TV personality’s mom ‘corrupted’ in Dayton

Humor writer Peggy Rowe attended the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop this spring. CONTRIBUTED
Humor writer Peggy Rowe attended the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop this spring. CONTRIBUTED

Dayton is getting quite the reputation for “corrupting” visitors.

On Mother’s Day, Mike Rowe of “The Way I Heard It: Breaking the Silence” and “Dirty Jobs” posted on Facebook a tribute to his mom, Peggy Rowe. Known for his sense of humor, the TV host and narrator depicted a mom-gone-wild in the Gem City while she was attending the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop on March 31-April 2.

Here’s an excerpt:

Last week on the phone, my Mother was bringing me up to speed on the Erma Bombeck conference she recently attended in Dayton, Ohio. She had gone there to hobnob with other writers and pitch her book to various publishers. When I asked her how it went, she said, “Oh Michael, it was wonderful. So many talented people. So many wonderful speakers. And not a single a****** among them.”

It wasn’t her language that caused me to drop the phone — (though I’ve never heard her use that word,) it was the casual way she slipped it into our conversation. As if she’s been talking that way for years. As if her daily interactions now expose her to so many a*******, their sudden absence warrants a special mention.

“Sooo…you had a good time” I asked?

“Honestly Michael, it was a total blast. I made a dozen new friends — all younger than you! We stayed up after midnight. I even had a glass of wine, and laughed so hard I nearly peed my slacks!”

Peggy Rowe lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband, John. We caught up with her by phone for a first-hand account about her experience at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop:

Q: How many times have you attended the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop?

A: I have been three times: 2010, 2014, and 2016. We were traveling in 2012.

Q: What do you like about the conference?

A: It's just plain inspirational — three days of laughter and learning.

During the day, the workshops, which are led by professional writers, are both informative and entertaining — a breath of fresh air. Following lunches and dinners, there are hilarious speakers.

One of the most enjoyable aspects for me is hobnobbing with young people. For a 78-year-old, being around energetic, creative younger writers is invigorating. Of the 350 attendees, I was the second oldest.

My husband drives me to Dayton from our home in Baltimore. During the conference, we stay at the Marriott, and he’s pretty much on his own. He has seen every tourist attraction in Dayton.

Q: Is Erma Bombeck one of your writing heroes?

A: Indeed she is. I think I have read everything she has written. I own all of her books.

Q: Who are your other writing influences?

A: David Sedaris, Dave Barry and Russell Baker (who wrote for The Baltimore Sun and won a Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography, "Growing Up").

Q: How long have you been a writer and what are you working on?

A: I've been writing for years, but began publishing 15 years ago. Newspapers and magazines. Mostly humorous essays, human interest columns. Some personality profiles. I've always been a "horsey person" and have written for several "horse magazines" also.

I just finished my first book, and things look promising. It’s the story of growing up with a mother who was always in charge. It’s humor, not “Mommie Dearest.” She was a wonderful mother and above all, great material. It will be out in 2017.

Mike is writing the forward.

Q: And about that famous son of yours — what do you think about his Facebook post?

A: I don't remember ever saying the word a****** to him … but he doesn't usually make stuff up. As far as my wild conference behavior, drinking means a half glass of wine with dinner, and staying out late means coming back to the hotel room at 10 o'clock and watching the evening news with John. It was exciting that Mike posted my "Springtime" essay. It has been read by over a million people with thousands of comments and shares.

For Mike Rowe's full post, which includes Peggy Rowe's essay, "Springtime in Perry Hall," go here:; or Google: "Mike Rowe Facebook," then scroll to the Mother's Day post on May 8.

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