Why "FifVANella?"

I write stories. Some of them are about real events and some of them are just what springs out of my fingers when I type. Some of them are a combination of the two.

While researching early women pilots for a screenplay, I became obsessed with the WASP. The Women Airforce Service Pilots. They were/are an extraordinary group of women who served their country during World War II ferrying newly built aircraft from the factories to the forces, training male pilots, test flying new types of aircraft, flying military personnel all over the country and towing targets for artillery practice.

To liven up the image of the military equivalent of Rosie the Riveter, the WASP turned to Walt Disney himself for a cartoon mascot. He'd already created Fifinella for a prospective animated feature based on Roald Dahl's children's book "Gremlins." Disney granted use of the flying female gremlin to the WASP, where her image was sewn onto uniforms in patch form and painted onto the nose of bombers.

Fifinella or "Fifi" was a playful representation of some extremely brave, talented, patriotic and tough broads. It's a disgrace they've been largely forgotten by history, their heroic contributions to the war effort still mostly untold.

I've had a lot of challenges and privileges in my life, including the limits my health puts on my daily living and resources to manage those limits. I like to think of myself as resourceful, creative and relatively brave. I'm no WASP, but I revere them enough to pay tribute to their legacy and take inspiration from them for my journey with this van. So, I christen my 2020 RAM Promaster 1500 118" WB Cargo Van FifVANella. May she drive safely over the country her foremothers flew above!