A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

After Pearl Harbor, Youth Prepare, Parents Wait

After weeks of dreading a knock at the door, two Keyport families were overjoyed to receive letters from their sons just in time for Christmas 1941. For these parents of boys stationed in the Hawaiian Islands, it no doubt had seemed like forever since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December. Based on an account in the Matawan Journal on New Year's Day 1942, there was understandable jubilation when, on Christmas Eve, Mrs Frank S Dey of 89 Church Street received an airmail letter from her son, William Foulks, stationed at Schofield Barracks, saying he was safe. Fanton and Albertina Rogers, of Second Street, were equally excited to hear two days before Christmas from their son Raymond, stationed at Fort Kamekameha on Oahu, that he, too, was fine.

Civic spirit was high all around. Matawan High School students were learning about national defense and writing letters to soldiers. The two winners of the Matawan Christmas home decoration contest donated their $10 and $5 winnings to the Red Cross. Matawan's Outdoor Club, a young girls society, donated $2 to the Red Cross. The Federal Labor Union of Keyport was buying $1,000 in war bonds. Rollo Transit Co handed out over $5,000 in war bonds to employees in place of the usual end of year cash gifts.

Matawan's mainline churches along Main Street -- Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian -- organized a joint week of prayer. The first Sunday in January, Presbyterians were preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the erection of their then-current edifice on Main Street. Reverend Berger was planning to deliver the sermon "The Eyes of the Lord Are In Every Place." The public was invited to an old-fashioned hymn-sing that evening.

Civil defense was also heightened. Morganville and Marlboro were setting up their air raid siren systems. Morse code classes were being established. Executives from New Jersey's top 500 firms were being summoned to an emergency civil defense course at Rutgers University.

The military had of course been activated. The paper announced that a local student had joined the Marines. Fort Monmouth planned to double the size of its next signals corps class to 500 students.


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