Flashback update: Bears game on Dec. 7, 1941

One mystery about Dec. 7, 1941, remained after scrubbing the Tribune's coverage of that fateful day: How did fans who were at the Chicago Bears-Chicago Cardinals game hear about the attack?

The newspaper is silent on the matter. Luckily for Chicago Flashback, our readers aren't.

Wallace Rosenbaum was nearly 15 and living on the West Side that December. He went to the game with four buddies, courtesy of free tickets from the Chicago Times.

"We took three streetcars to get to Comiskey Park," he said last week when he called Flashback to share his story. "We were sitting where they put the kids (with free tickets), way up there."

Rosenbaum, who now lives in Evanston, remembers the game and season well. "If the Bears won, they would play in the (division) championship game against the Packers," he said. "It was a very close game." (The Bears won it all that year, beating the Cardinals and the Packers to win the Western Division before defeating the New York Giants 37-9 in the NFL title game.)

But fans in the stadium weren't told about the Pearl Harbor attack, Rosenbaum said.

He and his friends learned the nation was at war when they were greeted by newsboys hawking extras outside the gates.

For Rosenbaum, the news hit home because his father was in the military, but the details didn't mean anything to him. "Where is Pearl Harbor? Where is Hawaii? We didn't know."

Rosenbaum enlisted in the Army at 17, with his parents' permission, he said. He served in the Pacific Theater.

In case you're curious, none of the buddies, ages 14 to 16, bought that extra.

Stephan Benzkofer

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