Early Sunday Morning: The Pearl Harbor Diary of Amber Billows, Hawaii 1941 (Dear America Series)
3 journalers for this copy...
Here's another copy on my BookCrossing shelf.
Some clarifications and corrections:
Amber and her family are malihinis: newcomers (or more properly, malihini with no s since Hawaiian is not pluralized that way - but that's a modern revival - in the 1940s it would have been said malihinis). The text says "mahini".
Also, wahine means woman, not girl. And it's Hickam, not Hickham (not the first time I've seen this particular mistake in a Pearl Harbor-related story).
More generally, the rumors about signals cut into the canefields and pilots with local high school rings were purely that - rumors, with no truth to them. As for the one about the pilot in civilian clothes, I hadn't heard that one before, but I doubt it. My father remembers a rumor about a German advisior being in one of the shot-down planes, but I'm pretty sure that one turned out to be false also.
I think it unlikely that Mr. Arata would have been released before his whole family was sent to the mainland. It would be more plausible to think that he went straight from Sand Island either to Honouliuli or on a boat to the mainland. Unlike on the US West coast, very few entire families from Hawaii were sent away, although it's possible that Mrs. Arata would have volunteered to take her family and join her husband. In the case of my great-grandfather (born in Japan, but with American-born children and grandchildren at the time of the attack), I believe he went straight from Sand Island to Sharp Park in California, then eventually to a camp in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His wife stayed home in Kona to run the store (as best we can determine, he was arrested as a "community leader" because he was literate in Japanese and ran a store).
There really were some Japanese mini-subs involved in the attack and one of the submariners was the first Japanese POW of WWII.
Sadly, the part about the civilian casualties from anti-aircraft fire is also true: here's one account of those events.
All of my great-grandparents were born in Japan, but all of my grandparents were born in Hawaii, which was a territory of the US, so they were all American citizens. My mom was only four in December 1941, but she remembers that her father (the oldest son of the man who was sent to Santa Fe) went to help clean up after the attack on Pearl Harbor and didn't come home for 2 days. She's fairly sure that during that time, her mother didn't know whether or not her husband was alive, arrested, or...?! Three of Gramps's brothers subsequently joined the US Army (one was 4F, probably due to flat feet), as did 3 of Granny's brothers, although none was part of the 442nd or the 100th.
He'd been telling it to us for years, but he only wrote it down when our church did a little booklet for the 50th anniversary of the attack in 1991.
Excerpts from "Pearl Harbor Memories: December 7, 1941 - December 7, 1991" published by Central Union Church, Honolulu, Hawaii
Hiroosan stops just as he opens the door of his Chevrolet. Somehow, there is a small hole in the seat of the car as though someone had been smoking and the cigarette had burned a hole in the seat.
Before starting the trip to Honolulu, Hiroosan stops at the Wahiawa Police Station to report vandalism to his car. As the police officer puts his foot on the running board to talk to Hiroosan, he kicks something. What is it, a cigarette butt? No, the officer bends over and picks it up. It's a bullet! The officer tells Hiroosan that the planes are really Japanese planes and that this is a bullet from one of their planes. Japan is at war with America. It's too dangerous for Hiroosan to take us to Honolulu so we go back home to Neal Avenue.
Honk! Honk! It's Rusty. He is going to Honolulu, so he says he will take my sister Doris and me with him. We eagerly jump into his Chevrolet, and it's off to Honolulu. Leaving Wahiawa, we go along Kamehameha Highway. Doris and Rusty are in the front and I'm sitting in the back. Then we round the bend to cross Kipapa Gulch on the long bridge. Bigger than life are three planes coming down the gulch with their machine guns firing away at the bridge and all the cars on the bridge. We are one of the cars on the bridge. Rusty yells to Doris and me, "Duck!"
Just after that bullets start to hit the car -- I think one flew right by where Doris' head was just a moment before -- but fortunately nobody gets hurt.
Somehow we drive out of the gulch into the area overlooking Pearl Harbor. It looks like a fireworks display. Planes over Pearl Harbor. Ships burning and smoking. Ships looking like they are jumping out of the water. Then someone with a rifle and a steel helmet comes up and says, "No cars allowed any further."
BACK ON NEAL AVENUE
It's Sunday morning, and like any 18 year old young man, cousin Mitsugi likes to sleep in. However, just for this morning he gets up a little earlier and goes downstairs.
Suddenly, a Japanese plane is resting where Mitsugi's bed used to be.
Hiroosan quickly gathers everyone together and they break out through a window to safety.
Once outside, they watch the plane, their house, and a neighbor's house go up in flames.
A few notes:
Hiroosan is one of Grandma's older brothers. Rusty was the boyfriend (and later husband) of Dad's cousin Margaret - she and her brother Mitsugi were living with Uncle Hiroo (along with Dad & his sister, since Grandma was a widow trying to earn a living) at the time. Amazingly, despite getting shot at and having the house burn down, all of Dad's family came through the day uninjured.
Dad left out the part (which greatly impressed me as a kid, since Dad very rarely swears) about his sister ducking down and saying "Damn J**s, damn J**s!" when they were being shot at.
I've found a blurb in the papers from that day and other mentions of the plane crash.
Dad vividly remembers seeing a ship jump out of the water, but we're not sure if it was the Arizona or the Oklahoma.
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