December 7, 1941, is a date few will ever forget, for on that day the Japanese attacked
Pearl Harbor. The
was at war. United States
Following news of the attack,
along with the rest of the world was stunned. Hundreds of church goers leaving
their places of worship at
gathered before the windows of the Press Telegram to read late news
bulletins. Many Navy wives residing in Long Beach were visibly
shaken, for practically every one of them had a husband serving in the
Pacific. The Army asked the city to loan
them a sound truck so they could cruise the streets and broadcast orders for
enlisted personnel to report to their stations, but no truck was
available. It turned out OK, the truck
was not needed --- most servicemen, on hearing news of the attack had already
reported back to base to find out what to do next. At the Long Beach police station all was routine, yet tenseness
could be detected as department heads kept near phones to find out more about
the tragedy and a possible invasion of the west coast. Long
|Japanese village of Fish Harbor on Terminal Island|
, which was next to the Douglas
Aircraft plant and the U.S. Army and Navy air bases, action was immediate. Because of its vital military importance,
civilian aircraft were notified that they would not be allowed to fly over or
near the air field. Municipal Airport
On December 8th the City Council was asked by the Navy to issue an ordinance requesting a complete, all night blackout. This meant all illumination which could be visible from the air or street be banned --- blinds drawn and any outside lights turned off. Many, including all city agencies, complied by painting their windows black. Merchants announced stores would close at daily and open a 8 or to take advantage of daylight hours. All outdoor advertising, street lights, traffic lights and auto headlights were banned from dusk until dawn.
Long Beach and Signal Hill Dead at Pearl Harbor
By December 13th families began to receive word of casualties at
Josephine Smith, of 234 Prospect, was the first wife to receive word of
her husband’s death. Albert J. Smith had
recently been promoted from warrant officer to lieutenant in the Navy; he had
been killed in the early attacks on the Hawaiian Islands
by the Japanese.
Mrs. Fae Crawford of
3216 Vista Street
was especially worried because both her husband and son were on duty on the
same ship “somewhere in the Pacific.” On
December 18th she heard her son, Richard, had been killed in the
attack on Pearl Harbor, but her husband,
James, had escaped unharmed.
|Long Beach men: Isaac C. Kidd, Franklin Van Valkenburg,|
Samuel G. Fuqua, Edward J. Hill. Other man Paul McMurtry
Word followed about the deaths of John Connolly and Wilbert F. Yost (
5906 Brayton Ave.)
, but many more men were missing.
Anxious family members didn’t learn until late January 1942 that Carl R.
Brier ( 17 Neptune Ave.),
Robert R. Clayton, Clyde Brown and Frank Head (1052 ½ E. 5th St.)
had been killed in action. Further anxious
moments awaited four other
families who didn’t learn until the end of February that Ludwig.F. Weller (122
E. 52nd St.), Ralph A. Derrington (5640 ½ Cerritos), Allen R. Teer
(270 Newport Ave.) and Robert L. Kelly
had been casualties in the bombing attack at Long Beach Pearl Harbor.
The 160 widows of Navy men killed at Pearl Harbor who resided in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area were offered jobs at the Lockheed owned Vega Aircraft Company in
. It was a chaplain from the Navy Relief
Society who approached the Lockheed Company with the idea. The Navy Relief Society was not subsidized by
the government, but supported solely by contributions. It realized the widows would need more help
than their agency could provide. Nearly
all the women took the basic tests for Lockheed: for now, with their husbands
dead, they needed to support their families themselves since no government aid was authorized. Burbank
On February 22, 1942, marking the 210th birthday of George Washington, nearly 6000 people packed the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium to attend memorial rites for the Pearl Harbor victims. The stage, draped with a blue backdrop, was centered by a huge white cross. Masses of American flags stood at the sides of the stage and on the stage sat men in Army and Navy uniforms.
As the Long Beach Municipal Band began to play religious melodies, the sound of sobbing could be heard throughout the auditorium. Unannounced, actress/singer Jeanette MacDonald appeared from the wings, moved across stage singing “Ave Maria.”
Culbert Olson followed her moving rendition and talked about the historic
tragedy. U.S. Navy chaplain John Johnson
then led the audience in prayer.
Everyone in attendance had a lump in their throat and pledged that California
must go on. America