[Jodie Benson, onetime executive chef at Peter’s in the Park and a resident of the neighborhood for more than 20 years, was known to many Madison Parkers for her humor and kindness. She died earlier this month. Her life was celebrated at a well-attended wake held two weeks ago at Bing’s. Her obituary is available here. This is a tribute to her memory.]
By Stan Moshier
Just so you know, Jodie Benson’s favorite night of the week was Friday, the night for her to kick up her heels and howl. She always said “the eagle flies on Friday.” Only a few Fridays ago Jodie hitched a ride, and she slipped away from us just one night after her 50th birthday. Our little friend had a golden soul, a heart that melted on a sad story, beautiful blue eyes, and a fried chicken full figure that she dreamed one day would be a perfect size 7. Bing’s never had a better, more loyal and trustworthy patron than Jodie, expertly mixing one person with another. Whether you needed a friend, a new hire, or a business contact, she was always there to assist.
On a lucky night you would see Jodie holding court while perched on bar stool #1, rattling off advice to the bartender on shift--usually about the ingredient just missed or forgotten. She was smooth as butter, enjoyed an occasional cocktail, gut-busting funny, a true friend to a true friend and a big time jokester. She was always on the go, always in the know, street wise; and when the time was right on those Friday nights and the music kicked in she put on her dancing shoes and turned into a butterfly with moon dust on her feet. That’s right, the girl could dance!
And now the bar stool in the #1 position is empty, no Jodie rambling through the door, where all her friends and Bing’s fabulous crew would smile and greet her while her piercing blue eyes checked out “her” bar stool. And if anyone was on that bar stool, her look was usually enough to get them to move. But if they were comatose and didn’t catch the look, she got assistance from Bing’s bartenders suggesting they move over one spot, which would usually suffice.
Yeah, you went too soon Jodie girl. Life leaned up against you and pushed you too hard. The jiggles, the chuckles, the words of wisdom, the jokes are now gone, gone too damn soon. The subtle comments from the Master Chef and foodie whiz kid will be missed, such as “the only way this amazing sauce on the fresh salmon could be any better would be to add a pinch, and I mean just a pinch, of saffron; but really it’s perfect as it is.” Yeah right, subtle as a 20 lb. sledgehammer. So, of course, a pinch of saffron was added to that sauce on the next go around and Jodie would have a taste…..and just smile.
So now all the Bing’s family that really knew Jodie are left with a huge aching emptiness, sadness, heavy hearts and eyes brimmed with tears that without warning will roll down our cheeks at any time whether day or night. Our pal Jodie, the little girl at heart with the champagne bubble laugh, is now gone--but as we all know, never ever forgotten. Thank you, Jodie, for all your sweetness, your loyalty, your goodness; and please have a five-course dinner ready when the next one of us comes to visit.
Bon Journo, Girlfriend.
From Stan, Lori, and the Fabulous Bing’s Family, both past and present.
[The above photo, showing Jodie during her time at Peter’s in the Park (circa. 1986), courtesy of Stan Moshier.]