The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “It has been 75 years since that day ‘which will live in infamy,’ but some of the memories are still vivid.
“On December 7th, 1941, I was 9 years old, and I was getting excited for Christmas. We had finished lunch, and I settled back at the table to finish my hand-drawn calendar of December. I was just getting ready to mark off six of the days until Christmas when my dad came back into the house after shoveling some of the deeper drifts that had blown across our long, long driveway. He told Mom that he thought he could ram through the rest of the smaller drifts with no problem, so he was off. (Where he was going, I have no memory.) He told us to look out the window and watch the snow fly as he gunned it.
“As I have mentioned before, my dad always liked an audience — but that particular Sunday afternoon, it was only three of us: Mom, my 15-year-old sister and me. We dutifully watched as he charged through the smaller drifts. When he was about halfway down the driveway, he suddenly stopped. He sat there for a few minutes, and then suddenly he flung the car door open and jumped out of the car and came running toward the house, looking upset. We fully expected to hear a bit of cursing about his blankety-blank car, but he came in the house very subdued. He calmly told Mom that he had just heard on the car radio that Pearl Harbor had been attacked and we were at war. He told Mom to get her coat; they were going to go pick up Johnny from his friend’s house and bring him home. (I never did know what he was thinking — whether in his panic he thought my 19-year-old brother was going to be instantly drafted, or whether he was afraid he might join up. I don’t know. I just know he wanted his boy home.)
“They left, and I was alone with my sister, to listen to the increasingly horrifying reports on the radio. She took down the globe, and we tried to estimate just how long it would take the Japanese bombers to fly from Hawaii to the United States. I fully expected that by morning, they would have found our little rented house in the middle of six acres on Old Shakopee Road in Bloomington, and bombs would fall upon us.
“I was relieved and surprised when I woke up on December 8th, and life was normal, and I had to go to school.
“My only memory of that day is arriving in my fourth-grade classroom to see two little boys who were normally best friends having a terrible argument about when the war would end. One of them claimed we would ‘whip them,’ and it would be ‘over in a week.’ He called his friend a traitor when he said it would take longer than that. ‘We will be lucky to beat them by Christmas,’ the other boy said. When the teacher entered the classroom, the two little guys were on the floor punching each other as one of them kept shouting ‘Traitor!’ In her effort to calm them down, my teacher talked about peace and brotherhood and how we must be the peacemakers, etc, and somehow as she rambled on about beliefs and myths and war and peace, she inadvertently let slip that there was no Santa Claus. Bummer!
“Christmas was bleak for everyone that year — and as for me? I didn’t bother to cross off any more days on my beautiful hand-drawn calendar.”
Willard B. Shapira of Roseville: “I was 5 years old, and my little brother, Michael Shapira, was 1. Our family lived in North Minneapolis.
“It was a Sunday afternoon and I wondered why everyone in the neighborhood had gathered outside with worried looks on their faces. We kids had no idea what was going on. My little brother was so scared, he hid under the davenport.
“My parents explained to me what had happened. I doubt if I really understood, but soon there were blackouts and air-raid drills, and blue and gold stars began appearing in the windows of residences. We knew what those meant.
“At the Talmud Torah (Hebrew school) at Eighth and Fremont Avenues North, some of our teachers had been lucky enough to escape Hitler and landed in Minneapolis. Several such families moved onto our block on Newton Avenue North. My mother explained why they had those numbers tattooed on their arms.
“They had no money and no English. Because I spoke Hebrew and some Yiddish, I became their interlocutor. Even though everyone was very poor from The Great Depression, we helped out the refugees as best we could. My father had taught us early on to ‘have a little rachmones for the other guy.’ (It’s pronounced with a guttural ch and means concern.) That attitude has remained with my brother and me to this day.
“One of my best friends had four much older brothers; Burton was kind of an after-thought. When the brothers vanished from the neighborhood, but there was no star in the family window, we wondered what had happened to them. ‘They’re at a place called Oak Ridge, Tennessee, working on a weapon to kill Hitler,’ Burton explained. In the fourth grade, he drew the structure of the atom on the blackboard. Our teacher, Mrs. Thompson, was amazed. [Bulletin Board says: Burton’s brothers were apparently much more revealing than the rules allowed — no?]
