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This blog was updated on a daily basis for about two years, with those daily entries ceasing on December 31, 2013. The blog is still active, however, and we hope that people stopping in, who find something lacking, will add to the daily entries.

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7

Today is, by State Statute, WS 8-4-106, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.  The Statute provides:
(a) In recognition of the members of the armed forces who lost their lives and those who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, territory of Hawaii on December 7, 1941, December 7 of each year is designated as "Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day". The day shall be appropriately observed in the public schools of the state.
(b) The governor, not later than September 1 of each year, shall issue a proclamation requesting proper observance of "Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day".
(c) This section shall not affect commercial paper, the making or execution of written agreements or judicial proceedings, or authorize public schools, businesses or state and local government offices to close.
Your Recollections:  What about you?

Do you have any personal recollections about December 7, 1941?  Either first hand, or that you recall hearing from family and friends?  And, by that, not just Pearl Harbor stories, but I'd be very interested to learn of any family recollections from those at home, on that day.  Wyoming is three hours ahead of Hawaii, did your family hear it that morning, or later in the day?  Just after church, or while tuning in for a football game?  Any recollection is welcome.


I also note, at least according to an engineer who explained it to me, that December 7 is also a date involving an astronomical anomaly, that being that it is the day of the year which, in the Northern Hemisphere, features the earliest sunset.  That doesn't, of course, make it the shortest day of the year, it's just that the sunsets the earliest on this day, or so I am told.

1868  U.S. Post Office reestablished at Green River.

1890   The subject of sermon at the Rawlins Presbyterian Church was “Choosing a Husband.”

1898  Battery A, Wyoming Light Artillery, arrives in Manilla where it will serve in the Philippine Insurrection.

1909   The Natrona County Tribune reported in a story that ran this week:
"Snowed In.

"W. L. Hobbs and Dr. J. W. Padgett left Lander over seven weeks ago on a three weeks' elk hunt, and the first of last week one of their horses returned, and their friends feared that they had perished in the deep snow in the mountains, and relief parties were organized to search for them. On Sunday night Dr. Padgett was brought into Lander by a trapper, and the doctor said that Mr. Hobbs was badly snowed in near Fremont Peak, there being three to five feet of snow all over the mountains. He said that Mr. Hobbs would not leave his horses, that he had plenty to eat and was clearing small patches of ground so his horses could feed, that there was no immediate danger of either the horses or Mr. Hobbs perishing."
1910  Cornerstone laid at high school in Lander.

1916   The Cheyenne Leader for December 7, 1916: Wyoming Guard coming home before Christmas?

The proverbial soldier "home before Christmas" story was running in the Leader.  Would it be true?

And given the rest of the news, how long would that be true for, if it was true?
1916:  Farmer Al Falfa's Blind Pig released, December 7, 1916
1916 saw the release of an entire series of Farmer Al Falfa cartoons. This film was the eleventh to be released this year (there's some dispute on the date, some sources claim the release date was December 1).

The series continued all the way through 1956, making it a very successful cartoon.

This particular cartoon is not on line, and it might largely be lost, like many films of this period.

Farmer Al Falfa in Tentless Circus, a cartoon released earlier in 1916.
Farm based cartoon would make up an entire genre of cartoons for a very long time and show the curious nature of the United States in regards to its rural population.  If we look at the 1920 census, the closest to the year in question, the US was 51.2% urban.  That's really remarkable actually as it meant that the US was already a heavily urban society at the time.  It might be more telling, however, to look at the 1900 census. That would reveal that, at that time, the US was 39.6% urban and 60.4% rural.  In other words, the US had gone from having a population that was clearly majority rural in 1900 to one which was slightly majority urban by 1920.
Like a lot of things about this era, almost all of which are now unappreciated, this meant that the society was undergoing massive changes.  We like to think of our current society experiencing that, and indeed it is, but arguably the period of 1900 to 1950 saw much more rapid changes of all types, a lot of which would have been extremely distressing to anyone experiencing them.  Indeed, carrying on the US would be 56.1% urban by 1930, meaning that in a thirty year period the US had effectively gone from heavily rural to heavily urban, with the percentage effectively reversing themselves in that time period.  Indeed, while not the point of this entry, this would really call  into question the claims by folks like James Kunstler that the Great Depression was not as bad as it seems because everyone came from a farm family and had a farm to go back to.  The nation had more farm families, to be sure, during the Great Depression than now, but the nation had been rocketing  into an urban transfer during that period for a lot of reasons, a lot of which were technological in  nature.
None of which is what this entry is about. 
Rather, what we'd note is that Farmer Al Falfa is an early example of a rustic depiction of farm life for movie goers.  Cartoons were shown before movies at the time and would be for a long time.  Depictions of farmers as hicks, but somewhat sympathetic hicks, were common in cartoons throughout the this period and on into the 1950s.  That's interesting in that it was a cartoon depiction of the American duality of thought in regards to farmers.  On the one hand, as people moved from the farms into the cities, they wanted to view their new lives as more sophisticated in every way over rural life, even if that meant running down rural residents.  On the other hand, rural life remained familiar enough to the viewing audience that really rural characters were familiar to them and the depictions, even if condescending, had to be at least somewhat sympathetic.  Depictions like this would last for a long time, even if they began to change a bit by the 1940s when urbanites began to show more interest in rural life. Even at that time, however, the depictions could run side by side, as with the introduction of Ma and Pa Kettle in The Egg and I.

