Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.
Every oral history relies on the memories, views, and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.
The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. Where provided, transcripts created prior to 2008 or commissioned by a third party other than BHS, serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. More recent transcripts commissioned by BHS are nearly verbatim copies of the recorded interview, and as such may contain the natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, and repetitions that are common in conversation. The decision for their inclusion was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator’s speech while editing the material for the standards of print.
All citations must be attributed to Brooklyn Historical Society:
[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
These interviews are made available for research purposes only. For more information about other kinds of usage and permissions, see BHS’s rights and reproductions policy.
James and John Caputo
Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan and Margaret Fraser
April 08, 2010
Call number: 2008.031.2.002
0:31 - Introductions; biographic details of father John & son James, family history of 2 prior generations; John recalls bi-lingual surroundings & Carroll Gardens businesses
11:39 - Trolleys & pushcarts; moving bakery to Court St. to make way for expressway; nearby longshoreman's union; bakery businesses change hands in family
19:43 - John and James coming into business; hard demands of work then vs. modern convenience now; James' childhood and where he grew up; adapting to times
27:49 - Growing product line to compete; evolving eating habits; closeness with competitor and pastry shops; business started with home delivery
36:51 - John's great grandfather's immigration; family's baking education; changing bread styles and qualities; a master of bread crumbs
47:10 - Their childhoods and John's father-in-law in baking business; John meeting his wife; store necessities in '40s; 2010 clientele and offerings
56:28 - Customizing to diverse clientele; truck delivery to Brooklyn stores & restaurants; computer & mobile phone efficiencies; James' study & career in finance, then switching
Oral History Interview with James and John Caputo
Born in 1941 in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn to a father from Brooklyn and a mother from Rome, Italy, John Caputo was the fourth generation to run a Caputo Bakery in Brooklyn. His son, James Caputo was born in 1971. Both Caputos enjoyed childhoods spent at the bakery shop. After being urged by his father to look into a less-physically demanding career, James studied finance and went to work on Wall Street for ten years. The son came back to the family business, and the two worked side by side. At the time of this 2010 interview, John Caputo was semi-retired.
In the interview, John and James Caputo talk about generations of the Caputo family and the business history of their co-owned Caputo Bakery in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. John describes the sequence of locations for Caputo's; one near Union and Hicks Streets that was shuttered because of Brooklyn-Queens Expressway construction in the 1940s, another at 332 Court Street, and the present one that faces that old address. John recalls the businesses and scenery of his youth. The two discuss how each came into the business and how modern life has eased the demands of long hours and baking business inefficiencies. The two identify evolving styles and quality of bread in the overall market and at Caputo's. James reflects on appreciating the bakery in his youth, achieving a career in finance, and returning to work with his father at the bakery. They go over their changing clientele, the staffing of a bakery, and different technologies used in the bakery's different ovens through the years. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan and Margaret Fraser.
The Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Business and industry series features a dynamic range of narrators. Some are well-known in their communities and others are well-known in their field. This ongoing series focuses on Brooklyn workplaces and the experiences of these narrators, as well as documents local, national, and international history. The narrators often discuss their positions as owners or operators of businesses. The oldest narrator in this series was born in 1920.
CitationCaputo, James and John, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan and Margaret Fraser, April 08, 2010, Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Business and industry, 2008.031.2.002; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Caputo Bakery
- Caputo, James
- Caputo, John
- Bakery employees
- Business enterprises
- Family life
- Italian Americans
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- Carroll Gardens (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidVoices of Brooklyn oral histories: Business and industry