I Survived #4: I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941, page 1
THE BOMBING OF
PEARL HARBOR, 1941
by Lauren Tarshis
illustrated by Scott Dawson
Pearl Harbor: A Man-Made Disaster
Pearl Harbor Timeline
To Find Out More
I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916
I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005
About the Author
DECEMBER 7, 1941
PEARL CITY, HAWAII
America was under attack!
Hundreds of bomber planes were swarming over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. They swooped down, machine guns roaring. Bombs and torpedoes rained down.
Explosions ripped through the blue Hawaiian sky.
Kaboom … Kaboom … KABOOM!
America’s mightiest warships were in flames. A curtain of smoke — black and bloody red — surrounded the harbor.
Eleven-year-old Danny Crane had moved to Hawaii just weeks before. Ma had brought Danny to Hawaii to get him out of trouble, away from the crime and the rats and the dirty, dangerous streets of New York City.
But he’d never felt more terrified than he did right now, alone and running for his life. One of the attacking planes had burst out of the smoke and was closing in on him across an empty beach. Danny sprinted through the sand, but there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. He peered over his shoulder as the plane flew closer. He could see into the cockpit. The pilot was glaring at him through his goggles.
Rat, tat, tat, tat.
Rat tat tat tat.
Danny pushed himself to run faster. Searing pain filled his chest as he inhaled the smoky air.
Rat, tat, tat, tat.
Rat tat tat tat.
Sand flew up into Danny’s eyes. And then from behind him, a huge explosion seemed to shatter the world.
The force lifted Danny off his feet and threw him onto the ground.
And then Danny couldn’t hear anything at all.
ONE DAY EARLIER
DECEMBER 6, 1941
PEARL CITY, HAWAII
Danny stood with his mother at the kitchen window of their tiny house.
Ma put her arm around Danny. “Just look at that view,” she said. “Can you believe we live here? I think it’s the most beautiful place on earth.”
Ma was right; it looked like a postcard out there, with the palm trees swaying in the breeze, the bushes covered with pink and white flowers, and the ocean a sparkling silver strip in the distance.
Danny couldn’t stand looking at it.
All he wanted was to be back in New York City, looking out his old apartment window at the jumble of dirty buildings, the smoke thick in the air, the garbage in the streets, and his best friend, Finn, waving to him from down in the alley below.
Ma thought that coming here to Hawaii would give Danny a fresh start. She wanted to get him away from danger and trouble, away from Earl Gasky and his gang.
It was true that Danny and Finn had gotten into trouble sometimes.
But nothing big! Just skipping school and sneaking into movie houses and nabbing an apple or two from the fruit stand.
Sure, they ran with Earl and his gang. Some folks in the neighborhood said Earl was a vicious criminal, that he’d break your legs if you looked at him wrong. But others said he and his guys protected the streets and took care of old ladies. He had always been good to Danny and Finn. He paid them a dollar a day to run errands. He even taught them how to drive one of his cars.
Sometimes it was scary, being on the streets so much, just Danny and Finn. But no matter what they were up to, they always looked out for each other.
Because who else was going to look after them?
Danny’s father had been gone since before Danny was born. Ma did her best, but how could she watch over Danny when she was working all the time? She was so tired when she got home from her nursing shifts at the hospital. After kissing Danny hello, she would close her eyes for ten minutes, make their dinner, and then head out to clean offices until midnight.
And Finn’s parents had five other kids crammed into a dark two-room apartment. So Danny and Finn stuck together, more than best friends, closer even than brothers. As long as they had each other, they felt like nothing bad could ever happen to them. And nothing ever did.
Until one night two months ago.
Even standing here, looking out on the palm trees, it all came back to Danny. It was like a horror movie playing in his mind. He could hear the screech of the metal on the fire escape breaking away from the building. He heard Finn’s shout, and the thud of Finn’s body hitting the sidewalk fifteen feet below. He could see Finn lying there on the sidewalk, the blood seeping out of his head, the flashing lights of the ambulance.
And then later, seeing him in that hospital bed, groaning in pain.
It was that night that Ma said they had to leave the city.
“It’s time for us to go,” Ma said. “Before something terrible happens to you.”
When she first told him they were moving to Hawaii, Danny thought she was kidding. Wasn’t Hawaii a made-up place, like Shangri-La?
It turned out it was a bunch of islands owned by America. There was a huge U.S. military base there called Pearl Harbor. They needed nurses at a hospital on an air base called Hickam. They wanted Ma right away.
A week later, the Cranes were on a train heading to San Francisco. From there, they took a ship halfway across the Pacific Ocean, to Oahu, one of the Hawaiian Islands.
Ma kept telling Danny how they needed to put New York behind them.
“We’re starting out fresh,” she said.
