Little Steve Sees “Japanese” Bombers

Philadelphia Defense Council Warden Badge, courtesy of Flying Tiger AntiquesIt was at two years old [1942] that I—and the rest of the family—we moved to Philadelphia area, Drexel Hill, 325 Riverview Avenue. That just sticks in my mind and Drexel Hill. We did that because Dad [Taylor] was in the navy.

In the First World War, he was a seaman. In the Second World War, he became an officer to the point where at the end of that war and in retirement, he was a captain level, which is the same as a colonel in the army, which is quite an honorable position.

Dad was a determined guy and a very much of an expert or—let me just say—a perfectionist. He was an accountant before the navy and after the navy and he taught at Bentley University, Bentley College, which now is a university.

In the navy, back to the navy, back in the Second World War, we were at this place in Drexel Hill. After the war—and I recall the VJ Day—and there were some things that were outstanding that I recall in Drexel Hill.

Because I have some very creative brothers, they taught me that Japanese planes were coming in to bomb us. The story had gotten around. They put me in a two-sided porch, two-windowed, windowed on two sides. All I could see was these Japanese planes coming down to bomb us during the blackout time.

Blackouts meant everybody had to turn out their lights in the whole city because they thought that—it was actually in relationship to Germany—because they thought the Germans would fly over and see the houses and see the outline of the houses on ultra—not ultraviolet, but red—infrared vision of the housing and would bomb. We’ll we didn’t know that and we had the blackouts anyway.

Dad, Taylor Albert Duncan Senior, he was one of the wardens, who went around the streets when he got home from the navy time, and he would insist that the city was blacked out. Of those around in his neighborhood, he was responsible. He would make sure that people had their lights out or you couldn’t see it in the houses with lights.

And so that is one of the very prominent memories that I have of the Second World War. I have other little memories, but that was a very outstanding one. I was for sure I could see these Japanese planes because, as I say, I have very creative brothers. They would tell me about all this was happening. It, of course, never did happen.

[325 Riverview Avenue, Drexel Hill, PA is correct. I’ve previously reported Grandma Duncan’s version, which was Riverview Cove. It is listed on the maps as Avenue.—dch]

story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • What do you remember of the blackouts?
  • What stories have your folks told you about that period?
  • Do you recall Grandpa Taylor serving as an air raid warden? What can you tell us about it? Did he wear a special patch, badge, or uniform? Did he have to “report” houses that weren’t blacked out? How did he deal with enforcement?
  • Do you remember Steve sleeping on this porch? Do you recall him expressing fear? Do remember the “Japanese bombers” story? What can you tell us about it?

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