December 7, 1941

Memories of Pearl Harbor
and World War II



All of it sounded devastating . . .
Virginia Beer

Jane Doe, American
Mary Aaronson

The whole afternoon changed . . .
Catherine Allen

The first impact was disbelief . . .
William Barnes

My brother received his draft notice
on my wedding day . . .

Pearl Cartwright

I was only seventeen years old . . .
Rajeswari Chatterjee

Sixteen million U.S. troops,
550,000 families . . .

Doris Darnell

The horror was beyond
my comprehension . . .

Esther Early

We remembered my father . . .
Monica Grecu

Praying for the safe return of loved ones . . .
Ellen Guerricagoitia

Married at 18, widowed at 19 . . .
Annetta James

I did not fully understand
what was happening . . .

Madeline Kenyon

And Johnny will sleep
in his own little bed tonight . . .

Louise Lang

Ainít gonna study war no more . . .
Margaret Oakley

He claimed I was there . . .
Sally Quade

We looked at this list . . .
Ruth Smith

Thirteen going on fourteen . . .
Shirley Morgan Smith

World War II affected my life
in an undramatic way

Lois Smyres

This was serious . . .
Georgia Westbrook


In a Lifescapes session in the fall of 2000, Virginia Beer, whose piece opens this collection, read her reminiscence of Pearl Harbor Day: December 7, 1941. Other members of the workshop joined in as storytellers, and it became clear that just as the assassination of John F. Kennedy is an event that remains central to the memories of members of a younger generation, Pearl Harbor Day was a shaping event in the lives of young people who grew up during World War II.

Following the reading of Virginiaís piece and an extended discussion, the Lifescapes participants agreed to write their memories of this ìday of infamyî and to rummage through the family photo albums for pictures of themselves taken in the 1940s, thus creating this book.

From stories that follow, the reader will learn of the experiences of eighteen people. Most of the writers are women; most remained stateside and contributed to the war effort through work and study. Two of the writers were citizens of other countriesóRomania and Indiaóand describe their experiences from a perspective that does not include Pearl Harbor. One writeróthe only guy in Lifescapesówas a member of the armed forces during the war, though his Pearl Harbor Day memoir is centered in California.

In this collection, you will read of Sunday suppers and afternoons interrupted by the war broadcast; youíll learn of how the war was treated in the public schools on the Monday following; you will read of young men and women whose futures were dramatically altered by the war; and youíll learn of young people whose futures were cut off by the war.

Lifescapes is pleased to offer these reflections from a time that no one should forget, preserving memories and insights that could easily be lost over time.

Pearl Harbor Table of Contents