DRACUT - Former Lowell Mayor Bob Maguire could write a book.
In fact, he has. Three of them. "White America and Heritage Lost" is an amalgam of two previously unpublished works and Maguire is in search of a publisher for this latest tome, which has been several years in the making.
Maguire, who lives in Daytona Beach, Fla., for eight months of the year and spends the summer at the Dracut home of his son Michael, chronicles his humble beginnings, growing up in the Centraville section of Lowell, the youngest of three brothers whose father died at a young age and left their mother to fend off her husband's ruthless business partners during the post-Depression era.
The reader is taken inside the halls of Keith Academy and later Providence College, where he studied for the priesthood. Maguire, who turned 84 on May 25, writes of his brothers, Joe and Herb, who fought in World War II and retells his own military service stationed in Germany during the Korean War. The memoir lovingly recalls his courtship and inevitable marriage to Helen Melancon, the love of his life.
There are passages devoted to his 14-year tenure on the Lowell City Council and his two terms as mayor during the 1970s. There's an account of his failed bid at a seat in the U.S. Congress and the horrific accident when he was struck by a car while holding a campaign sign on the corner of Andover and Nesmith streets.
The revitalization of Lowell can be traced back to the leadership in the city during those days when Maguire was mayor.
While many would be riveted to the account of his confrontation in the Boston Chancery when, as mayor, he walked out on Richard Cardinal Cushing after a heated exchange, he will leave readers misty-eyed and swallowing hard as he describes those last moments with his precious Helen, who died at their winter home in Florida.
And in much the same way he raised the hair on the backs of his opponents' necks while he roamed Lowell City Hall, Maguire will surely raise the ire of some readers as he unapologetically states his opinion about the state of affairs in America today and the reason for the ills facing society in the 21st Century.
(Spoiler alert: Maguire, a lifelong Democrat, holds no brief for the current occupant of the White House.)
Q: What are your intentions in writing a book like this?
A: "Part of it is the history of the Maguire family. I want my grandchildren to know about their Grampy and their grandmother. I want my children and my grandchildren to have a better understanding of where they came from and what the Maguire family is all about."
Q: Having just about done it all, what would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
A: "Personally, marrying my great wife and raising four great kids. Politically, my years on the Lowell City Council and having been the mayor of Lowell twice."
Q: What changes jump out at you when you return to Lowell each year?
A: "The city was rundown when I was a kid growing up on Methuen Street in Centraville. Fortunately, during my time at City Hall, many people joined forces to resurrect the city through a massive revitalization plan. Now, when I return to my hometown of Lowell every summer I can see the progress continue. But I also see evidence in the various neighborhoods that revitalization needs to continue. The city leaders have to keep trying to improve, and I think they are."
Q: As someone who was raised as an Irish Catholic Democrat, has your view of those institutions changed and if so, how?
A: "My personal views as far as being Catholic have not changed at all. My view toward the Catholic Church has changed quite a bit. I feel that the Church has become ultra-conservative in too many areas and that has contributed to the closings of many churches, schools and parishes. Conversely, politically speaking, I feel that the Democratic Party has become ultra-liberal. As a former staunch Democrat, I believe over the years the Democratic Party has become less and less the 'Party of the People' like it was under the leadership and philosophy of that great president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other notable Democratic presidents."
Q: What does Bob Maguire do when he's up here in good old Dracut for four months?
A: "I play golf. I spend time with all my friends at Mt. Pleasant Golf Club (in Lowell.) I enjoy my four great kids and my 10 wonderful grandchildren and, at the risk of sounding like a paid advertisement, I very, very much enjoy the 'gustos' and the gang down at my son Michael's place, Maguire's Tavern."