Remembering the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs)

Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane,
Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane, “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” at the four-engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, during WASP ferry training B-17 Flying Fortress. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force)
Since it’s Memorial Day weekend, I thought it would be fitting to write a post to honor the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of WWII.

If you don’t know who they are–I’m (sadly) not surprised. This group isn’t typically mentioned in history books or many WWII documentaries. Their images aren’t iconic (like Rosie) and their names aren’t well-known (yet). And, some argue, the outcome of WWII may have been quite different if it hadn’t been for this group of under-recognized women. However, there are some, like film-maker Jill Bond, who are determined to help tell the story and spread the word of their heroism.

In 1941, two female pilots (Jacqueline Cochran & Nancy Harkness Love) sent inquiries to the U.S. Army Air Forces requesting that women be used for non-combat missions to pilot planes to bases throughout the United States. Their goal was to free male pilots for combat roles. The proposal was denied several times, but by the summer of 1942 (and after some major support from Mrs. Roosevelt), Cochran and Love’s idea was taken seriously.

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Avenger Field (Photo credit: waspmusem.org)

More than 25,000 women applied to be military pilots, but only about 1,100 were selected. The women traveled to Sweetwater, Texas to train at Avenger Field for four months and earned their wings and became the first women to fly American military aircraft. From Sweetwater, the WASPs were stationed at 120 different air bases across the country, logged over 60 million flight hours, and delivered over 12,000 aircraft of 78 different types from factories to bases.

However, after a nasty and aggressive campaign by male pilots who wanted the WASP jobs during World War II, they were the only wartime unit that was denied military status by Congress and were sent home before the war was over and their job was done. Because the women were denied military status, the WASP received no insurance or benefits during or after the war, and if a WASP died during training or while on a mission, their families were not allowed to put a service star in the window, nor could the WASP receive a military burial. (Bond)

It would take 30 years for the women to be granted military status and almost 70 years for the women to earn the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010. That being said, there are less than 200 WASPs still surviving, so time is of the essence to show these women how grateful we are for their service.  

This trailer for Jill Bond’s documentary, We Served Too, solely dedicated to this group really captures their story:


Back in the fall I read an article with my students about these incredible women. Ever since, I had this idea to recreate some of the images of the WASPs in order to honor their service. My mother works at the Lehigh Valley International Airport, so I ran my idea by her and asked if the airport would let me do a shoot there in one of the hangars. After a few calls and e-mails, it turned out that the Aluminum Overcast B-17 Bomber from WWII was scheduled to come through for a tour. Knowing that this was an incredible opportunity, I began planning.

I knew immediately I wanted Alex from Alexandra Whitney Photography on board with my project. She brings such a fresh perspective to anything retro/vintage and her photos are always swoon-worthy. So, after a quick coffee-shop brainstorm session with her, the project was off the ground.

I cannot wait to show you the images from our shoot and tell you all about the other vendors and details  (so stay tuned), but for now I want to dedicate this post to the true WASPs. Their service and courageousness is nothing short of inspiring. If even one person remembers and cares enough to share their story with others, then my project will have been worth it.

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(Photo credit: Connellsville Canteen)
16 July 2009    From the left, Dorothy Dodd Eppstein, Hellen Skjersaa Hansen, Doris Burmester Nathan and Elizabeth Chadwick Dressler, walk in front of a B-25 plane, as they were Air Force engineering test pilots for the B-25 during World War II.     Shawano Cleary / Special to the Gazette
From the left, Dorothy Dodd Eppstein, Hellen Skjersaa Hansen, Doris Burmester Nathan and Elizabeth Chadwick Dressler, walk in front of a B-25 plane, as they were Air Force engineering test pilots for the B-25 during World War II.

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(Photo credit: waspmuseum.com)
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(Photo credit: aerotechnews.com)

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WASPS: Thank you for your service.
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Want to see more images? Check out this gallery.

Patriotically,
Destiny

Post Script:
“I have found adventure in flying, in world travel, in business, and even close at hand…Adventure is a state of mind–of spirit.” -Jacqueline Cochran (WASP founder)

If you’d like to learn more about the WASPS, visit:

  1. WASPS on the Web
  2. WASP Museum
  3. NPR: The Original Fly Girls
  4. Wings Across America
  5. Women of WWII
  6. We Served Too
  7. WASP Books

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Twelfth Night

Huzzah! Happy Twelfth Night!

I love celebrating Twelfth Night for so many reasons. To start, I’m an English nerd and anything Shakespearean tickles my fancy. It also gives me something to look forward to after Christmas and bringing in the New Year. Lastly, if you haven’t checked out my About page (Behind the Quill), I explain how my blog’s namesake connects to Shakespeare’s play of the same name. So, it goes without saying that this is an obligatory holiday for Twelfth Light to celebrate, right?!?!

