(On Dec. 7, 1941, 75 years ago today, the unforeseen bombing of a U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, shocked the nation. More than 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack. The nation struggled with grief, fear, and the threat of war.
In his autobiography, "The Future is Better Than the Past: Affirmation of Providence," Dr. F.W. Mattox detailed the following excerpt, his recollections of the attack 75 years ago and the impact it had on his community.)
The stories about the easy life in Southern California at that time were very true. The fruit was plentiful. Avocados were five cents each, and the climate was great—what more could be desired? We had bought a house in Alhambra, and the future looked bright.
All of this was shattered on December 7, 1941.
It was Sunday, and I had preached at the morning service at Sichel Street. We leisurely visited after the service, and then got in the car to discuss where we would go for dinner. As we drove out onto the street, I turned on the radio.
The first voice we heard was a vivid description of Japanese aircraft dropping bombs on American ships in Pearl Harbor. We were a few minutes understanding what we were hearing. We soon realized, however, that the explosions we were hearing, and the gun fire, were the real thing.
Instead of going to a restaurant as we had intended, we went home, ate left overs, and kept our ears glued to the radio all afternoon.
The beginning of the war changed our plans. Opportunities for building the Kingdom were greatly reduced.
Fear of night attacks from Japanese submarines had a basis in reality. One night we were kept awake listening to loud explosions going off up and down the coast.
The next morning Bob Hope was on the radio. He said that he wanted to give the Japanese a report on their effectiveness. He said that they got, "one sea gull and a smudge pot. "
There were black-out rules which were followed carefully. Each home had one room where the windows were covered to prevent any light showing from the outside. There were black-out sirens which sounded at night, and all lights in the city went off. One night I had gone to prayer meeting alon, and had to drive four miles’ home without the use of car lights or street lights.
One morning the radio reported that a Japanese airplane had been shot down in the southern part of Los Angeles. We, along with the hundreds of other curious citizens converged upon that spot and caused such a traffic jam that it was hours before those in the middle could move. We never did find out whether the report was true. It was never reported in the media.