Benita (McGinnis) McCormick (1889 – 1984)
Phillip C. McCormick (1892 – 1981)
The meaning of this postcard remains a secret between the sender and the recipient. Based on the postmark, though, Benita clearly was in Chicago, her hometown, when she wrote this.
“Egg” was Phillip Columbus McCormick. He had, in fact already given Benita a “ring,” all right. A wedding ring.
|Army Sgt. Phillip Columbus McCormick
Circa 1918. From Benita (McGinnis)
Upon his discharge at Christmastime in 1918, Phil returned to work for the B & O, this time as an assistant general freight manager in Chicago. While living there, Phillip and Benita were introduced by a mutual friend named George Butcher.
“George came to see me one day,” Aunt Detty told me in May 1981, just two months after Uncle Phil’s death. “He told me he’d learned there was a saint named Philip Benitius. George thought it was a sign that his two friends – Phil and Benita – should meet.”
She was skeptical at the time, not just about George’s story but also about his friend. But it turned out there really was such a saint. “George was very anxious about this,” she recalled. “He said Phil was ‘just my type,’ so of course I was wary. I remember when I finally met this fellow, he had brown eyes. I thought, ‘I couldn’t trust brown eyes!'”
She decided her sister (my grandmother) Alice would like him, and arranged for them to meet.
It turned out the entire boisterous McGinnis clan liked him, especially Tom and Janie McGinnis, Benita and Alice’s parents. Whenever he visited the McGinnis home, he was well-mannered, responsible, and respectful of both their daughters. Though from a large family himself, he was quiet and modest, the perfect complement to a family of unique and sometimes competitive individuals who were used to lively conversations around the dinner table. Tom was pleased that Phil was a fellow railroad man and a hard worker. As he had worked on the Nickel Plate Railroad in Conneaut, Ohio, some years before, he and Phil probably got along famously, comparing notes about railroad service and the changing industry.
Benita’s younger brothers Eugene and John enjoyed Phil’s easygoing personality and dry sense of humor. John especially enjoyed talking to Phil about history and his own experiences in the Great War as a cavalryman. He became a regular visitor to the McGinnis household.
While Phil was kind to Alice, she was not particularly interested in him. On the other hand, he was especially drawn to Benita. Benita, for her part, began to pay more attention to the “man with the brown eyes,” and their friendship blossomed into romance. The entire family rejoiced the day she ran into the house one evening and announced breathlessly that Phillip Columbus McCormick was “the one.”
Copyright © 2014 Linda Huesca Tully