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Leonard Beck

Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan

June 11, 2008

Call number: 2010.003.004

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MRS. BECK: Hello.

SADY SULLIVAN: Hi. This is Sady Sullivan from The Brooklyn Historical Society, could I speak with Leonard Beck, please?

MRS. BECK: Yeah. One moment please.


[Interview interrupted.]

SADY SULLIVAN: Are you hearing OK? There's a volume here if you need --

[Interview interrupted.]



SADY SULLIVAN: Hi Mr. Beck. This is Sady from the Brooklyn Navy Yard's ---


SADY SULLIVAN: -- Oral History project. Is this still a good time to talk?

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. It's fine.

SADY SULLIVAN: Great. Um, so I'm recording this conversation for the archives. Do I have your permission to record?

LEONARD BECK: Yes. Certainly.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. Great. Um, so just to s -- for the archival purposes, I'm going to officially begin the, um, the interview by saying that today is June 11th, 2008, and -- and I am on the phone with Leonard Beck. Can you spell your name for me?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, the first name, last name?

SADY SULLIVAN: Uh, both -- the whole thing.


SADY SULLIVAN: Great. And your date of birth.

LEONARD BECK: [date redacted for privacy] '28.

SADY SULLIVAN: Great. Um, and, if you would introduce yourself to the recording however -- however, you would like.

LEONARD BECK: Well, I can just say that, um, my dad worked for the Navy Yard, 2:00um, uh -- from what I understand, the story, I will tell you in this recording.

SADY SULLIVAN: Great. Um, so let's get a little bit of background about your -- your dad first. Um, where -- where and when was he born, and what's his name?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, he was born in, uh, Wood Haven. His name was Julius -- J-U-L-I-U-S, Julius Beck. He was born in Wood Haven in 1894.


LEONARD BECK: Uh, what else would you like to know? [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, and, where --

LEONARD BECK: [inaudible]

SADY SULLIVAN: -- where were you born?

LEONARD BECK: I was born in, um, in Brooklyn. Uh, Wyona Street I believe it was, in East New York.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And so how did you dad, um, get from Wood Haven to the place where you were born?

LEONARD BECK: How'd he get there?



LEONARD BECK: Well, they got married. Uh, my dad worked for Brooks Brothers Clothiers. Uh, it was pretty bad times at that time -- 19, uh, '28, to 19 -- you know, it was '32 to the Great Crash.


LEONARD BECK: He went into luncheonette business, and went back to Brooks Brothers, uh, eventually, uh, as a designer/cutter for men's clothing.


LEONARD BECK: And when the Second World War broke out, from what I understand, he was forty-seven, or there abouts -- too old to be drafted -- and he was working for Brooks Brothers, and I think he got some, eh, call somehow -- someone he knew from the Brooklyn Navy Yard -- they needed a cutter/designer. They were making Eisenhower jackets at the time, and that's how we got to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, could you hold on one second, just, uh, we have --

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. Go ahead.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- some --

LEONARD BECK: Go ahead. Take your time. I --I'm just taking it easy today.


SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. Good. I just wanted to make sure that we have, uh, uh, a good recording, so I have to work on the sound for one second.


[Interview interrupted.]

SADY SULLIVAN: All right, Mr. Beck. Sorry about that. We have

LEONARD BECK: That's -- that's all right.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- We have a bit of a noisy office sometimes. [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: [laughter] Okay.

SADY SULLIVAN: Ringers, and buzzers, and elevator bells.

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. Let -- let me ask you, what's going to happen with this here? I mean, what is -- what is the idea of this? Going into a publication of any kind, or -- ?


SADY SULLIVAN: Well, the, um, the Brooklyn Navy Yards, um, are the -- the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation --


SADY SULLIVAN: -- is creating, um, a historical center that's going to be open to the public --


SADY SULLIVAN: --in the Navy Yards, and --

LEONARD BECK: I see. All right. All right.



SADY SULLIVAN: And so, these interviews are all going to be part of the archive that I think will be accessible, but just to researchers. It's also going into our archive, which will be accessible to teachers, and students, and researchers. Um, but the historical center, I think that the plan is to use some of these interviews -- clips from these interviews in -- in an exhibit kind of situation at the historical center.

LEONARD BECK: Where the public that we could go visit and see, or -- ?

SADY SULLIVAN: Exactly. Yup.

LEONARD BECK: I see. Okay. All right.

SADY SULLIVAN: And, um, we would definitely, you know -- We'll definitely keep you in the loop as that happens. I mean, it's -- The historical center is a couple years down the road.

LEONARD BECK: Well, [inaudible]. You -- Let me -- If I'm still around, you'll let me know about it, right?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, of course.


LEONARD BECK: [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]


SADY SULLIVAN: Of course. Um, all right. So, let's -- let's back up a bit. So, your dad was working at Brooks Brothers.


SADY SULLIVAN: Um, how had he -- how had he, um, become -- would he -- was that -- was his job title -- was he a tailor, is that -- ?

LEONARD BECK: Well, he was the designer cutter.


LEONARD BECK: Basically cutter, and you know, m -- uh, designer cutter from what I understand.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And do you know how he got to, um, be working at Brooks Brothers, because I -- I mean, they're -- they're very well-known. That must have been --

LEONARD BECK: Well, it's a --

SADY SULLIVAN: -- a good job.

LEONARD BECK: -- it's a lot of -- [laughter] He and his brother were in business -- this goes back I don't know when. I mean, nine -- before I was born, before he was married --


LEONARD BECK: They were in business, and his brother was a Dapper Dan shall we say. You know. My dad did, uh, a lot of hours, and he used to --- the brother walked in once in a while -- this, that, and the other -- well, to make a long story short, my dad left early one day, and the brother closed the store, and, 7:00uh, come -- my father comes the next day. The store's cleaned out. He forgot to lock the store. The whole business was cleaned out, and, uh, the story goes that from there, through connections, friends that he knew through the industry -- he was in the field for many years, and Brooks Brothers approached him, and if he want, you know, to work for them, and that's how he got to Brooks Brothers.


