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WWII life in Hawaii—a conversation with Bishop Museum Historian, Desoto Brown

All Hawaiian civilians were issued gas masks during WWII
Credit Desoto Brown Collection
All Hawaiian civilians were issued gas masks during WWII

Life in America and most poignantly in the Hawaiian Islands was jarringly transformed in one day, the day of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war by President Roosevelt. Marshall Law was declared and remained in effect throughout the war. Come along and join Bishop Museum Historian Desoto Brown as he recalls his 30 years of research about life on the island of Oahu during WWII.

All photographs were censored, liquor was rationed, a ten p.m. curfew was imposed and remained in effect until the latter days of WWII.

Blackouts were enforced by wardens. Auto headlights were masked, and streetlights and stop lights went dark. Within days the government confiscated requisite civilian buildings.

For more than a week after the bombing, all radio stations went off the air, and gossip and rumors spread like wildfire, often instilling irrational fear.

Published reports described Japanese troops landing on Oahu with Rising Sun emblem patches on their shoulders.

The Fear of a Japanese invasion and take over of Hawaii was so palpable that orders were issued requiring everyone to turn in all of their US currency at island banks in exchange for Hawaiian war money. Gas masks were issued to every resident.

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