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December 7, 1941

December 7, 1941

The Ford Bob and his family would ride in. (Photo courtesy of Bob Larsen)

When we lived near Lincoln, Neb., Sundays were special. If it was warm enough we would all get in the old Ford and drive into Lincoln. We couldn’t go to movies or anything like that because Baptists didn’t go to movies on Sundays, but after church we would often go to Capital Beach in Lincoln to picnic or swim.   

Capital Beach was my favorite park. It was a large lake and was located near the center of town. In the wintertime, when it was too cold to go to Capital Beach, we would go to the University of Nebraska for symphony concerts. Since Dad was working on his master's degree in school administration, he was officially a student, so the whole family could get into the concerts free.  

Although I was barely 5 years old, I loved classical music from the first time I heard it. Whenever I could I would listen to symphonic music on our new radio. Dad was paid for tearing down an old barn on the property of the house we rented. With those earnings he promptly purchased our first radio. It was a Philco, and I could sit and listen to music for hours.

One Sunday after the intermission, the conductor came out and addressed the audience. “We have just heard that the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor. I am cancelling the second half of our concert so that you can all go home and listen to the radio. But before you leave, the orchestra will play “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” 

We drove home as fast as the 1934 Ford would take us, bouncing along on the gravel road. (Other than U.S. 30, Nebraska had no paved roads in 1941.) We got home and for the remainder of the afternoon and evening we sat as a family huddled around the radio. We heard President Roosevelt give his “Day of Infamy” speech.  

It was hard for me to go to bed, because I feared that during the night the Japanese would attack our home, so Mom and Dad let me sleep with them that night. If only I had known that later in my life I would marry a beautiful Japanese lady.

Bob Larsen

Bob Larsen is a retired surgeon whose eclectic career has allowed him to see the world.

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