LEONARD BECK: Of course, he could have been his Brooks Brothers on his own. You know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. Um, where was his -- his shop that he had on his own with his brother?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, gee, I'm not really sure, but I think it was somewhere, uh, Sutter Avenue near the Sutter T -- I'm really not positive. It was somewhere, uh, Sutter Avenue.

SADY SULLIVAN: Is that in Brooklyn?

LEONARD BECK: In Brooklyn, right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

LEONARD BECK: It was near the Lowey's -- I forgot the name of them. It's been a long -- I was fourteen -- fifteen at the time --


LEONARD BECK: So, I really don't remember all the details.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, and Brooks Brothers, is that based -- was that based 8:00in Manhattan?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, Brooks Brothers was in Manhattan, right. They had, one, I think -- one or two stores at the time.


LEONARD BECK: They were just getting started.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, wow. Um, and so tell me again how he -- so he was working at Brooks Brothers --


SADY SULLIVAN: -- um, and then the War broke out.

LEONARD BECK: The War broke out, and from what I, uh, I believe -- he was too old to be drafted into the service. He had two children, you know. I think he was forty-seven at the time, and somewhere in 1942, the end of '42 I believe, he was making -- with Brooks Brothers, he was making X amount of dollars, and the Navy Yard offered him a good deal -- five days a week, instead of six. You know, a whole deal. And I think his salary was ninety-three dollars a week, where most people were making twenty dollars or thirty dollars a week --


LEONARD BECK: -- at the time. And, uh, he went into the Navy Yard, and, uh, the 9:00clothing -- the clothing -- th -- they were making Eisenhower jackets is what I remember, and, uh, he, and the foreman, and the, uh, designer/cutter -- there were three men involved in the department. They had about fifteen or twenty others works, and, uh --I mean, I don't know if I'm getting ahead of myself. Uh, they got a call, or -- I don't remember. They got wind that President Roosevelt was going to visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They kept things secret at that time. The -- You know, his whereabouts, and travel really weren't published. They didn't want people to know ahead of time where he might be going. And, uh, I think they asked the Navy Yard, or the Navy Yard, asked them if they would approve of them making some -- giving him a gift. As the story is I remember it, and they decided -- they closed down part of the, uh, factory where the 10:00Eisenhower jackets were made, and my father is, uh, ah, Beck. Uh, I -- Devita [phonetic] is --I don't even know whether the first name was the designer, or cutter, and my father, and the head of the -- the foreman, I think, was Williams. And they made two winter capes for President Roosevelt knowing that he was coming, and we got wind of it as the family that he was going to go visit Ebbets, uh, Ebbets Field at the time. What -- I think it was September. I'm not really sure that he went -- was going to get the jacket ready with, you know, in a short period of time to give it to him as a gift. And the way it turned out, being that we knew about this here, as a high school student, I went to Ebbets Field knowing that he was going to be there, you know, without other people knowing basically. And, uh, I think it was the Knot Hole Gang -- fifty cents it 11:00costs us to get in, and fifty cents was a lot of money. People were making fifteen and twenty dollars a week.


LEONARD BECK: So, you know, put -- to put it in perspective [laughter] fifty cents was a lot of money.


LEONARD BECK: And, uh, we went to Ebbets Field, and my dad had made the jacket with this --these other two people, and in the course of making the jacket, inside the jacket, on the left side I believe over the heart, they wrote their three names on a tag, and sewed it into the jackets.


LEONARD BECK: There were two gifts that -- two jackets that they gave him, and he wore this jacket at Ebbets Field, but I was there to see it, and you know, it was a heck of a, it was, uh -- how do you put this in perspective? Joe DiMaggio, Joe Louis, and FDR were the three icons in my life --


LEONARD BECK: -- those were the three people that I looked up to, and when I saw 12:00this man, you know, it was j -- it was just unbelievable -- the -- the thrill. I still feel the chills to meet him. I mean, I didn't meet him to say hello to him, but just being close enough, we were by -- by the lower deck, and his car came out. I believe it was after the game -- I'm almost sure -- sometime -- I'm not sure just when. I think it was September, toward of the '43, or '44 season. And he only lived a year or so after that -- April 12th, I remember the date that he passed away.


LEONARD BECK: 1945. Yeah. Roosevelt. Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, tell me, uh -- Tell me again, um, of -- about that experience, about seeing Roosevelt wearing this jacket that your father made, um, and terms of the visuals -- what did the jacket look like? What did the crowd look like?

LEONARD BECK: Well, it was a black cape, actually. It wasn't a jacket. It was a cape that he wore over his, uh, suit. It was a black -- black winter cape. Uh, 13:00that's about all the -- I mean, I remember, uh [laughter] That -- That was a cape. There were no buttons on it. I think there may have been a button or two to close the cape, but it was basically a cape -- no sleeves --that went over the, you know -- w -- went over his suit.


LEONARD BECK: And I was assured, it was like a nice -- it was basically like an Eisenhower jacket, but cut, you know -- a special design for him.

SADY SULLIVAN: I actually have a question about that. I don't know what an Eisenhower jacket is.

LEONARD BECK: Oh, let's see now. How do I describe -- And Eisenhower jacket in those days was a very short do -- you don't remember Eisenhower I don't im -- You'd never saw pictures of him?

SADY SULLIVAN: Uh, I have, but I can't --I --

LEONARD BECK: [inaudible]

SADY SULLIVAN: -- just can't picture his clothes.

LEONARD BECK: Well, his uniform at the time was a very short cut jacket, uh, that went like belt-high, and it closed very tightly. It was a very tight-fitting jacket --


LEONARD BECK: -- and it was very popular at the time. They called it the Eisenhower jacket.


