Thursday, December 22, 2016

75 Years Ago - the Weeks After Pearl Harbor

75 years ago on December 7, 1941, America was plunged into war with the bombing of the U.S. Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor.  One would think, based on today's immediate live broadcasts and social media accounts posted from cell phones or tablets with on the spot videos or pictures that the mobilization for war would dominate all aspects of the news.  Once that initial shock subsided, news accounts portrayed a much different setting in our local community.  Of greater immediate impact had been the fire destroying the village center Congregational Church, immediate efforts to find alternative worship facilities and begin the arduous task of rebuilding (not to occur until 1948 due to war efforts and scarcity of supplies).  The locally reported news in the weeks following Pearl Harbor depicted the day to day events in the life of a small, close-knit New England community.  Headlines ranged from "Will Present Yule Program - Entertainment is Planned at Swedish Zion Church"; the untimely death of Mrs. Hazel Robinson Carlson; the local Defense Council seeking a $500 appropriation at Town Meeting; a play planned and written by Center Grammar School Students entitled "Nutcracker Prince"; ads from local merchants or Middletown's big city stores describing the latest merchandise for Christmas shoppers;  an editorial providing reviews and praising Carl Price's new book Yankee Township; and the personal notes announcing soldiers home on leave - men such as Pvt.s John Peterson, Leroy Bissell, Leon Goff, William Valli and Cpl. Albert Hansen.  It was noted Pvt. James Baxter's leave had been canceled and that he wouldn't be home for Christmas - something that would occur for the next three years for over 400 other young men and women from East Hampton serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine during World War II.

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