History columnist Jim Clifford recently told the story about a real treasure which had recently become a part of the collection in the Local History Room at the Redwood City Library. It’s a six-page account written by a Navy salvage diver who was among those assigned to search the wreckage of ships sunk at Pearl Harbor. Mike and Julie Markwith had found it among his mother’s possessions after she passed away, and donated it to the archives. Nobody knew who the diver was but that mystery apparently has been solved. Most of the name at the top of the first page was gone but what appeared to be “A.J. Katz something” followed by his electrician’s mate rating was the only clue.
Thanks to Facebook, the rare diary came to the attention of Eric Kilgore with the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. Using Navy muster rolls and the name of another electrician’s mate who “Katz” had written about, Kilgore was able to figure out that it was a Las Cruces, New Mexico, man named Alfred J. Katzenstein who wrote the diary. Voilà: Past and present connected.