorporating their grocery business, the Dowds would have learned the mechanics of issuing shares, stock values and the potential of the stock market. It seems natural that at some point the boys would have invested in the stock market for themselves. There are no records of their foray into the market, but according to family tradition, the boys invested heavily in the stock market and began doing quite well at it.

Property values were increasing and the stock market was booming. Although the Dowds were never part of the mega-wealthy Llewlyn Park set, their growing prosperity was evident in their nice homes, cars and choice of vacation spots. John Dowd moved into a fashionable home at #9 Beverly in West Orange. He was especially fond of his Pierce Arrow motor car with the embroidered upholstery, gold trimmed interiors, and elegant style. Charlie had his nice home on High Street and Marie and Al their home on Burnett Street. Tom and Margaret had moved from Watchung Avenue to an expensive home at #22 Ridgeway Avenue.

The family didn't just own cars, they owned chauffeured cars. The children of John, Tom, Al and Charlie were now school age and attending the private Seton Academy in Orange, run by Sister Marie Anita. The Dowds were the only children that were dropped off and picked up by chauffeurs. All of the families had the help they needed: chauffeurs, maids, cooks and nannies. Ella, Eddie's widow, had moved back to Orange from New York and was now helping out at Charlie's as a cook while her teenage daughter Helen helped with the children.

Family vacations were spent on the Jersey shore. Summer homes were rented along the same street at Spring Lake, the "Irish Riviera on the Jersey Shore". Pictures of the children, well groomed and wearing fine clothes are evidence of the good life. Marie and Margaret refused to cut their sons hair before they turned six, and then kept the long beautiful locks lovingly tucked away as mementos.

In 1920 Margaret and Tom moved from their home on Ridgeway Avenue a few miles west to the rural Orange mountain town of Livingston, New Jersey. One family story relates that Margaret wanted to move to a more country setting for the sake of her son Billy's bad health. Atop the "second mountain" of the two Orange mountains, Livingston was certainly remote "country" in the 1920s with expansive places for running, hunting and exploring. Water was piped in through a private well. The property purchased by Tom and Margaret ran along the north side of Mt. Pleasant and contained twenty acres with hills forest and a pond. The property was originally owned by Munson and Edith Kent. Coincidently, Edith Kent was the sister of Tom's Uncle Frank R. Harff. The Kents sold the property to the Whalen family who built a beautiful nine room home, considered a "showplace of the Orange Mountains", and according to one account, was valued at $60,000 [$300,000]. The country home was perfect for Tom's growing family, a daughter and five sons. Over the next five years, five more sons were born. Tom had a passion for horses and horse racing and housed a dozen horses in a barn and stable their on the property. Even Margaret had a horse she named "Peaches". Both Tom and Margaret were good riders and their children were especially fond of horses their entire lives.

 



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