Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pearl Harbor Day

Pearl Harbor Day
8.5" x 11"

I find it a bit odd that, today, on tv, instead of old movies about Pearl Harbor and related battles of WWII, TCM is showing things like "Treasure Island". They even announced that this is "pirate day". Maybe they will have something later to honor those who served our country, to remind us of historical events, and educate the younger generation.

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on Pearl Harbor Day?

This is what I remember in the picture above. It was Sunday and the family, along with almost everyone in town, went to Sunday School and Church, in the various churches in Calvert.
Church was dismissed early, with many solumn grownups taking the questioning children home. Ladies went through the motions of serving Sunday dinner to unsually quiet families. Babies were put to bed for naps early, and older children were encouraged to go out and play, instead of taking a nap. Grownups gathered around radios to try to find some news. They listened quietly, in disbelief, some with fear, some with anger. Many men gathered with friends and walked to town, ready to join the Army or one of the services-ready and eager to get into the fight against the enemy who had just bombed our ships and Pearl Harbor. Those numbers would grow as the days passed.
The whole country was gripped with fear of invasion, of possible loss to a horrible enemy, with concern for loved ones and neighbors off at the War, with a resolve to do anything necessary to protect our country and our way of life. Everyone from small children to the elderly did their part for the war effort.
That was a long Sunday, quiet, filled with concern and tension.
It was a time for children, like me, to wonder what was wrong with the grownups, and wish for other children to play with. And to be aware that the air itself was different, as were the people around us. We would grow up to learn some of what was going on, and are still learning some of the things that were secrets back in those days.
In the drawing above, I have shown one of the oak trees in the yard near the street and my sandbox near the tree where I often played. Someone gave me some of my father's old toys that were like new, to use in the sandpile. There was one toy that moved buckets of sand up and then dumped it into a toy truck. And, of course, there were tin pails and shovels to use in my sandbox. (No fire ants then, so it was possible to play pretty safely outdoors.)
We were living in my great-grandfather's Victorian house, in an apartment upstairs. (Actually, the apartment was one large bedroom that served as bedroom and living room, another bedroom with a door to the balcony that was the kitchen/dinette, and the bathroom was down the hall. We did have use of the parlor/music room, etc. downstairs.)
"Grandpa" died, when I was one, and, during the War years, the first floor was rented out to the Burns family. I've shown a bit of the side of the house with some of the family downstairs, listening to the radio in what was my mother's music room, or the parlor. I could always see the grownups through the big windows and knew that if anything happened and I needed my mother, she was near.
The house was on the corner of Railroad and Browning streets with a crossing to town at the intersection. I've shown some young men, walking together to town, ready to go sign up for the Army. I was thinking of my uncle, who did go, although I don't think that he went right away. My dad was eager to go but they wouldn't take him because of a heart murmer. He still drilled with the men in town, for local defense, in case they were ever needed to protect us, and went for the physical anytime he could.
I wonder if my memory is correct, though. I can always remember the year my sister was born because that was the year of Pearl Harbor. I think that she was about 4 months old at the time of the attack and I would be 4 in January.
After she was born, we moved to the little house near the school, the house that Daddy proudly built for his new family. I think that my mother thought that the stairs were too much, and she wanted a home of her own-away from in-laws. The little apartment upstairs didn't have a real kitchen or bathroom, close, and she knew that I was terrified of Uncle "Goose", who still lived in the house where his father lived. Four people in one bedroom would be pretty crowded.
I remember the first night in our new house, but I don't know the date. We probably were still in the old house when Pearl Harbor happened, so that memory is probably true.
I can't help but think that, with the bad news we hear, constantly, about the economy, it is a reminder of previous times. The Great Depression happened world wide and the only thing that pulled us out of those terrible economic times was all out war. The same thing has been true at other times. When the economy was bad, the only thing that pulled us out of it was a war.
Goodness knows, most people do not want war of any kind. But, if you think back, this is how it has been. Every time the politicans and news people open their mouths about pouring more money into big companies or creating public works jobs, I just cringe and think that they need to go back and read history or remember. Some things helped a bit, temporarily, but the only thing that really changed the economy was when the whole country went to war. Factories opened and changed over to producing war materials, and other businesses either converted or grew. And, when all the "boys" came home, some of them were helped with education, homes, and assistance, and others were put out of work.
It's hard to believe that so many of the companies that once did so well here, are gone, many of them gone or out of business because we helped our former enemies to thrive.
On one genealogy list, someone asked about the name Doris as a name for a male. I remembered Doris Miller (I think I have his last name right) from Waco, an African American who was a cook on one of the ships in Pearl Harbor. You can see a bit about him in the movie, "Pearl Harbor". He left his kitchen during the attack, took over a gun to shoot down Japanese planes. He had not been trained on the gun, but did what he could to fight off the enemy. He went on to fight in other battles, but, as I recall, he was killed. A building in Waco was named for him some years back. I can't remember if it is a community center or what, right now. But I am always reminded of him being at Pearl Harbor.

