— Submitted by UH alumna Stephanie K. Grout (UH Mānoa, BA, 1976)
I was born in Honolulu, T.H., in late 1948, and my father, living in the Midwest when Pearl Harbor was attacked, was drafted after our country declared war on Japan. So I do not have a personal story about the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, I remember a story told in one of my high school classes*, by our teacher. Most of the stories you hear about the attack are, of course, about injuries and mayhem, panic and tragedy. This one was from a totally different perspective. Our male teacher was telling us about when he was a kid (maybe 9 or 10?), living uphill from Pearl Harbor**, when he and his friends were playing outside; it was a Sunday, so they weren’t in school. The boys saw the Imperial Japanese fighter planes swooping down and attacking Pearl Harbor. One of the boys climbed a tree and was reporting what he saw, talking into a can-and-string walkie-talkie while other boys on the ground below the tree took turns holding the can at their bottom end of the string up to their ears.
That story and the image of those boys doing that were indelibly etched in my teenaged memory back in the mid ‘60s, though I have to admit that I hadn’t thought about it for years until I got the email from the UH Alumni organization today.
* Sorry, I cannot recall in what year or at which school; I graduated from Punahou in 1967, but this story might have been recounted earlier, while I was at Radford.
** ‘Aiea Heights, perhaps? I am just guessing, but Wikipedia states that “On December 7, 1941, a large part of the Japanese attack focused on the military installations around the town and the ships moored off shore. For example, one damaged ship, the USS Vestal, beached in Aiea Bay to prevent sinking. Many people photographed the attack from the hills in Aiea.”
*Submission has been slightly edited for clarity purposes