The Story Of The Sixteen Stories

“It’s Hard To Salute Standing In A Wall Locker”

If you have a few minutes and really are interested in hearing how I got these WWII stories from 16 ladies, in all four branches of the military, in eleven states from NJ to Fl to CA, all within six weeks from contact to publication, then come with me as I tour the United States by telephone. Remember, this is 2005, before ‘instant’ anything in the communication world.

My phone interview about Never Salute With A Broken Garter (my own WWII bio) on KBUL, Billings, MT brought a phone call from local Kay Sewell who said she was in the Cadet Nurse Corps during WWII. She shared some interesting nurse training stories. Something clicked in my head…I asked if she knew of any other lady who had served — and away it went! She gave me the phone number of Army nurse Rukavina, MN, who led me to Army nurse Bach, OR, who sent me to Olterzewski, NJ, who gave me Singer in FL, who named the three Weatherman Sisters in NC and GA. After those, I hit a wall. Then my memory kicked in.

I contacted our snowbird friends in TN for the name of her sister Edna Scott in OH, who not only offered her reality check as an Army recruit, but also suggested the title, It’s Hard To Salute Standing In A Wall Locker. Then I hit the wall again till a lead from a lady American Legion member pointed me to the first female bugler in the US Army, ‘never retired’ Donna-Mae Smith.

I was back on a roll: talked to our gas station lady in Prineville, OR who connected me with her mother-in-law, Wachsnicht, OR, a Marine who told me about a friend, SPAR Feyling, in CA. Vera Hampton, OR, was the easiest as she and I attended a Navy Women veterans’ group together. Interestingly, there were others including a few not qualified (not WWII) who so much wanted their stories told, too. Can’t remember how I found the last three. Without a doubt, telephone networking was at its finest in 2005.

By this time in August, three weeks had gone by. I was sensing that 16 was a good number because staying in touch with all, seeking their stories and securing their wartime portrait, plus needing all this to be in my hands within the next two weeks was pushing me. Betty Stringer of Palmetto, Florida, took a lot of chasing because she got halted in the middle of her writing by Hurricane Charley, and had to run to her life to Orlando from where she sent me her finished story. Then she dropped out of sight and I’ve never been able to find her since.

Within six weeks, it all came together, my head whirling in disbelief at what I had just done. But now, what to do for a cover? After brainstorming with the printer, I was connected with a multi-medium artist whose studio is out in a field at the end of a dirt road, halfway between Prineville and Redmond. He was a fantastic find, and laughed over his assignment as he was sketching. We got the book from the printer by the first of October.  Edna Scott (Title and first story) who was quite ill, maintained she was going to stay alive until she had seen her story in print. I sent her the first copy. She died in December. Since the November 11th Veterans Day celebrations immediately followed  the book coming out, I suggested to all writers that they go to their local newspaper with their stories and the book in hand. Six of them got front page color coverage (including Edna Scott) complete with their pictures and the rare stories of their lives as pioneers in the military! Those six sent me their tear pages; others sent their clippings.  All were so excited, amazed to be honored after the many years in between. As of 2017, all sixteen ladies have now passed, or are no longer in contact. I never met a single one of them face to face, but we had wonderful phone conversations that created a lasting bond, secured by their precious memories that I was honored to publish.

Contact Peggy to Order Your Copy

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Never Salute With a Broken Garter is Back in Stock! Get your copy today ….

Never Salute With A Broken Garter

Copies Are Now Available!

Contact Peggy to Order Your Copy

Book Price: $15 plus S&H

A collection of Peggy Lutz’s memories between the years of 1944 and 1946, primarily recounting life of a young woman doing her part – for the War effort as a US Navy WAVE. Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES, was a fully pledged and uniformed auxiliary attached to the US Navy only during WWII. They performed most of the same stateside assignments as their male counterparts.

Because very little has been written about these women in uniform Lutz explains that her hope is that NEVER SALUTE WITH A BROKEN GARTER will shed some light on all the little threads that made up the fabric of military life for a woman between 1944 and 1946.

Never Salute with a Broken Garter offers a tell-all tale of firsthand WWII experiences, some of them depicting the Oregon coast civilian Homefront, but most of them about her time in the military service.

