[Letter to Clara Breed and Mrs. R. L. Breed from Eleanor Breed, January 2, 1942]
Breed, Eleanor D.
January 2, 1942
Gift of Elizabeth Y. Yamada
1 letter and envelope from Eleanor Breed to Clara Breed and Mother, Mrs. R.L. Breed + Robert Gordon family photo Christmas card and newspaper photo of Gordon family.
Berkely - 1/2/42 / Dearest Family, / New Year's Eve, about 7 p.m. when I was thinking of getting ready for the party at Dick's, the phone rang and a voice said, "Eleanor? Do you know who this is?" I didn't. "Well, it's Mrs. Robert Gordon of Honolulu!" And I was surprised at the ring in my voice as I fairly shouted, "Oh!!! Milly!" I hadn't realized how glad I'd be to hear from her, for I'd persuaded myself she and the children were probably safe, all right. We made a date immediately for the next morning, and I spent New Year's Day in the city with the Gordon refugees (see newspaper photo). Almost the first words Milly said when she greeted me was, "Oh, Eleanor, it's just wonderful to be alive!" / Let's see if I can give a resume of all she said -- hard to do for a day's conversation. About the attack (if you quote this, leave her name out -- might be better) -- as I imagined, they were at home on their ranch over across the Pali. First they knew was the radio reports of planes bombing Pearl Harbor, which they couldn't believe any more than we could, getting them here. The night before they had been at a party with the British Consul and his wife, and had discussed a possible Japanese attack, agreeing that it would come on a Sunday morning when everyone was sound asleep after spending his paycheck in the hot spots and officers were off week-ending -- so this particular Sunday morning seemed especially incredible. They thought it was practice for a while, but the calls came through (some Japanese interference on the frequency even at the start) saying "All nurses report here -- all physicians there -- all engineers somewhere else" and finally they began to believe it. No bombs fell on their side of the island, though they fell up Nuuanu and one on the Punahou campus, and a good many at Waikiki (aimed at Ft. De Russy) and of course most of all at Pearl Harbor. "It's much worse than we know," she insisted. "Four major battleships sunk in the harbor -- probably more like 4,000 casualties, for they're still toting up the number of lads that died trapped in their berths, without a chance to fight for their lives. They got 200 airplanes in on hangar alone, others spread out on the ground." "What about your airplane interceptors -- were they pointing due west to catch the Japanese coming from that direction, and the Japanese foxed them by coming in from the East? That's been my xxx theory," I said. "They were shut down for the week-end," she said. "I don't know as to the authenticity of this, but the story goes," she went on, "that a man out Diamond Head way was up early in the morning and caught sight of the planes through strong glasses, and ran to the phone to telephone the Commander at Pearl Harbor, but all he got was the reply, "Japanese planes? You're drunk. Go back to bed!" / She said that the American-born Japanese mayor of Waimea was found to have a short wa ve set on which he tapped out directions leading in the attacking planes -- and he was shot. The organization for relief in Honolulu went through in fine, efficient fashion, everyone responding quickly and working wherever help was needed. However, there was still stupidity and waste -- two huge trucks loaded with soldiers dashed too fast around the curves of the road to Diamond Head and crashed, killing a large number. Guards were jittery and shot civilians. / "What about some of our men who I hear were able to get their planes up off the ground in five minutes?" I inquired. "There weren't but a few that could -- they hadn't any gas, and supplies were locked up. So was ammunition, and no good going up unless you had something to shoot with." / As to the trip back -- the Lurline, the Matsonia and a third former Matson liner came in, leaving Christmas Day. The Matsoni
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