As indicated in the preface of the new book about Glen Rose native and former World War II prisoner of war Houston E. Lowe, his was a story that had to be told.
The 98-year-old Lowe returned to Glen Rose last Saturday for the book launch of “868: The Sharecropper’s Son — The Story of a WWII American POW’s Life of Miracles.” The book’s author is Tina Farrell, one of Lowe’s three daughters. Farrell is retired and living in Friendswood after working 31 years as a public educator, finishing her career as an assistant superintendent with the Clear Creek Independent School System.
A year ago, at age 97, Lowe was in Glen Rose for a poignant appearance to receive a Glen Rose High School diploma. That’s something he missed out on as a teenager who quit school to work and help support his family, and later joined the Army in a time of war.
This time, two days before Memorial Day, Lowe was at Storiebook Cafe in Glen Rose, which is selling copies of the 307-page book — both hard cover and paperback — signed by Farrell. It can also be purchased online, of course, at either xulonpress.com, or through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
The “868” in the book’s title was the prisoner number Lowe, a gunnery sergeant, was given when he began 40 months in captivity in Japan in 1942.
STORY OF FAITH
Ferrell said it took her about 2 1/2 years in all to finish writing the book, which is her first.
“Over time, I just got very convicted that this story had to be told,” said Farrell, who noted that she is in the process of writing three children’s books. “I personally feel like it’s a great story of faith and the power of God to do beyond what anybody would understand. We can’t even comprehend the mighty power of God. There’s no reason for (my father) to still be alive. He has overcome so many things, beyond captivity.”
Farrell emphasized what she described as “the importance of Glen Rose to dad’s upbringing and dad’s ability to face what he faced,” in addition to “the torture and what he had to witness.”
Lowe sat through almost three hours at the signing table Saturday as Farrell signed copies at the book launch, but he remained alert and seemed to be in good spirits. Because of the rigors involved in signing books, he opted instead to use a rubber stamp that replicated his actual signature.
Lowe said that he was “absolutely happy” that his daughter wrote the book, which details the trials and misery of being a prisoner, along with the Christian faith that pulled him through.
“It couldn’t have been truer,” said Lowe, who resides in San Antonio.
Lowe simply said that the Japanese soldiers “got me” — and added, “I could hardly wait till I got out and came home.”
Lowe, whose wife Lee Beth died in 1995, said that if necessary, he would serve his country again in the same way.
“If I had it all to do over, as much as I love this county, I would do the same thing for my country,” Lowe said. ‘The United States of America means everything to me.”
In addition to Farrell, Lowe’s daughters Terri Lyn Lowe Rodriguez of San Antonio and Toni Lee Serene of the Pipe Creek community near that city and were on hand for the book launch.
LIKE A SECOND DAD
A woman named Cyndi Perry who went to school with Farrell at Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio also stopped by, on the way back to San Antonio on a trip to Dallas.
“I wouldn’t have missed it,” Perry said. “To me, it’s a way to honor Poppie (Lowe’s family nickname). To me, he’s been Poppie forever.”
Perry said she considered Lowe to be a second father to her.
“I spent a lot of time at their house, and his wife — we called her Memaw — and she was like a second mother,” Perry said. “I respected him because of what he’s done for our country, and the dad he’s been to his girls.
“He was your typical military guy. He expected you to do what was right. He always made me feel part of their family, and the love he had for his girls — and I was included in that.”
Perry’s own father, Malford Heimer, was a military veteran and Purple Heart recipient who died about a year ago. She said that Lowe arrived to pay tribute to her father.
“It was raining hard, and he came to the viewing and the honor ceremony,” Perry recalled. “When he saluted the casket, I thought I was going to lose it.”
Farrell said that her father is a humble man who “never laid a hand on us” — leaving spankings to Lee Beth.
After returning to the United States following his release, Lowe had well-deserved time off before — remarkably — opting to continue with his military service. He served a total of 31 years, Farrell said.
“We have such admiration for our father,” Farrell said. “From what he endured, to come back and want to still serve his country. He is an incredible father.”