DIXON – Ogle County author Louise Brass will sign copies of her latest book, the true story of a World War II tap dancer on the London stage during the Blitz, from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday at Books on First, 202 W. First St.
Brass, a former columnist and staff writer for Sauk Valley Media, was asked by entertainer and WWII war bride Pauline Fraser to write Fraser’s memoir, detailing the tap dancer’s experiences – including spy-catching – while Hitler’s Luftwaffe bombed the city relentlessly.
Brass said she was thrilled to do so, and delighted to record a piece of history from the perspective of a person who actually lived it.
“I wanted this to be strictly her memories, exactly as she went through it,” Brass said. “She rubbed shoulders with so many historical people. These stories of history would be lost otherwise.”
In “Presenting Pauline, I Was a Dancer,” Fraser recalls lunching with Maj. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle and Gen. George Patton before the D-Day invasion of Europe in 1944. Doolittle is renowned for leading an air raid on Tokyo, in retaliation for the 1941 attack by the Japanese on Peal Harbor.
Fraser, who lives in the United States and still gives talks about her experiences, was entertaining for a time at The Cabaret Club in 1942 when she was asked by British Intelligence to help them catch spies who were posing as Americans to infiltrate London.
British Intelligence told her that the 2 years she spent in Hollywood as a teenager, just before the war, qualified her to recognize a fake American accent. (During that time she attended high school with Judy Garland.)
While she was still in Hollywood, war seemed imminent, and Fraser’s family urged her to return home to London. Little did she suspect the turmoil and danger she would face upon her arrival, and the courage, faith and sense of humor it would take to make it through the world war.
Brass will have copies of the book for sale at the signing; the cost is $15.95. Go to www.presentingpauline.com to learn more or to contact Brass for a copy.