Mary Dodge Allen

Personal Bio


I was born in a small city in northern Minnesota, located on the western tip of Lake Superior. I grew up in a close-knit community, where neighbors knew each other and we were free to play outside unsupervised until our parents called us home for dinner. Since this was a time well before cell phones, our parents would simply stand in the back yard and shout out our names.

Despite the harsh northern Minnesota weather, we played outside year-round. I have fond memories of snowball fights during raging snowstorms, ice skating at the neighborhood rink, and playing in the snow until the bitter cold numbed my feet. Only then would I go home to warm up and drink a cup of steaming hot cocoa.

I am incredibly grateful for my childhood friends, who are still as close to me as brothers and sisters. I attended the same school from K-12, and there were only about 100 students in my high school graduating class. Everyone knew everyone from a young age, and if you did something incredibly stupid in second grade, (and who hasn’t?), you could count on one of your old friends to gleefully remind you of it years later. 

My love of reading and writing started in elementary school, when a friend and I started a book club. We began with The Bobbsey Twins, and quickly moved on to mysteries, reading every Agatha Christie book we could get our hands on. I’d bring home books of plays from the library so I could act them out, and I even tried my hand at writing what I thought was an intriguing series of plays -- (each one contained the word ‘Intrigue’ in its title). In high school, I wrote an autobiography for English class, entitled: “My Life, as I Lived It.” A friend jokingly asked if I planned to write a sequel: “My Life, as Someone Else Lived It.” This, I am sure, would have made a far more interesting story.

The defining challenge in my life was my move to Florida after high school. I enrolled in a large state university with thousands of students. Nobody knew me, or anything about my family or my life history. It was both terrifying and liberating. For the first time in my life, I had a clean slate. It was as if I had been given the chance to put a pen to a blank page in the continuing saga of my life as I lived it, while taking a fresh look at the main character. Who was I, really? Talk about Intrigue!

I graduated with a degree in Special Education, taught for a year in Florida, and then went back to my home town to take a summer job with the US Postal Service. I had no idea I would be the first female substitute mail carrier in my home town. I quickly realized I would have to work extra hard to prove myself to my male supervisors and co-workers. When this summer job ended, I began graduate school and earned a degree in Counseling. Then I moved back to Florida to work as a social worker with disabled children and their families.

Two years later, I married the love of my life. Before our son was born, I worked as a career counselor, writing resumes for people from all types of backgrounds. I also wrote articles for regional and college newspapers. One of the most memorable people I interviewed was Edna Gardner Whyte, a woman aviator who was a contemporary of Amelia Earhart. Edna began flying in the 1920’s and won over 100 flying trophies during her career. (See her photo, right). I was especially interested in her struggle to gain respect in what was primarily a male occupation. Not only did she prove herself as a skilled pilot, but she even trained male pilots for the Navy during WWII. When I interviewed Edna in the early 1980’s, she was still training private pilots. She took me up for my first, and only, flying lesson. I displayed a pitiful lack of flying ability.

We have made many cross country moves because of my husband's job, and I've met wonderful friends along the way. We have one adult son, who works as an electrician. I belong to several writer's organizations, and have attended many conferences. I worked for many years as a volunteer at the front desk of our local police department, I am active in my church, and I am also a member of a women’s auxiliary that raises funds for a private school for disabled children.

In late 2013, I had the privilege of escorting a WWII Veteran on an Honor Flight to Washington, DC. Check out my article on the Extra, Read all about it! page of my website.

 

Photos on the right, from top to bottom: Me, age 4; As a mail carrier; Wedding photo; Family photo; Edna Gardner Whyte; Aunt Dorie, me, Uncle Gordon; Their wedding photo; Uncle Gordon as a WWII B-17 pilot.