Our Unknown Uncle:
Edward Barry McGinty (1917-1945)
We examine here three intense periods of the McGinty-Piderit family history–June 1934, May 1941, and January-March of 1945. The main focus centers on Edward Barry McGinty, the uncle whom we never knew. Eddie, as he was known in high school, was the youngest son of Grandma and Grandpa McGinty. Born in 1917, he was two years younger than Jay and two years older than Mother. By the end of high school, he stood 6’1. He was a good-looking guy with a generous dose of the McGinty sense of humor.
Our narrative begins, appropriately, with a boy meets girl motif and a familiar story. In early June of 1934, Jack McGinty, the oldest McGinty boy, graduated from Fordham College with a BA degree. Following the graduation ceremony at Rose Hill, Jack and Bill Foley, his best friend and fellow graduate, were feted at a joint celebration dinner with the Foley and McGinty families and friends in the roof garden restaurant of the then prestigious Hotel St. George in Brooklyn Heights. The two graduates had been close friends since their years together at Brooklyn Prep.
Since Bill’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. William T Foley Sr, happened to be close friends of Fred and Julia Piderit, their son Fred, a contemporary of Ed McGinty, also attended the party cohosted by the McGinty family. Some place shuffling occurred and Mary McGinty, who had celebrated her fifteenth birthday only a month before and was finishing her sophomore year at the Francis Xavier Academy, sat across the table from Fred Piderit Jr. The highlights of that celebration included the mushroom sharing story and a first kiss on the balcony after dinner.
Two or three days after Jack’s graduation from Fordham, Mother attended Dad and Ed’s graduation from Brooklyn Prep at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and again the two families came together. After the ceremony, Mary accompanied Fred back to the Piderit home in Woodhaven, walking down 87th Street from the train holding hands. As they passed the church on the corner of 88th Avenue, Fred pointed out his parish church and the grammar school he had attended. Mary told Fred about her cousins, the Fuchs boys, who were students at St. Thomas the Apostle parochial school. As you may imagine, they were thinking of other things.
How well did Ed McGinty and Fred Piderit know each other at the Prep? They were both on the track team in their freshman year. They both sang in the Glee Club and served together on the School Discipline Committee. We know from Mother that Fred Piderit took horseback riding lessons in Prospect Park while he was in high school. Eddie “Einstein” McGinty was a scholastic all star, football tackle. In May 1934, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle awarded him a gold football.
Let’s say that they knew each well enough that Ed would joke with his family about the embarrassing incident at the Prep when he accidentally hit Fred with a baseball, but we do not know the details of this accident.
Following these two meetings, Mother told her parents that “I really love Fred” realizing, at the same time, that she was still quite young. In September, Fred would be off to Dartmouth—eight hours by train from Putnam Avenue. Mary would return to Francis Xavier Academy to be elected president of her junior class, the graduating class of 1936. A lengthy and, at times, bumpy seven-year romance ensued.
Another important, but lesser known, event for the Piderit family occurred during June 1934. Jewel Piderit and Thomas Costello were married in a civil ceremony in Greenwich, CT. Perhaps, Mother did not know about this event at the time.
First interlude: 1934-1941
William T Foley Jr would remain a good friend of the family. Like Uncle Jay several years later, he was a member of the Fordham ROTC program. After he graduated from Fordham College, again with Jack, he attended Fordham Law and graduated in 1939 when he also passed the NY bar exam. When Uncle Jay and Aunt Connie announced their engagement in the Brooklyn Eagle of 20 January 1943, an adjacent column proclaimed the announcement of Bill’s marriage to Elizabeth Ross of Bay Ridge. At the time, Ensign Foley was in active service with the US Naval Reserve. He died in 2005.
Another good friend of Dad’s at Brooklyn Prep was Douglas Campbell Jr. He was two years behind Dad, and he lived at 85-33 86th Street and travelled to and from the Prep with Dad. Doug, like Uncle Jay who was in the same class at the Prep, would become a ROTC cadet at Fordham, and he enlisted in the Army-Air Force after graduation.
Following his graduation, Jack McGinty worked for a year as a “runner” on Wall Street while he studied Latin and Greek to pass an entry exam. In the summer of 1935, Jack joined the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, PA. While speaking with Francis in 1998, Mother recalls her brother leaving for the Jesuits and “the sadness of it.” Mother was 16, and when she returned to Rockaway Point after seeing Jack off at the train station, she wrote about “the break in the chain.”
On 6 July 1934, William Carl Piderit, Dad’s grandfather died in East Orange at the age of 84 and a month after his grandson’s graduation from Brooklyn Prep. Grandfather Piderit had lived in New Jersey for over fifty years and had a successful career as a music teacher and performer. His legacy was known to us in the form of a small photograph of Franz Lizst that rested on top of the black piano in the living room.
