Benita Elizabeth (McGinnis) McCormick
(1889 – 1984)
Phillip Columbus McCormick (1892 – 1981)
Phillip Eugene “Bud” McCormick (1927 – 2004)
Benita Jane “Janie” (McCormick) Olson
(1927 – 2011)
Elson “Ole” Olson (1924 – 1994)
|Benita Jane McCormick, known as “Jane,” circa 1960.
|This menu cover from Bright Angel Lodge at Grand Canyon, Arizona, hung in Jane (McCormick) Olson’s kitchen for many years, a fond memory from her days there as a Harvey Girl.
|A TWA gate agent offers his hand to
Jane McCormick as she disembarks
a jet on one of her many travels.
At 32 years old, she was having the time of her life, working for a major international airline during the Golden Age of air travel. It was the same way Phil had felt during early days with the railroad in the 1920s.
In 1960, most airports were new and clean, bright places that attracted not only business and leisure travelers but also the curious who came to see what all the fuss was about. And there sure was a lot of fuss. Large concourses displayed artistic tourism posters beckoning people to see new places. Passenger lounges offered travelers and would-be travelers enormous windows to gaze through at sleek and silvery jet airplanes that promised to take them in style to see their families, or maybe even to an exotic vacation abroad, much quicker than by rail or boat. Airline employees, usually clean-cut young men and women, wore crisp uniforms, enjoyed good pay and flight benefits, and received special training in customer service, charm, and etiquette.
|Eldon “Ole” Olson, year unknown
Passengers at the time were generally from the middle and upper classes. Decked out in smart outfits and wearing the latest hairstyles, they came to airports to see and be seen. Those traveling for pleasure were typically accompanied by large entourages of family and friends who saw them off and greeted them on their return as if they were the most important people in the world.
No wonder, then, that Jane and Ole’s courtship felt so magical, especially against this glamorous backdrop. Ole Olson was everything Jane had dreamed of: funny and bright, kind, attentive, and romantic. She could not believe the similarities between him and her father. Like Phil McCormick, Ole was fair-skinned and fair-haired and was from Minnesota. To top it off, he was a freight agent (and later supervisor of ramp services) for TWA, just as Phil had been a freight agent for the railroad.
When asked years later about those days, Ole recalled that Jane was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He loved her lilting laugh, the way she looked up at him through her clear blue eyes and long dark eyelashes, and the graceful way she moved through a room. He teased her about being sentimental, but he loved her for it, all the same.
It gradually became clear to Benita and Phil that their little girl was falling in love with Ole Olson. As she began spending more time with him and less time with her parents, they reluctantly had to admit that they were no longer at the center of their daughter’s life.
Sometimes love is about letting go. As much as they understood that, Phil and Benita also realized they would have to find something else to fill their new-found time. So just months after arriving in California, they closed up the apartment and obtained two one-way TWA airline passes to Barcelona, Spain, to begin the next phase of their lives.