There is so much history involved with this holiday, but I’ll focus my post on the Twelfth Night Cake, also known as the King’s Cake.

Here’s a little background knowledge for my history-seekers out there:

Twelfth Night Cake

“The Twelfth Night Cake is an often-ornate confection into which a bean, a coin or a tiny carved or cast metal version of the Baby Jesus was placed. During early evening ceremonies, the cake was cut and its pieces distributed to guests who were advised to chew carefully. The person who found the icon then became the king or queen of Twelfth Night. By the late 18th century in England and America, the selection of Twelfth Night’s “royalty” was also alternately accomplished by the distribution of paper slips with each piece of cake. The slips were opened and the person holding the one with a special mark inside was declared king.

Some believe this paper ballot tradition was instituted as a matter of safety to prevent often-inebriated and distracted guests from inadvertently choking to death on hard beans, coins or a cast metal Jesus hidden in wads of cake” (Levins).

Twelfth Night CUPcakes!

I wanted to bring Twelfth Night into this century, so I created a Twelfth Night CUPcake contest at my school for my colleagues. I just didn’t have time to make my own cupcakes like I wanted to originally, but the bakery ones were oh-so-yummy and my friends didn’t seem to mind. ๐Ÿ™‚

I added quotes to the cupcakes from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night like this:

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To make the little quote banners you’ll need:
1. Cardstock quotes
2. Toothpicks
3. Scotch tape
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Leave about an inch on the left of the quote and two inches on the right. Cut a V into the right side. Don’t fear it being uneven. The more random, the better. Next, fold a crease on the left-hand side.
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Flip it over toward you and tape a toothpick at the crease. Make sure that when you’d flip it over the quote would be face-up.
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Fold the flap over at the crease and add another piece of tape to secure. This process as worked for me several times without fail and prevents the paper from sliding down the toothpick into the pretty icing.
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When you’re done, you’ll have a collection of adorable little cupcake flags.
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Tada!!! โค

ย Presentation

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The reason for the odd, double-cupcake liner was to find the winner of Twelfth Night! I didn’t want my friends to choke on something in the cupcakes, so I did this, instead:

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I hope everyone at school had fun playing along today! Congratulations to one of our secretaries, Deb, for being crowned the Queen of Twelfth Night. Along with bragging rights, she won a $15.00 Starbucks gift card. Hopefully Deb can find something at Starbucks that’s as sweet as she is.

To wash down all that cake, I’d suggest a traditional Wassail beverage (the name comes from the old English term “Waes hael” meaning “be well”). Here’s a lovely recipe from Cookie + Kate!

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Image credit: Cookie + Kate

Happy Twelfth Night!

Waes hael,
Destiny

Post Script:
The winning cupcake quote?? ๐Ÿ˜‰
“Fate, show thy force. Ourselves we do not owe /
What is decreed must be; and be this so.โ€
~W. Shakespeare

Merry Quiche-mas!

There was one day of the school year I looked forward to almost as much as the first and last days–and that was our school’s annual Quiche Breakfast!! Kitty, our cafeteria manager at the time, would make a large spread of various types of quiche as a celebration before the holiday break. The staff would come in early to enjoy her amazing creations. Sadly, when Kitty passed away several years ago, the tradition ended. Going off to break without this tradition for the past few years just didn’t sit well with me.

So, amidst planning my own annual Ugly Sweater Party, wrapping up my school work, and shopping for Christmas–I decided to pitch an idea to my colleagues that we conjure the Spirit of Christmas Past and host our own “Merry Quiche-mas” in Kitty’s honor.

I was overwhelmed with how positive the response was to my idea and I am so grateful to work with such kind people.

If you’re thinking to yourself that quiche is way too challenging and that’s why you’ve never attempted to make one before, well, stop that crazy internal-talk and TRY IT! It’s SOOO easy and they are so yummy!! If you want to try to your own, some recipes are posted at the bottom of the various types my friends contributed to our quiche feast.

If you want to host your own, feel free to steal my printable here!

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 We pulled it off, Kitty!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s to you!

 A few recipes to get you started…

  1. Bacon and Cheddar Quiche
  2. Ham & Jarlsberg Quiche
  3. Chorizo and Goat Cheese Quiche
  4. Mozzarella, Basil, & Tomato Quiche
  5. Cowboy Quiche
  6. Asparagus, Bacon, & Onion Quiche
  7. Mushroom Quiche
  8. Spinach Quiche
  9. Mini Quiche Bites
  10. Crustless Quiche

 

Reminiscently,
Destiny

Post Script:
Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love.” ~Giada De Laurentiis