Pearl Harbor Day–A diarist responds to war

December 7, 1941

Pearl Harbor was bombed seventy-six years ago today. My mom, Lillian Koroschetz, started a brand new diary on New Year’s Eve, 1941 reflecting back on the previous year and the effects the barely three-week-old war was already having on the every-day lives of Americans.


See this link at Naval History and Heritage for a thumbnail sketch of why the attack in Hawaii was such a surprise and how it enraged and united Americans into a singular resolve to defeat Japan as well as the German Nazi and Italian Fascist regimes. 

December 31, 1941 – 10:15 pm 
Wreckage of the USS Arizona after attack on Pearl Harbor. Image from Wikipedia "Day of Infamy speech"

Wreckage of the USS Arizona after attack on Pearl Harbor. Image from Wikipedia “Day of Infamy speech”

By pure coincidence, I am beginning this book practically at the dawn of 1942. What will this New Year bring me––I wonder. For that matter what will it bring the world? 

This has been a momentous year for the world, rather sad for the world, and a very good year for me. 1941 gave me great happiness with Fred.
December 7, 1941 brought the momentous bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that definitely entered the United States in the World War #2 in which, in my opinion, we were destined to enter since the repeal of the Arms Embargo Act.
So far the war has not yet touched the great mass of us as much as it probably will have by 12-31-42. We already have a taste of it by the rapidly rising prices in everything, federal tax of 10% on luxuries ($1.65 “Nylons,”) which, however give a tremendous amount of wear. 
President Roosevelt delivers his "Day of Infamy" speech 12/8/1941. (Wikipedia image). Within an hour after thespeech, Congress declared war on Japan.

President Roosevelt delivers his “Day of Infamy” speech 12/8/1941. (Wikipedia image). Within an hour after thespeech, Congress declared war on Japan.

Automobile tires, too, are unobtainable for civilian use, and car production will be eliminated in favor of defense activities by the auto plants.

I have a firm conviction there will be a severe depression in possibly 5 or 10 years and I am determined to save some money.

I have a start now, $34.00 in postal savings. Also I buy 10 cent defense stamps. When I have saved sufficiently by way of these stamps, I shall buy an $18.75 defense bond.

Ever practical and pro-active, Lil was planning for how she would personally respond to the the war. But in her diary, she soon leaves the topic of war behind to prepare for New Year’s Eve. She was “damn mad” at Fred for not asking her out. 
But that wasn’t going to stop her from having a good time. Her diary revealed that she had another beau already lined up to ring in the new year with a night of rhumba dancing. I only learned about it through Mom’s diary.
It was forgotten, overtaken by one of the most memorable evenings of my parents’ courtship. What happened with Fred and Lil on New Year’s Day, became a staple of family lore, and it’s a vivid scene that appears in my book, Redlined. I’ll share it as a sneak preview before we all ring in the new year.
This post was updated from the one shared on 12/7/2011.
Watch for Redlined: Coming April 3, 2018


  1. Marian Beaman December 8, 2017 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    You are fortunate to have preserved moments like these from your mother’s diary. Curating items in my aunt’s house this spring, I have found 4-5 diaries and a snippet of my grandma’s. Each is hard to read because of the handwriting, faded by age of course.

    • Linda Admin December 27, 2017 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      Dear Marian,

      That is so cool that you found those diaries. Yes, these old diaries can be hard to read. Oddly, in my case, the handwriting was still very clear and the paper in amazingly good condition. I think that first, they hadn’t seen the light of day (or any light) for decades, stored in boxes, closed tight. Second, I think the paper was less acidic in the past. Even my grandparents’ 100 year old diaries, letters, postcards, etc. were sturdy and barely yellowed. My mother’s scrapbook pages, however, cheap paper, were crumbling. I recommend keeping at it, if you have the time and interest. I was totally sucked into what I read. People were good writers back in the day. Best of luck with the reading. Happy New Year and Happy Holidays!

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