Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Good to Know: Due Date Rollover

The due date has rolled over for regularly circulating items at the TWU Libraries.  Meaning?  TWU students and faculty and staff members can now check out library items until December 11, 2015.  Items already checked out can be renewed until that same date.

Questions?  Contact the libraries' Circulation Department at circ@twu.edu or 940-898-3719.  

~Jason Mims

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

B is for Beatrix

Feast  Peter Rabbit feasts on Mr. McGregor's vegetables in a scene from The Tale
of Peter Rabbit by Helen Beatrix Potter.  Image courtesy of wikipedia.com.
Today we celebrate the birthday of Helen Beatrix Potter, born in South Kensington, London, on July 28, 1866.  The first child of Rupert Potter, a barrister, and Helen Leech Potter, young Helen Beatrix was called Beatrix, or often, just B.  Fascinated by plants and animals, Potter began keeping a journal in her mid-teens, written in a code that remained undeciphered until 15 years after her death.  She made a series of greeting cards and began work on a book, for which she failed to find a publisher.  Potter privately published 250 copies of her book in 1901; it was only after these copies sold that Frederick Warne & Co. published The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902.

Potter's books possessed several qualities which set her apart from other authors and illustrators of children's books.  Her integration of story and illustration remains unmatched in children's literature, and her recognition of the beauty of animals--and her ability to convey it truthfully--set her illustrations apart from the grotesque, caricature-like images typical of most Victorian-era animal stories for children. Potter's books were also innovative in their unique size--small enough for a child to hold, and easily transportable.  Unlike the typically large and elaborate children's books of the period, Potter's were clearly for children (rather than for parents to read to children).  Each book cost only one shilling, enabling children from all backgrounds to enjoy them.

Beatrix Potter died on December 22, 1943, at the age of seventy-seven. To this day her works are widely read, and she remains one of the most beloved children's authors and artists of all time.  Gale Virtual Reference Library 

The Children’s Collection (on the Garden Level of the Blagg-Huey Library on the Denton campus) includes several works by Potter, listed here, that may be checked out.

TITLE
CALL NUMBER
Sly old cat / written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter
PZ10.3.P47 Sl3
Tailor of Gloucester / from the original manuscript written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter
PZ10.3.P47 Ta7
Tale of Benjamin Bunny
PZ10.3.P47 Tabb 1975 
Tale of Benjamin Bunny
PZ10.3.P47 Tabb5
Tale of Peter Rabbit
PZ10.3.P47 Tap 1975
Tale of Tuppenny / Illustrated by Marie Angel
PZ10.3.P47 Tatu3
Tale of two bad mice
PZ10.3.P47 Tau 1975
Tale of Peter Rabbit
PZ7.P85 Tap 1900
Tale of Peter Rabbit
PZ7.P85 Tap 1987
Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
PZ7.P85 Tas 2001
Cuento de Pedrito Conejo
PZ73.P85 Tap 1993
Peter Rabbit's natural foods cookbook
TX741 .D6

The Children's Collection--comprised of illustrated children's books, original artwork, and teen literature--supports the School of Library & Information Studies; Department of Teacher Education; and art students from the College of Arts and Sciences at TWU.

For questions pertaining to the Children's Collection, please contact Reference and Children's Collection Librarian Jimmie Lyn Harris at jharris@twu.edu or 940-898-3740.

~Jimmie Lyn Harris

Monday, July 27, 2015

What Are You Reading This Summer?

Before you can say fry an egg on the sidewalk, summer will be over.  If reading that bestseller has been part of your summer plans, now may be the time.

The Browsing Collection on the first floor of the Denton campus' Blagg-Huey Library features many of the books on current best seller lists, along with other must-reads you've been hearing about. We've included a sample of these titles here.

Submit a comment below--what will you be reading this summer?

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee 
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
American Sniper by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (also available in audiobook format)
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Don't see the book you're looking for?  Check the TWU Libraries catalog, or contact us for assistance.  We're always happy to help.

