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A Reader Writes by Winnie Enloe Furrer: Pearl harbor attack: A 20th-century remembrance

February 18, 2002

One item that I put in my time capsule a long time ago was how the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, affected a child in Southern California.

I was 13 years old and living with my grandmother and grandfather (Walter Doyle Pollard and Etta Huckaby Pollard) in El Centro. My father (Everett Enloe) died in 1937 and my mother (Mildred Pollard Enloe) had died in March 1941.

My uncle Roy Powell had taken my aunt (Betty Pollard Neely) and me to Mexicali to get Mexican food for a special dinner my grandmother was giving. Uncle Roy had given our order and Betty and I were drinking a soda when the waiter came back and in very broken English said, "Mister Powell, Mister Powell, Japanese just bombed Pearl Harbor and we closing U.S. border. You must take girls and hurry."

Poor Roy, who was a bachelor, told us later he was really afraid he would be caught in Mexico with two young teen-age girls for the duration of what obviously would be a war. We never received our order. He burned a U-turn where we parked and headed for the border.

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Deep feelings of fear settled over me and I remember being very still. Dad and Mom were gone — now the possibility of losing everyone I knew and loved surrounded me. Or was it Betty and I who would be lost to them?

The three of us sat silently as Roy maneuvered through the frantic crowd. There were hundreds of people in cars and on foot running for the border just a few blocks ahead. I had never seen so many Mexican soldiers.

Roy said it looked like we were too late.

"Boy! It looks like they're ready to close down the border."

We were the second car back. I felt I could possibly lose my country and have to live in Mexico where I knew no one and couldn't even speak the language. I didn't want to live in any other country but my own. I knew for the first time how much I truly loved my country. I wanted to go home. All the thoughts came at once and seemed to engulf me.

They let the car in front of us through. Roy smiled at us for the first time. By this time we were yelling, "Go, go, go."

An American soldier came to Roy's window, "Turn back, turn back!" he said as he motioned with a nightstick.

"You don't understand, sir. These are not my girls. They need to be with their parents at a time like this. We don't know how long we could be caught down here. Help me." The gates were closing. The soldier looked at Roy and then yelled to the soldiers to let us through. We were the last car through that day.

I still remember my gratitude to an American soldier I never knew.

>> Winnie Enloe Furrer lives in Hanford.

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