Although still revered by his people, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito by this time was little more than a figurehead, his role largely ceremonial. General Hideki Tojo and the military cadre were in control of the country. And Japan continued its aggressive drive to create a dictatorial “Easing Sun” empire in Asia, linked by pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The brutal takeover of Chinese coastal areas continued unabated. Strategic new Japanese military bases were established in the islands of the South Pacific. Then Japan sent its armies down into South Indochina, attacking Malaya and Thailand without warning.
In an effort to halt the aggression, Roosevelt put an embargo on the shipment of US oil to Japan—a serious blow to further Japanese expansion.
In late November, the Japanese Imperial Cabinet sent a special envoy to Washington to negotiate “a peaceful understanding.” Secretly, the Japanese had already decided upon war, So-called negotiations were still underway the first week of December.
Off in the distance east of Portland are the hills, green and dark, and beyond the hills is the towering mountain. Snow-capped Mt, Hood, highest and most glorious peak in all of Oregon, dominates the horizon.
While we were still in high school, John Moore and I learned to ski high above the Mt. Hood timberline on a steep, open slope they called the “Magic Mile.” In the beginning, we wore ill-fitting leather boots and we made our way down the mountain on waxed wooden skis, no metal edges. A classmate of ours, Dick Lewis, who was Pacific Northwest junior slalom champion at the time, nursed us through our first snowplows and basic Christies. Then we were on our own.
It wasn’t until a few years later, however, during the year we both worked in the shipyards, that I mastered a fast parallel turn, more or less. Finally, I was able to carve my way down the mountain without breaking my neck, John Moore and Dick Lewis had landed jobs at the Swan Island Shipyards. I still, worked swing shift at Willamette Iron and Steel. During the ski season that year, every Sunday before dawn we would head up to the mountain in the Lewis family Ford V-8.
Somewhere east of Rhododendron, with the snow piled high on each side of the road, we usually stopped to put on chains. Then when we reached Government Camp, just short of the Barlow Pass, we turned sharply to the north up that torturous eight miles of steep trail road to Timberline Lodge.