Five days after Pearl Harbor, Mill Valley had its first blackout. The fourth one came on January 26, 1942 at 6:53 PM – the army had announced the presence of unidentified aircraft 80 miles off the coast. The all clear was sounded at 7:40 PM. Blackout violators were fined $25.
A few days later, Homestead’s air raid siren was installed on top of Homestead School. Air raid warden John Cooper stated that private donations paid for the $250 siren. The Homestead and Alto sirens were connected to the Mill Valley system which included nearly sabotage-proof methods of control from the firehouse and two other undisclosed points.
In March, Louis Wassermann presided over a community meeting at Homestead School where John Cooper and Judd Vandevere presented plans for a sector post for fire wardens, air raid wardens and first aid workers. Ove Johnson’s offer of his cottage at LaVerne and Melrose was accepted. Volunteers had already painted it, inside and out. Expenses for gas and electricity would be met by Marin County civilian defense. Johnson would pay the water bill. Mrs. T. Duncan donated a circulating gas heater. Additional donations of furnishings were requested. A volunteer would sleep at the sector post to answer the telephone. Volunteers were requested to sign up with Cooper at Homestead Grocery.
The sector post was opened on April 15 with J. B. Robertson on duty. Volunteers arrived at 7:30 PM and could leave any time in the morning, by reporting their time of leaving in advance to Chief Air Raid Warden Dick Finn. At all other times during the 24 hours, John Cooper was responsible for warning residents.
On Sunday, April 17, Mill Valley’s 36 Japanese residents (8 families) left on the 6:15 AM bus for Santa Rosa. Harry Okubara and his family had lived in Homestead Valley since 1909. They and other Japanese from Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties went by train to the Merced assembly center. Two women leased the Okubara poultry ranch on Montford for the duration.
In May, Marin was allocated 47,124 gas masks. In June, 100 members of the Homestead civilian defense group tried them out – groups of 8 entered a room filled with tear gas.
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pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.