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SOME OF US ARE DINGY-ER THAN OTHERS

I have to tell you about the other afternoon and its hilarity. I was sitting in our living room updating business with  Corey from Macy’s, the local funeral home. Daughter Janet was back and forth from office to kitchen overseeing 11-year-old Bella who was baking cookies, and 4-year-old Giuliana who was water coloring at the counter. I see the contractor coming down the front walk, so excuse myself and go to the door to let him in. He hits the Big Ben chiming doorbell button just as I open the door. Partway in he stops and turns back because, OOOPS, the chimes choke and stutter a few notes then DING DING DONG (pause) DING DONG DONG DONG…DING DONG DING DING (no semblance of a chime factor)…at which point the contractor backs out, hits the button again hoping to correct the hiccupping bell. That restarts the tuneless dinging and donging, only this time without the pauses. Janet yells from the kitchen, “Shoot it!” I ask for a gun.

Corey is taking all this in with dropped jaw, no doubt wondering what kind of cracker box family he’s gotten into. Contractor and I look at each other in unison saying, “Is this gonna go on forever?” Actually all of us are afraid by this time that the crazy wireless chiming will have to be sold along with the home, and that not a minute too soon. Then mercifully, after a couple more dings and pauses, the bell goes on hold….really? for sure? I return to the seat by Corey, leaving the contractor standing in the entry waiting for permission to go into the guest bathroom to replace the broken toilet handle. (Is there some poetic sonic here too…the background sound of rushing water?) I nod to him.

I didn’t even notice when the contractor slid silently back out the front door. But when Corey left, he got severely monitored to make sure not even a thread of his black suit touched or even came close to that dingy  button.

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The Trump’s Tsunami

Given our impression that The Donald is, among other traits, delusional, let’s toy with a slice of his delusions this way: he sees himself as being a “greatest of all time” Tsunami cascading him over Washington, crashing him directly (even ahead of time) into the White House, his misfit cabinet appointees barging in right behind him in a rag-tag flotilla. Of course the family was floating around right then too, looking for a tree near the front door to grab onto. And they found it; sloshed their way into the West Wing without even a security check. Why not. They had the Name. And the class-less brass.

Tsunamis can’t be stopped or even controlled. That’s what Trump was counting on, that he could stay above the laws of our country long enough to get where he could make his own laws, or live without any.

Well, Donald, this huge, destructive, metaphorical tsunami, is tinier than you can believe. It is only the size of one overweight, swaggering, self-serving, cunning-minded mortal who is entering the chronological portals of mental aging. The latter is one truth you will not be able to buy, barter, or deal on, Donald.  A truth that you, in all your moneyed power, cannot reverse or modify: the Office of President of the United States takes a terrible physical toll on its occupant, that is IF the occupant conducts himself as The President, and Leader of the Free World.

As for your flotilla of cabinet choices, they figure metaphorically as flotsam and jetsam, junk picked up in the irresponsible surge of your arrogance, to be deposited wherever and allowed to do whatever. With all those misfits looking to you for their marching orders, the picture of the eventual recession of the tsunami with our trashed government left behind, is tortuous.

Unfortunately, the cleanup at the end of the brainless Trump Tsunami will be have to be done by those of us commoners who are NOT the delusional, power-mad, law-breaking, Constitution-defying few whose thinking you currently control, Donnie. Yes, we ‘commoners’ will do the cleanup, quick as we can, and gladly!

Yes, we will pick up the ragged pieces of Programs that helped the troubled. Programs that fed hungry families. Programs that paid back the owed portion of lifetime earnings. Programs that gave support to schools and colleges, thus hope to our youth. Programs

that served life and death medical needs for all ages and diseases. We will sweep up carefully, saving all we can of the broken chunks that might be melded back together again and put back into service to us, The People.

Finally, after your exit or demise (whichever comes first), we will restore their specified duties to the three branches of Government. We will bring back decency in dialogue with not only other countries, but also with our citizens. We will work to restore dignity and respect for all, regardless of their station in life. We will give those seeking asylum their day, regardless of religion, according to our accepted democratic creed coupled with our tested system of processing.

