A Miami Story by Lynda Grant Killingsworth in honor of all Americans on this anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
A letter home from James Whitfield Grant dated Saturday, Sept 22, 1945 written in Tokyo Bay.
Well, her’is the bad news-We have been detached from the Third fleet and reassigned to the Fifth fleet for duty-I don’t know for how long but the reason was that we did such a good job evacuating POW’s that they felt that we would be a good ship to keep out here until things get straightened out.
The men on the ship were pretty mad about it since we are the oldest ship in the Third fleet and rate more battle stars than any ship in the Third or Fifth fleet. I have known about it for several days but did not want to write you until I cooled off a little.
Our Captain made a speech to us today and told us why we are going to stay out here a little longer. He had to make a speech because the rumor started that he asked for six more months of occupation duty. Naturally everybody believed it since he hasn’t been out here long and he is a Glory-hunter. He denied the rumor of course, and said you couldn’t believe everything you read in the papers (some of the boys got clippings from the New York Times that listed the San Juan as one of the ships to be reviewed by the President on Navy Day in New York Harbor). He said if we got our orders we could be in San Francisco by Navy Day but don’t count on it-So we are just sitting here waiting for something to happen. I admit this is very interesting duty but it is nothing like the U.S.- We feel that by the time we get back all the celebrating will be over and everybody will have forgotten about the war. I still have hopes of being home Xmas but don’t count on it.
Uncle Jimmy, a veteran of every major battle in the Pacific was in the Navy when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 79 years ago. He came to Miami with my parents, my sister Annie and me looking like the okies from fanokie, and lived with us for several years after arriving in Miami Dec 17, 1947. I am sure if any of my Jr. League buddies had seen THAT picture, 3 adults and 2 babies in a Jeep Dad needed for Dad’s work, I would have never been invited to join this prestigious organization. Our first apartment was near their new place of employment Hill York established in the 1920’s by Everett Carroll and Ren Niche located at SW 8th and 12 Ave.
I loved Mr. Carroll and the opportunities he gave my father. Dad ended up as President of seven Mechanical Contractor Companies and he and his brother, Uncle Jimmy, never worked anywhere else during their 35 year careers. Mr. and Mrs. Carroll, Uncle Everett and Aunt Babe, lived a block off of SW 8th Street, the famous Tamiami Trail built by a distant relative of ours, Barron Gift Collier. His great grand nephew married my grandfather’s cousin and this elegant Bascom, Florida native, population 30, served as hostess to the likes of Ford and Edison at their home on Utopia Island, now a Ritz Carlton.
Dad found an apartment nearby, and because it was right after the war, the only language spoken was Yiddish as our welcoming new city had become a haven for those who were in Nazi concentration camps. Boy did they love Anne and I, and I can remember being so young and sitting on their lap and running my figure on numbers that I did not know how they got there. Mama knew, and even though Mama only spoke Southern and they spoke no English, there was a bond that proved language did not matter. Their means of communication was LOVE.
Uncle Jimmy was just barely 20 when he joined the Navy on October 18, 1940, fourteen months before we declared War. He served our Country in the North Atlantic and saw war there against the Axis which entitled him to wear the Navy bronze “A.” He never slept the night through after he and his Navy boys, who lovingly called him Reb, freed the POW’s. He told his mother about it but could never talk to anyone else, not even his brother, my father. When I was a teen, my Grandmother told me his stories, and what he had witnessed as she felt it important that history be told. I remember the conversation 58 years later and her confession that she really liked Eleanor Roosevelt who was not at all treasured in the South at that time and revered years later. I agreed and will share what was told in other stories. This letter was addressed to:
Mrs. LL Grant
501 East Jackson Street
The airmail postage was 6 cents.