Sunday, April 5, 2015

You Asked For It......Lo During the Big War


I am only writing this because at least 2 of you clamored for more about my life as an Air RaidWarden Messenger during the big war.  I am going to have to expand on that subject a bit to give you the full picture of how it was during t6hos days, months and years.

I'lll never forget the day of December 7,, 1941 whebn I came home from a Sunday matinede movie and my Mamma told me,with great concern in her face, that we were at War.  That war affected the world in many ways, but for me, persohnallt ut was a multi-faceted disaster. 
Tenks gott, we did not lose any fmily members but moth of my most beloved cousins were in the armyand one, a medic trapped in the Battle of the Bulge had memories and invisible wounds which took a long time to heal.

A month after Pearly Harbor I found, to my horror, thst we were moving 3000 miles away from family, friends and my beloved Philly to Los 
Angeles California where we Knew no one and had no one except for a single cousin.  It mean being uprooted from my fi4st year of high school with kids I had grown up with to a huge, unfriendly unknown.  If  I had known the word and not b een so shy and inhibited I would surely have uttered my first "SHITPISSFUCK".

However, we will not dwell on ancient horrors......it appear4s that somehow I did survive this death blow and managed to enroll in a new high school (which I hated because everyone was so up[ity and all the girls except me were beautiful.)    Had it not been for a bottomless deep crush I developed on the school's greatest footbaall hero I would never have survived till graduation.

For one thing, early in 1942 when I had scarcely settled into a set at LA High the government decided t6hat all Japanese living in the US were potebntial spies and must be impriioned to protect the U>S from havoc.  No ,matter that the large Japanese population here were mostly at least 2nd generation Americans.....they all had to be banished to internment ccamps.....the one I remember was up north and was called Manzanar.    The sweet little Japanese girl I sat next to on home room could not meet my eyes anymore and within a month they all disappeared.  It felt awful.  

Next allsorts of laws were passed requiring blackout curtains on all windows and any sliver of light earned the trqngressor 30 lashes.  Periodically strange sirens would wail, being tested to warn us against air raids submarine attacks or genberal invasion.  It took  while till they got all that stuff organized and wworking decently.  I do not think the Japanese had yet figured out how to attck us from the vast distance over the Pacific, but undoubtedly they were working on it.

 Meanwhile, I managed to make 2 friends, both of whom had orniginally been from Philadelphia, but socially High School was not a success.  I filled my life with whatever I could gasther.....got a job working after school hand paintintg fancy bottles,the  intended  use of which I still wonder about from time to time.  I had to study hard because the stress rendered me supid and I had a life and death struggle with solid geometry....I don;t know why since I had gotten strasight A's in plane geometry back in Philly.....put it down to more stress.......I lear4rned to bowl and ws the proud achiever of a score of 130 several timnes and in between I   fantasied about and dreamed about Bert Schneider, the football hero who did not know3 I existed, but for whom I would run up and back down  4 flights of stairs between English and History in order to see him pass down the hall opposite me but not even seeing me.

Then one day late in 1941,  my Mamma asked me if I would be interested in becoming an Air Raid Warden Messenger.  One of the tenants in our building hd volunteered to be Warden for our block or section or whatever and .  he needed a Messenger to ptrol with him to run messages back to headquarters in the  event of an event.  I put thoughts of Bert out of my mind anbd said,"Sure".  I seem to recall vguely several meeting in which we were supposed to be instructed in our duties, but I cannot recall a single bit of information which was passed to us at those meetings.  We received armbands identifying us as offical somethings and flashlights, whistles and an amazing looking Gas Mask (p4robqbl6 left over from WW1) all of which get slung over our shouldersw.....there may have also been a helmet of some sort but I would not swear about that.  Then we pr4oceeded to wait for the air raid sirent to summon us to our posts/rounds.  I cannot remember how often the air raid tests were run.  Of course, when the sirenbs went off we did not5 know if it ws merely a test or if Ja[an ws invading Long Beach.  Our ob was to patrol a certain area of the neighborhood and keep our eyes and ears open for any kind of trouble.  After the first few times it was really very boring.  We were si busy keeping our eyes abd ears open and not alling asleep walking that we rarely exchanges an words much less any conversation.  If there was no moon our main preoccupation was in not tripping nd falling down breakibg out flashlight or crushing our gas mask.  When the all clear sounded we went home abd took off our equipment and made sure we put it in a safe place where we would remember it when the sirens wailed again.  This went on perioliclly for the next 3 years and nothing ever happened to cause me to have to run with an mnessages to Headquarters......wherever the hell that was....I do not remember ever bein told where headquartes actually was tho I guess someone knew.

 I remember vividly the night I screwed up my courage and turned to the Warden as we trod the darkness and said timidly, "What are we really supoosed to do if anything really happens?"  He turned to me, looked mesquarely in the eyes and said, "Damned if I know."

Love , Lo

P

23 comments:

  1. You are brave & beautiful--but NOT a typist!!

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  2. Thank you, Lo - I was one of those asking for this story. I knew it would be worth reading and it was!

    I've been reading your archives as well, and enjoying them very much.

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  3. Dear Lo
    Oh yes, the "Don't sit under the apple tree war years." How well I too, remember them, although I was never an air warden. I was living in Norfolk and I recall subs right off our shore. I doubt if anyone would have known what to do either, if they had really struck.
    Thanks for the great story and stirring up some memories.

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  4. Enjoyed reading your story, thank you so much for giving us a taste to what it was like for a young girl. Glad to hear the whole family was okay after the War.

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  5. Great story ~ especially about not knowing where HQ was!
    Thanks for sharing ~

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  6. I feel like I just read an amazingly interesting short story. I wanted to hear more,,I honest to God walk with you through your adventures Lo. Your blogs are wonderful! I think this only happens when you have #1 writers,,I've always hoped you would write a book. Your ability to write is amazing. The real stories of your life are something that would keep one glued to the book. You've been through a lot in your life, enjoyed a lot in your life, and if you won't write a book about it, I will have to settle for your blogs,,,and I will..They are the best things I've read in a long time..Love you

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  7. Wonderful history, Lo. We need to know why you moved from bomb proof Philly to the west coast.
    We know now the uprooting of Japanese citizens was a tragedy. We don't know enough about rebuilding their lives after the war. Do you know any of their stories?

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  8. Now this is something that should be taught in High School... and in unvarnished form! Such a remarkable story! Oh, by the way, I'm from Philadelphia - and am happy someone from around here was nice to you. I'm not too sure that would still happen.

    As for the Japanese Internment - that was an absolute disgrace and a total abuse of governmental power (those in government were hugely racist then - and might still be...)

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  9. Great story. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. I too am curious why your moved to the west coast. Love the story Lo, and it reminds me of the days when we were on roof tops in N.J. looking for planes of the enemy persuasion! Never did find one.

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  11. More,more please Lo, so interesting.
    Briony
    x

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  12. One of the students I graduated with at Gardena High made a documentary "The Manzanar Fishing Club" who found a ay to escape from the camp and go fishing

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  13. Very interesting Lo, thanks for sharing:)

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  14. Very interesting Lo, thanks for sharing:)

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