Later, I remember reading in our "Weekly Reader", the little newspaper that we got at school, about the ships and the attack at Pearl Harbor. It's still a horrible thing to think about all those people being trapped in the sunken ships (not to mention those who were killed or injured) and others trying to get them out.

We have lived through some scarey times, and these are still scarey times.
"Wars and rumors of war." It has always been that way, and I don't think that we will ever see anything different.
When the men came home from WWII and only wanted to put their experiences behind them, move on with a peaceful life, I feared that we were letting our guard down. That we were leaving ourselves too vulnerable. And so, the Children's Army came about. (That's another story.) And, sure enough, Korea came along, and one war after another. As long as there are people, there will be conflict of some kind.
We hope for peace, but, realistically, we must remember times like Pearl Harbor and the wars, bad economic times like the Depression, and be prepared.

I don't know if anyone from Calvert was at Pearl Harbor. There is a book, something like an annual, called "The Men and Women in World War II from Robertson County" that lists local service men and women, has a photo and a short biography. I do remember that some did not come home and, those who did, were different.

On the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., there are names of veterans listed. Relatives can add their service member's names to the memorial through a website. I noticed only one person that I know of, listed, and that is George Foster from Calvert. If you have someone in your family, who isn't listed, you might want to complete the online form and send it in. While we still remember.
Let us not forget the freedoms and traditions that we have, and what it has taken to keep them.

1941 Photos-This is me in the front yard of Grandma Conitz's house. In the background, you can see great-grandpa Conitz's two story home where we lived. You can see that I would just wander through the field between the houses to visit, even at a young age. The upstairs window that you can see in the picture was where our "apartment" was and where Mama could look out and see what I was doing. My sandbox was just below this window.

The diving board at the Calvert Country Club. This was taken before Irvin went into the Army, you can tell by his civilian clothes. I'm not sure why he took me out to the Club that day. We all liked to ride and, possibly, they were trying to keep me busy. I think it was after swimming season and there was no water in the pool or I wouldn't have been walking out on the diving board. I loved that old pool and the benches and lattice work all around it.

I'm not sure who this is. I can't make out the faces. I don't recognize the man. Maybe if I enlarge it that will help. So far, that has just made it blurry. Maybe someone will recognize him. It was dated 1941 and was taken on that wonderful swinging bridge that went over the lake at the Calvert Country Club. The caretaker's home is in the background. That lake was filled with lily pads and there was a rowboat on the west shore. Wonderful place to play! And great scenery from the clubhouse and pool.

This could have been a birthday picture. I'm not sure. I rode home with "Toot" and "Honey" from church that day. I was so dressed up, and bashful, with my little drawstring purse and my skirt with jumper straps and sweater. "Look at the camera, Cecelia!" Couldn't bring myself to do that, so I twisted my purse strings. This was in the Keeling's back yard. This house had been moved from behind the two story house on Railroad Street in 1940, so the yard, trees, flowerbeds and all were not yet completed. It was built by Mrs. Keeling's father as a wedding present to the couple when they married in 1913. This house was a Sears Roebuck prefab house and was completely furnished, except for a kitchen. Mr. Conitz wanted the couple to come next door for all their meals, so he didn't provide a kitchen. In later years, the kitchen became a warm place to visit and share meals and treats.

I hope that you enjoyed your visit to 1941.

I apologize for the big space at the end again. This happened when I added the photos. I don't know how to get it off! Backspacing didn't work and I don't know what else to do. Just scroll down to see the end, and the next entry. Another problem seems to be that you can't click on and enlarge the photos that I added at the bottom. The drawing at the top will enlarge. I guess if you want to see the photo better, you can save it, and click on it there. The only way I know to fix this is to just delete everything and start a new post, and put all the pictures on before I write. I'm not that organized, I guess.


V....Vaughan said...

Wow....I wish I had remembered it was Dec. 7 this morning when I went to visit my mom....she was a new bride then and dad was in the air force....God Bless them.
THANK YOU for remembering....I am mad that I have heard NOTHING about it in our anti american media :(

Cecelia said...

The closest thing I heard on tv about Pearl Harbor was on the Weather Channel and they had D-Day on How Weather Affects History. Where were the movies we always see? And even news stories? When anyone mentions 1941, or Dec. 7, I always think of Pearl Harbor, and I was just a wee one, then. I guess the politically correct hope we will just all forget history.