This is the first of a four-part series about Pearl Harbor and the impact the bombing had on the lives of some of my family and other residents of Lincoln, Kansas, my home town.
Learning about the bombing of Pearl Harbor
Sunday, December 7, 1941
Sunday was the busiest day of the week at Ira’s Lunch, in Lincoln, Kansas, and December 7, 1941, was a special day for many in Lincoln – the second Sunday of advent. Area congregations in their respective churches watched as the second advent candle was lit and special prayers and readings were given to note the advent season. Besides lighting the candle, the Methodists sang that gorgeous advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Immanuel”.
After early morning mass large Catholic families hurried to Ira’s for breakfast. And just as the breakfast crowd finished, new customers began trickling in for an early Sunday dinner – Florence Armsbury’s fabulous fried chicken with all the fixins, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, cole slaw, hot biscuits with real butter, and cup after cup of good strong coffee. By 12:15 P.M. the restaurant was packed and stayed that way until 1:00 p.m. when the last customers paid their tabs and hurried home for leisurely Sunday afternoon naps.
Donna Farrington, age 15, was working in the kitchen, washing mounds of dirty dishes. Her grandmother, Florence Armsbury was cleaning the huge black gas range that was spattered with grease from frying chickens all morning. They’d just turned off the radio after listening to the symphony, one of their favorite Sunday activities, on a Chicago station.
Out in front, Wava Farrington, Donna’s mother and Florence’s oldest daughter, was totaling up the receipts for the day’s sales. Wava’s husband, Nolan, was wiping off the tables and chairs in preparation for sweeping the floor. Everyone was tired and looking forward to going home.
“We were just finishing up,” my mom told me when I interviewed her about how the family heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed, “when Harry Liggett burst through the front door of the restaurant and said, “Have you heard the news?” We all shook our heads “no” and asked “what news?”
“The Japs,” he said. “The Japs just bombed Pearl Harbor and my brother is there.” Then he rushed back out.”
“We turned the radio back on and listened to it the rest of the day. That’s how we learned about Pearl Harbor”