The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion

by Fannie Flagg


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The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

The one and only Fannie Flagg, beloved author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, and I Still Dream About You, is at her hilarious and superb best in this new comic mystery novel about two women who are forced to reimagine who they are and what they are capable of.
Mrs. Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama, has just married off the last of her three daughters and is looking forward to relaxing and perhaps traveling with her husband, Earle. The only thing left to contend with now is her mother, the formidable and imposing Lenore Simmons Krackenberry—never an easy task. Lenore may be a lot of fun for other people, but is, for the most part, an overbearing presence for her daughter. Then one day, quite by accident, Sookie discovers a shocking secret about her mother’s past that knocks her for a loop and suddenly calls into question everything she ever thought she knew about herself, her family, and her future.
Feeling like a stranger in her own life, and fearful of confronting her mother with questions, Sookie begins a search for answers that takes her to California, the Midwest, and back in time, to the 1940s, when an irrepressible woman named Fritzi takes on the job of running her family’s filling station. With so many men off to war, it’s up to Fritzi and her enterprising younger sisters to keep it going. Soon truck drivers are changing their routes to fill up at the All-Girl Filling Station. But before long, Fritzi sees an opportunity for an even more groundbreaking adventure when she receives a life-changing invitation from the U.S. military to assist in the war effort. As Sookie learns more and more about Fritzi’s story, she finds herself with new answers to the questions she’s been asking her whole life.
The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is a perfect combination of comedy, mystery, wisdom, and charm. Fabulous, fun-loving, spanning decades, generations, and centered on a little-known aspect of America’s twentieth-century story, The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is Fannie Flagg, the bestselling “born storyteller” (The New York Times Book Review), at her irresistible best.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400065943
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/05/2013
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Fannie Flagg’s career started in the fifth grade when she wrote, directed, and starred in her first play, titled The Whoopee Girls, and she has not stopped since. At age nineteen she began writing and producing television specials, and later wrote for and appeared on Candid Camera. She then went on to distinguish herself as an actress and a writer in television, films, and the theater. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!; Standing in the Rainbow; A Redbird Christmas; Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven; I Still Dream About You; and The All-Girl Filling Station’s Class Reunion. Flagg’s script for the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was nominated for an Academy Award and the Writers Guild of America Award and won the highly regarded Scripter Award for best screenplay of the year. Flagg lives happily in California and Alabama.


Montecito, California

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1944

Place of Birth:

Birmingham, Alabama


The University of Alabama

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Reading Group Guide

Writing The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

As originally published on

Even after writing eight novels, I am still mystified at the process of writing. Where do the ideas for books really come from? Do writers come up with the ideas on their own? Or are they sent to us from somewhere, or someone, else?

I do know that the idea for Fried Green Tomatoes was literally handed to me in a shoebox. My grandmother’s youngest sister, Bess, ran a little railroad cafe in Irondale, Alabama, a small town on the outskirts of Birmingham. I was raised in the city, and when I was a child I used to love to go out and visit the cafe. At the time, the cafe seemed to be one of the happiest places in the world. Not only was Aunt Bess hilariously funny, but the fried green tomatoes were delicious!

When I was eleven, we moved away from Birmingham, and I only saw Aunt Bess a few more times, but I had grown up hearing stories about her that I would never forget—stories of how her humor and generous spirit had helped everyone in the town get through the Great Depression.

After high school and one year of acting school, I headed to New York and got caught up in my own life, as we do. Years later, somewhere along the way, I remember hearing from my mother that Aunt Bess had sold the cafe. Then one day came the sad news that she had passed away.

Over a decade later, on a nostalgic trip back home to Alabama, I decided to drive out and see the old cafe and say hello to the McMichael family, who had bought the little cafe from Aunt Bess. After I visited the cafe, I thought I might drive by the old family home across the railroad tracks, where Bess had lived.

When I knocked on the door, a lady answered. I introduced myself as Bess’s niece. She knew who I was and said, “Oh, Fannie, I’m so glad you stopped by. Before she died, your Aunt Bess left you something and she asked me to make sure it got into your hands. I’ve been keeping it for you for all these years.” I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t imagine what it could be.

