Wisdom Wednesday: Scrapbook of a Lifetime

Benita Elizabeth (McGinnis) McCormick
          (1889 – 1984)
Phillip Columbus McCormick 
         (1892 – 1981)
From left to right: Phillip and Benita McCormick
with their tour guide, 1962, Piraeus, Greece.
One of the reasons my family moved to California in 1967 was to be closer to my great-aunt and great-uncle, Benita (McGinnis) and Phillip McCormick.  At that time, they were in their late 70s.
We called them Aunt Detty and Unk Pill. I don’t remember how Uncle Phil got his nickname, but I think my aunt’s nickname originated when one or more of her siblings could not say “Benita” when they were young children. “Detty” must have been as close as they could get. The name stuck.
Aunt Detty and my maternal grandmother, Alice (McGinnis) Schiavon, were sisters.  My grandmother having died in 1963, Aunt Detty was my mother’s closest relative in California. She and Unk Pill lived about a 30 minute drive from us at Woodlake, a large apartment complex at 820 Delaware Street in San Mateo.  
Our family usually visited them on Sunday afternoons. As youngsters, my sisters and I loved ringing the doorbell by their apartment number on the building directory. Aunt Detty’s warm “Hello, there!” would greet us through the speaker, followed by a buzzer that automatically unlocked the door to let us enter the building. This seemed very sophisticated to us.  We would pile into the wood-paneled elevator for the ride to the third floor.  
My sisters and I often raced each other to see who could get to Aunt Detty’s apartment first.  Our parents would remind us to not run round the corner and down the long hallway, but it was hard to resist.  There she was at the door, arms outstretched, dressed in her best clothes as if the most important people in the world were coming to visit. 
Uncle Phil would be waiting inside.  Looking debonair in his tweed golf cap and herringbone blazer, he was ready to take us back downstairs to the swimming pool or for a walk around the large complex if we were too giddy, so my aunt and my parents could talk.
Aunt Detty was a writer, artist, and entrepreneur all her life.  When she was in her 90s, she created a scrapbook of her life’s memories, using an old Christmas card sample book.  The page below contains her introduction to the “skeleton” of her life.
Introduction in Benita (McGinnis) McCormick’s scrapbook,
dated May 2, 1982, San Mateo, California
This is the skeleton of my life
And the flesh of it the wonderful
people I met on the way.  They gave it
color and vitality, joy and sadness, poetry and
delight and peace of mind, gave me not only
love, but care and devotion.  For which I thank God.
I hope that in some way the joy of my life has
shown forth to others and served them in the
thought of living a full life.  There are so many more
things I hope to do.

– Benita McCormick — age 92 / May 2, 1982


Copyright ©  2013  Linda Huesca Tully




2 Thoughts to “Wisdom Wednesday: Scrapbook of a Lifetime

  1. I love the name Unk Pill! Aunt Detty sounds like the best kind of aunt. Will you be sharing her scrapbook? I hope she got to do more of the many things she had on her to-do list at 92.

  2. She definitely WAS the best kind of aunt, Kathy – larger than life and the most fascinating person I have ever met. At 92, she was still visiting people in nursing homes – and THEY thought she was younger than they were!

    There is much more to come from her scrapbook. Stay tuned!

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