To: Chad Collins
1st Installment--Pearl Harbor to VJ Day and its effects on your grandparents John & Tibby Adams.
Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 -- A date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by Japanese naval and air forces.
How well I remember that Day! I was in my room above the office of the Berea College Gardens. I was laying on my bed listening to the Radio waiting for a 4 o'clock date with Tibby. I knew as soon as I heard the news that the event would have a profound affect on my life.
Tibby and I both took our meals at the Boarding Hall which was located in the basement of Fairchild Hall where Tibby roomed. We had a good Sunday dinner and had received the [Tradidation] sack lunch to take with us for our supper. (Picnic with others or [alone])
The attack started at 7:50 am Honolulu Time or 1:20 pm Washington time.
This was before the time of TV and students were not allowed radios in their rooms. There was a radio in the lobby of each dormitory.
I went to the dormitory and got Tibby and we left for a walk around the Campus. We knew that we would have to rethink a lot of the things we had been thinking about.
We were not engaged but I had made my choice. I needed to graduate and get a job so I could support a wife. I was a senior and your grandmother was in her junior year of college. We both arrived at Berea the same year (1939). I was a freshman in College and she was a High School 11th grader. We never had a class together.
Berea requires every student to work at least 10 hours per week and provides jobs. The pay might be 10¢ an hour or Top wage for any job was 25¢
This will sound low to you. Keep in mind that Berea does not charge any tuition. I came to Berea from the farm where during the depression we hired men to work for $1 per day and fed them their lunch. We hauled apples to the coal camps and sold for 25¢
per bushel. Gave away a lot. People could not afford to buy at 25¢ bushel!
My freshman year I went home for the summer and worked for Agricultural Conservation Program. Drawing maps of farms in Letcher County, after that I stayed at Berea and worked at the College gardens. I was the foreman for a good sized operation. We grew vegetables for Boone Tavern and the boarding Hall. We sold vegetables for the Cincinnati mkt. We also ran a cannery which required a lot of labor. We put up food in gallon cans. Our specialty was black berry jam.
My best job was my Junior year when they opened "Powell Hall" a recreation center for students. I was in charge. The kitchen facilities had to be reserved but there was no charge, a schedule was posted showing times we were open. We had 4 good ping pong tables, shuffle board, record player with lots of records, magazines, puzzles, games etc. More of the high school students used it than college students. That's where Tibby and I found each other. I had to give it up my senior year when the agriculture teacher who was in charge of the gardens developed a cancer and was sent to John Hopkins Hospital for treatment. Where I had worked as foreman during the summers they asked me to move out of the dormitory and go down and be in charge of the Gardens.
War on Japan was declared by the Congress of the US shortly before 1 p.m. Dec. 8, 1941.
Losses by Navy at Pearl Harbor: 91 officers, 2,638 enlisted men were killed -- 20 officers and 636 enlisted men wounded. The battleship "Arizona" was sunk. Obsolete battleship "Utah" used for training was destroyed. Listed as lost were 3 destroyers, "[Cossive, Downs], and the [Shore]," and the [... ... "Ogals"]. Many other vessels were damaged. The Battleship "Oklahoma" was capsized but probably could be righted and repaired. About 2 weeks after Pearl Harbor Berea turned out for "Christmas Holiday." Tibby and I both went home -- Hyden & Whitesburg.
Our Govt. realized that it needed to increase its Armed Forces in all branches of the Military -- both officers and enlisted men. Recruiting stations were established in the courthouse in each county in Ky.
While home for Christmas vacation I visited the Marine Recruiting station at Whitesburg. When they found out I needed only 1 semester to graduate from college they asked me to complete some forms they had just received. I did this. I'll enclose a photo copy of my first letter received 21 Feb. 42 setting up a physical examination, interview and possible enlistment at Berea College Hospital 3 March 1942.
They had already had the FBI make a background investigation before the interview and had on hand 5 letters of recommendation. Three were from Whitesburg--(1) Commander American Legion, Douglas Day [---] 152 -(2)- Letcher County Circuit Court Clerk, (3)- a local business man who was a former revenue agent for the U.S. From Berea, one was from the Dean of the Upper Division and the other from the Head of the [German] Dept. who was my coach for cross country Team. They said they could not enlist me until I graduated, that they would file my records with the Central Recruiting Division in Louisville and that all I would have to do would be to take another physical and be sworn in. They were marking my records to approve for officers Training.
I graduated 1 June 1942. Went to Whitesburg to visit my family, then to Hyden to visit Tibby. Without a car it was difficult to get around. While I was at Hyden one of the neighbors, a Begley was taking a son about my age to Louisville to enroll in a Dental College. Just a one day trip so I went with them and they dropped me off at the Marine Corps office.
My records were there and all went well until they put me on the scales. I had been running track and working hard at the Gardens and my weight was just a TAD below the accepted level for my height. They said we can not fudge our records but we can stop the exam and give you a chance to try what others have done. Eat all the bananas you can and drink all the water at room temp. that you can hold, come back when you think you are ready and we resume the physical. It worked. I took the oath from a retired Major who was serving as Recruiting officer. [-ed] copy page 2 of this five pages I photo copied from an old scrap book of my marine service.
When I returned to Hyden that night, I was a marine with ID to prove it. Up until that time I was interested but not committed. As soon as I graduated, I had offers of a job teaching Vocational Agriculture which was classified as draft exempt because of its importance to the nation. This did not appeal to me. With my country at war I wanted to do my part.
At Hyden I was staying at the [setter] Hotel. Tibby's mother and her Aunt Em who lived with her had to guard Tibby's reputation. They were nice to me but when we did get engaged at a later date they tried to get us to wait until the war was over.
Photocopy page 3 will show you my travel orders where I was assigned for active duty at Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia. In my next installment I will take up with my arrival at Quantico.
Nana says she will start her report later. She is too busy now. She has been painting around the outside windows until it gets hot. It has been ideal painting weather. Low humidity from 27% to 50%. Ky has not had a good rain in two months. When it does rain I plan to re seed my lawn. I'm only trying to water tomatoes, peppers, and the shrubs.
About 2 weeks ago I had a professional Tree Trimmer help me removed trees & shrubs damaged by the Feb. snow. We took out 4 pick up loads plus the two I had done as soon as the snow melted.
Plan to fish one day or night next week hoping it will cool down some. 90° days are the pattern now.
Let us hear from you. We love you and Heather and hope you have a happy life together.