~Sandy Cochran

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hot Off The Press: Titles Added in June

     Whoever said there's nothing new under the (scorching Texas) sun wasn't talking about the collections of the TWU Libraries.  Every month, new titles are added to our catalog for TWU students and faculty and staff members to use for classes, research, and recreational reading. 

Titles in a broad range of subject areas came through our doors in June.  Browse the list here to see our newest books in print, and the list here for our newest ebooks.


See a title that interests you?  Copy and paste it into the Catalog Search box on the TWU Libraries homepage.  For a print book, the availability and call number will appear below the author's name; for an ebook, click View It and follow the links to read the book on your screen.  For either, click Details to learn more.

Questions?  Please ask.  We're always happy to help.     


~Sandy Cochran with Vickie Silva

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Harper Lee Documentary Now Available

If you didn't see the new documentary on To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman author Harper Lee during its special pre-release last week, the TWU Libraries have you covered.  

Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman is now available to TWU students and faculty and staff members here, or through the database Kanopy Videostreaming (TWU Libraries homepage > Databases A-Z List > Kanopy Videostreaming).


Where's the popcorn?

~Sandy Cochran

Throwback Thursday: Fun in the Sun

"Many a spring and summer afternoon is splashed away at TSCW's outdoor pool.  Whether perfecting
their diving form or trying for a golden tan, students rate swimming tops in entertainment."  Texas
State College for Women (TSCW).  1953 Daedalian Yearbook.
For more looks back, TWU yearbooks dating from 1906(!) are available at the Blagg-Huey Library on the Denton campus (near the Information Desk).

~Sandy Cochran

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Clubhouse Summer Reading Program for Kids

I Want This One  Children enrolled in The Clubhouse, an educational enrichment
program sponsored by the TWU Department of University Housing, select books to

take home.  Staff members from several library departments assist with the program 
to help the kids have fun and retain their reading skills over the summer.  Photograph
by Jimmie Lyn Harris.  June 29, 2015. 
Ta kid there's nothing better than hanging with friends in a clubhouse.  This summer, a group of TWU Libraries staff members is making that experience even better for one group of lucky children.

Ranging in age from 5 to 12, the children are enrolled in The Clubhouse, an educational enrichment program sponsored by the TWU Department of University Housing.  Every Monday while the program is in session, the group arrives in the Children's Collection at the Blagg-Huey Library on the Denton campus for an arts and crafts activity (such as the miniature pinwheel bookmarks the children made to celebrate the Fourth of July) before staff members help each child select and check out a book on a topic of their choice.  Some of the library activities are based on superheros, the theme of the 2015 Texas Summer Reading Program from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Staff members from the Circulation, Reference and Technical Services departments of the library, led by Reference and Children’s Collection Librarian Jimmie Lyn Harris, work together at these weekly sessions with the twin goals of creating fun for the children, and helping them reinforce and retain their reading skills over the summer.  "Working with these future college students," Harris says, "has been a very rewarding experience."   

In addition to library visits, The Clubhouse features reading projects, arts and crafts, cooking experiments, gardening fun, science activities, weekly field trips and more.  Visit The Clubhouse page here to learn more.

The Children's Collection--comprised of illustrated children's books, original artwork, and teen literature--supports the TWU School of Library & Information Studies, the TWU Department of Teacher Education, and art students from the TWU College of Arts & Sciences.  It also serves as a resource for the children of TWU students and faculty and staff members.  

For research and other questions related to the Children's Collection, please contact Jimmie Lyn Harris at jharris@twu.edu or 940-898-3740. 

~Sandy Cochran with Jimmie Lyn Harris

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Piece of WASP History: The Beechcraft E18S Restoration Project

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) (L-R) Bee Haydu, Kay Hilbrandt, Marty Martin Wyall, Florence 
"Shutsy" Reynolds and Nell Stevenson, five of the over 1,000 civilian pilots who became the first women in 
history to fly for the U.S. military, were welcomed to TCCD's Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transporta-
tion and Logistics.  Behind them, a Beechcraft E18S-9700 aircraft once owned by WASP founder and director 
Jackie Cochran.  May 22, 2015.
Across the nation, they left their jobs and homes to volunteer in their country's hour of need.  It was the height of WWII, and their flight backgrounds made them ideal candidates for an experimental program soliciting civilian pilots to relieve men for overseas duty.  They became Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), the first women in history to fly for the U.S. military. 

