W.W.II along the West Coast put a different face on the conflict. This is a continuation of that story. Chapter 8: On Dec. 8, 1941, immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mayor Angelo Rossi of San Francisco declared a state of emergency. Civil Defense made blackout shades mandatory with block wardens patrolling neighborhoods. This inconvenience more than outweighed the fear of an impending Japanese invasion along our western shores. But don’t tell that to Jeannette Thompson who had trouble finding her way across a blackened Golden Gate Park in her white gown only to be two hours late for her own wedding.
Santa Rosa and rural Sonoma County experienced its own blackout in early December of 1941 when the local Naval base reported that “A large number of mysterious planes were spotted flying over San Francisco before heading north…”
The Western Command received reports on Dec. 8, 1941 of enemy ships just thirty miles off the coast. Newspapers in San Francisco and Sonoma Counties published an Associated Press article that read: “An apparent attempt by Japanese warplanes to bomb the greater San Francisco bay area was reported tonight by General William Ord Ryan of the Fourth Interceptor Command who said a large number of unidentified aircraft were turned back at the Golden Gate.”
This fear (real or imagined) of an immediate attack stepped up the Civil Defense during W.W.II. In addition to block wardens, airplane spotters and coast watchers scanned the skies for trouble. Along the sand dunes of the Richmond District of San Francisco as well as Bodega and Jenner up north, two-story towers manned teenagers with their binoculars.
To catch up on the previous seven chapters of W.W.II along the West Coast, go to www.johnmccarty.org & click on “W.W.II” at the bottom of the page.