History: Edmonds’ reaction to entering World War II

“Wild Bill” Crump returning from World War II mission. (Photo courtesy the Crump family)

While researching the two-part article on Lt. Colonel “Wild Bill Crump,” who was a long-term Edmonds resident and a World War II fighter pilot, I realized that Bill was only a junior in high school when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941. I wondered what life was like for Bill and the other residents of Edmonds at the end of 1941 and throughout 1942, which was the time between the attack on Pearl Harbor, and when he graduated high school and enlisted in the United States Army Air Force (USAAF).

Let’s take a glimpse back in history to see how Edmonds responded during the first year of World War II.


Since 1939, when the conflict in Europe arose, it seemed inevitable that the U.S. would ultimately be drawn into the fray. World War I hadn’t been successful in establishing a basis for long-term peace in Europe, and with Hitler’s blitzkrieg in 1940 — which had swept over France and threatened to cross the English Channel — the U.S. was feeling threatened too.

June Sorensen (Crump) whose grandparents and parents had resided in Edmonds for years, stated: “I recall listening to the radio when Hitler invaded Norway (April 9, 1940). My grandparents and parents were of Norwegian descent and were devastated by the news.”

In the aftermath of the blitzkrieg, President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill struck a deal through the Lend Lease Act whereby the U.S. would provide necessary war supplies to nations that were in the United States’ security interests, while keeping the U.S. officially neutral. But given the urgency of the situation, the U.S. launched a national defense program, and for the first time implemented a peace-time draft for manpower.

On May 1, 1941, the Defense Savings Bond program was begun to help finance the defense program, and bonds were available at the Edmonds Post Office and the State Bank in Edmonds.

In September, Edmonds put plans in place to erect three air-raid observation posts in the area, and a special enlistment campaign was conducted on Navy Day, Oct. 27, 1941.

Sunday morning — Dec. 7, 1941 — was etched on the consciousness of all Americans as they listened to the first alarming reports of the surprise Japanese air attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor. The news spread rapidly, and by the afternoon everyone was gathered around a radio. The next morning, President Roosevelt asked for and received a declaration of war from Congress.

News of the attacks

Map courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum 

The following day, a map of the Japanese coordinated attack across the Pacific Islands of Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam, and the Philippines was published in the Seattle Post Intelligencer and shared across the region.

The Edmonds Tribune-Review’s lead article on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 1941 was titled “America At War”. It read:

Waves of Japanese bombing planes soared over Pearl Harbor and Honolulu in the Hawaiian Islands, Sunday morning, starting at 8:10 a.m. (10:10 P.S.T) and dropped bombs which severely damaged the naval base, ships, planes and the nearby Hickam Air Base.

A few hours after the attack, the Japanese government declared war upon the United States.

Asking Congress for a war declaration, President Roosevelt Monday revealed that the attack on Hawaii had cost the United States, two warships and 3,000 dead and wounded.

The Senate and the House of Representatives declared war on Japan with one dissenting vote… that of Miss Janette Rankin, Republican Congresswoman from Montana and the declaration was signed 4:10 P.M. Monday.

Monday’s news brought reports of Japanese attacks on Guam, Wake Island, and the Philippines.

Monday night blackouts were ordered by military authorities throughout the length of the Pacific Coast, when unidentified planes were reported off California.

Both Canada, Britain declared war against Japan, along with a number of Central and South American countries.

President Roosevelt addressed the nation by radio Tuesday evening pledging to wage war to a successful conclusion. He said the news so far was all bad, but no news would be withheld from the public, good or bad, unless necessary in the interest of defense.

“We are now in the war”, the President said, “We are all in it, all the way.  Every single man, woman and child is a partner in the most tremendous undertaking of our American history.”

Edmonds’ Immediate Reactions

Edmonds’ reactions to war measures were prompt and thorough. Blackouts were immediately put in place, and volunteers were stationed at each of the air raid observations around the clock, in two-hour shifts.

