Pearl Harbor Day — A Short Story

row_flowersPatsy Campbell woke up as soon as the sun rose above her window pane. The ten-year-old leaped from her bed and walked to her dresser to admired a small trophy.

Patsy smiled as she remembered the night before when she and her handsome partner had won a dance contest. Patsy had taken ballet lessons and taught herself several dances that were popular at the time. The girl dearly loved music, so her father, Navy chief radioman Edward Campbell, had taken her to the Bloch Arena, which hosted a big band contest every Saturday night.


The emcee of the evening spotted the blue-eyed child with wavy blond hair in the audience. Calling her up on stage, he had asked for volunteers to jitterbug with the girl.


A handsome Navy man, barely 17, volunteered and the two beat out the other dancers that night.

Patsy smiled at the memory as she hurried to get dressed. Always an early riser, Patsy was the only one in the family who was awake.

Patsy skipped out the door of the brand-new cottage that the Campbell family had recently moved into after previously being stationed in the jungles of Panama in the little village of Darien.

Patsy did a little pirouette on the porch before running into the back yard to play a quick game of catch with the family dog, Tinker.

Not long into the game, a squadron of planes flew over her head. She had never seen so many fighter planes as once. Patsy waved and watched as the pilots waved back. They were so close that Patsy could almost see their eyes.


This was the day that lives in infamy.


Patsy ran into the cottage to wake her family after the planes began their bombing campaign. She could hardly hear her mother’s screams as Mrs. Campbell gathered her children close.


Mr. Campbell told his family to go stay at the neighbor’s house as he prepared to go report to his ship. Mrs. Campbell clung to her husband, who gently pulled her away and told her to go.


After her husband left, Mrs. Campbell told her daughter, “Go get your dance trophy. You need something that you can hold to remember your former life.”


Mrs. Campbell and her two children soon were at staring at Hickam Field from their neighbor’s upstairs window. Smoke and flames rose into the perfect Oahu sky. Men frantically rushed around, setting up gun positions and barricades. The National Anthem began playing on the radio. Mrs. Campbell broke into tears.


For the first time, Patsy felt a stab of fear that left her queasy. Only in the worst circumstances had she seen her mother cry.




Patsy would grow up to have a family of her own and live in San Diego. After a careful search, she would learn that her jitterbug dance partner was named Jack Evans.


And she would learn that they only lived 15 miles apart!


This short story is based on the true memory of Pat Thompson (néeCampbell).




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