As it turned out, what Aunt Bess had left me was a shoebox full of memorabilia from her life—old photos, her birth certificate, recipes, a child lock of hair, and programs from the funerals of her cooks who had worked for her for over forty years. At the time, I was struck that a small box of papers was all that was left of a life that had been so full and had meant so much to so many people. I thanked the lady and left, but I was still baffled why Aunt Bess wanted me to have these things. She had so many other nieces and nephews that she was much closer to. Why had she left those things to me? I can’t say for sure, but from that shoebox came the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Cut to 1999. I was living in California, and one day quite out of the blue, I called Mrs. McMichael in Alabama, the new owner of the cafe, to ask her a question. By then, because of the success of the movie, the cafe had become somewhat of a tourist attraction. When we were talking, Mrs. McMichael said, “Oh, by the way, we have quite an interesting group coming in for lunch today. They are the last living members of the WASPs, who are in town for a reunion.”

Intrigued, I asked, “Who are the WASPs?”

It’s a bunch of gals that used to fly military planes during the Second World War.”

I had never heard of the WASPs before, but being a white-knuckle flyer, I was very impressed and decided to buy the gals lunch. They earned it!

I had completely forgotten all about it until a year later when I was sent a book about the WASPs written by Nancy Batson Crews. Nancy had been at the reunion lunch at the cafe that previous year. At this time, I was in the middle of writing a book and didn’t have time to sit down and read it, but I did look at the photographs and was fascinated about the idea of maybe writing about the WASPs one day.

Almost twelve years later, I had finished I Still Dream About You and, as usual, I was wandering around the house, trying to come up with an idea for a new book. I suddenly found myself staring at my bookcase, and I spotted the book about the women service pilots. I opened it and saw a handwritten message to me that was written by Nancy Batson Crews’s co-writer.


Nancy Batson Crews’s final instructions to me when I left her for the last time were to put an autographed copy of The Originals in your hands. She so appreciated the reunion luncheon at the cafe! I will sign both our names on the title page, as she would have done had she lived long enough.

Thank you from the surviving WASPs.
Sarah Byrn Rickman and Nancy Batson Crews

Needless to say, when I read that note, my hair stood up. Why had I not seen this before? Was it a coincidence that I happened to call the cafe on that particular day in 1999? Was it a coincidence that years later, I happened to pick up that particular book? And if Aunt Bess had not left me that shoebox, would the WASPs have been at that cafe for lunch? Would I ever have known about these brave women if they hadn’t been there the day I called? What is fate and what is simply luck?

Of course, I can’t know anything for sure, but sometimes I wonder if some stories just want to be written and they go out looking for someone to write them. I believe this one did, and I hope you think so too.

1. A lot of Southern identity is wrapped up in one’s family history. “Now, just who are your people?” is an oft-quoted phrase around the region. Sookie’s biggest crisis comes when she realizes that her “people” aren’t actually who she thought they were. How does Sookie’s discovery of her true family affect her identity? How does your own heritage affect your identity?

2. Though Sookie tells us that Lenore’s nickname, “Winged Victory,” came from the way she entered a room—as if she were the statuesque piece on the hood of a car rushing in—how might “Winged Victory” reflect Lenore’s personality in other ways? Does her representation as a classical goddess serve to heighten the air of history and tradition that surrounds her? How might the image of a winged woman tie Lenore in with the ladies of the WASPs?

3. Though Sookie tells us that Lenore’s nickname, “Winged Victory,” came from the way she entered a room—as if she were the statuesque piece on the hood of a car rushing in—how might “Winged Victory” reflect Lenore’s personality in other ways? Does her representation as a classical goddess serve to heighten the air of history and tradition that surrounds her? How might the image of a winged woman tie Lenore in with the ladies of the WASPs?

4. Sookie’s best friend, Marvaleen, is constantly trying different suggestions from her life coach, Edna Yorba Zorbra. From journaling to yoga to the Goddess Within group, which meets in a yurt, Marvaleen tries every method possible to get over her divorce. How does Sookie’s approach to dealing with her problems differ from Marvaleen’s? Do you think her friendship with Marvaleen might have helped push her to confront the question of her mother?

5. In The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, we learn about a mostly unknown part of American history—the WASPs of World War II. These women went for thirty-five years without recognition because their records of service were sealed and classified. Were you surprised to learn about this? What parts of the WASPs’ story spoke to you?

6. As Sookie comes to terms with her new identity, so must the rest of her family. Sookie’s realization that “Dee Dee may not be a Simmons by birth, but she was certainly Lenore’s granddaughter, all right” becomes a comforting thought. Have there been times in your life when you have felt so connected to people that you considered them family? What types of circumstances can create such a bond?

