Monday, January 2, 2012


January 2, 1942

No matter how often the newspaper and radio remind me otherwise, I feel like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz." Events seem to have snatched up my little bungalow, whirled it through space and dropped it in a strange country where nothing makes any sense.  Even the newsreels show fleets of airplanes surging menacingly through the sky like the Wicked Witch's flying monkeys. At least Stormy the kitten makes a worthy Toto.

But Tojo, Hitler and Mussolini are horrifyingly real, committing atrocities everywhere in the world beyond the most fevered dream of any cartoon villian. 

On a frigid, clear New Year's Day I went for a walk along the Alki Beach promenade near my home. I was bundled into so many layers of wool sweaters, stockings, overcoat and scarves that I fear I must have looked like the Michelin Tire and Rubber logo I used to see at filling stations.  But it was good to get outside for some air, however cold and salty.

On my walk I noticed a series of freshly-applied posters on the telephone poles.  They appear to be a sort of "Field Guide to Our Allies," like a birdwatcher's book.  I'm most impressed with the "Wide-Hatted Smiling Australian," though I expect sightings of that creature will be rare in Seattle.

Nearer at hand are my friends.  We're looking to each other now that the men are gone. Socialite Jane Sullivan's warming up to us "commoners." I suspect her old-guard club pals are giving her the cold shoulder due to whatever mysterious Hollywood event sent her slinking back here after her attempt at film stardom.  It's a pity; she needs all help she can get now that her baby brother's dead, her mother's withdrawn, and even their Japanese gardener/handyman has disappeared back to his family in Japantown.

Susan Johnson mentioned something at my New Year's party about going to work for Boeing in the B-17 factory, but I haven't had time to ask her more about it. Jane's mother Ina knew Bill Boeing himself a decade or so ago when he was still closely involved with the company. She says he was a millionaire timber baron who founded the company more or less on a lark twenty-five years ago because he took a fancy to airplanes. Jane told me her mother remembers women working in the Boeing factory from the earliest days; Bill needed seamstresses to sew fabric onto biplane wings.  But of course a modern factory is a completely different place.  I have heard that the company is desperate for workers because the men, including Betty Wilkins' husband, are joining up. But I can't for the life of me picture quiet little Susan out on that giant factory floor with all those clanging machines!

Speaking of Betty, I'm worried about her.  I was jealous at first when she got a letter from Joe, as I haven't heard from Bob yet.  But Joe's news was alarming.  He hears that when he's done with basic training at Fort Lewis he'll be sent to the Alaska Territory of all places!  He's upset to be so far from the action, and Betty hates to think of him in such a godforsaken place.  Rumor is that the military is going to build a highway between northern British Columbia and Alaska because of concerns about a possible Japanese invasion of the West Coast.  There have been reports of sightings of Japanese ships in the Aleutian Islands, so that is one rumor that seems disturbingly possible.  I told Betty that if Joe building that road stops the Japanese from invading our country, he'll have done as great a service with a bulldozer as any man with a rifle.  I'm not sure Betty sees it that way, though.

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