Posts Tagged With: West Coast War

WEST COAST WAR

I volunteer for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive, and when I arrived at Santa Rita on Thursday, I found the book The West Coast Goes To War by Don De Nevi. It was donated by Jay Friberg.

The Sheriff’s Office has been described as a “semi military organization.” Veterans are given five preferential points on exams to enter and promote through the ranks. Many veterans serve in the department, only now they are Viet Nam or Iraqi vets. Since we haven’t had a war on American soil since the Civil War, I was surprised at the title of this book until I opened the pages and realized it was an apt title. Not the killing, bombing and bullets we see visited upon civilian populations that all war brings in the occupation, but a war even so, in stark contrast to today’s conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Civilians volunteered to man watch towers to spot airplanes all over the Bay Area. Signage like those above were made, paid for,  and erected by civilians.
My husband lamented the taking of the Japanese as he watched half his friends from his high school basketball team be deported to concentration camps. It was personal ugliness. The evacuations were handled by the Sheriff’s Department in Alameda County. I interviewed one Deputy, now deceased, who was part of that. The record is in our archive.
The Japanese family above were required to report to the Sheriff’s Department and every car carrying a Japanese person was stopped and searched when traveling over the Bay Area Bridges.
People bought bonds to support the war; canteens were organized for soldiers returning or leaving. Dances were held for them. Women went to city hall and wrapped bandages for the war effort. They had victory gardens and rationing of sugar, gas, and other needed war materials. There were blackouts and curfews and radio silence to be obeyed and enforced by Sheriff’s deputies. They covered the patrol cars headlamps with a black cloth that barely allowed them to see the road they were driving on. Production jobs, making bullets, ship building and so on were taken over by women. Many were married women who did it for the cause, and then returned to family duties after the war. (An interesting black note here, only white women were provided with child care while working the war industry. Women of color had to arrange their own child care.)
An escape route was built across the mountain tops of California in the event of bombings and there were various skirmishes in American territory, (subs, air breeches, one firing on a West Coast fort, and an altercation in Alaska)
For all of its support, let us never forget, war is about killing people.

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