Pearl Harbor – The End of Innocence

I was at Gram’s home that long  ago Sunday morning of December 7, 1941,  sitting in the upstairs east bedroom,  reading and listening to music, but  when the music changed to some kind of war story, I turned it  OFF and wandered downstairs.

Gram, Mrs. Archibald (Rachel Crozier)  Bradford, was  preparing dinner, and  as I stepped toward her, I paused, and didn’t know what to do, for I saw she was crying as she worked. 

She didn’t  speak,  and so I reached out with a loving   hug,  then  sat down at the kitchen table.   I wasn;t sure of why she cried, but  knew it had to do with what the radio told us meant War , and Gram, that dear woman,  knew what war meant.

 Her husband had served in the Philippine Islands in the Spanish American War, and   now she had two sons of the ages to serve in the war we were hearing  on the radio.  Gram knew  what war had meant, and  now would mean  to a new generation.. 

Jake  (Fenton Crozier Bradford), her son and  my brother-in-law, entered the room, had a folded newspaper  in his  hand, and as he passed me to go through the swinging door, to the upstairs,  he lightly whacked me on the shoulder with the newspaper and said, “This one’s for me, Ole.”

Jake had nicknamed  me Ole from my maiden name of Ohlin, so I  grinned at him, but he didn’t grin back or even stop to chat.

At that time, he was  36 years  old, a few months short of being too old (37) to be drafted  when WWII became a reality for the USA.  We  had been  helping England with Lend-Lease and many other ways, but that was the day when we were in that war. Over  our heads in it.

I saw that Gram  was taking care of whatever she was cooking, but was still crying and her radio  continued  telling us of what I had thought was  a ‘war story’, but by her tears and Jake’s comment, I suddenly knew that we were hearing no ‘program’, but Reality, firm, unchangeable Realty.

I suddenly’ k’new that we were being told of real Japanese planes which,  as we listened, were bombing and destroying, the entire USA Fleet,  and Air Force,  which President Franklin D. Roosevelt, had sent, ‘for safety’ sake, along with the thousands of our sons, brothers and friends aboard those Battleships, taken to military shelter in the Hawaiian harbor.

As  of that date, we  were  not yet  a part of  World War II, but that designation was shattered right as we listened, for we became aware that  Japan  had, with no world-wide notice joined that War on the side of  Hitler’s Germany.  And even as we listened, our USA Battleships, and their Crews, where we thought, would be safe from Hitler’s reach  were being  destroyed..

How wrong we were, and that Sunday morning, we were no longer bystanders of what was beginning to be called World War Two, and we were in it.  And over our heads in it, too.,

With Gram’s   tears, and Jake’s actions I realized they knew more about what it all meant than I did, and I shivered,  I was young, too young and unknowing, but we learned swiftly,  far too swiftly.

It would be five years before Jake could try to resume a ‘normal’ life, but even then he was one  of the lucky ones, for so many, many thousands never returned to their  homes,  but were killed and buried in places around the world that, before WWII, we had never even  heard their names.

We’ve never been so innocent since that December 7th morning . . . and never will be again.    In the hard way, we learned that truly,  the age of innocence was past.  And remains so .


3 thoughts on “Pearl Harbor – The End of Innocence

  1. I remember that day too with my brother crying and worrying about her two younger brothers and her oldest sister’s son. Luckily they all returned home safely. Even at my young age it was a very scary time. Well written Ethel. Dean is improving each day. Happy Memorial Day. — strange thing to say!

  2. I too remember that Sunday morning and my mother crying. She was concerned about her two younger brothers and her oldest sister’s sons. Luckily they all returned safely. Ethel, as usual a well written blog

  3. How thotful for you to celebrate Memorial Day with the reminder of the defining moment of the 20th Century! C and I reflected on how DNA has brought the Monroe native to his home to the joy of loved ones, including his sister of 96.
    I’ve not forgotten 9-11 and the horror that it brought, but PH is it!
    Marion Rowley’s brother Merlyn was a survivor of PH and no one intruded on him on PH day. As a kid I had great reverence for him.
    Thanx for your reminder.

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