When I was younger, I was always an avid reader. It’s hard to say when that stopped, but somewhere along the line, I just stopped being able to find the time.
For a couple of years now, every time we’ve gone somewhere, either for a long weekend or a vacation, I tote this one book – Fannie Flagg’s The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion.
I’ve loved Fannie Flagg (as an author) since I read ‘Coming Attractions,’ which later got renamed to Daisy Fae and the Medicine Man. I soaked up ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ and couldn’t wait to read ‘Welcome to the World Baby Girl.” I’m not sure how many fans she has or if anybody even knows who Fannie Flagg is anymore. But I grew up with her, well sorta kinda. Back in the 70s and 80s, she was a staple on TV. Her bright beaming smile always made me feel like she could be another one of my grandmother’s sisters and I was pretty sure that if we looked hard enough, she was definitely family.
I remember that at some point, my mother (also a very avid reader) joined some sort of book club and ‘Coming Attractions’ was one of the books they sent her. In my mind’s eye, I can still see it sitting on her bookshelf, the cover had this little cupid-like figure on the front with all these clouds surrounding by sky blue. It was a soothing book cover. Every time I’d come home, there would be those clouds calling to me until finally one day, I took it down. To my surprise, I recognized the author’s name which piqued my curiosity as I’d thought she was just a comedian. For whatever reason, I told Mom that I was going to “tote her book off.” She smiled and said, “Well, I sure hope you read it because it sure has been sitting up there long enough.” In the bag it went. The first chance I got, I devoured it. After that I was hooked.
Fannie’s books are easy to read and comical in an Old South come to New York kinda way. Some of her characters can be a tad bit stereotypical, but I have always enjoyed them.
So it was unusual that I couldn’t figure out a way to get into ‘All Girl’s,’ but I’d start chapter one and couldn’t get passed a few pages.
That was until I got to the Blue Harbor.
Now, it’s interesting, because while we were on the plane (and before I’d opened the book for the thirtieth time), I asked The Dane about one of his Polish relatives. It was a short conversation that went something like this:
The Dane: “Pulaski, Wisconsin, I think.”
The Dane: “It’s where they came from, I think. It’s an area with a lot of Polish. It’s named after Kazimierz Pulaski.”
Me: “Why was it named after him? I thought he was from Georgia.”
The Dane: “Why would you think he was from Georgia?”
Me: (Shooting a sort of funny look) “Fort Pulaski was named after him.”
The Dane: “Fort Pulaski?”
Me: “Uh yeah, in Savannah. Remember we went by there and I told you about it.”
The Dane: “I thought you were talking about the park.”
The Dane: “Pulaski Park.”
By this time, I was pretty sure I was going to be doing some googling when we got off the plane.
As it turns out, Fort Pulaski in Georgia, Pulaski Wisconsin and Pulaski Park are all named for Kazimierz (Casimir) Pulaski, a revolutionary war solider who was known as “the father of American Calvary.” Who knew? (Well, I mean, I guess lots of people did).
So, the first night we got to the Blue Harbor Resort, I took one look at the place and thought, ‘there is no way I’m going to get any reading done this week.” The place is massive, complete with an indoor water park.
As it turns out though, it was the perfect place to find little places to tuck away and read, which we both did. (I’ve added some photos to the photo gallery).
I flipped ahead a few pages in the book and the word ‘Pulaski’ caught my eye. (Wait, what?)
As it turns out, this All-Girl filling station just so happens to be…dun ta da dun…in Pulaski, Wisconsin. What are the odds?
I don’t want to give away much about the book, because it was (as all Fannie’s books are) a very interesting read. The characters are just the sort of people I’ve come to expect live in Fannie’s world. And I enjoyed all of them very much. But what really interested me was finding out about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of WWII.
The WASPs were women who flew military aircraft in non-combat missions. They flew under the directives of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) from (roughly) 1942 through 1945. There were approximately 1,074 of them and they were not granted veteran status until 1977. WOW.
As curious as I am and as much as I try to be informed, I somehow never knew about these women. I sort of figure that if that’s true there may be others out there who’ve never heard of them either. So today, with Vetran’s day coming up so quickly (11/11/17), I’d like to thank these women for their service and hopefully let a few people know that they even existed. (Thanks for that, Fannie!) While we’re at it, I think we should probably remember Kazimierz Pulaski on Memorial Day (since he was kind of a big deal).
Hope all of you stay tuned. Tomorrow I’ll have another guest post from Katherine Johnson.
Katherine Johnson is a Fashion stylist and consultant. Katherine is known for her superior classic feelings and the iconic images she created in collaboration with some of the world’s most well-known artists. Her inborn sense of style and production knowledge along with her renowned career is now attracted her to the next level as a style visionary and fashion influencer.
As for the book, I think I just had to be in the right place at the right time to get a real good feel for all the people.
Top runs big, I’d suggest sizing down.