Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Memories of Pearl Harbor

December 7, as you doubtless know, was the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

On that day, I had errands in the city. I was gratified to see numerous flags lowered to half-staff as a mark of respect.

Recently my mother (who was born in 1931) shared an extraordinary story as follows:

In the fall of 1941 my mother started making homemade bread every Saturday. She used yeast on the first recipe, but after that she would save a starter, a piece of dough. Of course we had no refrigeration, so she would just take the starter dough and put it in a bowl in the cabinet. The next week she would use the starter dough to make a fresh batch of bread.

My oldest brother had taken off for something, and he came home with a friend. The boy lived about a mile away from our house, but since we lived along a bayou, we had to cross a prairie to get to his house. He walked in the house and the smell of fresh bread permeated the place. He was wowed, and Mamma broke him off a piece of fresh bread for him to eat.

He had gone to school with us, but like a lot of kids his age he joined the Navy at age 17. He told my mother he was stationed at Pearl Harbor on the Arizona.

This took place on Saturday November 22nd. Thirteen days later he died on the Arizona at Pearl Harbor. His name was William (Bill) Stoddard.

My mother stopped making bread. I was ten years old.

Needless to say, Pearl Harbor didn't just affect Hawaii.

It also affected a tiny little town in the bayous of Louisiana, and a 10-year-old child's memory of a neighbor boy who died for our country.


  1. My wife and I toured the Arizona last March while on vacation. I found the memorial to be a poignant reminder of the sacrifices many had made in the service of our country. What I found bothersome, however, was the lack of respect exhibited by many others at the memorial - yucking it up while singularly focusing on who could collect the most selfies.

  2. Thanks for the personal insight into Dec. 7th. That day affected so many of our people. Much as 9/11 did to our generation. My parents were 14 and 13 on that day. Much to my relief my Dad was too young to go. He turned 18 about 3 weeks after the Japanese surrendered! If we hadn't dropped the A bomb and the war prolonged who knows if I would even be here. A sober reminder to me on the costs of war.

    So many heroes of WW 2 and Korea die every day now. They shunned the hero status and many did not care to share their experiences until recently. Such is the horror of armed conflicts. I did not get to Hacksaw Ridge before it left the theaters but read some insightful reviews. Yes, it was bloody. Wars always are. No need to sugar coat it. The courage of the young medic was recognized rightly (finally) that indeed he was NO coward. He saw literally no benefit to taking life. He saved so many (even of our enemy). A true Christian in every respect. We should all learn from his example.

    Merry Christmas Patrice to you and your family! May you be blessed with many, many more.

    1. We saw Hacksaw Ridge and it was very good .And yes , very bloody .

  3. Thank you for sharing this story with all of us...I don't have the words to write about the effect these stories have on me...I am grateful for the sacrifice of all the men and women who served and are serving our country. They truly serve to bring the hope of freedom to those who are in bondage to countries who don't want freedom for all.
    Have a Blessed Christmas with all your family.
    God Bless..
    Love from NC

  4. My great-aunt's fiance died at Pearl Harbor on the Arizona. She never married after that.

  5. My great aunt's (grandfather's sister) fiance died on the Arizona. (We're all from New York City.) She never married after that.

  6. Very interesting story. Thank you for sharing.
    Montana Guy

  7. Hi Patrice,
    Just a nit-picky comment from a conscientious grammarian. (But I mean that in a good way! LOL) "Half mast" is a term used for ships, "half staff" for flags flying on poles (on land). I have always said "half mast", too, and someone recently corrected me and explained the difference.

    Merry Christmas, and I pray for God to grant us some world peace in the New Year. The senseless killing across our globe has been going on for far too long.

    1. An excellent point! Thank you for the correction; I've learned something new today.

      - Patrice

    2. What an elegant and gracious way to correct and educate. That politeness is admirable and so rarely seen on blogs. I would enjoy more blogs if everyone treated each other with such respect.

  8. Thank you for sharing this very sad story. My mother's first husband died over France in 1944. In a day of heroes, her brother was a hero of D-Day. A great uncle survived Bataan, but his mind didn't. My own parents knew many Civil War veterans. Something I've maintained my entire life is that wars are forever. Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men.