Since 2012, a piece of WASP history has been under restoration in North Texas.  A Beechcraft E18S-9700 aircraft (pictured left), once the personal property of WASP founder and director Jacqueline "Jackie" Cochran, is being restored at the Tarrant County College (TCCD) Northwest Campus' Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation and Logistics (CEATL). The center is housed at Alliance Airport in Ft. Worth.


Leaders from the community and the aviation industry were among those in attendance as the center welcomed WASP to honor them and shine a spotlight on the painstaking project which the restoration team envisions as "a flying historical tribute to these aviatrix heroes, the WASP of World War II."  The Beechcraft E18S Restoration Team

Working closely with TCCD to pay tribute to the WASP were staff members of the TWU Woman's Collection, including Kimberly Johnson, Coordinator of Special Collections for the TWU Libraries.  The Woman's Collection, the largest depository in the southern United States of research material about women, also houses the WASP official archive.  Archive images were shared with TCCD, for the WASP tribute and for ongoing work on the plane's nose art.  Woman's Collection staff members connected TCCD with scholarship representatives for the Women Military Aviators, Inc. and Whirly-Girls: International Women Helicopter Pilots (the collection is home to both organizations' archives), facilitating scholarship pathways for women TCCD students.  To keep WASP informed about the status of the Beechcraft E18S Restoration Project, updates appear in the WASP News (WASP newsletters dating back to 1943--containing a fascinating glimpse of WASP history--are available here).

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were welcomed to the TCCD's
Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation and Logistics to
honor them and shine a spotlight on the painstaking aircraft restora-

tion underway which underscores the WASP's service to their country
--and their sacrifices, achievements, and places in American history.  
Image courtesy of TCCD.  Complete program contents, courtesy of 
TCCD, are available here
In 1985 TCCD purchased the plane with the colorful pedigree (the aircraft was also once owned by Merv Griffin, and has a litany of famous former passengers and pilots) from the U.S. Customs Service.  A team of volunteers--professional aviation technicians and students majoring in aviation--began the plane's restoration in the summer of 2012; plans for the aircraft upon completion include using it "to educate aviation enthusiasts and prospective students about flying skills and aviation history, including the WASP's contributions."  Elva LeBlanc, Ph.D., Campus President, Tarrant County College Northwest Campus 

TCCD's CEATL provides expanded training opportunities for top industries that support the economy of the northern region of Texas.


To learn more about the WASP, visit the Official Archive of the Women Airforce Service Pilots here; catch up on WASP-related news here; visit the National WASP World War II Museum; and see a trailer for the WASP documentary Silver Wings, Flying Dreams here.  National PBS distribution of Silver Wings is scheduled for 2015; screenings of the film in several Texas cities are planned for later this year.  Watch this blog and the TWU Libraries' Facebook  and     Twitter for updates.  For more information, see the film's Facebook.


Jacqueline "Jackie" Cochran was the driving force behind the WASP, as well as the program's 
founder and director.  After an illustrious career in aviation--including becoming the first woman to break the sound barrier--she died in 1980 (127 of the over 1,000 WASP are still living).  Jackie Cochran still holds more international speed, distance, and altitude records than any other pilot, male or female. Jacqueline Cochran Biography, National WASP World War II Museum

For WASP research assistance and related information, please contact the TWU Woman's Collection at wasp@twu.edu or 940-898-3751, or Ask an Archivist.


~Sandy Cochran with Kimberly Johnson

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stellar Research: Pluto and the New Horizons Spacecraft

Pluto's Heart as photographed from the NASA spacecraft New 
Horizons.  Image courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University 
Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.  July 14, 
2015. 
On July 14, 2015, the NASA spacecraft New Horizons made history by successfully passing Pluto within the dwarf planet's orbit.  Over a span of twelve hours, New Horizons collected scientific data from, and images of, Pluto and its five known moons.  In the words of New Horizons' principal investigator Alan Stern, "Following in the footsteps of planetary exploration missions such as Mariner, Pioneer, and Voyager, New Horizons has triumphed at Pluto.  The New Horizons flyby completes the first era of planetary reconnaissance, a half-century-long endeavor that will forever be a legacy of our time."