But how could Danny turn his back on Finn?
He couldn’t, not when Finn needed him most. Besides, it was Danny’s fault Finn got hurt. He was the one who wanted to climb up that fire escape, to explore that abandoned building on 23rd Street. Finn said it was a bad idea, but Danny told him to stop being a sissy. And then, as they were climbing up past the second floor, there was a terrible screech as the rusted metal of the fire escape gave way. Danny managed to climb onto the landing. But not Finn. He fell, crashing onto the cement sidewalk below.
And now Danny was an ocean — and a continent — away. But he had to go back to New York.
A ship called Carmella was steaming out of Honolulu Harbor tomorrow morning, heading back to the mainland.
Ma had no idea, but Danny was going to be on that ship.
Ma straightened her white nurse’s cap and kissed Danny good-bye. When she opened the door, Danny heard her gasp.
Danny hurried over. Ma said that there was no crime here in Pearl City. Still, Danny was used to being on the lookout for people lurking outside their door, waiting to pounce.
But there was nothing on their porch but a pot of pink flowers, wrapped in a bow.
Every morning for the past week, there had been a present waiting for Ma on their porch. They all came from a man named Lieutenant Andrew Maciel — Mack. He was a B-17 pilot at Hickam Air Force Base, where Ma worked. Danny had met him a few times when he drove Ma home. He came from New York City, so Danny figured he couldn’t be all bad.
But then Danny found out he was from that fancy part of New York City called Sutton Place. Danny and Finn hated those rich Sutton Place kids, with their chauffeured cars and snooty expressions.
Danny hoped Ma wasn’t sweet on this guy.
She smelled the flowers and smiled a little before handing the pot to Danny.
Then she kissed Danny again and headed on her way. Danny could hear her humming until she disappeared around the corner.
He brought the flowers to their little patio around back. He sat down on one of their rickety little chairs. The sun felt good on his face, and there was a warm breeze off the ocean. Maybe he’d miss the smell of the air here when he got back to New York — it smelled sweet, like sugar cane and pineapple. One thing he’d definitely miss was the sound of the bells that rang out every hour from the battleships anchored in Pearl Harbor.
The naval base was just five minutes from their house. There had to be a hundred warships crowded into the harbor with their guns ready to blast away. The best were the eight battleships. They were huge — like skyscrapers turned on their sides. Ma said the battleship guns were so powerful that one blast could blow an entire house to smithereens.
Danny wished he could tell his teacher in New York about those ships.
Most teachers at their school hadn’t bothered much with Danny and Finn. But Mrs. Mills was different. When it was too hot or cold outside, Danny and Finn would offer to wash Mrs. Mills’s chalkboard for her. She always said yes, and she always happened to have a Thermos of lemonade or hot chocolate with just enough for them. She also had a big world map on the wall of her classroom. They could point to any country and Mrs. Mills could tell them everything about it.
More recently, Mrs. Mills had talked to them about the wars happening all around the world. She pointed to Asia, where Japan was fighting China. She pointed to Europe, where there was a maniac named Adolf Hitler in charge of Germany. He was sending his armies out to conquer every country he could.
Mrs. Mills hated Hitler.
“The world has to stop that monster,” she told them. “He’s marching across Europe now. But you watch. If we don’t stop him, he’ll want America next. He’ll want to hang a German flag over the Empire State Building.”
Danny and Finn didn’t like that idea one bit. And then one day they heard a shocking rumor: One of Earl’s guys said that German U-boat submarines were sneaking around the waters just off Coney Island, in Brooklyn.
That did it! Danny and Finn skipped school and hopped a subway down to Brooklyn. They sat there all day, freezing on Coney Island Beach, watching out for U-boats. They had no idea what a U-boat would look like. But that didn’t matter. Finn brought his baseball bat. If a German soldier had tried to step onto the sand, Finn was ready to clobber him.
They didn’t spot a U-boat. But the day wasn’t a total waste. When Mrs. Mills heard that they’d skipped school to protect America, she gave them both an automatic 100 percent on their spelling tests. Finn grinned so big you could see the gold tooth from when he broke up a fight between two of his little brothers.
Thinking about his good times with Finn gave Danny a strange feeling. Of course Danny never cried — he was no sissy. And he’d learned a trick when he was younger. On those nights when he was alone in the apartment, wishing Ma wasn’t gone so much, wondering why his father had left them, he’d push all the feelings down, and then pack them tight together. He could almost imagine them somewhere deep inside him, a hard ball of ice. Lately that cold hard place had grown so big Danny almost felt numb. But it was better than lying around crying.
Now Danny stood up, cursing himself for wasting time. He had to pack, write his note to Ma, get himself ready for the long journey back to New York City, to Finn.
But then he heard a commotion in his backyard.
