Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Memories of the Attack Upon Pearl Harbor--70 Years Later

Ann Hart (Stewart), one of our contributors to Vintage Irvington, recalled where she was seventy years ago on this date, December 7, 1941. The day began as all of her Sundays had with a trip to the Irvington Presbyterian Church. After lunch, she was allowed to go over and play with her friend Alice Hunt, who lived just north of Washington Street on Arlington Avenue. It was not long before her Mother came over and walked her back across the street to her childhood home at 5930 East Washington Street. As soon as they walked into the house, her mother burst into tears and began to tell Ann about the Pearl Harbor attack.

Ann wondered and worried about many things on that day including the fate of her Uncle Roger Ruhsenberger, who was in military service. (He made it through the war and had a successful career with the US Navy.) There is no question that life changed for Irvington families after that "day of infamy," but Ann recalls wonderful memories of planting Victory Gardens and canning vegetables. The family was so efficient that Ann remarked that they ate the last of the canned tomatoes in 1958! Irvington families made the best of the war shortages. Ann noted that when a Christmas lightbulb burned out, it was not replaced. People made do with the rations. Since her father was a doctor, they were allowed extra gas rations. She also noted that her father went hunting and brought home quail and rabbit to supplement the family meals. Patients who could not pay her father cash for the medical calls frequently rewarded him with butter, cream, and farm raised chickens. Ann's mother went back to teaching as labor was scarce in many sectors of the economy.

Seventy years later that day is still a vivid memory for Ann Hart Stewart. She can even recall walking through the back gate and into her childhood home. Thanks to her descriptive note, we too, are walking through that gate and into the past.

The historic image was taken of Ann Hart (Stewart) and her cousin Roger Ruhsenberger in 1937, four years before the attacks on Pearl Harbor. I am indebted to Ann for her memories of that fateful moment in US History.

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