Yes, Trump, if good fortune or a miracle happens for our country, and this tsunami made up of you et al are dethroned by Justice, we’ll hop right to all of the above in a heartbeat. We the majority, we the aware, we the law abiding Americans, we are indefatigable, resilient, patient, caring, smart. And after seeing only a few weeks of your hyjinks , we’re counting on the inevitable recession of your Big Wave. Let it roll!

You and your White House crew may need a life raft to float you all back to the golden Tower, soggy but smarter for that short ride on the crest.

 

 

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Help! It’s Holiday ‘Help’

holiday-picNow don’t get me wrong. I am completely aware of how much temporary employment can mean to millions during the Holidays. And I do understand how necessary those temps are to stores of all sizes and denominations. I’m only making some simple observations here drawn on amused personal experience.

I’m not a ‘good’ shopper any more. Since my endurance level has dropped noticeably in my nineties, I now shop more like a man: I take the straightest line to Aisle A, move straight on to Aisle B, directly to the check stand, then out the door.  I’m increasingly unashamed about upon entering, checking my destination with an employee so there will be fewer false moves. Hard for me to believe, but I’ve even dropped to the level of phoning a store to ask if such and such is in stock before leaving the house If that sounds not at all like how I used to shop, you’re right. But, oh well…

That aside, I do love the interaction between me, other shoppers, employees (excuse me, ‘assistants’), even checkers at the end. People are fun to watch, talk with. Come along with me for a few recent stops.

Dropping into my economic pillar, the Dollar store, I am on a mission for one simple item, a box for mailing. Circling around toward the back of the store, I spy a truck piled high with empty boxes on their way to the back to be smashed, I presume. I stop the cheery looking  pusher lady and ask if I might take one of those boxes. She apparently tracks my eyes because she throws her body forward like a blanket across the skyline of the load, and during that embrace says, “I don’t know. This is only my second day and I don’t know if we give away boxes, but I’ll ask,” then releasing her hold, she and her load disappear through the double doors. In a couple of minutes the truck reappears followed by the cheery pusher lady who declares, “Oh yes, we do give them away…for free.”

Next: After having reworked the allotment for Christmas spending a number of times, I decide to go ahead and hit the big name electronics store in the mall for the specific gift that I had checked on a day earlier. Standing at the ready as I enter, the young lady steps toward me in a gesture of welcome. Her clothing is obviously more than ‘used’, her hair and makeup less than polished. She’s tall, wan, looks undernourished, tired. Or is it bored?  “I’m looking for a home scanner,” I say. A look of quandary masks her face for a few seconds. “A scanner? Uhhhhhhhhh. we don’t have those, (pause) except (gesturing toward the counter) on the computer over there.” In a low voice so as not to let this get to the manager’s ears, I say, “Yes, I looked at a home scanner here yesterday, and now I want to purchase it. Let’s go over this way.” Eventually the memo arrives: “Oh.”

And last: In the middle of an absolute in-the-moment need for a few sprigs of fresh seasoning for the Thanksgiving turkey, I call the nearby big chain grocery store. This is the way it went down:

Me:   “Hello, I’m urgently needing some fresh rosemary. Do you have some in stock?”

Phone voice: “One moment. I’ll connect you with the produce department.”

Deep voice: “This is Jeremy, how can I help you?”

Me: “Jeremy, I’m desperate to get some fresh rosemary right away. Do you have some       in stock?”

“Yes, we do, but it’s going fast.”

“Great! Will you please hold a box for Peggy? I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

Jeremy, laughing (obviously amused at my panic), “Sure.”

On time at the store, I scan the horizon of the produce department for a male figure, thinking this will be easy – he’ll appear like a white knight, I’ll grab the rosemary and be out of here. But not so much. Not seeing any male employee in produce, I address the back of a bent over female employee who is stocking the cold fruit section. “I just talked to Jeremy who is holding a box of rosemary for me. I don’t see him anywhere. Could you please call him?” Met with a rather blank stare, I repeat, “Would you please call Jeremy for me?” She starts walking away toward a phone, then turns back to me and says, “Is he tall?”, raising arms aloft to confirm ‘tall’. “I don’t know because I just talked to him on the phone…”  She didn’t get it. “Is he really tall?”  I’m about to repeat my last sentence re the phone when way back by the meat counter I see a really big guy in black apron coming toward me, rosemary in hand. I ask Jeremy, “How tall are you, are you really tall?”  “Six-four.”

