Mansfield Opinion

Friends of Library appreciate help with Mansfield Reads!

The Friends of the Mansfield Public Library hosted the 12th annual successful Evening with the Author at the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts on April 24. Despite threatening thunderstorms and possible tornadoes, our award-winning author Fannie Flagg was able to inspire a crowd of approximately 350 enthusiastic guests.

Miss Flagg is the renowned author of the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. This book was also made into an award-winning movie of the same name, for which Miss Flagg earned a Scripter Award. Miss Flagg later produced a cookbook from The Whistle Stop Cafe. She is at the author of nine other very entertaining and poignant novels, usually featuring southern characters drawn from her life growing up in Alabama.

Her featured novel for our One City, One Book program was The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. The story in this book takes place in current day Alabama as well as during World War II, affecting families in Pulaski, Wisconsin. The main women characters have a connection to the WASPs or Women Airforce Service Program. A non-military project that for the first time employed female pilots during war time for training and to ferry large aircraft between California airbases and Sweetwater, Texas, as well as other locations across the country. There are several themes intertwined in the novel dealing with true identity, aging families and cultural differences, all making for a very moving story.

With her background in acting in television shows, movies and in the theater including Match Game, Grease and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and writing sketches for Candid Camera, Miss Flagg is a skilled and animated story teller. She did not disappoint this eager crowd as she talked about herself and her writing as well as reading an extending excerpt from her featured novel. After enthralling the guests with her stories, Miss Flagg stayed for two more hours autographing copies of her books for a huge line of book buyers. While waiting for the program to start and to have their books signed the guests were treated to southern delicacies, including fried green tomatoes and fried pies created by the chefs and students from Savvy’s Bistro at Ben Barber Culinary Tech Academy.

Community events such as these take months of planning, organizing and scheduling to make a reality. The Friends of the Mansfield Library could not accomplish such a successful night without the efforts and support from the Library Director Steve Standefer and the entire staff of the Mansfield Public Library. We had the continued support from the City of Mansfield Communications Director Belinda Willis and graphic artist Rick Sales and others. We want to thank Lynn Wilkie and the staff of the Center for the Performing Arts for the generous use of the beautiful facility. There were numerous other hard-working volunteers to make this wonderful result.

As a nonprofit organization, we utilize the countless volunteer hours of the members of the Friends of the Mansfield Library. We are only able to bring these events to the community through the generous donations from our sponsors from national and local businesses as well as private donors.

We are proud to have brought our 12th annual Mansfield Reads! program to this city during the 125th Anniversary Celebration for Mansfield and we hope everyone enjoyed reading The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion and discussing it with friend and neighbors.

Jenny Elliott