Ed McGinty graduated from Fordham College with a BA in June 1938 and during the summer he joined the Society of Jesus as a novice at St. Andrew’s where he spent two years. For the present, we do not know where or how Ed was engaged during the academic year 1940-1941.
In June 1940, Uncle Jay graduated from Fordham Law and passed the NY State bar exam. His brother, Jack S.J., was teaching at St. Peter’s Prep.
Mother and Dad announced their engagement on 18 May 1940, and she graduated from Manhattanville College in June. During the summer of 1940 , they experienced the first bump in the relationship. Dad took a road trip out west with a friend, possibly Bill Foley, and we have photos of their visit to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Mother was not pleased!
During the autumn, mother was involved with several social events organized for the alumna of St. Francis Xavier Academy. Certainly, planning for the wedding and the beginning of her married life occupied her time, but she also held a job as receptionist for a toy import business at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue, diagonally west of and slightly north of the Flat Iron Building. Keenie told us many times how popular Mother was with the staff.
Dad, at the time of his engagement to Mary, had completed his Masters degree at the Tuck Graduate School of Dartmouth and was working for the Hanover Bank and Trust.
The details of Mother and Dad’s wedding in the chapel at St. Andrew’s on 3 May 1941 have been a central part of our family’s oral history. We have paged through the photo albums and repeated the stories. We have appreciated what a happy day it was for the two families. Bill Foley was an usher, and Doug Campbell, the best man. In the family pictures, the two Jesuit scholastics in their black cassocks and birettas flank their parents and the married couple.
On the day after their wedding, Mother and Dad boarded a ship on the West Side that took them to Sea Island, Georgia. They enjoyed the resort for a week and then visited Richmond. They returned to New York so that they could attend a ceremony honoring Ed McGinty who was headed for Manila.
On 18 May 1941, the McGinty family and friends gathered at Fordham to attend Edward’s mandatum, the Jesuit departure ceremony for a missionary. The ceremony was held, exceptionally, out-of-doors on the parade ground in front of Keating Hall. Full of pomp and ceremony, the event also celebrated the four hundredth anniversary of Francis Xavier’s departure for his mission in the Far East and the hundredth anniversary of Fordham’s founding. The Fordham Glee Club sang, a contingent of Xavier cadets marched as a guard of honor in the procession, and 3000 people attended.
Back Row: Fred Piderit, Fr. Jack, Jay McGinty. (left to right)
Front Row: Not Sure, Boppi McGinty, Edward McGinty, Not sure
Mr. Edward McGinty SJ was one of 6 scholastics and 6 priests who were leaving for missionary assignments. We know neither what led up to Edward being sent to the Philippines, nor his particular assignment in Manila, but this may well have been to teach at the Ateneo, the Jesuit secondary school in Manila.
The McGinty family must have experienced some anxiety during the months preceding Edward’s departure. Regarding the security of the Philippines, two different opinions recurred in the newspapers over the five prior months. Some held that important Japanese business interests in the Philippines would prevent any military intervention. On the other hand, Japanese authorities repeatedly stated sharply and forcefully that the South Pacific was within their sphere of interest and threatened dire consequences for any incursions. But, any anxieties about Ed were probably not discussed openly.
After Ed’s departure, the news from the Pacific quickly became more worrying. On 25 July, President Roosevelt froze all Japanese assets in the US. The president also issued orders to reinforce US Armed Forces in the Pacific. At the same time, FDR federalized the Philippine Army and named General MacArthur commander of US Armed Forces in the Far East.
When Ed arrived in Manila in September, a significant Jesuit community greeted him. Since 1927, the Philippine Mission had been officially assigned to the Maryland-New York Province. By 1941, 310 Jesuits, including 130 Filipinos, served in the semi-independent commonwealth. Six major sites were in operation across the archipelago, including a novitiate and an educational complex in Manila that included secondary and college programs.
The Pearl Harbor attacks that begin on 7 December 1941 changed everything. The Philippines were first attacked just hours after Pearl Harbor with the landing of ground troops to the north and south of Manila. An article published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 15 December 1941 reported that the Jesuit Mission Bureau in Manhattan had indicated that the 18 Jesuits from Brooklyn were all safe: Ed McGinty S.J. was mentioned in the article.
On 2 January 1942, Japanese forces occupied Manila, and information about the welfare of the Jesuits was cut off. Until mid-1944, the American Jesuits were not interred in prison camps by the Japanese. Ed, for example, was interred at the Jesuit residency at the Ateneo in Manila. Following MacArthur’s return with the Allied Forces in October 1944, conditions for the Jesuits became increasingly more difficult, particularly due to the lack of food in the interment camps.
We do not know when Ed became ill, perhaps with Addison’s disease, or how his illness developed. According to Jesuit eyewitness testimony, Ed died on 1 January 1945 in the Doctors’ Hospital in Manila following a succession of heart attacks over the previous days.
