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By Jack Hackley
Every time Dec. 7 rolls around, I can’t help but remember where I was when the “Japs” bombed Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday, and my mother, sister and I had just gotten home from church. I’m not sure if the news came over the telephone party line by the operator or if we had the radio on.
My uncle and two of my cousins who lived up the road were there when we got home, talking to my dad about the news. My uncle had always told us how he was gassed in World War I. He obviously got a partial disability pension. However, my mother always said he just used that as an excuse not to work.
He would go in to detail and tell us how deadly mustard gas was, and the horrible effects it had on anyone sprayed with it. He told us that Sunday how we would soon be at war, and they would come over here and gas everybody, and we should be prepared. He thought the government would issue gas masks.
I was 8, and even though geography was always everyone’s favorite class in a one-room country school, I had no idea where Pearl Harbor was. I was in the third grade and not near as smart as third-graders are today. Our parents never talked to us kids, and looking back I suppose it was because life was such a struggle and most parents were poor and uneducated.
Kids were to be seen but not heard. We did not have television or the Internet, only radio and newspaper. A lot of families did not even have radio and couldn’t afford the newspaper. What I knew I learned by listening to this uncle and other grown-ups. But I knew one thing after listening to my uncle that Dec. 7, I was scared.
Christmas was just around the corner and all I could think of that I wanted was a gas mask. Be sure and read Jack Remembers next week for my favorite Christmas story.
Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, Mo. 64075 or firstname.lastname@example.org. www.jackremembers.com