Interview with Trudy Schilling Cavanaugh from The Women of Camp Sobingo by Marilyn Morris
I chose the lead character from The Women of Camp Sobingo. She is Trudy Cavanaugh, who is a young college graduate who marries a wealthy young man right after WWII and she is soon an army wife, going overseas to join her army officer husband. She makes friends with three other women on the ship’s voyage across the cold Pacific Ocean, and their bonds strengthen them for the life of isolation and deprivation in the military compound outside Seoul Korea, in 1946 called Camp Sobingo.
So, here’s my interview with Trudy Schilling Cavanaugh:
Q. So, Mrs. Cavanaugh, how did you meet your husband, Philip Cavanaugh, of the famed Cavanaugh publishing empire?
A. We met in college. I didn’t know at that time exactly how wealthy his family was; I just knew I was in love with him.
Q. Was it a shock when you met his parents?
A. Absolutely. Colin Cavanaugh was an old teddy bear and I took to him right away. Katherine, on the other hand, presented herself as aloof and undoubtedly believed her son married beneath his station in life. I was not from a wealthy family.
Q. There were rumors in the press about an alleged romance with Alex Collins while your husband was away. Is that true?
A. Of course it isn’t true. Gail Rutherford no doubt started this lie in a fit of temper because she thought Alex Collins was all hers and she didn’t like it when he spent time with me. Eventually, of course, they married.
Q. How did you get along with the other women in the compound?
A. Oh, Maggie Gorski was a delight. Her two boys kept us entertained with their antics. Nell Martin, a West Texas girl, taught us how to cook on a wood-burning stove. And Leah Damon? Well, the former model brought some grace and beauty to the quarters, and it was a crushing blow when I found her dead….a suicide….one night.
Q. And you and your husband had a baby while you were there, right?
A. Yes. Cav is his name.
Q. Can you tell us how you managed after your husband’s accident and return to the US?
A. It was difficult, coming so soon after Leah’s death, when my husband suffered a severe injury to his arm and we had to return to the States.
Q. And then….then I understand he — how shall I put it…… he went off the deep end due to pain medications and he had to be institutionalised, right?
A. I don’t think I would put it that way. It was unfortunate that the pain was so severe that he had to rely on pain medications, that’s all.
Q. And it didn’t help at all that your father-in-law set you in the Chairman of the Board’s place instead of his own son, did it?
A. I won’t dignify that with an answer.
Q. Just a couple of more questions, Mrs. Cavanaugh. We know you planned a 25th reunion of those who lived in Camp Sobingo, did you not? How did it go?
A. It went very well. We all caught up with what we had been doing since we left The Camp all those years ago, and we enjoyed each other’s company again.
Q. Without the company of Leah Damon, though, of course.
A. That is a subject I will not talk about.
Q. And what have you been doing in those 25 years between The Camp and today? I mean, besides building the Cavanaugh Publishing Empire to epic proportions?
A. That is something you will find out in due time. I have been contacted by a writer about those years and you will have to watch for it to come out and discover for yourself. I think it will be titled, That Cavanaugh Woman.
Thank you, Mrs. Cavanaugh.