1917  The USS Wyoming, under sail since November 25, arrives in Scapa Flow.  Four U.S. battleships arrive at Scapa Flow taking on the role of the British Grand Fleet's Sixth Battle Squadron. These include USS Delaware (BB-28), USS Florida (BB-30), New York (BB-34), and USS Wyoming (BB-32).

1917  The United States declared war against Austria-Hungary.

 December 7, 1917. The United States Declares War On Austria Hungary
Whereas the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government has committed repeated acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America : Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That a state of war is hereby declared to exist between the United States of America and the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government; and that the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.
1917   The Cheyenne State Leader. Disaster and bad decisions

On December 7, a date we associate with a later war, Cheyenne's residents had headline about another maritime disaster.

And they got to read about a stupid proposal., the concept of eliminating German from the high schools even though it was a popular course.

War . . . 
1933  Natural gas explosion at bank in Torrington kills one and injuries four

1941  US military installations were attack in Hawaii by the Imperial Japanese Navy bringing the US formally into World War Two.

It was a surprisingly warm day in Central Wyoming that fateful day.  The high was in the upper 40s, and low in the lower 20s.  Not atypical temperatures for December but certainly warmer than it can be.

Events played out like this:

0342 Hawaii Time, 0642 Mountain Standard Time:  The minesweeper USS Condor sighted a periscope and radioed the USS Ward:   "Sighted submerged submarine on westerly course, speed 9 knots.”

USS Condor

0610 Hawaii Time, 0910 Mountain Standard Time:  Japanese aircraft carriers turn into the wind and launch the first attack wave.

0645-0653:  Hawaii Time, 0945-0953 Mountain Standard Time:  The USS Ward, mostly staffed by Naval Reservists, sights and engages a Japanese mini submarine first reported by the USS Connor, sinking the submarine. The Ward reports the entire action, albeit in code, noting:  "“We have dropped depth charges upon sub operating in defensive sea area" and “We have attacked, fired upon, and dropped depth charges upon submarine operating in defensive sea area.”

 USS Ward

At this point in time, most Wyomingites would be up and enjoying the day.  A large percentage would have gone to Church for the Sunday morning and have now started the rest of their Sundays.

0702 Hawaii Time, 1002 Mountain Standard Time:    An operator at the U.S. Army's newly installed Opana Mobile Radar Station, one of six such facilities on Oahu, sights 50 aircraft hits on his radar scope, which is confirmed by his co-operator.  They call Ft. Shafter and report the sighting.

 0715 Hawaii Time, 1015 Mountain Standard Time:  USS Ward's message decoded and reported to Admiral Kimmel, who orders back to "wait for verification."

0720 Hawaii Time, 1020 Mountain Standard Time:  U.S. Army lieutenant at Ft. Shafter reviews radar operator's message and believes the message to apply to a flight of B-17s which are known to be in bound from Califorina.  He orders that the message is not to be worried about.

0733 Hawaii Time, 1033 Mountain Standard Time, 1233 Eastern Time:  Gen. George Marshall issues a warning order to Gen. Short that hostilities many be imminent, but due to atmospheric conditions, it has to go by telegraph rather than radio.  It was not routed to go as a priority and would only arrive after the attack was well underway.

0749  Hawaii Time, 1049 Mountain Standard Time:  Japanese Air-attack commander Mitsuo Fuchida looks down on Pearl Harbor and observes that the US carriers are absent.  He orders his telegraph operator to tap out to, to, to: signalling "attack" and then: to ra, to ra, to ra: attack, surprise achieved.  This is interpreted as some as Tora, Tora, Tora, "tiger, tiger, tiger" which it was not.  Those who heard that sometimes interpreted to be indicative of the Japanese phrase; "A tiger goes out 1,000 ri and returns without fail.” 