7. Sookie tells her friend one day, “I’m telling you, Dena, when you live long enough to see your children begin to look at you with different eyes, and you can look at them not as your children, but as people, it’s worth getting older with all the creaks and wrinkles.” Have you experienced this change yet with your own parents or children? If so, what were the circumstances in which you began to see them in a different light? How did this make your relationship even more special?

8. “Blue Jay Away,” Sookie’s brand-new invention, keeps Sookie’s house finches and chickadees fed, while also making Sookie famous. Who do you think have been the blue jays in Sookie’s own life? Has she learned to manage them successfully?

9. As Pat Conroy says, Fannie Flagg can make even the Polish seem Southern. A large part of Southern and Polish identity is found in their culture—the food, the music, the values. What are some of the things that are unique to your culture? How do they help bring people together?

10. Throughout the book, Dee Dee and Lenore often represent many characteristics that Sookie finds frustrating about being a Simmons, such as the time Dee Dee had to be driven to the church in the back of a moving van so that her Gone with the Wind wedding dress wouldn’t be messed up. Once Sookie gains perspective on her family, however, she comes to love and accept Dee Dee’s obsession with their history. Have there been times when your own friends or family have frustrated you with their opinions? How were you able to gain perspective and accept their differences?

11. A major theme in this book is accepting your home. Sookie experiences a homecoming many times—after she first meets Fritzi and returns to Point Clear, when she goes to Lenore’s bedside at Westminster Village, and when she flies to Pulaski for the All-Girl Filling Station’s last reunion. What is your favorite part about going home? Who are the people who make home a home for you?

