Some WWII era photos from my mother’s collection (and more to come)

I stopped by to see my mother yesterday morning. She had been sorting through her own boxes of old photos, and had set aside several for me.

John LindFirst, a photo of my dad in his full regalia as a member of the Businessmen’s Training Corps. In Kahala, and in other neighborhoods, civilians joined the BTC and were assigned positions to defend the area. My mom says he was assigned to a pill box at the corner of Kealaolu Avenue and Farmers Road, just on the edge of the Waialae Golf Course.

She laughs, and says she doubts he ever had any training in how to fire the rifle.

Then there was the bomb shelter.

Everyone had to dig a bomb shelter if they had space for it.

This was the one my parents dug in their back yard. At the time, they were in another house along Kealaolu Avenue, just above Kahala Avenue. That’s a block mauka of the house they’ve been in for just short of 70 years.

[text]Two things to note. First, this is looking from Kealaolu Avenue into the interior of Kahala, towards the back slopes of Diamond Head.

At the time, there was nothing there but fields and some farms. My mother recalls that the interior section wasn’t subdivided until after WWII.

The second thing is that the bomb shelter turned out to be useless. She laughs as she recalls that soon after it was built, it quickly became home to scorpions, centipedes, and other crawly creatures, making it unusable for its intended purposes.

No telling whether, in the event of any actual bombing, there might have been any way to share the safety of that hole in the ground.


[text]At the left, my grandfather, Duke Yonge, in a 1942 photo, dressed for work with helmet, and gas mask in his bag.

In the next photo, my grandparents, Duke and Lani Yonge, are joined by my dad, on the far right, in posing as armed defenders of the homeland, complete with required gas masks.

“Just fooling around,” my mother reports.

She noted that you were required by the military authorities to carry your gas mask whenever you went out. You’ll recall that Hawaii was under martial law at the time, with a military government that set and enforced the policy.

Ah, then there’s this final photo, which has nothing to do with the war, other than timing.

It was taken at Makapuu in the Spring of 1940. The mobile Swanky Franky cart was the beginning of the food service careers of two brothers from New York, Cliff and Spencer Weaver.

[text]A chain of these little carts dotted public spots around Honolulu. The brothers later formed Spencecliff, the restaurant chain that had at least two dozen popular restaurants in Honolulu in its heyday.

That’s my mother, Helen Lind, posing for the camera.

A short video of my mother describing the photos follows in a separate entry.

6 responses to “Some WWII era photos from my mother’s collection (and more to come)

  1. Ian, Thanks for sharing. Aloha, Curtis

  2. ” The brothers later formed Spencecliff, the restaurant chain that had at least two dozen popular restaurants in Honolulu in its heyday.”
    Not just Honolulu. 58 in total, including Kailua, Aiea, a few in Tahiti.
    Swanky also planted permanent locales aside from their mobile carts. I haveta know this. I did the Spencecliff documentary and am working on the local history of Polynesian restaurants and bars….

  3. Wow, Ian. I’ll say it again. Your family photos would make a terrific book. About the bomb shelter, if bombs really were falling, I think I’d take my changes with the centipedes!

  4. That photo of your Dad makes me feel safe (!). The photo of the bomb shelter makes me feel very unsafe (buried alive; the house would be better!). The photo of your grandparents and Dad in gas masks makes me feel even more unsafe (they look like axe murderers!). The Swanky Franky photo of your Mom makes me hungry.

    Speaking of which . . . . .

  5. Regarding bomb shelters, my friend’s dad told me about his experiences with the 442nd in Europe.

    When artillery started landing nearby, guys would dig into anything just to get their head in the ground… even if your “other end” were up in the air!

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