On July 15, 2015, this historic exploration mission began sending back to Earth the data it was launched to gather--data which has already begun to change astrological scientific theory.  According to New Horizons' science team, the photo below (of approximately 1% of Pluto’s surface) reveals many telling attributes of the dwarf planet, including mountain peaks over 11,000 ft. high and an unexpected lack of crater marks.  These features tell scientists that Pluto's surface has not been around long enough to have experienced heavy meteor activity or long-term erosion, and is therefore a relatively young site of recent geological activity.

It was believed that Pluto could not be geologically active so long after its formation, and that small icy planets of Pluto's age could only be so due to tidal heating (a process whereby energy is produced by the changing pull of gravity, as seen on Saturn's moon Titan).  The discovery that Pluto is the site of geological activity means that isolated small planets can be geologically active after 400 million years without tidal heating from an orbited giant gas planet.

Ice Mountains on Pluto as photographed from the NASA spacecraft New Horizons.  Image courtesy of 
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.  July 14, 2015.  
As the data comes in, more will be revealed about the nature of smaller ice planets that will hopefully provide us with a stronger understanding of our universe.  The science behind this mission, however, did not begin with these latest revelations about Pluto. 

Expectations and theoretical models pre-dating the lead-up to the launch of New Horizons can be found using several of the databases--including ScienceDirect, Science & Technology Collection, and Scopus--to which the TWU Libraries provide access.  The number of journal articles and papers will continue to grow as New Horizons mission data flows in.

It is an exciting time to be alive, as we begin to explore the outer reaches of our solar system.

For assistance with science research and related questions, please contact the TWU Libraries' Sciences Librarian Suzi Townsdin at stownsdin@twu.edu or 940-898-3297.  

~Jeremy Kincaid

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman

Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) and its sequel Go Set a Watch-
man (2015), is the subject of Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman.  Now available through Kanopy
Videostreaming and the TWU Libraries
, the new documentary contains excerpts from Lee's new novel and
information on the author, her work, and the wide-ranging impact of both.  Image courtesy of the Harper 

Lee Biography on biography.com.  
It's the tantalizing literary event of the year.  Go Set a Watchman, by To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee, has been published.  Already a subject of controversy, the book and the circumstances of its release have made Lee and both of her novels the focus of widespread attention and speculation.

In a pre-release of Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman, a new documentary now available through Kanopy Videostreaming and the TWU Libraries before its national release next week, hear excerpts from Go Set a Watchman; learn the circumstances of the creation and release of Mockingbird and Watchman; and hear testimonials from Mockingbird readers--including celebrities, writers, and teachers--about the classic novel's impact on their lives.


From the synopsis of Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman

To everyone's surprise, fifty-five years after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee has published another novel.  Go Set a Watchman was written before Lee's beloved masterpiece, as director Mary McDonagh Murphy explains in this update of her 2011 documentary Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird.
Murphy's film, Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman, sifts through the facts and speculation surrounding Lee and both her novels, and includes interviews with Lee's older sister, close friends, and admirers including Oprah Winfrey, Scott Turow, Anna Quindlen, Tom Brokaw, Wally Lamb and more. 
See Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman here.

The collections of the TWU Libraries contain both To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman.  Questions?  Please contact us

~Sandy Cochran

Friday, July 10, 2015

Artist and Fashion Illustrator Ted Manser

The career of artist and fashion illustrator Ted Manser spanned five decades and included
illustrations and layouts advertising women's fashion for many well-known department
stores.  A wide range of Manser's works (including the sketches here) are featured in
Ted
Manser Fashion Illustration (1940s-1960s), on display through September, 2015 in the lobby
of the Blagg-
Huey Library on the Denton campus of TWU.  Photograph by Sandy Cochran.
July 9, 2015.  
Peanut butter and jelly.  Bogey and Bacall.  Fashion illustrator Ted Manser and the post-war advertising of women's fashion. Some things go together so well, they seem meant to be.