LEONARD BECK: And most troops got it, and then eventually the public got to buy them.


SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. So, if it was -- if it was a very fitted, and then your -- your dad must have been doing -- was -- did everybody have their jackets tailored? They weren't just sort of made in standard sizes?

LEONARD BECK: Oh, they were made in standard size -- forty, forty-two, thirty-eight, you know, for the -- for the troops. I mean they're made, uh, like they would make shirts, and pants, you know


LEONARD BECK: -- just regular sizes. Of course, in those days, there weren't too many fat soldiers. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: People were pretty --- pretty, uh -- what should I say? They were pretty physically -- well, you know -- able, especially after the war broke out. Everybody went -- went to get physically trim, whether it was purposeful, or because they couldn't afford to eat. I don't know what it was. But, uh, the public was pretty well -- pretty healthy at the time.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, and so did your father, would he make clothes for you, and your siblings?

LEONARD BECK: Well, let's put it this way. He, uh -- he made -- I -- he was 15:00going to make me a suit. He works for -- worked for -- well, he was still connected with Brooks Brothers, you know, uh -- friendly and things like that, and he went in, uh, part-time there to, you know -- to make extra money, and uh, I wanted him to make me a suit. At the time, there was this, uh --Crawford's [phonetic]. I don't know if you ever heard the, uh, company, or the suit maker -- uh, like a, uh -- Oh, I would say, uh, K-Mart or something. You know, it's -- it's a cheaper place.


LEONARD BECK: And, uh, he passes by the window, and sees this suit in the window. That's the exact suit that Brooks Brothers has. Brooks Brothers sold them bulk material that was damaged, uh, and he sees this suit in the window, and it's the same suit they're making at that time for 300 dollars, I think. It was twenty -- twenty-five dollars at Crawford's [phonetic], and he buys the 16:00suit, puts hand stitching on it so it should look like a Brooks Brother's suit, and that's how he made me a suit.


LEONARD BECK: [laughter] All right. So he -- he didn't really, you know -- in those days, uh, you didn't have, uh, you know, he -- he didn't make for himself, or the -- or people that he knew. It -- it just wasn't a popular thing to do then.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And where did he learn his craft?

LEONARD BECK: Where did he learn his craft. That's a good question. I know he -- my mother was a law stenographer, so she graduated college.


LEONARD BECK: Uh, I don't think my dad went to college. I think he went to a trade school. He graduated high school, and he went to some sort of trade school -- some tailoring school, but I'm really not too -- too familiar with that. That goes back, uh, to the early 1900s.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And what's, uh -- what is, um, his ethnic background? What's your ethnic background?

LEONARD BECK: Meaning what?


SADY SULLIVAN: Uh, where did -- where -- whoever --


SADY SULLIVAN: -- came to the states, where did they come from?

LEONARD BECK: [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: That goes back. My grandfather -- let's see. My father, Abraham, was born in the f -- on the farm that my father was born on. My great-grandfather was born here also on his side, and before that, I believe that they came from Russia. I'm not positive, but I believe so. My mother was also born in Brooklyn, and her mother, and father, uh -- I know one of them was born in the United States. The other one I think was born in Austria. I'm not positive.


LEONARD BECK: So, we go back quite a while.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. What neighborhood in Brooklyn was your mom from?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, wh -- honey, where was Hinsdale Street? Do you remember? Hun! Honey! It's a big apartment. Hold on a minute. Honey!


MRS. BECK: What?

LEONARD BECK: Where -- where was Hinsdale Street -- where my mother was born? What section is that?

MRS. BECK: East New York.

LEONARD BECK: Oh, it's the same where I was born?

MRS. BECK: [inaudible]

LEONARD BECK: East New York. Same -- same area. In other words, we didn't move. Families basically stuck together. In --


LEONARD BECK: -- in other words, you were three, four blocks away from each other, and that was the -- everybody stayed together.

SADY SULLIVAN: That's nice.

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. Well, that's the -- today, you -- I got kids. Uh, I have kids in Michigan, uh, Virginia Beach, uh, North Carolina. We went around quite a bit.


LEONARD BECK: So, they're all over the country.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Were your kids raised in Brooklyn?



LEONARD BECK: Yeah. Yeah. I have one, uh -- two optometrists. I'm in the optical field, and my children used to come in to help out, uh -- contact lenses, thing like that, and they became optometrists.


LEONARD BECK: And my daughter, uh -- she went to do it, and she wasn't doing good. I says, "What's the matter Allison?" She says, "I don't want to be a 19:00doctor." So, I said, "So why don't you tell me?" "I thought you'd be, you know -- get mad at me for not wanting to be." I says, "What? Are you kidding?" She became a, uh -- an accountant, and she married someone in the financial business, and they're doing fantastically well.



SADY SULLIVAN: And do you have grandkids?

LEONARD BECK: We have seven.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: So, let's see, the oldest one -- In fact, we're going to her graduation Friday -- my grand, uh -- one my granddaughters is graduating high school. Another one is in, uh -- I think he's in Stanford. I'm not sure. Some college.


LEONARD BECK: And the rest, you know, there's -- the youngest one, I think, is three years old, and the oldest is about twenty.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, and what do -- you said you were in an optical field. What do --Are you retired now?


SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And what did you do for work?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, I made glasses, uh, fitted frames, uh, contact lenses. I was an optician --


LEONARD BECK: -- licensed in New York.




SADY SULLIVAN: And where was -- where did you work?

LEONARD BECK: Oh, gee. I started out many, many years ago. Pillby's [phonetic]. I had my own business -- 3 East 14th Street in New York. That's on 5th Avenue and 14th Street. And, uh, let's see, uh -- I finished off with one of these, uh -- they call them schlock houses, you know -- like cones, and, uh, GVS -- General Vision Services was the last place I worked for, and then I retired.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, so when you -- when your dad was working in the Navy Yards, you were in high school?

