On Dec. 7, 1941, the parents of Paul Clement Bartlett went to the movies in Alvin, Texas. Short films called newsreels often preceded the main movie, and on that day one called “Hawaii on a Party” featured four sailors on a sight-seeing trip around the island.
“There, in front of me, was my boy Paul so tall and straight, with the wind blowing his hair,” his mother said later.
Mr. Bartlett’s parents did not know until they left the theater that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor that Sunday morning. It would be two more weeks before they were officially notified that Paul, a machinist’s mate and petty officer first class on the U.S.S. Arizona, was dead.
Meanwhile, Lucille Duncan Bartlett returned to the theater on Dec. 8. “I wanted to see my boy again,” she told a reporter. “I thought it might be the last time I could see him.”
She described the newsreel as “a gift straight from Heaven. I’ll always be grateful.”
Her son was born April 18, 1918, in Sharp, Texas. His father, Jesse James Bartlett, was a farmer, and his mother a homemaker. He graduated from high school in Sharp and enlisted in the Navy on Sept. 10, 1937.
A stained glass window at the Sharp Presbyterian Church was dedicated in his memory.
Sources: The Rockdale (Texas) Reporter and Messenger; Texas birth certificate; Milam County (Texas) Historical Commission; Navy muster roll; grave marker; Census. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.