There. She was right. I guess it was just that I couldn’t see him over the phone.

 

 

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A Seasonal Mix-up

As I pass by the office sliding glass doors, I see the wan, low-UV November sun is shafting through the cloud cracks, playing with the edges of on oncoming front. Showers are in the forecast of course, because this is the Pacific Northwest, and we Oregonians have been forever chided with “The State with only one season: Rain.” The reasoned response is, ‘That’s why Oregon is so green!” Truth is that each year has its own schedule for blooms and climbs, with convention getting dissed each season by surprises galore.

Just back inside from a novice-gardener survey, and here it is, it’s happening again. This is what month? Is November still Fall? When does Winter start…or Spring…or when did Summer end this time and Fall begin? I guess it doesn’t matter because Mother Nature is already playing her cards in the gardens all around the house. Daffodils are up four inches. Narcissus bulbs are breaking the dirt with daring green tips. The spring Vinca ground cover, along with its neighboring Ice Plant, have a few fresh blossoms wide open to the weakly sun. Up next to the house the new center growth of a Hellebros stands short but strong. Alongside it the Mexican Orange bush is bursting with fragrant blossoms…is this really just the end of Fall? Still? Tall lavender that was cut back when it got out of control at near five feet in the summer, is now back up to near two feet….good grief, at this rate by next summer I’ll be watching it hit the eaves as I tie it back to the rain spout on that corner…the bees may get altitude sickness.

hydrangeaThen there’s the hydrangea in the barrel at the end of the house, showing off a pair of deep pink blossom clusters. Never mind that I thought I might have killed it by cutting it back so far at the end of summer. Here it is, showing its true colors way out of season. Once I get the leaves off the Iris tubers, the Fall work will be finished — for me that is. Mother Nature will continue to play her hand, unfettered, which by my count contains her loser card, that monstrously healthy dandelion that has a root driven partway to China – smack in the middle of the Iris bed. That dandelion knows no season! Nor apparently does the one lonely sweet little pink clematis blossom outside my bedroom window, that isn’t due till May or June.

No, it’s Fall alright,  A flock of geese just croaked their flight form separation overhead, as usual following a leader that is polar-challenged, circling, angling, dipping, splitting, losing a few, then banding up again, finally having found the sun and therefore the south.

Yes, November 30th is still Fall this year. So it must be that I’m the one who is mixed up.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Flag, My Uniform, and Veterans Day

In the order of the title, I’m wondering about next year and whether the order of importance will be the same in 2017. This is my story. This is my wonderment.

Peggy received the Outstanding Oregon Veteran's Award at the  2014 bi-annual Oregon Women Veterans Conference! "Was I stunned or what -- but PROUD to be among those women veterans ranging from age 29 to 93 for two days."

My worn, crusty standard sized flag bears 48 stars because it was presented to my family when I went off to the Navy in 1944. My dad raised it on the ocean front community flag pole every morning, and lowered it every evening (except for inclement weather) for the whole two years I was gone. This is my flag that I cherish dearly and which will adorn my casket when the time comes.

My beautiful Navy WAVE uniform wraps itself responsively as best it can around my bent, misshaped body every time I wear it. Yes, it’s the original; and no, I can’t fasten the bottom button of the jacket any more. So I’m technically “out of uniform” when I’m in uniform. Regardless, I will wear it proudly until I get so bent that my form dishonors the inherent meaning and purpose.

Veterans Day obviously is personal. But it is also special for me because of my oldest grandson (now 42) who served 8 years in the Army in the 90’s; the many military friends from the sequence of wars I’ve lived through; the fact that our nation honors both the fallen and us with a deeply moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown at 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month.

Finally, this note of thanks goes to I Know Not Who, who on the stormy Saturday a few weeks ago unclasped my wind-whipped, rain-sogged new flag from the tall pole on my property. The flag was left, without a word, neatly folded and respectfully out of the weather on a bench near my front door. This was a 50-star flag which must have had a special meaning for someone else (possibly a veteran?). Bless you.

 

Peggy Lutz – 2016

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