LEONARD BECK: I was four -- Well, in the high school? Yeah. I was fifteen, six foot, one.


LEONARD BECK: And, um, all my friends, I got a story about that also. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, tell me!

LEONARD BECK: All of [laughter] All of my friends were, you know -- I was -- I pitched for Lafayette High School. I was baseball. And all my friends were much 21:00older, and most of them were drafted. Some didn't come back, and you know. My friends, there, we went to downtown Alb -- Uh, downtown Brooklyn. One is in uniform, and the other -- you know. They're eighteen years old, and here I am fifteen, sixteen, and the MPs come around, and ID. They want ID. I said, "What are you?" You know. He says, "Well, you need I-" I says, "I'm only fifteen." They didn't believe me.


LEONARD BECK: They put me into one of these pl -- not on the brig actually, but in the station house. My parents had to come down --


LEONARD BECK: -- to get me home -- you know, to get me out, to prove that I was only fourteen.

SADY SULLIVAN: I didn't realize --


SADY SULLIVAN: -- that they were doing that.

LEONARD BECK: Oh, what are you --

SADY SULLIVAN: So -- so if they -- So they wanted you to be --

LEONARD BECK: Oh, you needed --

SADY SULLIVAN: -- enlisting.

LEONARD BECK: -- you needed a draft card, otherwise you're -- you're AWOL, or you're -- you're -- you're dodging the draft.


LEONARD BECK: So, from that -- to this day, I still have my birth certificate in my wallet.


LEONARD BECK: I -- I still carry it. I mean, it's -- I don't need it of course, but it's just something that stuck with me, and about three weeks later, I 22:00joined the Navy at fifteen years old.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh! I didn't think you could! How could they --

LEONARD BECK: [inaudible]

SADY SULLIVAN: -- take you at fifteen?

LEONARD BECK: Well, I told them I was eighteen. What -- If they -- If they're going to arrest me for being eighteen, nineteen, so I figured, let me go into the service.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: So, my parents got wind of it, and they stopped it, you know. They stopped it.


LEONARD BECK: I -- I -- I didn't get to go. I was finally drafted in, uh, 1952 into the Marine Corps. So, I was a Marine for two years.

SADY SULLIVAN: Was that during Korea?

LEONARD BECK: Korea. Yeah.


LEONARD BECK: I just missed the -- In fact, I was drafted for the, uh, Second World War. I was eighteen in December, and the War ended, uh, in August. I would be eighteen, you know, then, and they got a little draft notice, and then we get -- after the War ended, I get notice to disregard all Selective Service, so I missed the Second World War by about, I would say two months.


LEONARD BECK: So, I was fortunate there, anyway.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow. And what about -- Did you say you have one sibling?


LEONARD BECK: What -- The children?

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, no. Your brothers and sisters?

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. I have a sister.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, okay. So, she was not eligible for the draft.


SADY SULLIVAN: Um, so -- so you're -- that's really interesting that, you know, your dad was --was too old for the draft, and you were too young --

LEONARD BECK: Right. Right.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- but they -- but they just caught up with you.


SADY SULLIVAN: Um, was that a common thing among families?

LEONARD BECK: What do you mean?

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, I mean, I -- I feel like at that time, there was a lot of people who would have, um, people in the service. So was that -- ?

LEONARD BECK: Oh, we -- they had stars in the window -- gold stars if the person was wounded, or diseased, and, uh, yellow star, uh -- what was it? Yellow stars, gold, and a regular colored star -- you know, if you're just a service maid. It was very, uh -- In fact, I was an air raid warden at four -- fifteen years old.

SADY SULLIVAN: You were --


SADY SULLIVAN: I'm sorry. I didn't hear you.

LEONARD BECK: An air raid warden --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, my goodness.


LEONARD BECK: -- in case of air raids, they had you -- you had to block out your windows, put out all the lights, so no lights would show through. They had these sirens, and special, uh, uh -- I guess you don't know about this.

SADY SULLIVAN: No. Just a bit, but please tell me, because I -- so, what did -- What was your role as a warden -- air raid warden?

LEONARD BECK: Well, whenever they, uh, were going to have a -- and air raid, they wouldn't tell you if it's real or not. I mean, we -- the head of the -- of the units knew. But we had helmets, and outfits, and bands to go, and we went out on the streets to make sure the people were off the streets during the air raids. You know, the signaling, and, uh, make sure all the lights are out. If lights were on, you'd knock on the door to make sure they put out the lights.


LEONARD BECK: It was a complete -- complete blackouts.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm! So was that -- was -- was that scary to be walking the streets when -- ?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, well I'll tell you -- The idea of America being attacked at that time, uh, is -- is -- is just -- y -- you can't imagine the feeling, uh -- 25:00I -- I --It's hard to describe, or even to just -- to -- to talk about. There was such a patriotic feeling in this country that you don't have today, where people were really, really involved in this country -- that they really care. Today you don't -- you don't seem to have that much feeling.


LEONARD BECK: People are too much for themselves, and it, uh -- it's -- things just got out of hand terribly from what it used to be.


LEONARD BECK: When we were attacked, I was ready to go to -- to kill every Japanese I saw --


LEONARD BECK: -- because the stories, when Roosevelt put the Japanese people -- American citizens basically, into concentration camps in this country. I don't know if you know about that either.

SADY SULLIVAN: I do. The internment camps. Yeah.

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. And people now say, "How could you do such -- how could you do such a thing?" At that time the feeling was you would take any Japanese and 26:00kill them.


LEONARD BECK: That was the feeling.