By mid-December, a detailed “Blackout Law” had been passed by the city. As reported by the Edmonds Tribune-Review, during the second week of December:

“In conformity, with regulations in other cities, the ordinance prohibits congregating in groups of more than five people during blackouts, prohibits lights in buildings and on cars, prohibits driving of any but emergency vehicles and these only with prescribed light shields, and prohibits the sale of intoxicating liquor during such blackouts.”

Schools had put in place and tested emergency evacuation plans:  Also reported by the Edmonds Tribune-Review, during the second week of December:

“An evacuation drill was carried out successfully in the Edmonds schools Tuesday morning.  At the Edmonds High School a radio patrol of 16 boys keeps two on duty at the radio at all times taking messages and noting instructions.

In the event of an evacuation of the school buildings is ordered, the office is notified and the order is relayed over the speaker system to every room in the high school and by telephone to the grade schools of the district. Runners carry the message to the shop and the gym. The buses are called and all drivers report to Al Little.

The evacuation drill was carried out successfully and without confusion Tuesday, all students being out of the buildings, with their wraps, inside of three minutes. The buses arrived at the high school from Alderwood and students were loaded and started toward home, all within 14 minutes.

A City Defense Committee was established and functioning strongly by Dec 25, 1941 under the leadership of E. Fred Pickett.  Pickett stressed that volunteers were needed for all types of duty including a vast array of jobs and work tasks. This included around-the-clock observation from the three control towers/sites that been established.

Observation tower in 1942 above what is now Sunset Avenue. (Photo courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)

June Sorensen (Crump), who at the time was 17 years old, recalled: “My brother Bob and I were ‘air craft spotters.’ A shed was built that hung out over the water, at the ferry dock which was equipped with a telephone and binoculars. If we spotted an aircraft we called it in with its distance and height.”

Author’s Note: From the volunteer rolls that still exist, it appears that the job of “air craft spotters” were pretty equally divided between men and women.

Rita Wikland, who was 11 years old in 1941, stated in her oral history that she remembered “the observation tower was being constructed to watch for foreign airplanes, so we were aware that this was going on but really don’t remember being fearful.”

Sally Davis, who lived in University Colony with her parents and two older sisters, remembered: “The attack on Dec. 7, 1941 scared everyone badly and changed our lives forever. Reports of mini-subs entering Puget Sound through the Straits of Juan De Fuca were unsettling to say the least.  My father nailed ‘blackout’ blankets over all of the windows and cursed the Japanese at night. “

Subcommittees under the Civil Defense Committee were formed to perform specific tasks.

  • The Emergency Housing Committee went door to door to survey where additional rooms might be available to house people who had been impacted by an air raid or other emergency. The community was urged to cooperate with the community members to make sure no one would be homeless.
  • A Nursing Committee was formed to train women in first aid. Additionally, committee members were to collect old sheets, pillow cases and towels, which would be made into bandages. Those items were to be dropped off at the beauty shop next to the Princess Theater. The committee was also to collect blankets and cots, which would be used at the Legion Hall.
  • An Air Raid Warning committee was formed to patrol to make sure that blackouts were being strictly followed. They were also to assist in the extinguishing of any incendiary (fire) bombs if an attack were to occur.

An actual demonstration of how to extinguish an incendiary bomb was conducted at the Edmonds playfield.  The announcement in the Edmonds Tribune-Review read as follows:

“With the actual incendiary bombs burning in front of their eyes, people of Edmonds and vicinity will be given the opportunity to see the proper methods of combating these missiles next Wednesday evening.

This demonstration arranged by the Edmonds Defense Committee, will be staged n the high school playfield in front of the grandstand. The school board generously granted use of the site for this occasion.

Fire Chief M.C. Engels, who is in charge of the demonstration, will operate with actual fire bombs which have been purchased by the city for this purpose.

Knowledge of the most effective procedure in combating these bombs is vital to everyone in this area and an urgent invitation is extended to men, women and children, not only of Edmonds but from any locality, to witness the demonstration.  A large seating capacity of the grandstand, it is believed, will be ample for all.”