0755 Hawaii Time, 1055 Mountain Standard Time:  Commander Logan C. Ramsey, at the Command Center on Ford Island, looks out a window to see a low-flying plane he believes to be a reckless and improperly acting U.S. aircraft.  He then notices “something black fall out of that plane” and realizes instantly an air raid is in progress.  He orders telegraph operators to send out an uncoded message to every ship and the base that: "AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NOT DRILL"

0800 Hawaii time, 11:00 Mountain Standard Time.  B-17s which were to be stationed at Oahu begin to land, right in the midst of the Japanese air raid.

0810  Hawaii Time, 11:10 Mountain Standard Time.  The USS Arizona fatally hit.

 USS Arizona

0817 Hawaii Time:  11:17 Mountain Standard Time.  The USS Helm notices a submarine ensnared in the the antisubmarine net and engages it.  It submerges but this partially floods the submarine, which must be abandoned.

 USS Helm

0839  Hawaii Time.  1139  Mountain Standard Time. The USS Monaghan, attempting to get out of the harbor, spotted another miniature submarine and rammed and depth charged it.

 USS Monaghan

0850 Hawaii Time.  11:50 Mountain Standard Time.  The USS Nevada, with her steam now up, heads for open water.  It wouldn't make it and it was intentionally run aground to avoid it being sunk.

USS Nevada

0854  Hawaii Time.  1150 Mountain Standard Time.  The Japanese second wave hits.

0929 Hawaii Time.  1229 Mountain Standard Time.  NBC interrupts regular programming to announce that Pearl Harbor was being attacked.

0930  Hawaii Time.  1230  Mountain Standard Time.  CBS interrupts regular programming to announce that Pearl Harbor was being attacked.

0930 Hawaii Time.  1230 Mountain Standard Time.  The bow of the USS Shaw, a destroyer, is blown off.  The ship would be repaired and used in the war.

 Explosion on the Shaw.

0938 Hawaii Time, 1238 Mountain Standard Time.  CBS erroneously announces that Manila was being attacked.  It wasn't far off, however, as the Philippines would be attacked that day (December 8 given the International Date Line).

10:00 Hawaii Time, 13:00 Mountain Standard Time

The USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor on this day.

1300 Hawaii Time.  1600 Mountain Standard Time.  Japanese task forces begins to turn towards Japan.

A third wave was by the Japanese debated, but not launched.

Wyoming is three hours ahead of Hawaii (less than I'd have guessed) making the local time here about 10:30 a.m. on that Sunday morning when the attack started..  The national radio networks began to interrupt their programming about 12:30.  On NBC the announcement fell between Sammy Kaye's Sunday Serenade and the University of Chicago Round Table, which was featuring a program on Canada at war.  On NBC the day's episode of Great Plays was interrupted for their announcement. CBS had just begun to broadcast The World Today which actually  headlined with their announcement fairly seamlessly.

2010  Lighting ceremony held in Washington D.C. for the Capitol Christmas Tree, which this year came from  the Bridger Teton National Forest.


  1. Hobbs Lake in Sublette County - Bridger-Teon Wilderness -was named for Bill Hobbs (sometimes spelled Hobbes) a Fremont Lake boater and Prospector in the 1920s. He is mostly likely the same man as your William Hobbs.

  2. "The first shot was, surprisingly, an American one when the USS Ward engaged and sank a midget submarine at 06:37. In spite of reporting its action, this did not result in a general U.S. alert. At least two other miniature submarines were involved in the raid."

    Actually, the very first shot was machine gun fire from either a land based machine gun or one on a ship (I can't recall), fired at what looked like a periscope. Just an interesting piece of information.

  3. The miniature sub part of the raid is something that's usually overlooked, but which is really interesting. Five subs were committed to the raid, and apparently two of them made it into the harbor. It's now believed that one of them fired a torpedo that hit the West Virginia.

    After the raid, one of the subs was found and the captured, if I recall correctly. None of the others, or even their numbers, were really known quantities. In 1944 one of them was found on the bottom of the harbor after an LST explosion disaster required clean up in the harbor. That one was brought up at that time, and dumped, with deceased crew still inside, as fill for a harbor facility. In the 1960 it was brought back up when that facility was worked on, and then it was used again, crew still inside. Also in 1960 an abandoned mini sub from the raid was raised from the harbor, upon being discovered, and then given to the Japanese government, which restored it. The final submarine, the one sunk by the USS Ward, was found within the past few years.