Before photography and digital graphics replaced hand-drawn illustrations, before television and computers surpassed newspapers for commercial advertising, there was the life's work of artist and fashion illustrator Gordon Edward "Ted" Manser.

A fashion illustrator in New York and Philadelphia for over 50 years, Manser had a flourishing career in commercial art at the height of the post-war advertising boom.  His illustrations and layouts of women's fashion populated the ads of many well-known stores, including Lord & Taylor, Altman’s, and JC Penney in New York; and Hess Brothers, Strawbridge & Clothier, and Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia.

THE EXHIBIT
The Blagg-Huey Library on the Denton campus is proud to present Ted Manser Fashion Illustration (1940s-60s), an exhibit highlighting many of the garments, styles, designers and department stores featured in Manser's work.  An overview of the department store's evolution provides historical context; photographs from the personal collection of the Manser family round out the exhibit's offerings.

An amalgam of art, fashion design, marketing and social history, Ted Manser Fashion Illustration (1940s-60s), curated by the staff of the TWU Libraries' Woman's Collection with pieces from the Ted Manser Collection, is available for viewing in the library's lobby through September, 2015.  The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular operating hours.  A current TWU ID is required for entrance to the building after 9 p.m. 

Artist and fashion illustrator Ted Manser in 2009.  Image courtesy
of the Manser family personal collection. 
THE ARTIST
Ted Manser was born on June 17, 1919 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.  He attended The American Academy of Art in Chicago, and from 1941-45 served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a navigator and instructor in Canada, England, India and Burma.  After the war he began his career with Montreal's Henry Morgan & Co., and in 1950 he emigrated to the U.S. with his wife Wendy to attend The Art Students League of New York.  After a career in department store and freelance commercial art spanning more than five decades, Manser retired.  Freed from commercial constraints, he continued to paint, primarily at Hunter College, producing a substantial corpus of innovative figurative, abstract and geometric works.  Some of these later pieces were included in an exhibition entitled Vibrance held at Sarah Lawrence College in August, 1996, and at Bronxville Women’s Club later that year.  In 2003 Manser and his wife relocated to Plano, Texas.  He passed away in 2010 at the age of 91. 

Many of Ted Manser's illustrations (including the sketch here) are
featured in 
Ted Manser Fashion Illustration (1940s-1960s), on dis-
play through September, 2015 in the lobby of the Blagg-
Huey
Library on the Denton campus of TWU.  Photograph by Sandy
Cochran.  July 9, 2015.  
THE TED MANSER COLLECTION
"I am excited about the possibilities that the Ted Manser Collection provides for our students, faculty members, and researchers," says Kimberly Johnson, Coordinator of Special Collections for the TWU Libraries.  "The richness of Ted Manser's talent, and his skill as an artist, are his legacy to the world of art and fashion.  I am delighted we can play a part in the sharing of that legacy."

The TWU Woman's Collection is the largest depository in the Southern United States of research material about women.  Plans for the collection include the creation of a Ted Manser Digital Archive spotlighting Manser's artistic talent and historical impact on women's fashion. 


More photographs of Ted Manser Fashion Illustration (1940s-60s) are available on the TWU Libraries' exhibit page.

~Sandy Cochran with Kimberly Johnson

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Celebrating E.B. White

E.B. White (1899-1985) was born 116 years ago this 
week.  A longtime contributor to The New Yorker and 
editor of The Elements of Style (popularly known as 
Strunk & White), White is perhaps best known as the 
author of several classic children's books (including 
Stuart LittleCharlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the 
Swan).  Image courtesy of Lapham's Quarterly.
This week we celebrate the 116th anniversary of the birth of essayist, author, and literary stylist E.B. (Elwyn Brooks) White, born July 11, 1899.   

Educated at Cornell University, White began his career as a contributor to The New Yorker magazine.  His first children's book, Stuart Little, was published in 1945, followed by Charlotte's Web in 1952 and The Trumpet of the Swan in 1970.  In 1959 White edited and updated the renowned The Elements of Style (popularly known as Strunk & White), an English language style guide.  

