Image of Mickey McNulty age 4
By Joan McNulty Pulver
Although only three years old at the time, my sister, Mickey McNulty still remembers the news broadcast blaring from the radio on that fateful Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941. It was two pm in the small Brooklyn apartment but only 8 am at Pear Harbor, Hawaii.
"We interrupt this broadcast to bring you this important bulletin from the United Press," the newsman said.
"Flash! Washington! The White House announces Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor."
Mickey's parents, Raymond and Margaret McNulty, were the only family members with a telephone at that time. It sat on a small table if the foyer of the steam heated apartment, right next to the door.
"I remember Mom talking on the phone that day with tears running down her face. It scared me because Mommy wasn't the type of person to cry easily," Mickey said.
Of course, Mickey didn't realize the impact of the announcement at that age but when so many family members showed up at the little one bedroom, second floor apartment she knew something was terribly wrong.
Mickey's mother, Margaret was one of 12 children. Most of her family arrived there during the day. One of her sisters, Irene Schmidlin wasn't present. She, her husband James and her newborn son, Jimmy were living at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
James normally worked at the Brooklyn ship yards but had transferred to Hawaii not long before that fateful day.
"I recall one of our aunts telling me that Aunt Renee and Uncle Jim lived in Hawaii and that bad men dropped bombs where they were. We waited the whole day for a call from Hawaii, which never came."
Mickey recollects her aunts being emotional and crying. These people held her life together. Why were they all upset? She didn't really understand the reason for many years. Mickey sat on the colorful rug while the grownups utilized the beige couch, wing chair, and other furniture in the living room. While they waited to hear she occasionally went to the window which overlooked the courtyard. "I wish Aunt Renee were here right now, so Mommy wouldn't be so upset," Mickey thought, as she prayed for her aunt to be alright.
The day went by slowly with neighbors dropping by with food, prayers and words of encouragement and good wishes for the family.
"I received lots of attention from all of Mommy's sisters that day. I think they wanted to keep me occupied so I wouldn't be afraid. It was a scary time for all concerned."
It wasn't until two weeks later that Margaret finally heard from Renee by mail. The government had blacked out everything in the body of the letter. It was signed:
Renee, Jim and Jimmy
That was the only way the family knew that all three had survived the bombing. This was good news for our family but so tragic for so many others at that time and place.
By Joan McNulty Pulver