LEONARD BECK: Because what -- During the War, what they did to our soldiers, I'm sure it's not known, and I don't even want to discuss it. I mean, I had a cousin that was there, and he explained to me what they did, and I -- I -- you -- you just can't imagine the -- the horrible things that were done.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, so your father going to work in the Navy Yards, was that -- was part of that decision -- I know that they were offering five, um, five days a week, and a really good salary -- was also a part of it motivated by --

LEONARD BECK: More -- More pa ---

SADY SULLIVAN: --that sense of patriotism?

LEONARD BECK: -- More patriotic than anything else. Right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. yeah.

LEONARD BECK: It was more, you know, for the country, than for himself, really.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. Um, and did you -- did you know about how his days were there? I mean, how did he -- how did he commute? How did he, you know -- What 27:00were his -- What was his days like there?

LEONARD BECK: Well, there were no -- who had cars? I mean [laughter] very few -- there were very few cars around, so I think he took a bus, to a certain area, and then they picked up quite a few people directly to go to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Exactly where or how, I don't know how it was done. But I know they, uh, took a -- for five cents, they took a trolley, or a bus, or a train to an area, and they were picked up to go into the Navy Yard, because it was restricted. You know. You couldn't just walk into it. It was like an Army Base.


LEONARD BECK: You had to have an ID and things like that.


LEONARD BECK: And his day, was, uh, you know -- a normal day, uh -- cutting and doing whatever has to be done.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Did you ever visit him at work?

LEONARD BECK: They wouldn't allow you in.


LEONARD BECK: I mean, there was no way you could do that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, and did you -- did you know who he was working with 28:00at the Navy Yards?

LEONARD BECK: Yeah, well, that's what -- the -- the name I mentioned -- Devita [phonetic] was, uh, one of the workers, and Williams was the foreman of the, uh, clothing department there -- the uniforms.


LEONARD BECK: Those are the only two names I know that are inside the jacket.


LEONARD BECK: In fact, if you -- if you know somebody, if they can open the jacket, I'd like to know if it's true. [laughter]


LEONARD BECK: It -- I -- I saw the jacket. It's -- it's on -- it's in, uh, where he was buried in New York. Uh, they have a museum there -- I forget the name of the place already -- where Roosevelt -- Honey, do you remember where Roosevelt would be home? Hon!

MRS. BECK: What?

LEONARD BECK: Where was Roosevelt buried? What --

MRS. BECK: Hyde Park.

LEONARD BECK: Hyde Park. Yeah.


LEONARD BECK: Okay. In Hyde Park.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, so the -- the winter cape is in -- is in the museum there?

LEONARD BECK: Oh, definitely.


LEONARD BECK: Yeah. I saw it.

SADY SULLIVAN: That's great.


LEONARD BECK: It's in there, but I couldn't ask anybody to open up the lining. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. [laughter] Oh, but that would be neat. Um, so tell me again, um, there -- I didn't realize when you said that Roosevelt was coming to Ebbets, I didn't realize that there was a game on.

LEONARD BECK: Yeah, um, there was a -- there was a, uh -- he went -- came to visit the -- The Brook -- He visited the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and from there, went over to Ebbets Field. I don't know if he watched the game, or wanted to see the game, but there were about 30,000 -- 40,000 people at that time.


LEONARD BECK: That were -- you know, in -- in the -- interested in the game. It was near the end of the season, and the Dodgers, I think, were in first pla -- you know, it was a whole -- like it is today.


LEONARD BECK: People were interested. Except the, uh, prices, let's see -- they were fifty cents --the Knot Hole Gang, and I think it was seventy-five or a dollar -- a dollar for admission.


LEONARD BECK: But there was an interest in that, and he came. He went in an 30:00automobile around the whole field --


LEONARD BECK: -- at Ebbets Field.

SADY SULLIVAN: And what was the crowd's response?

LEONARD BECK: Oh! What are you kidding? I mean, this was, uh, uh -- this was an icon. This is like seeing the Pope. [laughter] And when he was, uh -- he w -- he was a very, very popular man.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Uh, why was -- why was he someone that -- that you looked up to?

LEONARD BECK: Why was he was someone that I looked up to? He brought us through a depression.


LEONARD BECK: He helped the poor people out. He started social security. Uh, they gave people advanced money through banks -- loans, and things like that. The banks reopened, and people got most of their money back that was lost, and he -- he was just a fantastic man helping out all the people in this country.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, my -- my dad has a t-shirt, actually, that he wears 31:00today, uh, with the elections coming up that says, "Reelect Roosevelt." [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. That's, uh -- let me tell you something. From Roosevelt to Truman, uh, to -- to this date, Truman was an unbelievable man also. He saved the lives of at least 300,000 to a half a million Americans if that war would have continued without the Atom Bomb.


LEONARD BECK: How do you drop the bomb on these poor people. It seems like these people have no concept, no idea of the hatred that there was in this country against Japan.


LEONARD BECK: How dare you attack my country. You -- you understand what I'm saying?


LEONARD BECK: And with this Twin Towers, they knocked this one -- that count -- uh, these people are still all -- well, it's not one country they tell you. I say retaliate against all of them. Just stop this nonsense. Either yous -- Either yous get in line, enjoy life, and stop these wars.



LEONARD BECK: How do you do it, though?


LEONARD BECK: You know what I'm saying? It's -- It's a tough -- It's a tough situation.


LEONARD BECK: I'm talking now about things that I haven't spoken about in many, many years.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter] Um, what did your dad do after the War? Did he stay at the Navy Yard?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, he was -- let me just think -- yeah. Basically he stayed at the Navy Yard for quite a while after that, and then he went with Brooks Brothers part-time, and -- but -- but the Navy Yard most of the time.


LEONARD BECK: And then after the Navy Yard, I think he bought into a couple luncheonettes, and he went into the luncheonette business with my mother, and you know -- just to keep -- make ends meet that we can enjoy life a little.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. So, he stopped -- he stopped being a cutter or tailor.

