Peg Trout told story after story about the women in her book, “Sisters in War”, to a near capacity crowd at the North Baltimore Public Library’s Wolfe Community Room on Tuesday evening.
Although the book started with the author as a photography project for a class she was enrolled in, it quickly became a labor of love, and then a passion. Trout self-published the book in 2008.
What started out as a request and “favor” to talk about the story to her sister Angie Swartz’s book club, which meets monthly at the NBPL, became an open invitation to anyone interested. Those who wanted to hear about the women in the book and their stories, Peg’s reasons and inspiration for writing it, and other interesting facts about women who served during WWII that were probably unknown to many, definitely had their chance to be enlightened at this presentation.
Some of the things I found fascinating:
*The women were not considered “military” when they enrolled/volunteered. They were civil servants, until the law was changed under President Jimmy Carter (more than 30 years after WWII) Until then, they had no military benefits, GI bill for education, etc. The 1977 law corrected that.
*Many of the women became very useful to the military because they already had flying experience when they volunteered. This is fascinating to me, considering most women during this time were waitresses, beauticians, secretaries, nurses, and stay-at-home moms.
*Peg interviewed a nurse who was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed.
*Peg interviewed a nurse who gave an enema to General George Patton
*Peg told a story about her Auntie Flo (Flora Ausenbaugh) who, by the way, was Peg’s inspiration for this book, and was known as a wonderful seamstress, although before she entered the service she was employed as a beautician. While waiting for their turn to be shipped home after the war was over, Flora taught several of the women who were waiting how to sew, as many of them didn’t have that skill. Many parachutes had been discarded, and were readily available to be sewn into something more useful for the women—undergarments. Peg shared a bra and panties made from a parachute that belonged to her beloved aunt, and now belongs to Peg (Sorry I didn’t get a photo)
Here is the link to the original story on theNBXpress that has more information about the book, “Sisters at War”