Friday, December 7, 2018

Aunt Ethel at Pearl Harbor...

My aunt Ethel who recently died at age 98 was at THE PEARL HARBOR DAY. Here's her experience in her own words from a life story I compiled many years ago:

We were part of history in Hawaii

A year later on Oct 11, 1941 the boys (sons Albert and Bill) and I sailed for Hawaii on the USS Lurline from San Francisco to join my husband who was working for Morrisson and Kanootson in Hawaii... It was a great experience being on a big ocean liner and going First Class.  Sonny (my husband) met our ship a couple of hours before we landed. When he came to our state room, his arms were filled with beautiful leis and we were happy to all be together again as a family.

We were still living in Honolulu when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941. What an experience! It was a Sunday morning and Sonny was working graveyard and not at home. We heard sounds like loud thunder and soon after this Sonny came home. He had seen from the top of the hill where he worked the Japanese planes bombing Pearl Harbor. At first some of the workers thought it was a practice bombing raid, but then there were real explosions and fire. Prayer was the first thing we thought of. Sonny had us all lay on the floor in the bedroom and hold hands while he said a prayer for our protection. Then we packed some diapers and canned milk and headed to Red Hill, the only underground tunnel on the island that was to store fuel tanks for the armed forces. We were served lunch there in the mess hall and stayed there till things calmed down and then went home.

When we went to get some groceries, the cupboards of the stores were bare as everyone was buying up all the food to store. A house nearby us was hit with shrapnel. We were told not to wear blue, because that is the color the Japanese were wearing and they would be looking for any Japanese that might have landed. That night Sonny took us next door, before he left for work in the dark. 

There were three families from Hickum Field sleeping there. The only available space for us was on the kitchen floor, so that is where we stayed for the night. Trenches were dug in the park and on school grounds, etc for protection. We built a trench in our yard for an air raid shelter and one day soon we had to use it. I was cooking lunch, when the air raid alarm sounded, so we took our food with us and jumped into the trench. We stayed until the all clear signal was given. Across the street from us some people were killed from shrapnel. It was a time of fear and panic. 

Later, we went in together with our neighbors and built a large better air raid shelter with food, water, medicine, clothing and flashlights. etc. We kept gas masks with us at all times and charcoal and soda on a cloth handy in the kitchen for the children's nose and mouth in case the Japanese dropped poisonous gas. Our homes had to be blacked out at night. We put thick black paper over the windows and had to turn out the lights whenever the door was open. You would get a ticket for black out violations if your car lights weren’t masked painted black with a little round hole of blue in the middle. You had to have a special pass
to be out at night. We had several air raids after that, but no more bombings. 

Albert’s third birthday was the day after the bombing. We had several air raids after that but no more bombings. Everyone wore an ID bracelet in case of bombing deaths. It was scary when we had an air raid, not knowing what was going to happen. One day we had left the boys with our landlady and went to the movie show and there was an air raid. We rushed home after the all clear signal and found all well with the boys and our landlady who was babysitting them.

In May of 1942 Albert, Bill and I were evacuated in a convoy of 14 ships. We had to carry our life jackets with us all the time. Only at night we took them off and placed them at the bottom of our bed. We had to know which lifeboat we were assigned to and how to get there whenever we had an an alarm. It was a five day trip from Hawaii to San Francisco but we took 14 days because we zigzagged our course home. We arrived at San Francisco in June. After staying to visit with Norman and Gladys for a day or so, we boarded a train and went to Los Angeles to see Les and Esther. Then on to Utah where we stayed until Sonny was able to come home.

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