 The local chapter of the American Red Cross, in conjunction with the Civil Defense Committee, implemented a number of classes for Edmonds residents. They included:

  • First aid – wound suppression
  • Knitting – sweaters, mittens and socks
  • Sewing – construction of surgical gowns, clothing.
  • Bandage rolling
  • Home nursing – for nurses only
  • War relief drive – Raising funds for the defense efforts – $500 was the initial goal

Frances Anderson, legendary Edmonds educator, recounted in her oral histories: “My students and fellow teachers joined me in collecting sphagnum moss, which was given to the Red Cross so that it could be dried out and used for bandages.”

New Job Opportunities

With the outbreak of the war, a number of new jobs opened up on the domestic front as well as in the military. Wilson Deland in his oral history stated: “At the start of the war, I left my job at Safeway in Edmonds and went to work for the shipyards in Seattle. But down on the Edmonds waterfront a firm called Pointer Willamette out of Portland started building barges for the Army, so I went to work for them.”

Evelyn Fox Maxwell in her oral history stated: “My husband enlisted in the Coast Guard and I moved into a garage to live, since we didn’t have a car. I vividly remember the blackouts every day.”

Advertisements for “workers wanted” were plentiful. Locally, lumbermen and mill workers were needed to provide wood to the ship-building, aircraft and support systems.  Metal workers were needed to help in the same industries as well as building tanks, barges, artillery and related items.

Raw Materials Desperately Needed 

It quickly became apparent that the U.S. did not have an ample supply of raw materials to build the necessary vehicles, armaments or other necessities to adequately supply our armed forces. By the middle of spring 1941, Edmonds — like most cities — were in the process of conducting scrap metal, rubber and other essential item “drives.” In Edmonds, different street corners or locations were identified as collection points.

Aluminum collection point in the center of 5th and Main. (Photo courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)
Scrap metal and other items collection area between 4th and 5th Avenues in 1941. (Photo courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)

Rita Wikland in her oral history stated: “Thinking about the war years, I remember being about 10 years old and going around the neighborhood collecting scrap metal and taking it to one of the corner lots, where it was to be picked up.”

Throughout 1941, articles were continuously written reminding citizens what needed to be collected and donated to assist in the country’s defense efforts.

This article in the Edmonds Tribune-Review in March 1941 provides insights into what the Edmonds citizenry was being asked to save.  (Courtesy Sno-Isle Genealogy Society)

Rationing Begins 

By early April, the first rationing began. Sugar was limited to one pound per family per month. Each family had to register for a rationing allotment.

In Eleanor Sill Mulholland’s oral history, she reflected upon the rationing in Edmonds: “In WWII we were rationed quite a bit and we had to have food stamps and all sorts of things. The City Hall at the time was under the library and we went there for ration stamps. Every citizen had to have stamps for sugar, etc.”

Author’s Note: The Edmonds Historical Museum now resides in the building that was originally the Carnegie Library and Edmonds City Hall.

By late spring, gasoline was also rationed. The federal Office of Price Administration (OPA) required stickers on windshields to indicate how much gasoline you were allowed to obtain. The “A” sticker was the most common, and with it you could obtain four gallons per week.  Numerous posters were created to encourage people to ration gasoline to support the war effort.

Poster requesting people to ration gasoline.  (Photo courtesy Library of Congress)

Author’s note: By the end of World War II, the items that had been added to the rationing list included butter, meats, coffee, canned goods, tires and shoes.

War Stamps and Bonds

With the outbreak of the war, the government requested that everyone contributed to the defense fund through the purchase of War Stamps and Bonds.  Edmonds held multiple stamp and bond drives throughout 1942.  Citizens could purchase stamps in 10-, 25- and 50-cent denominations along with $1 and $5 stamps. Stamps were then put in a book until such time as $18.75 worth of stamps had been accumulated.

The stamp books were then taken to the Edmonds State Bank to be converted into $25 war bonds. The bonds had a maturity length of 10 years, which represented a 2.9% interest on the initial $18.75 investment.

10-, 25-, 50-cent war stamps and 25-cent stamp book photos courtesy Library of Congress. Advertisement for War Bonds and Stamps – Edmonds Tribune-Review, Courtesy Sno-Isle Genealogy Society

June Sorensen (Crump) reflected on the stamp and bond drives: “I participated in the War Bond drive in high school and won. I got to christen a barge which was built by Pointer-Willamette which was located on the water front.  My cousin, Nancy Sorensen was runner-up, so we did the christening together.”

