Story by Denny Han/Viking
History is ultimately the study of trends in cause and effect. For Craig Hendricks, a Long Beach native and former LBCC history professor, this meant looking at how Long Beach came to be from a small agricultural resort town to an industrialized global economic center in the span of a only few decades as a result of World War II.
Hendrick’s presentation, “World War II in Long Beach”, was given on March 24 to a small crowd of dozens in the LBCC Bistro.
Hendricks spoke of mass production centers for aircrafts and tools of war throughout Southern California, how the Long Beach Unified School District expanded its functions into a massive daycare for the women who worked in such factories, and how the returning G.I.’s gave way to suburban homes and a boon in LBCC’s services.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without World War II — it’s as essential as the Civil War was to the 19th century,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks recalled starting the project after being invited to give a presentation on the history of Long Beach to a group of elementary school students. “But there wasn’t a Long Beach history book,” Hendricks said. Over time, Hendrick’s interest in Long Beach’s history grew, describing Long Beach as a “microcosm of US history” as a result of cause and effect factors.
LBCC history professor Lisa Orr later said in an interview, “I was on the group who went with Craig to that elementary school. What stood out to me about his lecture was how many layers of research he’s since been add.”
Other highlights included the fact that 4 out of 15 Medal of Honor recipients during Pearl Harbor were from
Long Beach and incidents of “wartime jitters” throughout Long Beach and Southern California. Notable incidents of “wartime jitters” and paranoia include the treatment of Japanese of Americans who were forced into internment camps, an anti-aircraft civil defense program that ironically resulted in the deaths of American civilians and Long Beach police who were ordered to shoot out lights at nighttime.
Looking at Hendrick’s lecture from the lens of a historian, LBCC history professor Sean Dinces said, “What interested me about that era was how much the government was willing to spend money.” Dinces was referring to Roosevelt’s New Deal plan and subsequent war production. “It’s not something you would see today.”
The lecture was organized by the LBCC Library and Learning Resources Associates to help raise money for the LBCC Foundation. Library associate Laura Rantala says that the LLRA committee had approached Hendricks for the lecture.