The day of chutzpah

December 05, 1991|By Art Buchwald

THE PHONE has been ringing with calls from historians who want to know what I was doing on Dec. 7, 1941. After the third query, it occurred to me that I was giving out information I could easily use myself.

This is what I was doing on the Day of Infamy, which my father always referred to as the Day of Chutzpah. There were five friends at the Forest Hills Bowling Alley in the borough of Queens in New York City.

They were Bob Markay, Arnie Alperstein, George Hankoff, Dick Zimmerman and myself. All of us were 16 years old and, next to bowling, our major topics of conversation were Glenn Miller, college football and girls. We were weak in current events.

It was early in the afternoon. George was ready to bowl when someone yelled from the cash register.

"The Japs have bombed Pearl Harbor." Before we go any further, want to explain that none of us was "politically correct" in those days, and we called the Japanese Japs. We called them a lot worse names when we heard that they had sunk the entire U.S. fleet in Hawaii.

We gathered around the radio while Franklin Roosevelt gave us the story. When he finished we looked at each other in silence. Arnie broke it when he said, "We'll beat the friggin' blank-blanks in two weeks."

Bob said, "I hope that the war isn't over before we get in. I wouldn't mind killing some Japs."

"It will be over by then. We'll probably be in the occupation army and go to dances with geisha girls and have parties in the emperor's palace."

We stood around discussing the military aspects of the sneak attack. We weren't sure what measures Roosevelt ought to take, but we all agreed that we should teach the Japs a lesson they'd never forget.

Little did we know that someday there would be nothing but Toyotas.

We couldn't do anything, so we went back to the lanes. Arnie bowled 209, George scored 198, Dick got a 183, Bob also got 183, and my score was 160. Whenever people have asked me what I thought of Pearl Harbor, I always tell the truth -- I was bowled over.

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