Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Robert Coombs Interview
Narrator: Robert Coombs Andrews
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: SeaTac, Washington
Date: August 2, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-crobert-01-0010

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AI: And yet, I'm sure it was a shock when... how did you hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of '41?

RC: This is very interesting. I, on Saturday I always liked to listen to H. (R). Keltenborn who was on the radio. And he was an expert in world problems. And the Japanese ambassador was meeting in Washington at the time. And somehow, in his report of that, I remember very clearly, he was sure something was going to happen on December 7th.

AI: Is that right?

RC: I was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. And I was sitting in church and... at the end of church I said to my brother, "Let's go out in the car and turn the radio on." And he looked at me kind of funny and I said, "Something's happened." And there was Pearl Harbor coming over the radio. It was, it was startling, but I, I just sort of... thinking of what Keltenborn had said. And he wasn't predicting, he was, he was just indicating that the possibility was there. So, of course, we went home and turned on the radio. And what a day. Very hard to think that that was happening. It changed all of our lives. And I don't think it'll ever be forgotten somehow. But of course, now we're friends. Which is a wonderful thing about life. Forgive and forget.

AI: But at the time it must have been a huge shock and a blow.

RC: It was a shock. It was a blow. It really was (...).

AI: And so, then how, you went -- it happened... Franklin Delano Roosevelt came on the radio and gave his famous speech. And what did that say to you about what...

RC: Well, I can remember listening to him. (...) My family liked Franklin Roosevelt. And we were grateful that he was our president because we felt that he would see us through. And it worked that way. He set the pattern of getting us through the whole, whole ordeal. (...) One of the tragedies of it, to me, was what happened to my Japanese American friends. That was sad. See, because I was teaching in Sacramento.

AI: Right. By that time you had gotten your credential.

RC: (Yes).

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.