LEONARD BECK: Oh yeah. He stopped, I imagine 1948, or '47 -'49, maybe -- he 33:00stopped and went into business.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, and so were you in Brooklyn when the Navy Yards were decommissioned?

LEONARD BECK: Oh yeah. We've been here all along.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And, um, did you -- did you have any thoughts then about the decommissioning?

LEONARD BECK: Well, I was always looking for something like this here to tell the stories to that I have, but I -- I never had an opportunity 'till I say the ad -- your ad in the paper to, you know, discuss it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. Yeah. Um, it -- it took a while for, um -- for folks to realize the wealth of stories there I think, so I'm glad --


SADY SULLIVAN: -- that we're doing this now.



LEONARD BECK: No. It was, uh -- it was really a very, very interesting time for this country really.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, when you said -- Tell me again about coming to downtown Brooklyn, um, when they checked for your draft card. What were you -- What were you doing with your friends down -- ?

LEONARD BECK: Well, just with friends. We went to movie. We were going, uh, to 34:00an ice cream parlor to get some ice cream, and on the way out of the theater, we -- it was normal. It was a normal routine, but I've never been stopped before. I was never with my friends, then, you know, in an area like that at twelve o'clock at -- you know, late at night. I mean, what the hell is a fifteen year-old doing in those days up at eleven, twelve o'clock.


LEONARD BECK: You know, we were more restricted than anything else, but my parents gave permission that I, you know -- as I said, I was the big kid, and I, you know -- my friends were there. We all, you know, protected each other, but you didn't have -- with the trouble that you have today on the streets.


LEONARD BECK: You were able to walk, and not worry about being mugged, or, uh, held up, or anything. I mean, it was a d -- it was a different world.


LEONARD BECK: And, uh, they just approached -- nothing unusual -- for identification. I w -- [laughter] I had identification. My name. Well, what kind of -- then they just pulled me, and, uh, one of my friends, Billy Aboe [phonetic], came with me -- you know, stayed with me 'till my parents got there. 35:00He was in the Navy in uniform, and trying to tell him that I'm only fifteen, but they wouldn't listen.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: I had no proof of any. You know, what does a fifteen year-old have in his pocket? You know.



SADY SULLIVAN: And so how did you prove it to them eventually?

LEONARD BECK: Well, they called my parents ---


LEONARD BECK: -- and my parents came down, and they took their word for it basically, but I think they had to get a birth certificate, and send it to them to make sure that what they say was so ---


LEONARD BECK: -- and that's what they did. And as I said, I still have a copy in my wallet.


LEONARD BECK: To this day it's in there.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And then -- so that -- it -- how long after that did you enlist in the Navy --


SADY SULLIVAN: -- or try to?

LEONARD BECK: About, uh, two months later. [laughter] I got my friend Billy to get me a false ID, and, uh, you know -- in those days, you were -- like -- like today, except, uh, you know -- it, it wasn't easy to get, but he knew somebody, and they got me an ID with my picture on it, and name, and whatever proving that 36:00I was eighteen. They just advanced my age.


LEONARD BECK: They made it 1925 instead of '28. That was the year I was born.


LEONARD BECK: And I went down to enlist, and some -- I don't know. Through some conversation with friends, whatever -- my mother heard about it, and she went down, and she stopped it.


LEONARD BECK: Oh, what could you do?

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here I don't think. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. Right.

LEONARD BECK: You never know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Where did you go to enlist?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, where was it? Adams Street? Downtown Brooklyn. So, I'm not sure exactly where. It's been so long, though I think it was Adams Street. One of the buildings they had, uh -- well, actually, they had them all over the -- all over the city, but it was Adams Street I went down --


LEONARD BECK: -- that I remember.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. So it wasn't in the -- in the yards?

LEONARD BECK: Oh, no, no.


LEONARD BECK: No. Definitely not. Y--You couldn't get into, you know -- in those days, you couldn't get into the Brooklyn Navy Yard without formal ID.



LEONARD BECK: That was a pretty restricted area.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, did your dad ever talk about any of the ship building, and other stuff that was going on in the yards?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, basically each department was kept separate. One didn't know what the other one was doing?


LEONARD BECK: You know. It was like when they made the atomic bomb. One scientist didn't know what they what -- uh, nobody knew what it was for.


LEONARD BECK: They just made their own parts. They mind their own business, and I -- I -- I don't believe he -- he r -- he never spoke about it. I mean, if he knew anything, he never, you know -- most of the time, they'd find things out, and they don't even tell the families about it, because you don't want things to happen, you know -- like a ship is going to be docked here, and there, and when it's coming out -- things like that. He never discussed anything.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

LEONARD BECK: I think they were sworn to secrecies. I mean, I don't know this for a fact, but I'm assuming that's what it was.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, and so were you aware -- I know that some of 38:00the ships when they were completed, like the Missouri, there was -- I think that it was sort of some celebrations, um, that was a bit public. Were you aware of things like that?

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. Well, we knew, you know -- we knew about it, but we didn't get it. You know, as a high school kid, I didn't get involved, and people basically were, you know -- the poor -- from lower middle-class people were too busy keeping -- making ends meet.


LEONARD BECK: You know? Things were pretty rough at that time. Everything was, uh, res -- you know, rationed, and you -- you -- your five cents a pound for butter, and, uh, uh -- soda was three cents, and you know, things were -- pennies you were talking about. People were really, really up against it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. Right. Mm-hmm. Um, and when you enlisted, you chose the Navy. Did that have anything to do with, um, your dad's working in the Navy Yards?

LEONARD BECK: Well, basically yes, but most of my friends were in the Navy basically.



LEONARD BECK: You know, that, uh -- and I ended up in the Marine Corps. That's all. That's the best thing that ever happened to me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, did you serve overseas in the Marine Corps?