In September, a special War Bond show was held at the Princess Theater. Manager Lionel W. Brown sold $14,075 worth of War Bonds that day, according to the Edmonds Tribune-Review.

Confiscation and Evacuation

In January 1942, complying with wartime regulations, Police Chief Doty issued an order requiring all German, Japanese and Italian families in the area to surrender radio transmitters, short-wave receivers and cameras.

At the time of the war declaration, there was only one Japanese family living in Edmonds. The Mafune family consisted of the father Densaku, his wife Kura and their 24-year-old son Mac and two daughters –Ryoko (20) and Teiko (19). The family had been successfully running a floral business and greenhouse in north Edmonds for eight years.

The daughters were extremely well liked and had been very active in Edmonds High School’s activities.  In fact, Teiko had been elected as the first female student body president earlier in 1941.

1939 Photo of Edmonds Junior Class. Ryoko Mafune is pictured in the second row far right. (Photo courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)
Teiko Mafune and  Edmonds High School officers in 1941. (Photo courtesy Edmonds Historical Museum)

Due to wartime regulations, the Mafunes were forced to sell their property and were evacuated to an internment camp in California. That reality caused heartache for a number of the girls’ classmates and teachers as documented in the oral histories of Rita Wikland, June Sorensen (Crump) and Frances Anderson.

Sadly, the patriarch in the family had suffered a stroke earlier in 1941, and had not fully recovered before the family was forced to move. As reported in the June 18, 1942 Edmonds Tribune-Review, Densaku Mafune passed away 50 hours after arriving at the internment camp.

Article courtesy of Sno-Isle Genealogy Society

The mother, Kura Mafune, was relocated to an Idaho internment camp in 1943 and released in April 1944. Daughters Ryoko and Teiko were released from the California internment camp at different times during the summer of 1943. Their older brother, his wife and child were released in May 1944.

Teiko eventually moved back to the Northwest and was co-founder of Melrose Florist in the University District of Seattle.

Victory gardens

Victory gardens were vegetable gardens planted during World War II to ensure an adequate food supply for civilians and the troops.

Early in the spring of 1942, the federal government requested that every citizen plant a “Victory Garden” to ensure that every citizen had adequate food. A National War Garden Commission was formed where citizens could write in and get information on how to best plant and cultivate a home garden.

Photo courtesy Library of Congress

The Edmonds Tribune-Review ran multiple articles on gardening tips and local companies’ advertisements included seeds, garden equipment and canning supplies.

An advertisement in the Edmonds Tribune-Review in spring 1942. (Courtesy Sno-Isle Genealogy Society)

A wide variety of posters promoting Victory Gardens were prominently displayed in stores throughout the country, including Edmonds.

Image courtesy Northwestern University
Image courtesy University of North Carolina – Greensboro

Almost everyone in Edmonds had some form of garden.  There were also numerous orchards and fruit trees in many yards that provided additional food.

June Sorensen (Crump) reflected on victory gardens and food supplies: “Most everyone had a vegetable garden and chicken coop.  My mother canned everything. Also my dad liked to fish and occasionally hunt, so we had fish and deer meat instead of beef.”

Margaret Williamson recounted: “Everyone in our neighborhood had a garden and quite a few fruit trees. We ate pretty well and often had enough to share with others that were less fortunate”.

Sally Davis of University Colony stated in her memoirs: “We had a large victory garden which had corn, rhubarb, carrots, Blue Lake beans, and several rows of peas. We also had raspberries and boysenberries-enough to eat and can for the winter.”

Author’s Note: With the huge success of the Victory Garden program came the need for canning, which prompted a supplemental sugar ration. If you were canning fruits and/or making jams or jellies you were allotted one extra pound of sugar for every four pounds of fruit you had.

Autumn 1942

The second half of 1942 contained many of the same programs that had been implemented in the first half. Blackouts still were enforced, requiring citizens to nail up covers over their windows, have the curtains shut or lights turned off completely in the evening hours.

