WORLD WAR II as told by women
Prineville author Peggy Lutz publishes a second book
When most people can't find what they're looking for at a bookstore, they decide to go somewhere else.
Peggy Lutz, a World War II veteran, decided instead to write the book herself.
"I went over to Barnes and Nobles, and in a four foot long bookcase about waist high there was one book about a woman veteran. And that was the total World War II section," she said of her fateful trip. "It was nothing but men's exploits and their writings. So I just thought well, hey, I need to get some of our stories out there."
Lutz has since then made it her book producing mission to record the tales of, arguably, our nation's least known veterans.
Her first book, "Never Salute With a Broken Garter," was released over a year ago. It details Lutz's early days as a young service women on the Oregon coast. Her most recent endeavor, "It's Hard to Salute Standing in a Wall Locker," is a collection of experiences from 16 female veterans.
Lutz said her inspiration for the book came from two people.
The first, Velma Bazhenow, sent Lutz an e-mail to let her know she had misspelled a name in the Garter book.
"I called the battleship by the name Yorkshire and it wasn't Yorkshire, it was Yorktown," Lutz recalled. "She got ahold of me on that and then we started an e-mail friendship."
After getting to know her better, Lutz realized that Bazhenow, a World War II veteran herself, had quite an interesting story to tell.
"I thought, why don't you write down your memories," Lutz said. "She then referred me to another friend of hers who had been a WAC, and it just blossomed from there."
The second, Edna Scott, gave the book its title.
Scott, who was also a WAC, made, according to Lutz, "a very unfortunate choice not to go to an inspection on a Saturday morning during basic training."
She had arranged for her bunkmate to answer for her during roll call, but the plan apparently backfired. Thinking she was in the clear, Scott soon heard her captain storming into the barracks.
She rushed into her wall locker, but couldn't get the door closed.
"The captain of course saw her," said Lutz, "and Edna did two weeks KP."
It is stories like these that highlight the book.
"The whole thing gives a person a picture of daily life in the service for women," she said. "All of the ladies who have written are really interesting."
Lutz's contributors come from 11 different states and represent every branch of the service that women were in.
A SPAR, a WAVE, a marine and even the US Army's first woman bugler all pen their tale among the manuscript's pages.
"There are a variety of experiences because there are a variety of branches that served," said Lutz.
Lutz, herself, was an air traffic controller based in Astoria, Ore., for 13 months. After the war, she returned to her first career as a school teacher.
Now retired, she and her husband Bob live in Prineville where they have made their home for the past six years.
After stumbling into her first two projects, Lutz is not yet sure what's next.
She, however, hinted that some more of the same might be in the future.
"I'm getting phone calls from people from all over saying I would have written my story if I had known you were going to do this," she said. "With all these 16 women spread out over the United States they're going to still have people saying, tell me how to get my story out. It may happen."
Where to get the book