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July 31, 2020

1942 was an important year for America but also for my family. The United States had just entered into World War II after the disastrous attack at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. People were uneasy. Things in the United States were changing fast. For my family, things were to change as well.

In the town of North Hollywood, California my mother had just graduated North Hollywood High School several months after Peal Harbor. Almost all of the male graduates in her class immediately enlisted in the armed forces. There was also a real fear that the Japanese would invade the western states. In fact, a Japanese submarine did surface and fire on oil installations in northern Ventura County. Another was sunk in the Los Angeles harbor near San Pedro. The Japanese had also sent incendiary balloons into the trade winds that were supposed to burn down our forests in the Pacific Northwest.  All of this made for a very uneasy calm in 1942.

My mother adored living in North Hollywood in no small part because she was a fan of the movies. Her home was so close to Hollywood and she began to know the names of all of the movies stars, both large and small. She turned her passion for the movies into a life-long expertise in identifying virtually any person in any movie. She knew their biographies in detail as well.

My father was living in Hollywood and was married to an actress at the time. He would wind up living across the street from my mother after a divorce in 1944. But in 1942 he was working for Twentieth Century Fox as an actor and had just completed several films including To Be or Not To Be with Jack Benny.. He was looking forward to a long career in movies when of course came a draft notice within 18 months. Interestingly, his last movie was a depiction of a ship sunk by German torpedoes, a propaganda piece featuring Edward G. Robinson: Destroyer (1944).  Almost all of the stars of this movie and most of the extras were drafted into military service. My father, while speaking perfect German, was sent off with the Flying Tigers in China as a communications expert where he had to learn Chinese.

When the ripples in time that 1942 had caused finally ceased, my mother and father were married and lived a very happy life together for over a half a century. When I later asked them both for what they remembered as their defining year, the answer was always: 1942.

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  1. Interesting assignment for your father. At least one of those Japanese balloon bombs made it all the way to Iowa. Iowa History Journal has had an article about it, and the remains have been on display at the Gold Star Museum in Camp Dodge at Johnston, a Des Moines suburb.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Also, if this were 1942, Jerry Garcia would be born tomorrow (August 1, 1942) — and his voice too is still rippling through time!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m guessing the US government was more worried your father would collaborate with the enemy if sent to Europe. Many people aren’t aware that some German-Americans were interned the way Japanese-Americans were.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting, thnx to share this lovely post


  5. As a indian we just read ww2 in history books,fst time feel emotions, family n many information

    Liked by 1 person

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