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Pearl Harbor Day deeply etched in memories of many

Sunday afternoon visiting kin brought the news to Bull Run Road. Our family was at the dinner table and heard it on the radio. A Russell Countian heard it at Sunday service, at Coffey's Chapel, Eli, KY. Hardly a person alive then has any less vivid memories of where they were than later generations remember of their whereabouts on 9/11 or the Day President Kennedy was assassinated.

By Ed Waggener

George Keltner and L.G. McKinley shared memories of Pearl Harbor Day after we posted a few items about the "Day of Infamy," on December 7, 2010.

Mr. Keltner called to remind us of how deeply that event is etched in the memory for so many of his generation.

"Today we all talk about where we were on September 11, 2001," he said. "And most of us still recall where we were when President Kennedy was assassinated, but not so many of us now remember where we were when the news of Pearl Harbor got to us. I'll never forget it," he said.

"We were living, at the time, on Bull Run Road. Every Sunday afternoon we had lots of company, and that day was no exception. We heard the terrible news in the afternoon, when kinfolks came in who had been listening to their car radio told us that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

"That was all we talked about the rest of the day," he said.

Monday, December 8, 1941, was a school day, Mr. Keltner recalls. "I'll never forget the walk up the hill to Columbia High School.

"I remember that there wasn't attention to the usual studies that day. All we talked about was Pearl Harbor."

From that day, Mr. Keltner remembers, he wanted to join his brothers as part of the United States Navy. "That was our branch. We were Navy men. I begged dad to sign for me to join, then,, but he wouldn't at the time. He told me that when I was 17 years old, I could enlist."

George Keltner joined the U.S. Navy, with his parents' permission, when he reached that birthday.

He hadn't graduated from Columbia High School at the time, but he did so when he returned.

"Miss Mary Lucy Lowe was the principal then," he said. "She always kept track of the brothers of students already in the European war, and she did even more after war broke out in the Pacific.

And from Pearl Harbor on, she did everything she could from the home front. When those of us who had interrupted high school to serve came home, she arranged for us to receive High School diplomas from Columbia High School. "I was one of those who benefitted," he said. "I still have fond memories and great respect for 'Miss Merr(y} Lucy' because of she cared. Because of the patriot she was."

Waggener family was at Sunday dinner

My sister Fay McKinley told me she didn't remember much of than the war talk during that day when we were growing up on Jamestown Hill in Columbia.

"I do remember, vaguely, that we were eating Sunday dinner," she said, "and, as I remember, we heard it on the radio."Jean (Jean Cravens, our older sister) remembers a short time later Dad and Ralph Willis talking about the Japanese attack and she was listening. She tugged at Daddy and asked, 'Will they come here and get us?' and Dad told her, 'We hope not.'"

Peanut was in church

Fay's husband, L.G. "Peanut" McKinley, Columbia, KY, had a vivid memory of exactly where he was when he learned of the bombing.

He grew up in Russell Springs, he said. And the family attended church at Coffey's Chapel in Eli, KY, the church where Rev. Laura Henry Harris of Columbia is pastor today.

The family lived in Russell Springs then, but they continued to go to Eli, to Coffey's Chapel Methodist Church, a church the family had played such a big role in establishing and a town in which the family had such a presence.

There were so many McKinleys in Eli that it's nickname was "McKinleytown." On the main street, there were McKinleys and McKinley inlaw every other house, some of whom, besides Peanut, became well known in Columbia, as did the former Adair County High School Band Director, Ethard McKinley.

It was during the morning service on December 7, 2010, Peanut remembers, that a man - whose name he doesn't remember now - came into the sanctuary and interrupted the service to announce the attack.

Peanut enlisted in the United States Navy in 1944.

He was 16 when he enlisted. He wasn't dishonest about his age. "They didn't ask," he said.He served in the Pacific.

George Keltner served in the European Theater.

If you have memories of Pearl Harbor, and would like to share them, we hope you'll submit them using the Contact Form with this article, or using any Contact/Submit form -EW

This story was posted on 2010-12-10 08:46:53
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Favorite Old Postcard: Retreat at Camp Atterbury

2010-12-10 - Photo from collection of Bob Chelf. Camp Atterbury, near Edinburg, IN
Recalling memories of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 Brought to mind mementoes of World War II, including this photo collected by the late Marshall Chelf, Knifley, KY, during World War II, of "Retreat" at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

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L.G. (Peanut) McKinley in World War II

2010-12-11 - Photo from Mitchell McKinley. South Pacific, World War II
Mitchell McKinley, Bowling Green, KY, writes: "This picture was taken of my Dad, L.G. McKinley, when they were somewhere in the south Pacific in World War II, getting ready to pull out of port. He was told to get cleaned up and go top side in dress. They snapped his picture and told him to resume duty." L.G. McKinley remembers being in church at Coffey's Chapel in Eli, KY, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, December 7, 2010, and service was interrupted by a man who came into the sanctuary of the church and announced the news. McKinley volunteered in 1944, while he was still just 16 years old. "They didn't ask my age," he said.

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