The seventy-one-year romance between Phil and Emily Wood began with exchanging glances in autumn 1941 at church in Summit, NJ. The sixteen-year-old high school seniors were also witnessing Hitler rolling through Europe via newsreels and newspapers. Communication and commitment became the core of their relationship that carried them through the rest of their lives.
After high school graduation Emily worked a summer job doing piece work in a zipper factory producing fasteners for military use before entering Smith College. Phil followed his father and brother, classes of 1915 and 1942, to Princeton. That summer before college brought a few casual dates with Phil in Chatham. In the fall Emily received an invitation from Phil to attend a football weekend at Princeton. They kissed for the first time by the gothic tower of the Graduate School under a full moon. In December 1942, Phil came to a Charity Ball at Smith bringing several Princeton friends for Emily’s Smith friends.
Letters were their main communication while in college sharing details of their studies, Phil’s participation in a prank to remove the clapper from a campus bell, and their growing love. When Phil wrote he would soon be called for military service, he talked about how much he would miss her but said they were too young to marry. He also didn’t want to subject Emily to the life of a soldier’s wife.
During training and after deployment with the 86th Infantry 10th Mountain Division, Phil wrote her letters from every duty station. He received a furlough in August 1944 where they were engaged at a family party. While in New York City to get her ring, Emily fainted when it was put on her finger.
Emily documented their inspirational life story in her 2015 book, “It Was Magic” available on Amazon.
"Communication and commitment fanned the spark of romance into a flame that grew for 71 years."