Second World War: Touring the USS Arizona

California remembers touring the USS Arizona and Old Ironsides before the Second World War

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In the fall of the year, on display in the harbor area of Los Angeles, California, was the latest built Navy ship, the USS Arizona.

Also on display was Old lronsides, a wooden, handcrafted battleship built during the early settling of America. The public was allowed on both ships.

The crowd was large, and the line moved slow, but when on board Old lronsides you could rub your hand on the smooth wood and wonder how, with the limited tools of early America, such a sturdy, beautiful ship could be built.

Next we toured the Arizona, a huge, splendid ship. A sailor in an immaculate white uniform escorted us in groups over the ship, explaining the equipment and how it worked. After touring the upper deck we were directed to an opening in the deck with a ladder leading to the lower deck. The young sailor faced the opening and walked down the ladder quickly, but one at a time, the group of us went down the ladder backward the way we would at home.

The sailor smiled and waited patiently for us. On completing the tour we returned home with the knowledge of the supreme strength of our defense forces.

Then on December 7, 1941, the radio and newspapers gave us the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the Arizona was sunk. When we recall our tour, we wonder if our tour guide was one of the casualties.

Lucile Hebert
Yucaipa, California

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.