Built in 1937 as part of Roosevelt’s WPA program, Timberline Lodge was one of the grandest and most unique ski lodges in the country. It probably still is. Handmade by careful craftsmen and artisans, the attention to detail was nothing short of stunning.
Depending upon snow conditions, we always gave our skis one final waxing once we reached Timberline. Then we would head out for the “Magic Mile.”
Each of us usually brought along a little hard, cheddar cheese and a candy bar to munch on. But around midday, we would come in out of the cold for a bowl of hot chili in the lodge’s popular Blue Ox Bar.
We followed our usual routine that fateful Sunday, December 7, 1941.
When we took off our skis, kicked the snow from our boots, and walked into the Blue Ox Bar, missing were the usual babble of voices and blaring of radio music. Skiers sitting at the tables talked in hushed tones and a small gang crowded around the radio at the end of the bar, listening to news reports.
That’s the moment, frozen in my memory, when we heard the news that a fleet of Japanese planes had made a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Stunned, we listened to follow-up newscasts that reported on the near destruction of the US Pacific Fleet.
In the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, five battleships were sunk. Eight battleships were badly damaged. Eleven cruisers and destroyers were badly damaged. More than two hundred planes were destroyed on the ground, and surrounding facilities were hit at Hickam Field, Kaneohe Airfield and Schofield Barracks. Two thousand three hundred eighty-eight military men and women were killed. Sixty-eight civilians died. More than a thousand other servicemen were badly wounded.
December 7, 1941 …A date that will live in infamy.