(One of a series of posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
I want to do something different today.
Instead of a post about Churchill, I'm offering a post about someone Churchill knew and admired. Let's call what I'm doing a “guest appearance” post.
Today’s “guest” is General of the Army and later both Secretary of State and Defense, George C. Marshall.
During WW II Churchill and Marshall had their rounds over strategy and resource allocations, but each had great respect for the other. As the war was drawing to a close, Churchill saluted Marshall as “the organizer of victory.”
In 1929 Marshall was a Colonel stationed at Fort Benning, just outside Columbus, Georgia. He was forty-eight and a very lonely man. His first wife, Lily, had died the previous year from complications related to a coronary condition.
Marshall was invited to a dinner party in Columbus at which another guest was Katherine Tupper Brown, a widow with three children. She was in Columbus to visit friends. She’d later record her first sight of Marshall: “I will never forget. George had a way of looking right straight through you. He had such keen blue eyes and he was straight and very military.”
The two chatted throughout dinner. Afterwards Marshall offered to “drive Mrs. Brown home.” He said he’d have no trouble finding Mrs. William Blanchard’s house, where she was staying.
Marshall biographer Ed Cray tells us what happened next:
Having assured her he knew the Blanchard residence where Mrs. Brown was staying, Marshall spent an hour driving the streets of the small town of Columbus while the two of them chatted.___________________________________________________________
Finally Mrs. Brown asked, “How long have you been at Fort Benning?”
“Two years,” the colonel answered.
“Well, after two years, haven’t you learned your way around Columbus?”
“Extremely well, or I could not have stayed off the block where Mrs. Blanchard lives.”
Ed Cray, General of the Army George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman. (W. W. Norton & Co., 1990) (pgs. 107-108)