“Well, it didn’t turn out the way Burton thought it would, and the use of the two atomic bombs against Japan, ordered by Harry S Truman (who had become president after the unthinkable happened: the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt), is controversial to this day.
“I know many BB readers have their own recollections of ‘The War’ and the day it began. Please send them in.”
S. Steve Adkins: “As we recognize the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, it may surprise readers that during the attack, a radio broadcast declared: ‘… all defense workers, with the exception of women, are ordered immediately to duty at Pearl Harbor.’
“By contrast: In September we recognized the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attack where the first person ordered to defend the White House was a woman … a woman combat pilot! Her orders were simple: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93, which was headed for the White House. Lt. Heather ‘Lucky’ Penney, blasting off Andrews Air Force Base, launched without any live armament! Ramming was the only option. Penney planned to take out the tail while another pilot, Col. Marc Sasseville, chose to ram the cockpit. The mission ended when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, thanks to brave passengers aboard the airliner. Later that day, Lt. Penney escorted Air Force One carrying President George W. Bush back to Andrews Air Force Base.”
Life as we know it
Raindancer of North Oaks: “My Thanksgiving cacti that were so eager to show off before the feast for which they were named continue to amaze.
“They’re another example of how little one needs to spend to be entertained by nature’s beauty.
There’s nothin’ like a simile!
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “In his Monday monologue, Stephen Colbert had this to say about the controversy over Donald Trump’s phone conversation with the president of Taiwan: ‘Here’s the thing. The U.S. has not recognized Taiwan as being an independent nation, because China views Taiwan as a renegade province. Basically, it’s like if “Cheers” refused to acknowledge that “Frasier” had become its own show.…’”
Or: Department of Duh (responsorial)
Aggie Girl: “In [the December 1] BB, there was a reference to the Chevy ad(s) where they are throwing things into the bed of the trucks and attempting to show that one dents more easily than the other.
“My initial comment to my husband upon seeing this ad was: ‘Doesn’t everyone who buys a work truck get a bed liner, anyway? What’s the point?’ ”
Semi-Legend: “My wife said she overheard at a pizza buffet line, mother to child, about 7: ‘Now, don’t lick the utensils and put them back.’
“Wonder how often the kid has had to be told….”
‘Tis the season!
And: The Permanent Maternal Record
Juju of Highland Park: “My mother loved the Christmas season and years ago she crafted Christmas trees made from vintage jewelry. However it wasn’t just any jewelry, it was family jewelry. My two brothers and I were each gifted a tree made from HER jewelry. I came into possession of the original tree after her passing, ironically, on Christmas Day 2010.
“This is the original, the first tree she made. It is adorned exclusively of her Mother’s jewelry. Some of the pieces are over 100 years old. Every Christmas season,as I find a place of honor to display this family heirloom, I remember her, my mother. I miss her.
Our community of strangers — And: You are what you eat (responsorial) — or: Bulletin Board stands corrected
Plus: The eternal questions (Christmas Division) (responsorial)
Norton’s mom of Eau Claire, Wisconsin: “Reading BBonward.com this morning (12-6-2016), I was surprised to read this submission attributed to me — as I hadn’t sent anything in, but had thought it: ‘I was disappointed when it was announced that Bulletin Board would no longer appear in the weekday paper, but I am now delighted with the lovely photos. Thank you!’ The internet is powerful! It can suck the thoughts right out of my mind and e-mail them to you. [Bulletin Board says: So whose grandparents ate homemade bread, slathered with goose grease, sprinkled with salt … and then lived to very ripe old ages? Apologies to all!]
“And then, as I read further, the Donner Party was mentioned. That reminded me of sixth grade, when we were given the assignment of presenting an oral book report — in front of the whole class. I was very shy (yes, I really was back then) and hated standing in front of the class, but decided to make this an oral book report everyone would remember. My dad had told me a little about the Donner Party. I found a book which included all the gory details — and when I gave my oral book report, some of the kids (including the boys) had to leave the room before I was finished.
“As I look back on those years in grade school, when I was always the one chosen first for the spelling bee, but the last team member chosen for anything sports-related, this comes to mind as one of my favorite moments.”
Band Name of the Day: Don’t Lick the Utensils