Retirement hailed as fresh start

Former TV reporters find makings of a book in beach house visit

June 18, 2000|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

Retirement. To some, it simply means growing old. To others, it's a chance for a new beginning - an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream or just do something different.

For former television news reporters Susan White-Bowden and her husband Jack Bowden, retirement means having the time to do what they want to do - like spend time at a beach house on the Delaware shore.

Which is how the couple came to write their latest book, "OffSeason - Living the Retirement Dream," the story of their life after retiring from full-time jobs.

"We went to write a book of fiction set in television," White-Bowden said. "But once we got there, I realized this was the thing to do. It was the off season [at the beach] and the off season of our lives."

"Because we'd heard so much negative about retirement," Bowden added, further explaining the subject of the book, "but that wasn't what we were experiencing."

The couple, with their Labrador, Angel, had a ball at the beach for almost eight months - relaxing at their rented beach house between Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, writing, making new friends, meeting old friends, checking out area sights and attractions, or just doing nothing except enjoying the beach and themselves.

"It seems so perfect for us to tell people - there's so much positive in retirement," said White-Bowden, who has written books about the suicides of her first husband and son.

The Bowdens once lived a life many dream of - local television news reporters and anchors for many years, the pair traveled around the world on assignments, meeting celebrities (White-Bowden interviewed Clint Eastwood three times) and world leaders and seeing places most visit only through books or television. They also had - and still do - a 50-acre family farm in Finksburg to come home to every night.

And yet, they both agreed the eight months at the beach in 1998-1999 was a highlight of their life together.

"We had fabulous careers and wonderful families, and we shared that with our families, but this was the best year we've ever had," White-Bowden said.

The book, published by The Baltimore Sun, isn't just the story of the Bowdens' extended retirement vacation. The Bowdens also incorporated the stories of others who retired from their jobs and followed their dreams.

Like Gil Breeding of Gamber, who always wanted to be a cowboy and became one, traveling out West with his horse, riding the plains, helping out on a cattle drive, visiting his hero Gene Autry's home, sleeping out under the stars.

"Retirement is a chance to take a different path," Bowden noted. "Some start a different career." The book offers personal tidbits about the couple and helpful tips about the off season.

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