Remember when: Locals died at Pearl Harbor

Published 1:08 am Saturday, December 10, 2016

“Pardon me, boy; Is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo…so Chattanooga Choo Choo, won’t you choo choo me home!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Andrews Sisters made this pre-war song hit of 1941 popular! I won’t say who used to “waltz” out on our front porch at home on East Three Notch Street in his underwear and dress shirt and sing it as traffic went by, but it wasn’t my mother! This was just for fun to make his daughters laugh! Thank goodness, he flew Navy planes from Pensacola N. A. S. to Alameda N. A. S. to Hawaii and the other islands in the Pacific Ocean down to Australia and made it back alive at the end of World War II.

This week marked the 75th anniversary of “Pearl Harbor Day” in American history, December 7, 1941. The headlines in The Andalusia Star News weekly edition, December 11, 1941 reads “GERMANY AND ITALY JOIN JAPAN TODAY DECLARING WAR ON THE UNITED STATES.” The article further described what was happening on the national front, “This action was not any surprise, because it had been expected in Washington for some days that such a declaration would be forthcoming from these dictators.”

     Oscar M. Duggar, Editor and Owner, wrote, “Japan unleashed her assassins at dawn last Sunday morning with a devastating air attack on Pearl Harbor, on the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, and Midway, and on the British stronghold at Singapore. This dastardly attack was made while Japanese envoys were conferring at their own request with our Secretary of State (in Washington) in a supposed effort to work out a formula for maintaining the peace in the Pacific….We must be prepared for bad news perhaps for weeks and even months to come because our fighting forces are at a disadvantage at the beginning. We are in for an all-out war and we are in it to win….so help us God.”

The next week’s December edition featured the local news, “THREE COVINGTON COUNTY MEN KILLED IN ACTION – TWO DIE AT PEARL HARBOR (Comer Wilson and Ray Powell), ONE KILLED SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND (Mr. John Moody’s son).”

     Also, included in headlines was this announcement – “Red Cross called upon for 50 million dollar war fundCovington County’s Quota $5,000.

Shortly thereafter, this was big news – “EMPLOYEES OF THREE TEXTILE PLANTS LEAD WAY IN RED CROSS DRIVE. Paul Scherf reported to the Star News that workers from the Alatex Corp., the Andala Co., and the S & B Mfg. Co. have contributed more than one fifth of the quota for the entire county, $1,054. of the $5,000.

  1. J. Moates Auto Company advertised, “Order your Philco (radio) NOW. Give the family a Merry Christmas. Free delivery on Christmas Eve. Phone 191 and 195.”

     Boyette Furniture Company advertised “Cavalier Cedar Chest, A Traditional Christmas Remembrance, $19.95, Easy Terms, Phone 64.”

     “Fruit Cakes for Christmas in 2, 3, and 5 lb. sizes. Made the old-fashioned way with plenty of nuts and fruits and very inexpensively priced, too. Phone 282. Andalusia Bakery, South Cotton Street.”

     “Don’t Be Broke For the Holiday Season, City Loan Company, Charles Creech, Prestwood Building.”

Since 1941 was the year my mother was graduated from the Andalusia High School, I was eager to find out the effect this news of the Pearl Harbor attack and the anticipation of an upcoming war had on the people of Andalusia. It is interesting to see what all was going on even into the year 1942 in the form of preparedness. What were the citizens doing to support the war effort? How were they carrying on with their lives?

Miss Norma Evers was named “Miss Covington County” Saturday afternoon at the (1941) Christmas Carnival sponsored by the Andalusia Junior Chamber of Commerce. Miss Evers represented the Andalusia High School and was presented a loving cup. The carnival brought several thousand people to Andalusia and was declared a successful affair.”

February 5, 1942“’Sergeant York’ (a WWI movie) to show at Martin Theatre Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.”

February 12, 1942 – “Don’t forget the square dance at the high school gymnasium tonight sponsored by the Mentor Club.”

February 19, 1942 – “Scouts, Lions make joint drive for scrap paper and metals.”

March 12, 1942 – “Sound pictures to be shown at East Three Notch School. These pictures deal with the national war effort.”

March 19, 1942 – “First practice blackout in Andalusia declared a success.”

April 23, 1942 – “Dates fixed here to get Sugar Rationing Cards.”

May 21, 1942 – “Andalusians enlist in Navy – Webster L. McDowell, Andalusia; J. C. Thompson, Red Level; Charles Henderson, Andalusia; Harry Williamson, Red Level.”

July 23, 1942 – “Hazel Williams presented 4-star emblem in recognition of the services of her four sons, PFC Walter G. Williams; Sgt. Robert H. Williams; Seaman 1st Class John D. Williams; Seaman 1st Class J. W. Williams.”

     July 30, 1942 – “Housewives urged to save feathers for defense – used to make pillows.”

August 6, 1942 – “The women of Covington County have been asked by the American Red Cross to prepare 75,000 surgical dressings for the use of the American Army.”

August 20, 1942 – “Walter Beall to head Red Cross chapter.”

September 3, 1942 – “72 to leave Saturday for induction to go to Ft. McClellan for examination for Army service.”

October 1, 1942 – “City delivery mail service is extended. 14 streets added to city routes.”

October 1, 1942 – “Andalusia girl joins Navy WAVES, Miss Lena Baldwin.”

October 8, 1942 – “Test blackout and air raid drill to be held next week. Alarm signal changed.”

October 15, 1942 – “House-to-house scrap metal drive gets underway today.”

November 12, 1942 – “Covington County has lost 3,167 citizens as a result caused by the demands of the war.”

     November   19, 1942 – “Coffee sales are prohibited during the week of November 21-28.”

     December 10, 1942 – Emergency gasoline – People in the county are not yet clear of the use of emergency gas. If there is danger or loss of life, health, or property, a car owner may apply to his nearest service station and sign a form there entitling him to enough gas to make a trip.”

These news stories just draw a brief picture of life in Andalusia during the first year following the Pearl Harbor attack. We can all wonder how many romances might not have blossomed if it had not been for the war. How many songs might not have been written? How many of us “baby boomers” might not have even been born?

How many of those who served might not have had their faiths and their work ethics strengthened had it not been for those war years? Would our town be what it is today had it not have been for the young men and women who chose to come back home and who agreed to move here with hometown spouses to live, work, and raise families? Let us REMEMBER WHEN as we watch the movies, the documentaries, the television news accounts of 75 years ago! Visit our Three Notch Museum, the “War Room” especially, and do take the young people with you so they can learn where we have been in the past in order to chart the path of where we are going in the future!