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The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 156 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Ms. Flagg's books and this is the very best!!! As usual such wonder characters, just the right touch of humor and part of our history that is way over due for recognition. Thank you for such a wonderful read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very clever and funny novel!!!! Highly recommended. Loved the characters and plot, but really really loved the history of the WASPS during World War II. Another great novel set during World War II is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. This book is based on facts and has great male and female characters. Both books deserve A+++++
reeter More than 1 year ago
As usual, loved it. Ms. Flagg is a master painter, you can just see it in your mind.
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, a very entertaining book, but not one of Fannie Flagg's best. The development of the characters was weak. I did like the way she incorporated history with the book, but it was not very convincing. I wish I could have liked this book more, since I have read all her other works.
BookLoverDK More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book; however, I was a little disappointed that the main part of the story was about a modern-day character. I wanted to read more about the All-Girl Filling Station in the 40s. Fannie Flagg is an entertaining writer, though, so if you are in the mood for an interesting book about life for women, particularly women pilots leading up to and during the 2nd World War, you will enjoy this book.
mara13JC More than 1 year ago
I love all Fannie Flaggs books and I think this was one of her best. When the boys in town are all drafted and gone, the girls take over their Dad's gas station. With no experience but a lot of heart and guts they jump right in. The characters are all different and you feel like you know them all. There are many heart warming parts and many, many funny parts. I would highly recommend this book to all ages.
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
I truly love Flagg's down home humor, but this novel lacked the zany atmosphere. The story centers on Sookie or Sarah Jane, who just learns that she was adopted and is really 60 instead of 59. The story line has merits, but the action deviates too much from the theme. Sookie undergoes many adventures in her path of coming to terms with the adoption. Sookie's four grown children have the silliest names, especially the 3 girls. Lenore, Sookie's adoptive mother, is the stereotypical Southern mother with her determination and controlling. So many of the characters seem to parallel the characters of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. Idgie and Fritzti seem to be the same character, and both possess that mothering instinct to aid Ruth and Sookie in growing. The language seems less Southern in this novel, as the setting could be anywhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hope they make amovie out of this book! It is every bit as wonderful as all of her other books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was disappointed in her last book (I Still Think About You), but this is back to the Fannie Flagg writing style and heartwarming storytelling I loved about most of her previous books. Like the other books, didn't want it to end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fanny Flagg never disappoints. The All Girls Filling Station Reunion has heart and soul along with memorable characters.
Lally11 More than 1 year ago
As always, Fannie Flagg tells a great story. It is a fun, quick and easy read. I enjoyed the story and how she wove the story of the WASP's into it. She certainly did her research on that forgotten page in WWII history. This is a fabulous book about the Greatest Generation. Although it is fiction, you will be able to imagine what it was like for the women that helped our country during 1941-1945. We read this for my book club. It is not necessarily a book club book. All the characters are likeable and not much happens that will surprise you. However, learning and researching about the WASP's did create much discussion, because of the way they were treated and ignored for decades.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read as always from this author...since I'm of the older generation could relate to the inclusion of the way of life at the start and during WWII. As always, enjoyed thoroughly, will be waiting for the next publication of this authors work.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
This was my first book by Fannie Flagg and it was a hoot! I purchased the audio version as was read by the author and full of southern wit and charm. The accent was right on, with lots of history, as she seamlessly joined the World War II era with the present. Very interesting as so love this time and era. Would love to see a movie based on the novel. Full of crazy characters, including her nutty mother Lenore set in Alabama. When Sookie receives a letter in the mail she finds out she is not the person she thought, and begins to uncover her past and secrets. In the meantime, she makes discoveries about herself as she travels to learn about her past. I look forward to reading more by this author as she is an excellent storyteller. (Highly recommend the audio version)!
Mrstwocats More than 1 year ago
Entertaining and easy to read. It has information about female pilots during WWII that I had never heard.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my opinion this is Ms. Flagg's best. Loved the characters and the story. Didn't know the women existed who were the inspiration for the book. A history lesson wrapped up in superb fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fannie Flagg is one of those fantastic authors whose tales are enchanting. She knows how to write twists and turns that hook a reader and keep them hooked right up to the last page. In this adventurous and fun filled novel, I almost thought I could be Sookie's sister. I love watching birds gathering around my birdfeeder. I always put sunflower seeds in my feeders, especially for the cardinals that are so brilliantly colored. But, it always seems the first birds to show up are the blue jays that scare off all the small birds and the red birds. No matter how many times I go out and shoo the blue jays away -they waste no time in coming back. In my mind's eye, I can see Sookie running around putting wild birdseed in one feeder and sunflower seeds in the other, since I often do the same thing. There is so much more to this novel than the adventure or the charming amusement about birds. The all girls filling station reminds me of the all girls softball teams, and reading this author's work is like living each moment with her. I personally adore Fannie Flagg's writing (as do so many others). She always puts a lot of humor, as well as happy and unhappy times, combining that with human affairs, and I think she gives us the opportunity to examine our own thoughts and feelings in a very pleasant way.  Jeannie Walker (Award-Winning Author) 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved, loved, loved this book. It was a laugh out loud read. In fact I ordered Fannie Flagg's other books. She is now one my favorite authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book, having read most of this author's other great selections.  This is by far exceptional and I plan on reading it again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
worth the time to read
rj39 More than 1 year ago
The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion was my first Fannie Flagg read, and was I delighted!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Wonderful story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fannie writes in a way that endears her characters to you - another delightful story that flows like honey, sweet in every bite!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As usual, Fannie Flagg has created characters who seem so familiar to us, we are sad to see The book end. It is a totally delightful book, and I would recommend it to anyone. I think males or females would enjoy this book!
CheliD More than 1 year ago
Did you ever think as you were growing up that maybe you were adopted and that's why you just didn't seem to fit in? Well, Sookie Poole never seemed to live up to her mother's expectations, but when at age 60 she received a package that told her she was adopted, Sookie was stunned. She tried psychiatric consultations (but she didn't want her mother to know that she knew - so the doctor met her at the Waffle House) and she started researching her birth mother's family and origins. Sookie, an Alabaman southern Baptist, found her birth mother was a Wisconsian Polish Catholic. Now glide back in time to Pulaski Wisconsin and meet the Jurdabralinski family. Stanislav owns the Phillips 66 station and when sickness forces him to recuperate out of state, his 4 daughters, wife and daughter-in-law take on running the station and pretty girls brought a bunch business until WWII and gas rationing force a shutdown.  The oldest Daughter, Fritzi, already had her flying license, and had taught 2 of her sisters so with the station shutdown, Fritzi, Gertrude and Sophie Marie join the WASPs to help ferry new aircraft from the factory to the airfields for the war effort. Back to Sookie, she garners enough courage to call the name on her birth certificate and arranges to meet. The story easily floats back and forth between Sookie and her Mother (Lenore is a bit wacky and easily makes the reader sympathize with Sookie) and the Jurdabralinski girls. The short chapters make the story whip along and help to hold the readers interest. Surprise ending with heart and laughter included