Later on Dec. 7, 1941: The news about Pearl Harbor reached the town first by radio. Then it was by word of mouth. Maurice Stamps’ football game was interrupted. Bob Seddon heard it on the radio and ran to tell his father who was having afternoon coffee with his friends at Mystic’s local gas station. Betty Morris (Bear) heard it from Matt Blazina, her grandfather when she reached Rathbun after the high school ecumenical meeting. Reese Hudson and his wife Norma heard it half-way on their walk to Brazil when Jesse Lowe came running out of his house and shouted to Reese, who’d been drafted and inducted three months earlier, that he’d better get in contact with his army unit. And within minutes of the news reaching Moulton’s Main Street, all activity on a traveling roller-skating rink stopped and one of the skaters, 11-year Phyllis Morrow (Cosby), ran home to tell her parents, whose initial disbelief evaporated when they turned on their radio.
At midnight there was a special phone call from the FBI to W.O.Frame, superintendent of the Burlington Railroad in Centerville. The same call went to all transportation lines in the county. No transportation was to be given to any Japanese person. The call was followed by a wire from the Secretary of Air Commerce to Sheriff Jack Bailey and Chief of Police Ray Brunson. All locally owned aircraft were to be grounded. Police officers were to guard Centerville’s landing fields and keep them under 24-hour surveillance. Patrolman Richard Davis was immediately assigned to night duty at the airport. Officer Carl Ware replaced him for day duty. Both men were to be in constant contact with officials at City Hall. If a period of more than an hour passed without such contact, an investigation patrol was to be sent out. The Hercules plant that was manufacturing secret material for the U.S. Defense Department, announced it was closed to all visitors. The Iowa Southern Utilities plant on the northeast corner of the Square said the same. The doors to the plant, previously open to anyone, were closed, sealed by steel-wire gates open only to plant officials.