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Remembering Pearl Harbor

December 11, 2012
The Leader Herald

When the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred on Dec. 7, 1941, I was 9 years old and lived in Gloversville. The adults listened to President Roosevelt on the radio and there was concern that our nation would be invaded.

Soon, many items were rationed, including canned goods, meat, sugar, shoes, tires and gasoline. As a kid living on East 11th Avenue, I joined others in collecting scrap metal and discarded rubber tires. When I was a 12-year-old Boy Scout, I earned a General Eisenhower medal for collecting more than 1,000 pounds of old newspapers. Tin cans were washed, crushed, bagged and set out on the curb for pickup - an early recycling program.

I attended the old Kingsboro School, where we purchased savings stamps. When the books were full, they were used to purchase a War Bond, costing $18.75. At maturity, after 10 years, it was worth $25 to cash in.

As part of a War Bond Drive, a military unit put on a "assault on a fortified position" demonstration for the public at a local ball park. There was a lot of machinegun fire of blanks and explosions.

There were air-raid drills, and when the sirens sounded, people were to seek shelter. After dark, indoor lights were turned off or blackout drapes were closed. Neighborhood wardens would blow a warning whistle if they could see lights in a building.

An older neighbor boy from East 11th Avenue, Robert "Bob" Armstrong, went in the Army and was assigned to an infantry unit. We corresponded by v-mail (Victory Mail), which was read by censors in the interest of national security. As a sergeant, fighting in Europe, Bob was killed in action. His grave is in the American Cemetery in Luxemburg.

Outside of Northville, there was a small building that was part of the Aircraft Warning Service. It was manned by volunteers, including my Uncle Arthur Sands. They spotted airplanes overhead and phoned in the information to a central office. Flights were tracked by a series of such spotters in various locations.

Americans made a lot of sacrifices during the war, but it was a period in history when there was a high degree of patriotism. People realized that contributing to victory was a matter of survival.


Waldorf, Md.



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