At 1:05 p.m. the fire siren shrieked in San Luis Obispo calling all 40th Division soldiers back to Camp San Luis Obispo. The early morning attack over Pearl Harbor Hawaii plunged the West Coast into a frenzy of activity.
A second attack was also reported at Manila.
The then Telegram-Tribune published a Sunday Extra, likely the first Sunday edition in decades. When the papers were rivals, the Morning Tribune published on Sunday but since it combined with the evening Telegram it was a normally a day of rest.
The press was cranked up with bold type across the front page.
Though the United States had not yet declared war many expected the decision to come shortly. Even isolationist senator B.K. Wheeler said from Billings, Montana, “That means War, and we’ll have to see it through.”
In the county 50 air observation posts were to be manned on a 24-hour basis.
Japan Opens War On U.S.
Officers Guard Tank Farm
Oil Storage Centers Protected
Sheriff’s deputies and Union Oil company guards this morning had established a watch at the oil company’s tank farm at south San Luis Obispo city limits and steps had been taken to protect the county’s other valuable oil storage centers from possible sabotage.
Roads leading to the tank farm have been closed to traffic and deputies have been placed on guard, according to Murray C. Hathway, sheriff.
Meantime, he said oil companies had established their own guards at Avila and Estero Bay where within the past three months Japanese tankers have been loading oil.
It was pointed out that the county’s oil supply lines and reserves could possibly be the object of action by saboteurs in view of Japan’s knowledge of their location, size and value.
It was revealed, also that the local sheriff’s office, district attorney’s office and representatives of oil companies with facilities in San Luis Obispo county had met to plan such a protective move in the event of trouble with Japan as in the present case.
Hathway said that representatives of the oil companies and he are to meet Monday to map a definite program of protection to replace today’s temporary arrangement.
The stories were short on detail and numbers, fires were still burning and ships sinking as the paper was being printed. Between confusion, speculation and censorship much reporting and sorting of information still needed to be done to tell the whole story. On the front page, one story said “The population was caught entirely unawares.” Another story claimed that the Hawaiian Department had been on alert for a week.
Admiral C.C. Block, Commander of the Hawaiian naval district, “expresses the belief there has been heavy damage done in Hawaii and that there had been heavy loss of life.”