MODESTO -- On a hill overlooking Pearl Harbor, Ken Krause played with the landlord's dogs.
Just shy of 3 years old, he couldn't possibly begin to understand the magnitude of what was happening below as Japanese planes attacked on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.
"All I remember was the planes flying over," said Krause, a longtime Oakdale resident, now 73.
OK, he recalls a bit more, such as the Hawaiian couple who lived in the basement of the home that Krause's mom and sailor father rented. The landlords spoke the native tongue, and their attempts in English involved heavy pidgin at best. Presumably, they wanted him to go inside the house.
"Hawaiian was like a foreign language," he said. "They were waving at me to do something. I couldn't understand them at all. What they wanted me to do, I had no idea."
And he remembers that his mother, Helen, was four months pregnant with his sister and in bed that morning.
"She was looking at a mirror that reflected toward Pearl Harbor, and she could not comprehend what she was seeing," Krause said.
Within a few years, it likely will fall to Krause to serve as the valley's resident eyewitness to the moment that changed the world forever.
Membership in the valley's Pearl Harbor survivors associations, which numbered about 100 in 2000, has dwindled to two after Leon Pitts of Merced died at 89 in April. Only 88-year-old Robert Fernandez of Stockton and 96-year-old John Smith of Waterford remain, though there might be other Pearl survivors still living who, for whatever reasons, never joined any of the organizations.
Krause was born at Mare Island in Vallejo, where his father, chief signalman Edward Krause, served before moving the family to Hawaii. He had been assigned to the USS Minneapolis, based at Pearl Harbor with the rest of the fleet, months before the attack.
On Dec. 7, the heavy cruiser steamed eight miles out to sea to fire its big guns for the filming of a movie titled "To the Shores of Tripoli." Otherwise, the Minneapolis would have been moored near battleship row and a target of the Japanese planes.
Edward Krause kept detailed notes of the attack in a log his son still reads and cherishes.
all of a sudden we observed hundreds of AA (anti-aircraft) shells bursting in one area directly over Pearl Harbor, water spurts and spouts could be seen," Edward Krause wrote. "I've actually seen two bombs drop, soon a belch of black thick smoke rose then continued for some time."
Entries include reports he heard over KGU, a Honolulu radio station:
" 'Urgent, urgent, this is no drill, Pearl Harbor, Hickham Field and Wheeler Field attack by aircraft.' "
The elder Krause noted that many crewmen believed it was a drill until the ship received an official dispatch that read, "attacking planes have red circle under wings, believe to be Japanese," and he made entries every few minutes or so.
After the attack, the USS Minneapolis patrolled for Japanese submarines until returning to Pearl on Dec. 10, at which time Edward Krause logged vivid descriptions of the death and damage, the sunken battleships and other warships.
"He documented it really well," Ken Krause said.
While dad received orders to ship out again, mom got hers as well.
"She was told to pack everything in boxes and be ready to leave on a moment's notice," Ken Krause said. "We lived out of boxes until the middle of February (1942). They put us aboard the Lurline (a liner) and sent us back to Oakland. I remember looking out of the porthole and seeing a tin-can destroyer escorting us back to the West Coast."
They lived in the East Bay throughout the war while dad fought in the Pacific.
As so often happens in life, things have a way of coming full circle, and Krause's story is no exception.
He returned to Pearl Harbor in the spring of 1959, nearly 18 years after the attack, and this time as a Navy man instead of a toddler.
"I was on the nuclear sub Swordfish, the first nuclear sub to have Pearl Harbor as a home port," Krause said. "They were celebrating statehood."
Remnants of the attack remained then and still do today, in wreckage and emotions.
"I had a bumper sticker made for my wife's car," Krause said. " 'If there hadn't been a Pearl Harbor, there wouldn't have been a Hiroshima.' "
For most everyone else, Dec. 7, 1941, is an annual remembrance. To Krause, it is part of his fabric.
San Joaquin Valley Chapter 10 of the Pearl Harbor Association still meets every other month at a restaurant in Modesto. Krause is an associate member. Full membership is limited to those who were in the military and on the island during the attack.
He attends the meetings out of respect to his father and to the remaining survivors.
"I go to support the guys that served," Krause said. "Fellows who were there still carry the terrible things that happened. They lost a lot of shipmates who were friends. It never goes away."
They do, though, and one day in the not-too-distant future, Krause could be left as the valley's last living link to the day that changed the world.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at email@example.com, @jeffjardine57 on Twitter or at (209) 578-2383.