Growing up, I remember hearing Mother tell stories about an artillery shell exploding on Long Beach Boulevard as a result of a supposed air raid during World War II. While doing genealogical research in a local newspaper, I found a published report of the incident.
According to the Long Beach Argus, the anti-aircraft batteries were firing during a blackout, and a shell exploded in the intersection of Long Beach Boulevard and Market Street on February 25, 1942. Damage was done to the surrounding buildings, and pieces of the casing were found two blocks away. I was elated to have found confirmation of Mother’s story. But I was absolutely amazed when Jane Kappel Snyder, a longtime resident, told me the following story during a conversation in September 2003:
Jane married her husband in 1939 at Shady Acres Miniature Golf Course. He was the manager, and they lived in an upstairs apartment on the property. They were home during the “air raid” when the shell exploded at Market Street. Jane said she crawled under the bed with her dog while her husband was out on the roof deck watching the action. They picked up pieces of flack from the golf course for several days thereafter.
The Coastal Artillery was located across the street from them, toward the riverbed, and Jane related that on one evening during the war, while getting ready to cross the bridge on her bicycle (which had an old style, domed lid lunchbox in the basket), she hit a bump. The lunchbox fell out and rolled down the bank. She went down the bank to retrieve it, and on her way back up was told to “Halt!” by a young, shaking soldier who thought she might have gone down the bank to plant a bomb.
Story by Linda Ivers
Artwork by Douglas Alvarez
Published in Book by Authors: North Long Beach Anthology, 2009