White was the recipient of a Newbery Honor Book (1953) for Charlotte’s Web; a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association (1970) for "a substantial and lasting contribution to children's literature"; and other awards and honors.  White, E(lwyn) B(rooks) (1899-1985) and White, E. B.

Numerous books by and about E.B. White--including Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan--are available through the TWU Libraries, many in the Children's Collection on the Garden Level of the (Denton) Blagg-Huey Library.  See a complete list of titles here.

The Children's Collection of the TWU Libraries--a collection of illustrated children’s books, original artwork and teen literature in English and other languages--supports the TWU School of Library & Information Sciences; the Department of Teacher Education; and art students from the College Arts & Sciences.  The collection also serves as a resource for the children of students and faculty and staff members at TWU.

~Jimmie Lyn Harris

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Gift of a WASP Homecoming

The WASP's Homecoming 2015  Eighteen Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and 3 trainees, pictured in front of the National WASP World War II 
Museum in Sweetwater, Texas, attended the WASP's Homecoming 2015.  Photograph courtesy of the National WASP World War II Museum.  
Editor's Note: The Woman's Collection of TWU, housed in the Blagg-Huey Library on the Denton campus, is a source of great pride for the TWU Libraries. The largest depository in the Southern United States of research material about women, it also houses the Official Archive of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).  

WASP (female volunteer civilian pilots who played a pivotal role in WWII) gathered recently at their Homecoming 2015 to visit and reminisce.  In attendance at this special event, made all the more bittersweet by the dwindling number of WASP (of the over 1,000 WASP, only 127 are still with us), was Kimberly Johnson, Coordinator of Special Collections for the TWU Libraries.  Here, Kimberly shares her very fond memories of that special weekend.     

Cruising along I-20 toward Sweetwater, Texas, conditions were wet and windy on that gray Friday.  Thunderstorms had plagued the drive from Denton; what should have been a three-hour trip became a four-hour trek.

I arrived at the National WASP World War II Museum in time for hamburgers in the hangar, and had the great honor and privilege of joining WASP Alice "AJ" Starr and her granddaughters for a wonderful dinner, and even better conversation.  The burgers, provided by Pete and Marie Hardy, were delicious.  As I soaked up the atmosphere and admired the special relationship of AJ and her granddaughters, it dawned on me how privileged I was to be there.   

After dinner we took in the beauty of a gorgeous sunset.  Just beyond the hangar doors, Stearman PTs (the primary trainers used by the WASP in the first phase of their flight training) beckoned.  As I stood there taking in the majestic view, I was given a gift that only a WASP Homecoming weekend could provide. 

Stearman PT-17 (pictured) and other historical WWII planes are on display at the National WASP World War II Museum 
in Sweetwater, Texas.  Stearmans were the primary trainers used by the WASP in the first phase of their flight training.  Pho-
tograph courtesy of the National WASP World War II Museum
Two very special people, kindred spirits of mine, were admiring the sunset.  It had been several years since I had last visited with Nancy Hoing, daughter of WASP Faith “Bucky” Buchner Richards, and Mary Holsenbeck--but in that moment it was as if time had just melted away.  That’s what the WASP do.  They become your family--and their families, your families.  As night fell and the evening came to a close, I realized the memories, hugs and conversations of the day had been gifts that would endure long after Homecoming weekend was over. 

Retiring to my hotel, I had the honor of visiting with WASP Roby Anderson, who happened to be in the lobby.  One of the best things about working with the WASP Archive is that I always have a bag full of goodies with me, to hand out to WASP.  I had with me the latest edition of the WASP News; being able to hand deliver a copy to Roby was a great feeling.  We had a delightful visit, talking about her ranch, buffalo, and her amazing class secretary, Kris Lent Gros.  Excited to receive the newsletter I gave her, Roby saluted me.  It was I who should have saluted her.

Saturday dawned, and the sun shone bright.  The storms that had hammered Texas for a month were taking a welcome break just in time for the WASP's Homecoming weekend.  I headed to the National WASP World War II Museum, only to discover that bad weather had forced the cancellation of a scheduled fly-in.  I hurried to the wishing well to await the WASP's arrival. 

