I was 9 on Dec. 7, 1941. I remember my father, Cmdr. Maurice E. Curts, talking excitedly on the phone while hurriedly getting into his uniform. His language was unprintable. He left in a hurry, driving the 10 miles to Pearl Harbor at close to 90 m.p.h. On the way, the trunk of his car was struck by a bullet. A little lower and it would have hit the gas tank.
Of course, the noise and smoke of the battle attracted me and two friends. We ran to the beach to see what we could of the black smoke and exploding anti-aircraft shells. Our mothers were not too happy about that and tried to get us back into our apartments. Later that day, my father came home and drove us to a friend's house in the hills, where we stayed for at least a week. We didn't see my father the entire time and, of course, lived under blackout conditions. No one was sure whether the Japanese would come back and invade the islands.
The schools closed and we kids were taught to knit - maybe to keep us busy. When we returned to our apartment, we found that the Army had put barbed wire and sandbags on the beach so we could no longer swim and play in the sand. They let us help fill sandbags, though! They also cut the tops off the palm trees and strung what I guess were telephone wires.
We spent Christmas in our blacked-out apartment, one small branch in lieu of a tree and not much in the way of presents or celebration. Of course, there was no beach time, but no school either. We were evacuated to San Francisco in February or early March. It was a slow trip in a convoy because we could go no faster than an old steamer.
We were put up at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco until we could go south to Coronado, where we stayed until that summer. After a visit at my grandmother's in Michigan, we moved east to Washington, where we lived during the rest of the war. Our father joined us in between assignments in the Pacific (much later, as a four-star admiral, he would become commander-in-chief of the Pacific fleet). In 1945, he was on the deck of the USS Missouri when the Japanese, who had begun the war four years before, surrendered.