Edenwald residents dicuss Pearl Harbor day

Edenwald Reirement Community resident Dick Working holds a photograph of himself and others in his unit during World War II. The recollections of Working and other Edenwald residents, relating how Pearl Harbor Day changed their lives, will be read by actors in a performance at the retirement community on Dec. 7, the 70th anniversary of the 1941 attack. (Steve Ruark, Patuxent Publishing / December 6, 2011)

They all reside at the Edenwald Retirement Community in Towson now.

On Dec. 7, 1941, however, that "date that will live in infamy," when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, they were all in different places when they heard the news, some of them thousands of miles from Towson.

They still remember, and to help ensure none of us forget that day, their recollections are being presented at Edenwald in a special theater production this week.

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Scripted by Win Streuber and Betty Walter, a former English and drama teacher at Towson High School, and also directed by Walter, the program features local performers reading Edenwald residents' recollections of Dec. 7, 1941, as well as popular songs from World War II. The cast includes J.R. Lyston, Ralph Piersanti, Nona Porter and Beth Weber, with Jon Slovoc playing piano.

The performance on Pearl Harbor Day is only for Edenwald residents, Walter said, but she expects to schedule performances for the public at the Towson United Unitarian Church in January.

On this 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, their recollections are stories of a different time, and a world of change.

Responding in WAVES

Babs Jacobsen was 16 when she was listening to the Ford Symphony Hour on the radio in her home in Towson on Dec. 7, 1941, and the program was interrupted.

"Life was forever changed on Aigburth Road," she said. "Daddy, who knew everything, didn't know what to do now."

In the wake of the attack and America's entrance in the war, she tried to join the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) to become a naval officer.

The problem was her weight and age. 

"They said to eat a lot of bananas and come back in two weeks," she said.

"Daddy" solved the other problem, reluctantly.

"I don't like doing this," he said after changing her age from 16 to 17 on the application form and signing it.

Soon she was in the Great Lakes for naval training at the University of Wisconsin and living in a dorm. 

"The Navy boys and girls could have been college freshmen," she said. "I would come home singing, 'On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin.' "

Life changed on Dec. 7, 1941

Dick Working was attending Washington & Lee University on a football scholarship, sitting on the floor of his room, reading the funnies in the Sunday paper when he heard the news. 

He later became a football coach at McDonogh and Boys' Latin schools — but it was Pearl Harbor that changed his life. After the attack, he signed up for the Air Force in Richmond, Va.