Sunday, December 29, 2013

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion

By Fannie Flag

Sookie, 59, has just married off the last of her daughters and is looking forward to relaxing and maybe travelling with her husband, Earle. Her life has run pretty smoothly, with no major problems except for her mother. Lenore, the mother, considers herself Southern aristocracy and wants her only daughter, Sookie, to carry on the family traditions.
Next to her flamboyant mother, Sookie has always felt dowdy and subdued. She has also always felt like she was a disappointment to her mother, who constantly tried to mold Sookie in her own image. But Sookie's failure to please her mother made sense once Sookie found out that she was adopted and no blood kin of Lenore's at all. In fact, Sookie wasn't even a Southerner, her birth mother was a woman of Polish descent from Wisconsin and a Catholic to boot!
So Sookie sets out to find out more about the woman whose name appears on Sookie's birth certificate, Fritzie Jurdabralinski, and who, it turns out, is alive and living in California.

I quite enjoyed this story. Fritzie was one of a group of women who took on jobs originally performed by men during World War II. She and her sisters ran their family gas station when their brother joined the military and when they had to close the gas station, the sisters, all of whom were pilots, became WASPs: Women Airforce Service Pilots. These women flew planes from the air plane factories to the military bases, freeing up male pilots for combat duty. It was hard and even dangerous work, with long hours and grueling schedules.
So not only is this just a good and entertaining read, it also tells the not-so-well-known story of the WASPs, the women pilots who showed that women can fly airplanes too.

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