Being short has its advantages--I can always get in a good place for taking pictures.  Following a WASP photo session, the group headed to Texas State Technical College for lunch and to hear guest speaker Samantha Weeks.  Sharing lunch with Dot Lucas’ children and Paulie White’s daughter, who shared with me special stories about their mothers, was a gift unto itself.  As I sat there, I thought how truly lucky I was.  Weeks took the podium after lunch and shared her experiences as a Thunderbird pilot (she may not know this, but she is represented in the WASP Archive.  We started capturing her story several years ago.)  Weeks got a great laugh from the audience, and applause from the WASP, when she made the observation that the difference between today’s military pilots and the WASP is that “the WASP needed to know how to fly every type of airplane.  Today’s pilots only know how to fly one, and they spend years learning to do that.” 

Following Weeks' remarks, everyone headed back to the National WASP World War II Museum so the WASP could autograph posters and have their pictures taken with their adoring fans.  I patiently waited my turn to say hello to the WASP, and get my hugs.  I don’t need autographs, and I have had my picture taken with the WASP many times.  The sweetest of all gifts, to me, was knowing that I have acquired many "grandmothers" over the years--and now I had a chance to spend time with some of them.

Duty called.  There was work to be done, including taking photos.  Jean McCreery put me to work getting quotes from the WASP for the Class News section of the newsletter.  And Marty Wyall--well, let’s just say I'm considering a road trip later this summer.  I'm thinking of calling it the 2015 WASP Archive Tour.  First two stops, Marty and Jean--then on to anyone else who signs up for a visit.

WASP Homecoming 2015 included food, dancing, music and guest speakers--but the greatest gift Home-
coming attendees received was time to spend with each other.  Photograph by Kimberly Johnson.  May 23, 
2015.
I met Kris Gros.  Kris and I have corresponded over the years about all kinds of WASP business, but nothing compares to a face-to-face meeting. Thinking about it now, I'm still thrilled.  I also met Pat Young, 44-10, who I have spoken to many times.  It was like seeing a family member for the first time, and the hugs were strong.  As all the WASP know, when you're from Texas, you don’t meet strangers--you meet family.  What a gift.

As the afternoon drew to a close, the National WASP World War II Museum emptied as the WASP departed for their hotels.  I reflected on the wonderful time I had had thus far--including countless hugs and endless notes on action items to attend to when I returned to Denton and the WASP Archive

As evening drew near, the clouds on the horizon grew dark, then darker.  We had been spared Mother Nature’s fury during the day, but it was obvious we would not escape what she had planned for the rest of the weekend--rain, and lots of it.  It's a good thing that in Texas, it takes a bit more than rain to slow us down.

A barbecue dinner, complete with all the fixings, was served--and it was delicious.  I had the pleasure of dining with Nancy and Mary; their company made my evening all the more special.  Good friends are irreplaceable, and I felt blessed that these two dear ladies shared so much of themselves and made my Homecoming weekend so memorable.

Following dinner, the WASP were asked to share some of their favorite stories about the WASP program and Avenger Field.  It was wonderful to hear Kay Hilbrandt, Mickey Bright, Shutsy Reynolds, and Bee Haydu share their recollections.  Years were erased from faces as the WASP shared their stories--providing a glimpse into yesteryear, and a true gift for everyone in attendance.

As the band played on, the evening, and the weekend, came to a close with dancing and merriment.  As I said my goodbyes, I realized it is always the WASP who say a WASP Homecoming is a gift--but the gift is not theirs alone.  Everyone who loves the WASP--and their history, stories, and voices--is a recipient of a gift.  It is our Homecoming, just as it is theirs.  I know that I received the greatest of gifts during WASP Homecoming 2015--memories that I will treasure for a lifetime.  I had the chance to spend time with history makers--women who dared to dream big as they flew into the wild blue yonder.  

I am honored to have received such a special gift.  I will treasure it always. 

To learn more about the WASP and their role in American history, please visit the Official Archive of the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

~Kimberly Johnson