Day of Infamy
By Seth Schmidt
Tracy Postmaster Cornelius Vahle knew what the telegram from the War Department meant.
Ten days had passed since the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Like almost everyone in Tracy, Vahle knew one of the Holm boys was stationed on a Navy ship at Pearl Harbor. The telegram surely couldn’t be good news.
The postmaster took it upon himself to walk up to the Holm house near the grade school on Rowland St., to deliver the telegram personally to Eugene’s mother, Nona.
“The telegram said that my brother was missing in action,” remembers Eugene’s younger brother, Bernie. “We were all shook up.”
The Holm family had been at home listening to music on the radio on the Sunday afternoon of Dec. 7, when a terse news bulletin interrupted the concert: The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor! In an instant, the Tracy family’s world was turned upside down.
The Holms had been on edge since Pearl Harbor Sunday, not knowing how the attack had affected Eugene, who was stationed on the battleship California at Pearl Harbor.
“We didn’t really know what had happened,” remembers Bernie, who is now 88. “There wasn’t a lot of news released, except that a lot of ships had been hit, and that Americans had been killed. Other than that, we didn’t know much. It wasn’t like it is now. You couldn’t just pick up a phone and call.”
The family’s worst fears seemed to be realized, when the “missing in action” telegram arrived. Planning began for a memorial service.
“That was the most difficult time before Christmas that I have ever experienced,” recalls Holm.
The uncertainty continued until Christmas Eve, when Postmaster Vahle again walked to the Holm house. A postcard from Eugene Holm had arrived at the Tracy Post Office from Pearl Harbor. An excited Vahle hurried to personally hand-deliver the postcard to Mrs. Holm.
“Look at the postmark. It’s after Dec. 7,” Vahle exclaimed.
The Holm family knew then that Eugene had survived the Japanese attack.
See this week's Headlight-Herald for more on this article.
Multi-purpose breakfasts resume
The pancakes are sizzling again mornings at the Tracy Multi-Purpose Center.
Madonna Peterson, interim deputy city administrator, reports that liability insurance and a special-event license has been obtained to allow the Wednesday morning pancakes and other weekday breakfast offerings to resume during December. She indicated that discussions are also underway with Lutheran Social Services and Tracy Senior Dining, that would allow the use of the Multi-Purpose Center kitchen for the breakfasts in 2017.
The Wednesday morning pancakes and other breakfasts were suspended for about two weeks in November, after issues arose over liability, licensing, and sales tax.