Numerous gas stations banded together and closed early during the week and some were closed on Sundays in hopes of encouraging people to use less gasoline and rubber on their tires.

The campaigns to turn in scrap metal, rubber and other items intensified as it became clear that the war was going to be waged for an extended period of time. Posters, newspaper articles and notices reminding people that they needed to invest in War Stamps and Bonds was present in numerous locations throughout Edmonds.

A photo clip and one of a series of limericks that appeared in the Edmonds Tribune- Review in the summer and autumn of 1942.  (Courtesy Sno-Isle Genealogy Society)

By the end of 1942, Crow’s Hardware and The Edmonds Bakery became two of the primary meeting places where people congregated every day to discuss the day’s events and news from the war front.

On the military side, restrictions were lifted or softened to allow more recruits to be accepted. Height restrictions and poor dental care, which had been limiting factors in the past, were overlooked or were attended to by military doctors or dentists after enlistment.

By all accounts, Edmonds had in some ways adjusted to the new “norm” but still remained on the alert for any possible attack or catastrophe.  The citizenry throughout the year had been saddened by the reports of several of their young men being killed in various campaigns within the war. Residents who had children or loved ones deployed in the war efforts expressed unrest, not knowing what was occurring during the first year of the war.

This was the situation when Bill Crump and so many other courageous men and women enlisted, and the citizenry of Edmonds and the United States pulled together in a manner never seen before. It’s no wonder that historical accounts often refer to people who lived through this period of U.S history as the “Greatest Generation”.

This article was researched and written by Byron Wilkes. Thanks to the Edmonds Historical Museum for allowing me to access many of their oral histories.  Thanks also to the Sno-Isle Genealogy Society for providing access to the original copies of the 1941 and 1942 Edmonds Tribune-Review. Special thanks g to June Sorensen (Crump), who at a vibrant 98 years young provided  multiple insights into what her generation lived through immediately after the Pearl Harbor bombing and how Edmonds pulled together in a common cause.  A final thank you goes out to my parents and to everyone of the “Greatest Generation” who fought for our way of life and preservation of democracy.



  1. What a great article you have put together. I never knew my mom and uncle were airplane spotters but I can see them both doing that durning the war. Thank you for collecting all the history so we can share with everyone.

    1. David you are more than welcome. Your family was a very valuable part of the community and was emblematic of the “greatest generation”.

    2. Being 85 now, I can recall the victory gardens in our back yard.
      And the scrap drives, us kids would take our wagons and go all over the neighborhood, also collected and saved newspapers, collected some kind of plant for life jackets.
      I know war is a hideous thing, but
      some of those memories are wonderful.

  2. I won a plane ride from Crump. I told him that I wanted it all. Every maneuver he had. Big mistake.
    I was dizzy for weeks.

  3. Byron, again, thank youi for a glimpse into the past of Edmonds. Growing up here, I knew many of the prople who lived here throughtout the war years and heard many of their stories of what you wrote about in your article. It brings back a lot of memories of some of the long time Edmonds residents who were a part of my ltfe.

    1. Thanks Steven. Given that you have lived in Edmonds for a long time, I am curious as to whether you are attending the Old Timers’ picnic in Edmonds City Park, tomorrow morning (Sunday) from 10:30 to 2:00. I plan to be there and would be happy to meet you and gain further insights from you about Edmonds’ history.

  4. I wish to thank Byron Wilkes for writing this interesting story of Edmonds during World War II and to June Sorensen (Crump) for sharing her memories of Edmonds during the war. Having lived here for 50+ years, I have had the honor to have known many of the ‘older generations’ who helped to make Edmonds the lovely community it has been all these many years. Byron, you mentioned Eleanor Milholland. She was the granddaughter of George Brackett, the founder of Edmonds. I always enjoyed listening to her stories of growing up and living in Edmonds. Bless each of the Edmonds residents who helped with the war efforts, and God bless our Veterans who served. The Edmonds War Memorial is at the Edmonds Cemetery.

