Pearl Harbor Day

12/01/09 - posted by Frank Grant - grantstombtwo<at>

Just about anybody who was of any reasonable age on December 7th 1941 will remember where they were on that fateful day when they heard that big news. I even remember that Roy Thomas was climbing the monkey trees at McCoppin Square.

It was a warm and sunny Sunday morning in the Outside Lands and my brother Charles and I, two teen-agers, were out in the back yard at our house on 20th Avenue, across the street from the southern most Larsen Park. We were listing to a small home made radio and heard a report that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese. Our first thought was, "Where is Pearl Harbor?" We ran in the house and told our mother about it. Later that afternoon she received a phone call from Intercepter Command, a division of Civilian Defense to report for duty on Sansome Street, a job on which she was trained to plot on a huge board the difference between identified aircraft and those unidentified, needless to say it was a very stressful job at that time. On our trip down through what is now known as Japan Town, there were very few Japanese.

The next night the air raid sirens In San Francisco screamed loudly. The air raid warden on our street went up and down the street shouting, "There are 50 Jap bombers over the Golden Gate!" Of course it wasn't true, but we didn't know that at the time. I even ran up a few stairs to tell people to turn off their lights.

My father and I signed up to become auxiliary fire fighters and we trained in the firehouse on 18th Avenue. We even had one drill at Fleishacker Pool taking water out of the pool and shooting it long distances to put out imaginary fires. My brother signed on as a bicycle messenger, the thought being that if all radio and telephone systems were knocked out messages could still get through.

Back then, especially in the early days of the war, all street lights were painted black on the ocean side of the lights so they could not be seen from the ocean. Also, especially in the Outside Lands area one could drive at night with only parking lights or the top half of one's headlights painted black. It was truly dangerous driving at that time.

Later on, I became a radio operator gunner on B-24s. My brother wound up in the Navy. We both came through it unscathed. Sorry to say, many of our classmates at Abraham Lincoln did not make it through that conflict. Let's hope we never find our country in a war as mamouth as that one.

Frank Grant

The Western Neighborhoods Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.