LEONARD BECK: No, I was -- Well, let's see. I was drafted. I was twenty-two. Most kids there were eighteen. They made me a training officer ---


LEONARD BECK: -- you know, to, uh, send kids through high school, through Washington with, you know -- through the mails to get kids, you know -- in the Marine Corps to get their, uh, high school diplomas.


LEONARD BECK: I never went overseas. They kept me there as a -- as, you know -- at Camp Pendleton I was for basically most of the time.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, and what are your thoughts about the Navy Yards now with the -- the development, happening, and opening up more to the public w--with the historical center, and things like that?

LEONARD BECK: Well, I think it's good for the -- for the people in this country 40:00to know -- to have something to look, you know -- look back on. Uh, I think it's a -- it's a good idea. Uh, hopefully we won't need the, uh, services to build more warships, and things like that. Maybe the world will come to its senses, and try to leave in peace.


LEONARD BECK: The big problem there is whenever you have people with too much, and those with too little, you're going to have problems ---


LEONARD BECK: -- so how do you correct that? [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter] That's a big one.

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. Oh yeah. That -- That -- There is no answer, really. I mean, the very rich people don't want to give up, and the very poor people have nothing to give up, so let's steal from the rich. I mean, that's, you know -- will -- will make trouble. That's it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, did your dad ever mention -- Do you know what building he worked in?

LEONARD BECK: Hmm. I think there were numbers.


LEONARD BECK: From what I remember, I don't remember -- The number three is all I can remember, but, uh, th -- they were coded. Uh, you didn't know what 41:00building was what.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm. You mean what they were doing in that building?

LEONARD BECK: That's right.


LEONARD BECK: You never knew. I mean, I know he -- I'm pretty sure they had a three code --three number something. I -- I'm -- I'm not really sure the --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And did he stay friendly with anybody that he worked with in the yards after he was done there?

LEONARD BECK: Well, it was the same guy -- this Devita [phonetic]. I met him once, you know, after years -- years later, but that's about it. There was, uh, very little after the, you know -- after the War context, uh, uh -- Well, I -- I don't know. I, eh -- I -- I guess it was a very, very trying time for people like my father. You know. For me it -- it was, you know, more patriotic than anything else, but for them, it had to be a tough time in their lives, you know, kids to bring up, and no money around, and you're -- you're scrounging for work, 42:00and things, you know -- things like that, and --


LEONARD BECK: It -- it -- it -- it was a -- a -- a different lifestyle I think.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Were you aware of that when you were a kid, that it was -- that things were tough?

LEONARD BECK: Well, no. See, because basically they had this Luncheonette, you know, and [laughter] I used to go to the register, "Dad, I'm taking a nickel. Dad, I'm taking a quarter", and you know what a quarter bought? A quarter was two frankfurters, French fries, and a soda, and I left a nickel tip.


LEONARD BECK: Two frankfurters, a soda, uh, uh -- that's a story I'll never forget ---


LEONARD BECK: -- and my friends you -- you know, we have the candy store, the luncheonette. My father used to give them stuff without, you know -- on credit. Uh, he -- he never [laughter] -- They couldn't afford it, so he -- he, as poor as he was, you -- you know, years ago, he used to give it to them on credit.


LEONARD BECK: But they never paid back.


LEONARD BECK: And my grandfather owned a building on Hinsdale Street, uh -- an 43:00apartment house. This is not related to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but it's an interesting story how -- how thievery goes on in business over the years -- you know, from years back. This goes to like 1900.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, tell me.

LEONARD BECK: 1901, my mother was a law student, you know -- going to college, and my, uh, grandfather was an American guy, but he didn't, uh, have schooling formally --


LEONARD BECK: -- and my mother's going over bills, and things like that, and she's adding up bills -- four eighty for, uh, milk, and butter, and the -- whatever -- the whole list, and she sees, "What the heck?" Nineteen dollars over. Nineteen dollars -- what is -- what -- nineteen, oh-two. She looks -- They added the date into the bill. 1901. They added the -- the companies -- the delivery guys that used to deliver the, uh, dairy -- they wasn't just the milk 44:00company. It was the milk, the butter, the cheese, the eggs -- there was one group of people that delivered all the food.


LEONARD BECK: They added the bill up, and they added the date -- 1901 -- into the bill.


LEONARD BECK: You imagine this? They put it right underneath the thing, and he never knew it for two, three years -- he's paying the date --


LEONARD BECK: -- and my mother's looking. I mean that [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: That is funny.

LEONARD BECK: It is funny, but it just goes to show you how -- you know what a goniff is, don't you? A goniff is a crook.


LEONARD BECK: You got crooks no matter where you go, no matter when.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: You have [laughter] -- No matter how, I mean, there -- everybody's looking for an angle. You have these, uh, guys with the schemes today, uh -- forty billion dollars he steals from the, uh, stock market and stuff like that. Years ago, it was nineteen dollars did enough. You know? It was enough.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. What is that word that you said? The goniff?

LEONARD BECK: Goniff. A goniff is a, uh, like a schemer, you know -- someone that's -- that's looking to, uh, to hurt other people, you know -- through 45:00robbery, dishonesty, or whatever.

SADY SULLIVAN: Is it a Yiddish word?

LEONARD BECK: I believe so. I mean, I don't really [laughter] I'm pretty sure it is, yeah?


LEONARD BECK: Yeah. Yeah. It should be a --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Oh, wow. Um, and what neighborhood do you live in now in Brooklyn?

LEONARD BECK: Oh, I'm near Brooklyn Col -- I don't know. You -- you know Brooklyn at all?


LEONARD BECK: Yeah. I'm near Brooklyn College.


LEONARD BECK: In fact, they just built a new, uh, Target store right up on the corner here.


LEONARD BECK: So, we -- I've been here, uh, quite a few years.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Is that where you raised your kids?

