Monday, December 7, 2015

Pearl Harbor and Bovina

Seventy four years today, on December 7, 1941, "A date which will live in infamy..." the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and plunged the United States into World War II. I wanted to find any references in records to the immediate reaction in Bovina. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot to go on, but did find a couple of items in the records of the Cecil Russell family.

Isabell Russell kept a diary off and on for many years. Interestingly, she had a five year diary that included 1941 but much of 1941 and early 1942 are blank. For what reason I do not know. There were scattered entries for 1941 up to September 24, then they were blank until December 7, when she recorded the attack on Pearl Harbor: "Nice today. We went to church. Word came over radio tonight that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor." There was one more entry for 1941 toward the end of the year but otherwise there were no follow-up posts to the news about the attack. You'll see that the rest of the entries that would have covered 1941-45 are blank. I've noticed in this diary that the latter part of each year tends to have less in it than the early part. In later life, Isabell tended to write more in her diaries.

Here's Isabell's diary entry for December 7, 1941. 
When the attack happened, Isabell's daughter Marjorie was teaching in Madison, Ohio. Her good friend Celia Coulter wrote to Marjorie a few days after the attack on December 11. That was the day that Hitler declared war on the United States. Most of the letter was about different things going on in Bovina and was not heavily focused on the war, but she did say "We certainly get a grim set of facts from the news these days, don't we? I've just been knitting some on Auntie's sweater, while listening to the 'March of Time.'" Celia also noted that the U.P. Church's minister, Rev. McClellan, was leaving - "It looks as if 'the dominie' is really going to depart soon." Dominie was an old Church of Scotland term for schoolmaster but also a Dutch term for pastor. McClellan's departure was a direct result of the U.S. going to war. He had wanted to leave a few months before because he wanted to become a Naval chaplin, but the church talked him out of it.  With the U.S. actually at war, the elders felt in good conscience that they couldn't refuse him. Celia noted that McClellan "expects to be at the Naval Hospital in Brooklyn...."

Here's the beginning of Celia's December 11, 1941 letter to Marjorie.
She concluded the letter hoping she hadn't bored her too much and noting that between her various chores "I listen to the news. Hope it takes a turn for the better soon."

And here's the closing of the letter.
Here's the envelope - note the Christmas seal.

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