  5. There’s no doubt that the Greatest Generation included Wild Bill Crump. This writing is beautiful. Like most of us I despise war, but really appreciate the Edmonds history and the lesson of what life was like where we live. Imagine needing to grow your own food to help a war effort, your phone number is 793, or the neighbors down the street who run the local nursery have been sequestered into camps. When good has to fight evil there’s so much collateral damage. Thank you author Byron Wilkes and also all of the image archivists.

  6. This was a wonderful so interesting article; my mother-in-law law and husband are direct decedents of the Yost family. I recognized and knew many of the Edmonds citizens quoted that that were close friends of my mother-in-law. I also want to sincerely thank Edmonds Historical Museum who took the time to set up recordings of these senior citizens, seeing that need to preserve history for us all as these local people were the backbone of the special city of Edmonds as we are today.

  7. What a wonderful summary of Edmonds efforts during the war.
    My father was a Navy pilot during the war and my Grandfather was a Navy Chaplain in the Pacific.
    Both had very little to tell me and or family after the war. I also have often wondered about the local impact of the war on Edmonds.
    These were very uncertain times for our country and so many people in town stepped up and supported the war effort.
    I forwarded this article along to my friends at the High School History Department.
    Very sad for Mafune family and others who had to endure relocation out of state. Teiko Mafune served as the first female ASB president of Edmonds High School while as a student.
    I was able to talk with her in 2001 as she operated a Nursery in Bothell. Great person who asked if there had been a female ASB president since her and I told her that there was. Michele Trieu (family from Viet Nam) was the president.

    Geoff Bennett
    Asst Principal Edmonds Woodway High School (Retired 2018)

    1. Thanks Geoff for the update on Teiko Mafune and for your family’s service in the war. I have heard from many people that most of the veterans of WWII did not talk much about what had occurred or their experiences. That was definitely true of my parents and my neighbors when I was growing up in Portland, Oregon.

      Thanks also for passing the article on to the history department. Hopefully it can be used to help further educate the youth of today, on what occurred in Edmonds almost 80 years ago.

  8. My Mom, Fern Astell Schoppert, was an airplane spotter in Edmonds. My Dad, Keith Schoppert, knew the Mafune family. When I married in the U District in 1971, my dad made sure Teiko at Melrose Florist did the flowers for my wedding. I did not know her story. My Dad did and treated her with the upmost kindness and respect. I remember her to this day. What a tragic part of our history. I think my other aunts were also airplane spotters. My Mom also worked the switchboard at the Edmonds Tel. Co. during the war. I think my Dad spent time at Crow Hardware every Saturday, I did not realize it was a meeting place. Sometimes I got to go with him. It is fun to see how many pieces fit together. Thank you for writing this article.

  9. Hello Sally. Haven’t had contact with you since your brother and my friend Tom passed. I feel so lucky to know so many of you REAL old timer families from Edmonds. Schopperts, Yosts, Sellers, Holtes, McGinnises, etc. that go clear back to the founders in many cases. Nice people who made a new kid from the mid-west feel most welcome. It’s you people and the people in this article that made this the great town that it still is; in spite of way too much effort to remold it; and way too much hype to sell it, from some of the relative newcomers – often out to make big names for themselves. They stole our Edmonds High School name and Tiger’s tradition, but they will never steal our old time Edmonds spirit.

  10. Hello Sister Sally, Cousin Christine, and Friend Clint, and All! What a fabulous article! So well-written and informative. It was good to read our cousin, Rita Wikland’s, comments. When I was a little girl in Edmonds, everyone I knew, parents and neighbors, all had gardens. I just thought that people liked fresh food and enjoyed canning as I do today. Now I have a better understanding. I knew that people saved everything but did not really understand why. Now I do. I heard of WWII, but no one really wanted to talk about it. I learned about Japanese internment camps when I was a student at The Evergreen State College in 1997 – in my late 40s. When I asked my mother, Fern Astell Schoppert, about it she just said, “Well, there was a Japanese family up on the hill…..” I know now why she stopped talking. Like my sister, I often went with Dad, Keith Schoppert, to Crow Hardware and The Edmonds Bakery on Saturday mornings. I had no idea these places were meeting places. I just thought that Dad needed some hardware and/or some sweets! Thank you, Mr. Wilkes

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