On Saturday October 12 at 2 p.m. in the Dairy Building, there will be a free public presentation by Cyndee Schaffer about World War II WACS. The Dairy Building is located at 410 North Erickson Street. This presentation is hosted by the BBHA and sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speakers Bureau.
Members of the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) were the first women other than nurses to serve overseas in World War II. Cyndee Schaffer’s mother, Mollie Weinstein Schaffer, was one of them. Drawing upon excerpts from Mollie’s letters written home during the war, this presentation provides a romantic, yet frightful, glimpse into the life of a woman in uniform during this crucial time in history. This presentation details Mollie’s experiences from basic training in Florida in October 1943 to the dramatic moment when the Statue of Liberty came into view upon her return in November 1945. It traces the footsteps of the women who served in Europe, following Mollie and her fellow WACs who were stationed in London, England before D-Day and during the post D-Day German buzz bomb attacks. The WACs were transferred to Normandy, and then to Paris after its liberation by the Allies. After VE Day (Victory in Europe), they served in Versailles. Finally, they traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, as part of the Army of Occupation and witnessed firsthand the devastation of that country before returning to the United States. This presentation will invite contemplation of the vital and varied roles that women have fulfilled in the American military.
Cyndee Schaffer collaborated with her 91-year-old mother to write a book based on the letters that her mother sent home to her family while serving as a WAC (Women’s Army Corps) in Europe during World War II. The award-winning Mollie’s War (McFarland Publishers, 2010) is the result of that endeavor. Schaffer is editor of the Midwest Writers Association’s monthly newsletter. Schaffer received a BS in math education from Northwestern University and a MS in curriculum development from DePaul University. Her work experience has taken her into three divergent careers: high school math teacher in the inner city of Chicago, IT consultant testing computer systems, and finally a published author.