There was a crash, a strange squeal, and an earsplitting scream.
Danny flung open the back door.
Ma’s new pot of flowers lay shattered on the ground.
Was someone in trouble?
Or were robbers planning to break in?
Danny picked up a broom, ready to strike.
The yard was small, just a patch of grass surrounded by a tangle of bushes and palm trees. He didn’t see anyone, but then he caught sight of a small dark head poking out from behind one of the thick bushes.
Danny put down the broom and walked over. It was a little kid, maybe three years old.
What the heck was he doing here all by himself?
“Ahhhhhhhhhh!” the kid screamed.
Was the kid hurt?
“Hey!” Danny said.
The kid turned around.
He was grinning like a monkey standing on a mountain of bananas. And he was clutching a little animal of some kind.
“Puppy!” the kid said.
Danny studied the animal. It was very small and black except for one white ear.
He didn’t want to break the kid’s heart, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t a puppy. It looked more like a rat.
“My puppy!” the kid said, hugging the poor ugly critter so tight Danny was sure it would pop like a balloon.
Danny looked around. The kid was too young to be wandering around on his own.
“Who are you?” Danny said, bending down to look the kid in the eye.
“Aki!” he said. “Who you?”
“I’m Danny,” said Danny.
“Danny see my puppy?”
Aki held out his poor squished pet like he wanted Danny to give it a big smooch.
And then the kid’s eyes got huge. He pointed to something over Danny’s shoulder.
“Monster!” he said.
Danny spun around and there, moving toward them, was the ugliest animal Danny had ever seen in his life. It was black, the size of a huge dog, with wiry bristles, a pig’s snout, and two huge spiked tusks sprouting right from its face like swords.
It did look like a monster.
The animal grunted and snorted as it stared at Aki with beady black eyes.
Prepare to die! it seemed to be saying.
“Put down the puppy!” Danny said, suddenly understanding: That was a mother monster, and she thought Aki was stealing her baby.
“My puppy!” Aki screamed.
Danny pried the baby out of Aki’s sticky hands. He gently placed it on the ground. The mother rushed up to it, nudged it with her nose, and gave a loud squeal.
“Okay,” he said, bending down and speaking softly to Aki. “Let’s go.”
Aki screamed again, right into Danny’s ear.
“My puppy!” Aki howled, lunging over to reclaim his pet.
The mother monster gave out a high-pitched roar.
Aki screamed right back.
This kid really was crazy!
Danny tried to grab Aki, but he pulled away.
The animal charged, its sharp tusks aimed right for Aki’s stomach.
Danny managed to grab Aki by the seat of his pants and hoist him up just in time.
One of the monster’s tusks tore through Danny’s pant leg. Amazingly, it missed his flesh.
Danny jerked back his leg, ripping his pants away from the tusk. He almost fell, but he regained his balance and kept his hold on Aki, who was still screaming for his puppy.
With Aki held high, Danny ran across the yard and into the house, slamming the door.
“My puppy!” Aki screamed. “My puppy!”
“No,” Danny said, putting the kid down and blocking the door. “That’s not yours. That’s the monster’s baby.”
“Sorry, little guy,” Danny said. “But that puppy has to be with its ma.”
“Aki want puppy,” he said, throwing his arms around Danny and burying his face in Danny’s legs.
This kid was a stitch. Danny had always wanted a little brother, someone to trail along with him and Finn, someone to keep him company when Ma was working.
“Where’s your ma?” Danny said.
“Mama mad at Aki,” Aki said.
And sure enough, just then Danny heard someone shouting Aki’s name.
Danny stuck his head out the window.
“I got him!” he called.
A moment later, he and Aki were standing on the porch with Aki’s mother.
Danny guessed she and Aki were Japanese. There were people from all over the world living here — just like in New York City. Lots of the people in Pearl City were originally from Japan, Ma had said.
“Aki!” his mother scolded. “You cannot be running away like this!”
“I sorry, Mama,” he said in a voice sweeter than a chocolate doughnut. He wrapped his arms around his mother’s legs and gazed up at her with an angelic smile.
Danny saw how the anger in Aki’s mother’s eyes melted away.
This little kid was good.
She looked at Danny and smiled. Even though she looked nothing like Mrs. Mills, there was something about her that reminded Danny of his teacher — a look in her eyes, like she could read his mind and liked what she saw.
“Thank you,” she said. “My son is a wanderer. The minute I turn my back, he sneaks away.”
“We saw monster!” Aki said.
“A monster?” the woman said, raising her eyebrows.
“It looked like a hairy pig,” Danny said. “With horns.”
“A wild boar?”
“Monster hurt Danny,” Aki said, pointing to Danny’s torn pants.
LAUREN TARSHIS SERIES:
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