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. In fact, the same apart -- we're here -- we were married fifty-two years.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, congratulations.

LEONARD BECK: My wife and I live here alone. We have, uh, an apartment on the 11th floor that's bigger than most houses.


LEONARD BECK: Which is very nice, and the kids, uh, as I say, they moved out -- have their own children. They're, uh -- they're all over the country --


LEONARD BECK: -- which is good for me. It gives us something to do.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Well that's great. Is your wife from Brooklyn also?


LEONARD BECK: Oh yeah. We're -- the whole family is from Brooklyn. My parents were born in the -- in Midwood from what I understand [inaudible] too much about the families. I don't know -- her grandmother was born here, I know. I -- She lived to 101.


LEONARD BECK: Her grandmother. Yeah. Yup. Yeah. We have longevity. I guess that's -- that's what keeps it going.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, and how -- how long did your father live? When --when did he pass?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, '59 I think it was. He had a -- suddenly a heart condition. I think he was sixty-five when he passed away.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, that's so young.

LEONARD BECK: Yeah. It is. I mean, he, uh -- he was just unfortunate. That's all. I mean, just something like this, you know -- you never know, something like this happens.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. Right. And -- and your mom, um -- did you mom take over 47:00the luncheonette?

LEONARD BECK: Uh, no. After that, uh, we got rid of that, and he went back into the clothing. He went back, uh, with, uh, I think it was -- I'm just trying to think. I don't remember the company, but it -- it was connected with Brooks Brothers --


LEONARD BECK: -- from, you know, friends that he knew that need -- they needed people, so he used to freelance, like, part-time, and, uh, he was -- he was happy doing that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Well, thank you so much for -- for contacting us, and for sharing that story, and I'm -- I'm -- I'm wondering if we can get a picture, or something of the label inside the cape. I think that that would be great, and I --

LEONARD BECK: Well, I wish that, you know -- you could get in touch with Hyde Park. I mean, with your -- you know, your pull, maybe they'll do it.

SADY SULLIVAN: I think so.

LEONARD BECK: It's just the seam to opening up the lining --


LEONARD BECK: -- and it def -- uh, I'd like to know myself. I know it's true. I mean, I don't think he would tell me the story --


SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, no. I believe you.

LEONARD BECK: -- if it wasn't.

SADY SULLIVAN: I just mean it would be awesome to see, you know?

LEONARD BECK: Oh, I would love -- I would love to know if it's there. I mean, I'd love to see it's still there.

SADY SULLIVAN: I wonder if we could -- You should tell me your address, and if -- if we can get a picture of it, I would -- I would really like to send you a picture.

LEONARD BECK: Oh, I'd love it. Yeah. It's, uh, [address redacted for privacy]


LEONARD BECK: Oh, and if anything comes with this, or when they open the museum, let me know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, definitely.

LEONARD BECK: And if they need contribution, let me know, and I'd also -- I'll try to help you out.

SADY SULLIVAN: Great. Thank you so much! This has been really lovely speaking with you today.

LEONARD BECK: Okay, darling. You take care, and have a I -- I understand it was terrible. We just got back last night. It was terribly hot here they told me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh my God. It was 100 degrees all of a sudden, and nobody was prepared for it.


SADY SULLIVAN: It was like being in a sauna.

LEONARD BECK: [inaudible] We came into the house after three, f--what? About a week? Clo --The house was closed. It was 96 degrees. I put on all the air conditioners.


LEONARD BECK: [laughter] But that really didn't help.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

LEONARD BECK: It was just too much.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. It was crazy.


LEONARD BECK: All right. So nice talking to you, darling.


LEONARD BECK: You take care. And just keep -- And let me know, uh, what's -- what's happening?


LEONARD BECK: I'd appreciate it.






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Interview Description

Oral History Interview with Leonard Beck

Leonard Beck (1928- ) grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He was drafted into the Marine Corps in 1952 during the Korean War, after which he became an obstetrician and remained in Brooklyn. Leonard Beck's father, Julius Beck was born in 1894 in Woodhaven, Queens. He ran his own clothing business with his brother, then worked at Brooks Brothers Clothier as a designer cutter until he was asked to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during WWII. Following the war, Julius Beck bought into the luncheonette business with his wife.

The interview with Leonard Beck (1928- ) focuses on his father's work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a tailor. Beck also discusses his own childhood in Brooklyn and how his father made an Eisenhower jacket [military uniform shortened coat ] for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He also mentions American sentiment towards Japanese Americans during the war, the decommissioning of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Roosevelt's visit to Ebbets Field, and American patriotism. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection is comprised of over fifty interviews of men and women who worked in or around the Brooklyn Navy Yard, primarily during World War II. The narrators discuss growing up in New York, their work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, their relationships with others at the Yard, gender relations and transportation to and from work. Many narrators bring up issues of ethnicity, race, and religion at the Yard or in their neighborhoods. Several people describe the launching of the USS Missouri battleship and recall in detail their daily tasks at the Yard (as welders, office workers and ship fitters). While the interviews focus primarily on experiences in and around the Yard, many narrators go on to discuss their lives after the Navy Yard, relating stories about their careers, dating and marriage, children, social activities, living conditions and the changes that took place in Manhattan and Brooklyn during their lifetimes.


Beck, Leonard, 1928-, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, June 11, 2008, Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection, 2010.003.004; Brooklyn Historical Society.


  • Beck, Julius
  • Beck, Leonard, 1928-
  • New York Naval Shipyard


  • Business enterprises
  • Clothing & dress
  • Clothing industry
  • Military uniforms
  • Restaurants
  • Security systems
  • Shipyards
  • Tailoring
  • Tailors
  • Uniforms
  • Wages
  • Working class
  • World War, 1939-1945


  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ebbets Field
  • Woodhaven (New York, N.Y.)


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Finding Aid

Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection