Sunday, December 09, 2012

Hawaii in Photographs


My mother, Theresa Wyman, worked for the U.S. government in Hawaii for about a year. When my mom passed away – more than five years ago – I kept her photo album full of photographs of that time in her life. She would have been about 33 or so when she made the trip.

I'm sure she worked hard. And I'm just as sure she had a lot of fun. Young, caucasian women from the mainland were in short supply; I don't think she dated anyone except officers. And I'm just as sure she had a lot of fun. I don't think she dated anyone except officers, and she had some great stories, including one about taking off in a small plane with one of her suitors and landing on a beach in the midst of a storm.

At the time, she was engaged to my Dad (I think he was having just as much fun as she was, by the way, in England, where he spent a few years of the war as an officer, teaching soldiers who to stay safe during a chemical weapons attack).

A long time ago, maybe when I was in my 20s or 30s, my my told me that an old Beau had come by the house. I'm not sure who he was. And I'd love to know what my dad thought. 

From a few hints, including a couple of place setting name tags in that photo album, I think the mysterious stranger might have been a certain Colonel Jacobsen.

 Colonel Jacobsen Getting his Wings

Damage from December 7, 1941

Mot of the photos seem to have been made by my mom. Some of them were of her, made by friends. She has a couple of pages of photos of the destruction visited on Hawaii on December 7th. I don't know who made the photos; as I recall, one person gave them to her.

When my mom returned to the mainland, she sailed on the famed Matsonia cruise ship, of the Maston Line.

My mom had mentioned to me a few times that passengers had been warned about a tsunami. There was, in fact, a serious earthquake in the Aleutian Islands, off the coast of Alaska, when she crossed the Pacific. The ship was fine. The tsunami, though, did reach Hawaii, and passengers raised money to help the Red Cross relief efforts.

A few days later, the ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, my mom returned to Ohio. When my dad returned from England, they were married the next year, and she began a new chapter in her life, in Los Angeles. Her album went into a drawer in an old bureau. pulled out on rare occasion to share with my brother, Dan and I.

And now you've seen a bit of it, too.

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