From the e-mails, voice mails and the land line:
STRING OF PEARLS I wrote last week about Ken Krause of Oakdale, who was a young boy living on Oahu when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
With the number of Pearl Harbor survivors dwindling as time takes its toll, I suggested that Krause might and I emphasize "might" soon be the valley's remaining eyewitness to that moment in history. I always leave wiggle room in these kinds of stories because it's absolutely guaranteed that others will call or email to say they, too, were in Hawaii or wherever.
Sure enough, they did several, in fact:
Fred Cassidy of Modesto, an Army veteran who was in Hawaii but several miles away at Schofield Barracks when the attack occurred, wrote to say he's interested in attending the bimonthly meetings of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association's San Joaquin Valley Chapter 10.
Eileen Lucas of Modesto called to tell me her husband worked as a civilian contractor building underground storage for the government, as did her brother. She was there, as well.
"I was making waffles for the boys when they were coming off of their shift," she said. "A bomb did go through a house one street over."
Jean Baugh of Modesto was 9 years old and living in Honolulu, where her father was a Methodist minister and also was a member of Honolulu's civilian defense council.
"The Japanese bombers flew right between the church and the parsonage," Baugh said. "I looked right at the pilot. Two shells went between the church and the parsonage, taking off the tops of coconut trees."
While Krause and his mother cruised back to the mainland on the liner Lurline, Baugh and her family returned on the Aquitania, which steamed east with the Lurline, a third liner and naval escort ships.
"When we got near the Farallon Islands (about 30 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge, a Japanese sub fired a torpedo that missed the Lurline by four feet and us by six," Baugh recalled.
Geneva Irwin of Hughson wrote to tell me about her husband of 65 years, Roy Irwin, who was born in Hawaii and was 14 years old in 1941. The Irwins recently returned to find a dramatically changed landscape surrounding his old haunts.
"Our daughter took her father snorkeling off a beach on Oahu before moving on to Kauai, where he also lived as a young boy," Geneva Irwin wrote. "Harkening back to his boyhood, he body surfed there again as he did in his youth, only nothing but blue seas then, no hotels and high-rises as now."
MAKING TRACKS Over the past year, I've written about Modesto resident Robert Zimmerman and sons Kevin and Warren, who have found great joy in building model train layouts for needy children and other good causes. One was raffled off to benefit Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. Home Depot and other retailers have donated materials.
The Zimmermans now are working on a new layout, complete with a sound system, that they'll deliver Dec. 20 to the Modesto Gospel Mission in time for the mission's Christmas party a day later. They also will finish a semicompleted layout donated by Ripon resident Nancy Nienaber. But the most moving note comes from Jennifer Hagerty of Modesto. The Zimmermans built their first layout for Hagerty's son Joshua, who suffers from a skin condition that limits his exposure to sunlight.
His younger brother, Jaxon, is a rambunctious 2-year-old who has a penchant for breaking things, his mother wrote in an email to Zimmerman. Consequently, the family moved the train layout into the garage to protect it. Joshua seldom has the opportunity to use it. Meanwhile, Jennifer met a family that includes three young boys. The family is struggling financially and couldn't afford a Christmas tree. So the Hagertys beneficiaries of the Zimmermans' kindness a year ago on Friday bought the family a tree. And Jennifer wondered, would Zimmerman be offended if she also "regifted" the train layout to the same family for Christmas?
Not at all. In fact, Zimmerman has volunteered to repair the layout before it's delivered to the other family's home in Oakdale.
The string of good deeds keeps adding beads.
WOUNDED WARRIORS In my Dec. 2 column, I wrote about Steve Davis of Turlock, a former aviation engineer in the Navy who survived a horrendous motorcycle accident several years ago. Retired from the military and 100 percent disabled, Davis found inspiration by competing in paralympic Wounded Warrior events and has qualified in numerous events for the all-military games in Colorado Springs in May 2013.
Valley residents will have the opportunity to see these athletes up close and in person when the Wounded Warrior amputee softball team plays prior to a Modesto Nuts game July 20 at John Thurman Field. Contact Joe Savage at email@example.com or Jerry Scherer at firstname.lastname@example.org for sponsorship, ticket or other event information. For information about the team, visit http://woundedwarrioramputeesoftballteam.org.
NUMBERS GAME Happy birthday Wednesday to Ciarra Augustine of Modesto and Liliana Langley of Turlock, both of whom turn 12 on 12/12/12.
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.