RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: October 2011

WWII American Home Front Oral History Project

I’m often asked, at readings, about the inspiration for “Wax”. I was inspired by oral histories I read — transcripts of interviews with women who worked in the shipyards during WWII — obtained through Rosie the Riveter, WWII Home Front, National Historical Park.

“Wax” is a work of fiction. The women in “Wax” are imagined, but their experiences are crafted from story threads gathered from “real life” interviews. I distinctly remember a story one Rosie recalled — about her welding supervisor telling her she’d get the rhythm for connecting beads of molten metal — like the rhythm for “knitting or crocheting” — but they were things she had never learned to do. Or the Rosie who was waiting at a bus stop when her vision went dark — the result of a flash burn to her corneas. These conversations and more, between interviewer and subject, fueled my imagination.

On Friday, I was contacted by David Dunham with the WWII American Home front Oral History Project, and learned that his team had completed those interviews, and that more are coming! Approximately 100 transcripts are now available online, right here, with an additional 75 expected by the end of 2012.

If you have stories to share, schedule an interview by contacting David at You will inspire generations to come.

Thank You Kaiser Heritage

I was happy to have the booth next to Kaiser Heritage during last weekend’s Home Front Festival in Richmond. The health care network that now serves 8.6 million members was born in the Richmond shipyards during WWII.

Wax was featured in the Heritage blog last week–you can read the full article here (a pdf).

Thank you so much!

If you visit Richmond, you can see the old Kaiser Field Hospital. It’s not open to the public now, but as plans for Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park come to fruition, there ae fantastic opportunities for interpretation.

WWII Home Front Festival

On October 15th I had the pleasure of participating in the Richmond, WWII Home Front Festival, a cooperative effort between the City of Richmond, the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, and the National Park Service.  I hadn’t attended before, but I will attend again. The music alone, was worth the drive: gospel, blues, swing, jazz — and the event was free.  Contra Costa Culinary Academy cooked up some snacks, the Richmond Rotary hosted an antique car show and there was a Friday night USO dance.  Mark your calendar for next year.

Book Tour Cat and Book Store Cat

Loofie (aka Alice Aloof) has been my faithful traveling companion on the Tin Can Camper Book Tour. For the most part, our journey’s been uneventful. We did a little off-roading on the back side of Mount Rainer (inadvertently — the GPS route was ridiculous) and Loofie protested by hiding out all night, but I rewarded her the next night by taking her to a Motel 6.

There’s something about cats and books. The most famous bookstore cat I’ve met recently is Henry, the most beloved member of the Orca Books pod in Olympia Washington. Orca Books staff adopted Henry from a rescue organization called Feline Friends. Legend has it that Henry was found in a burned out barn, bringing food to starving kittens.

The Grand Circle of Washington and Why You Should Never Take a Kiwi on a Book Tour

I got a GPS for the book tour because I couldn’t fathom driving around lost while towing the tin can camper. Sometimes a side trip away from the down town business district is necessary to park the truck and trailer, and the GPS is handy.

I wasn’t prepared for our off-road adventure. Barry, Loofie the cat and I had a day off. I was traveling Washington state — Walla Walla, Spokane, Leavenworth, Bellingham, Bainbridge Island and Olympia — reading and signing books, when the weather came up on the Oregon coast where Barry was fishing for tuna. He was holed up in Coos Bay while twenty-five knot winds howled off shore. With nothing better to do, he joined the tour.

My free day last week (I had six events scheduled in seven days) was Saturday; with a full day between readings in Spokane and Leavenworth. What to do? Visit Mount Rainer, of course! Or, the Forest Service roads between Mount Rainer and Leavenworth. What I didn’t know about my GPS — pavement is optional. A road is a road if it shows up on a forest service map somewhere.

I was a bit nervous about leaving the asphalt, but not my Kiwi companion. (Sir Edmond Hillary was a Kiwi after all). Here is Barry after the second dry stream bed crossing. Doesn’t he look proud of himself?