A Page from Texas Taurine History
Everyone knows that Lady Bullfighter Patricia McCormick is from Big Springs, Texas. Being a Texan myself, I followed her career more closely than some other bullfighters—especially since, after spending an evening with her socially in November, 1954, I was sparked to learn more about this bullfighting thing she and Hemingway loved so much.
After the horrendous goring she received at Villa Acuna, Mexico, in September of that same year, she went on a tour to promote her book, and that’s when I met her. She vowed to come back to the arena, but by 1962, she realized it would be best to retire and start another career. She had attended the University of Texas at El Paso before becoming a professional torera. She went back to college, got a degree, and taught art at the University of Southern California at Pebble Beach. I kept track of her through Fred Hochberg and the L.A. Club, so I knew that was where she was when her former Manager/Trainer Alejandro del Hierro died in El Paso. Alejandro was a friend of mine, and on the night I interviewed him for an article I wrote for the El Paso Chamber of Commerce Magazine, He shared with Eddie and me that although things were rocky at the end of this professional relationship with Patricia and they no longer spoke, he never stopped loving her. Therefore, when he died, I sent her the newspaper clipping and told her what he had shared with us. I figured she would like to know that. She wrote back a very sweet note.
That was the last I heard of her until Gary Humphreys of Del Rio, Texas, called me. I did not know Gary. Someone, Fred Renk, I think, gave him my telephone number saying I keep track of a lot of taurinos and might have the information he wanted. Gary had met Patricia briefly just after she was gored. He was a boy of 9 at his parents, home in Del Rio when his aunt, a nurse, came in with Patricia. The aunt had been a nurse at the hospital at Del Rio where she was taken following the goring at Villa Acuna which is just across the border from Del Rio, and they were on their way to another house where Patricia was going to recuperate until she was able to travel. Gary was so fascinated by her story (and her good looks!) he never forgot that meeting. Now he was 59 years old and wondering what happened to Patricia. I told him she was in Pebble Beach and gave him the information I had.
I was intrigued to learn what lengths he went to in finding her! He called back, very frustrated, to say he had called just about every Patricia in California after learning she was out there, but still could not find her. She was no longer at Pebble Beach. It seemed she had just dropped out of sight. Then I tried calling Jimee Petrich to see if she had anything more recent, and glory be! She had Patricia’s new address and telephone number which had not yet come out in the new club roster and was able to provide what he needed. Finally, Gary reached Patricia who said she had retired and left California because of high taxes and high cost of living in general. She now lives in Midland, TX, where she is doing well and is very happy. No doubt, she was very surprised to learn of the young boy she unknowingly impressed so many years ago. They had a good chat, and he learned that her new passion is painting horses. It is nice to know she is in a happy place at this time in her life. Gary is pacified and hopes to call on her in person in Midland and invite her to lunch or dinner some day!
Texas is proud of Patricia and all of the other brave ladies who dared to become toreros in her day. There were several including Patricia Hayes and rejoneadoras Edith Evans and Georgina Knowles, but Patricia McCormick is the Texas torera everyone remembers best.
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