A Harry Truman attribution comes to mind: “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.” At some point in the near future, our Edward Peter may well come across a box of early letters that Mother received from Dad and from Ed. In one of her conversations with Francis, she speaks about having such letters stashed away.
Second interlude: 1941-1945
Following their wedding, Mother and Dad rented a third floor apartment from Mrs. Hyer at 84-19 113th Street. Early in the winter of 1944, shortly before John’s birth, they purchased the house at 112-05 84th Avenue. During this period, Dad began his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
84-19 113th Street Richmond Hill, NY
112-05 84th Avenue
Driveway of 84th Avenue house. To the left, we would walk up the hill and cross Park Lane South to get to Forest Park. This was the best hill for sleigh riding.
Various other members of the family were involved directly in the war. Uncle Jay had been drafted in 1940 and was assigned to work with the US Chemical Warfare Service in Washington DC. In February 1943, he married Constance Donnelly, and they lived at the Putnam Avenue house until 1945. Connie was born there in July 1944.
The Fuchs boys were also involved in the war, and David devotes a chapter of his memoirs to the war years. He recalls that he and Edwin were listening to a Giants game on the radio in Edwin’s room when the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor was announced. Eddie enlisted in the Coast Guard and was eventually assigned to the Arundel, an icebreaker working the Hudson River. Subsequently he was assigned to Okinawa and then the Philippines. Peter joined the navy in 1944 weeks after he graduated from Brooklyn Prep. He was trained in the maintenance of rocket launchers; Peter would later become an electrical engineer. Finally, Arthur went from a role in a play at William & Mary to joining the USO and worked in London and France at the time of the Battle of the Bulge.
Dies irae, dies illa
One morning at about nine o’clock in early February 1945, Mother was at home at 84th Avenue with Fred and John when the doorbell rang. Mother thought that it might be the diaper service. Her brother, Jay, was at the door.
Jay had come from Putnam Avenue with the worst news. On the previous evening, Father Farley and another priest from the Jesuit Mission Bureau at St. Ignatius Loyola had visited the McGintys at Putnam Avenue to inform them that a telegram from Manila had arrived during the day announcing that Edward had died on 1 January 1945. For several years, the family had not received any news from Manila, and no one was aware that Ed had been ill.
Edward was buried in the Jesuit cemetery at Novaliches. Grandma and Grandpa arranged for two memorial Masses, one on Saturday, 3 March, at St. Ignatius Loyola and the second at Good Counsel on Monday, 8 March.
Malnutrition caused severe suffering among the Jesuits and the Filipinos especially during 1944 and 1945. The U.S. Sixth Army liberated Manila in March 1945.
By the end of the war, 11 Jesuits had given their lives in the war.
The Fuchs boys all returned to their parents in Woodhaven safe and sound.
The Piderit family would learn later that Lieutenant Doug Campbell had lost his life during the war while he was serving in Africa.
During the period of mourning for Ed, the family experienced two joyful births. Mary Alanah was born on the 4th of July 1945. Possibly, Dad and Mother spent their first summer with their children at 271 Oceanside. In October 1945, Uncle Jay and Aunt Connie welcomed Edward Barry into their young family. “EB,” as the child was known, would only live until March 1948.
1 January 2020
Page 1 Eddie McGinty, star Brooklyn Prep tackle, published in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 10 December 1933, page 47
Page 2 The family at Wernersville for Jack’s vow day in July 1937. Ed had finished his junior year at Fordham College.
Page 3 (above) Ed and Jack with the Fuchs family at St. Andrew’s for Ed’s vow day (1940)
(below) Mother and Dad on their honeymoon at Sea Island.
Page 5 Ed’s grave at Novaliches Seminary in Manila. John took this photo in 2019 while visiting the Jesuit community in the Philippines.
 Edward was named after his grandfather Menahan: his middle name was his grandmother’s maiden name. Of course, Jay and Connie’s son, EB (Edward Barry) who died in infancy and our own Edward Peter remind us of our great-grandparents.
 The sources for this first meeting are rich and solid. See John’s notes (p 11) and Francis’ audio tape 7B (some background noise).
 Blue Jug, the Brooklyn Prep yearbook, 1934, p 72. https://brooklynprep.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/TheBlueBook1934.pdf
 Coincidently, William and Mary Fuchs, Uncle Peter’s parents, lived a block away from the Campbell home. In September 1934, Mother attended the Fuchs’ 50th wedding anniversary.
 See Woodstock Letters 1941, page 127-8.
 See John’s notes, p 17.
 See Woodstock Letters, Vol 84, p 150.
 See Francis’ Tape 8B toward the end and continued on the beginning of Tape 2 A.
The October 1945 issue of Woodstock Letters is devoted entirely to accounts of the Jesuit community during the war.