Recalling The Attack on Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941

In conjunction with this year’s 75th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we would like to share with you portions of an article that was written by a gentleman who interviewed Rose Fernandez in 1998 regarding the events of December 7, 1941.

“We had a circus set up at Schofield Army Barracks,” Rose recalls. “E. K. was actively involved in entertaining the American troops then on the island, including the Navy people from Pearl Harbor. The show had two large tents up on the Army base. On Saturday night, December 6, the Army called an alert. “

Shortly after 7 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the United States, the Hawaiian Islands, E. K. and Rose, and the rest of the world were changed forever. As Japanese fighter planes darkened the skies over the placid islands, some directed bombs at the huge U. S. Navy contingent at Pearl Harbor. Others, in a well-planned and calculated attack, flew over Schofield Barracks. Rose remembers that fateful morning.

“We were all a little nervous Saturday night when the Army called the alert. It was just after 7 a.m. Sunday morning that we got the call that Pearl Harbor was being bombed. E. K. got hold of a couple of the men who worked on the show, and together, they went out to Schofield and physically led the animals out of the tents while the Japanese were strafing the tents with bullets. We found out later that the Japanese pilots, from their vantage points, thought those big tents must be hiding military equipment. E. K. and the crew saved every animal we had in the circus.”

E. K.’s tents were badly damaged in the attack; nevertheless, he lived up to his reputation as a premier showman.

As it did for many industries, World War II changed the way business was conducted by E. K. Fernandez. Some acts then with the circus were of German descent. They were immediately arrested. The show was using several Japanese-American acts at the time as well. They fared better than their Mainland counterparts by adopting Chinese names whenever they performed.

The talent and boundless energy of E. K. was put to a crucial test during the war years as he struggled to keep both the circus and carnival open, determined that E. K. Fernandez Shows would not become yet another hapless victim of war.

Stiff restrictions were imposed upon the islands by the United States military. Theaters were ordered closed. Radio broadcasts were carefully monitored. Supplies of every kind were under strict ration.

Hawaiians and the vast American military contingent stationed on the islands suddenly found little to do to occupy their leisure moments. After meeting with War Department officials, E. K. was appointed chairman and director of the Civilian Defense Recreation Committee.

E. K. Fernandez Shows opened the circus and carnival at A’ala Park and entertained more than 7,000 people a day for six months, raising over $100,000 for the Army Emergency Relief Association. The price of admission to the show was the purchase of a War Bond.

E. K. never profited from the show during the war years….others profited because of him in the moments of fun and laughter he gave them.

As the war raged on in the Pacific, E. K. continued entertaining. His work was vital to the war effort and thus, he was allowed to continue booking acts from the Mainland through the USO. It was entertainment that people never tired of and their gratitude was unmistakable.

Years later, E. K. explained his war-time effort to Rose. The war, he said, made him feel a certain responsibility to his employees, his friends…the people of the islands and the servicemen enroute to the Pacific Theatre. By war’s end, E. K. had become nearly a household name in homes throughout America. Parents, wives, girlfriends and families of the servicemen learned of E. K. Fernandez through the letters the boys sent home…soldiers and sailors enroute to war, stopping off in the islands, attending the circus and carnival in free time….for many, the very last circus and carnival they would ever enjoy. Literally hundreds of thousands of servicemen left Hawaii happier because they’d been entertained by an E. K. Fernandez show.

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