My Earliest Memory

December 7th – My Earliest Memory


We were in the kitchen of my parent’s house in Corvallis, Oregon. I still have an image in my mind. The walls were light blue and the trim was dark blue. My parents were fixing dinner. I was just short of four years old, and seated at the table. My baby sister was in a high chair to my left. My parents were in a good mood. They had the radio on, and they were singing along to some music. It was an upbeat scene.

Suddenly, the music was interrupted, and a male voice came on speaking in low serious tones. I didn’t understand a word of what was said. The thing that sticks in my mind was the abrupt change in my parents mood. Instead of singing they were now themselves speaking in low serious tones and frowning.

“What happened?” I asked, but got no answer. “What happened?” I repeated. Finally my dad came over and said “Some bad people attacked our country.” I remember thinking “country? What is a country?”

It wasn’t until many years later that I put two and two together and realized that I had heard the announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941.

About twenty years later I steamed into Pearl Harbor aboard the USS PICTOR as a newly minted Ensign in the US Navy Reserve. We tied up within walking distance of the Pearl Harbor Memorial. It is built on the sunken hull of the USS Arizona. Taking in the Memorial was a moving experience.


My sister and me at the time.
My sister Irene and me eighty years later
Tuesday, December 7th, 2021 FAMILY STORIES, My Earliest Memory No Comments