12/13/21 - posted by jb

As I now read all of your posted accounts with fascination and awe over your strong, hands-on connections to the tragedy that still surfaces from the depths of our embattled entry into WWll. And I reflect on the fact that were it not for this horrific slaughter, I might not be here today.

Long story; however, my grandparents had the Military cleaning and laundry contracts from Ft. Bragg to Camp Roberts when Pearl Harbor was attacked and for reasons I will never understand, the bloody uniforms of murdered GI’s were collected, containered and shipped to the Presidio in SF to be clean and laundered. At that time, my mom was 20 and working for my grandparents as their bookkeeper. My grandfather ordered “all hands on deck” to unload and sort these ripped and bloody shrouds around-the-clock and after two days, my mother could no longer handle the smell and horror, quit, moved from the family home on Monterey Blvd. and took a job with the Federated Shirt Co. downtown. Her boss was a tall, handsome gent who hand landed in SF in 19937, having bounced around the Country with carnivals and CCC jobs and was now, a long way from his Beyonne New Jersey home.

This gent soon joined the Army, serving 2 years before being discharged for a cardiac arrhythmia and my mom remained working while dating an Army dermatologist whom my grandparents prayed she would marry. She and her boyfriend were headed to a wedding at Hamilton Field and took separate cars for logistics. The groom being a close friend of my mom’s fella, he asked her to pick up a bottle of Scotch as a gift. In 1944, Scotch was as rare as hen’s teeth and the first liquor store she tried in San Rafael had none. The clerk told her that the bar down the street did off-sale and had a large inventory.

As my mom walked through the doors of the Black Cat Tavern and her eyes adjusted to the dark, behind the bar stood her former boss from Federated Shirt, Jack Byrne. I know he didn’t pry her with alcohol since my mom never drank but she never made it to the wedding and a year later, she married this bartender who 6 years later, would be my father.

So, through a most perverse and tragic irony, I have Pearl Harbor to thank for my coming into this world. That, and a bottle of Scotch.

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