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Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan

September 08, 2010

Call number: 2010.003.026

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0:00

SADY SULLIVAN: -- and then I'll take them off. Okay, so if you would count to five for me.

BETTIE CHASE: One two, three, four, five.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. I'm going to move that closer.

BETTIE CHASE: Again?

SADY SULLIVAN: Yes, please.

BETTIE CHASE: One, two, three, four, five.

SADY SULLIVAN: That's great, thank you. Alright, do you have any questions before we get started?

BETTIE CHASE: Mm, no, not really.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay, well let me know and if at any point you want to stop and take a break, or --

BETTIE CHASE: Okay. Alright.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- you know, this is your time so --

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- it's up to you.

BETTIE CHASE: Alright.

SADY SULLIVAN: Ah, so to formally begin, today is September 8th, 2010 and I am Sady Sullivan from the Brooklyn Historical Society, this interview is part of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Oral History Project and, if you would, introduce yourself to the recording however you'd like.

BETTIE CHASE: Well, my name is -- I have -- my whole name is Bettie Virginia 1:00Chase. Uh, my maiden name was, uh, Bettie Emory, and that Emory is spelled E-M-O-R-Y. I was born [date redacted for privacy], 1922, uh, here in Brooklyn, I was born in Brooklyn. Mm-hm. Ah. What else can I tell you? You see, tell me what you want to know and I can give it to you.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay, good, I will. Um, those -- so how, just to double check the spelling of your first name?

BETTIE CHASE: Oh, oh, yes, it's B-E-T-T-I-E.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay, good, I did have it.

BETTIE CHASE: That's very important.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Uh-huh.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And the Emory is O-R-Y. They're a lot of Emorys with E-R-Y.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But mine was O-R-Y.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. Um, and where in Brooklyn, what neighborhood of Brooklyn were you born?

BETTIE CHASE: Uh, well, I guess you would call it, sort of like -- now people 2:00call it Bedford-Stuyvesant.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because that's a long time ago.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: The area.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. And, so, tell me a little bit about your parents.

BETTIE CHASE: Well, my, my father was a, ahem -- he worked for the Long Island Railroad, that I knew.

SADY SULLIVAN: Ah.

BETTIE CHASE: I knew that he worked for the Long Island Railroad. Uh. My mother -- see you're going way back, see, that's why I said we going all the way back.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: My mother, um, she was, uh -- well, I guess you would call her a housewife.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, I was the only child, that was it, I was the only child. Uh, my father was older than my mother, my mother wasn't young, but you know, you know, he was older. Uh, management of me was by my mother. He would never say anything. I'd do stuff and the person -- he would say I'm going to tell your mother, and believe it or not, he would tell her.

3:00

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: And you know she, she'd take care of that. Ah, let me see, family, I have -- didn't have too much of a family. My mother had a big family. My father, from what I understand, was a -- was an orphan.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: And in her early years, um, on my mother side -- they're from Virginia, my mother's from Virginia -- and uh, people from Virginia used to migrate, like, to Atlantic City --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- or the different resort places and, you know, that's where they would work.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, I think that's where -- where she met my father.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, there.

SADY SULLIVAN: So was your mom born in Virginia?

BETTIE CHASE: Yes

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Yes, she was born in Virginia, and, uh -- so I said -- and then they came to, you know, from, from there, and as they tell me, you know they came to, um, they came -- now how they came to Brooklyn I don't know --

4:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Can't tell you about it, don't know too much about that. I think because, uh -- what do you call them? Ahem, change of life babies, you know, I mean she wasn't a young woman.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, you know when I was, uh, when I was -- when I was born. She was very -- she was a disciplinarian; oh boy was she. But she wasn't a harsh disciplinarian. She learned that from being one of eight children, and she was the oldest. Now this was in Virginia, and, uh, my grandmother was interested in a lot of churches and everything like that, and at that time people used to have, on Sundays, they'd hold special things to go visit in counties and everything like that, so --

SADY SULLIVAN: What was it called?

BETTIE CHASE: I forget what -- what they used to be called. Associations.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: On Sundays, you know, you go visit another church --

5:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: In this day and time we call it a fellowship.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, right.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm. But you called it, you know, association.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, so she would, um, she loved to go to those, so, she worked opposite -- instead of taking the younger kids, she'd take the older kids and leave the younger kids with me, with, uh -- actually not me, I'm putting myself in her, you know, her place. She would be a sponsor for them.

SADY SULLIVAN: Your mom would.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. Mm-hm.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So I've been saying maybe that's why she wouldn't want to have a lot of kids.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: At least her brothers and sisters, they were nice. Which were my aunts and my uncles, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And um, you know, everything like that. As I said, then they moved to, to Brooklyn, because that's when I really, you know, began to -- I knew them.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Stayed in this house when I was three years old and then we stayed there, we stayed in Brooklyn. Said she was a housewife, he worked for the Long Island Railroad. During the Depression he had a good job.

6:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: His [inaudible] had no problems, and everything.

SADY SULLIVAN: For the railroad, he was still --

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh that's good.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, working for the railroad, he had passes, and once every year they would go to Virginia to visit my mother's family, you know, and she'd take me along. So that's about -- that's about it, you know. Like I said there were no other kids, you know, if they had other children now you say that's different but there weren't any -- weren't any other children.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Just me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And they said I was a handful [laughter].

SADY SULLIVAN: And so your father, where -- where was he born?

BETTIE CHASE: I don't know too much about that, all I know, I know that he was an orphan, that's what my mother said.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: She said he was an orphan.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And uh, she prob -- she met him in one of those resorts.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, that's where she met him, you know, in a resort. So he 7:00didn't know anything hard about his family.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. But you knew your grandparents in Virginia.

BETTIE CHASE: Yes, I knew them. I knew them

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Um, and so what schools did you go to in Brooklyn?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, I went to elementary, uh, which was -- that was PS42 --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- to the sixth grade. Seventh and eighth I went to PS9.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Ninth through twelfth I went to Girls High.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, cool.

BETTIE CHASE: So, so I graduated from Girls High. Graduated from Girls High in June, 1940.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That was, uh, my graduation from there. So that was just before World War II

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- when I graduated from there.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. And so how did you end up at the Brooklyn Navy Yard?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, I think, let me see, the war was, um, December '40 -- '41. 8:00So that was the end of '41, you're going into 1942, and I think it must have been, it must have been around the summer, could have been through radio or something -- uh, they were having, I didn't know how to get the application but I know there were applications out.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And they specified, you know, for women, to work in the Navy Yard, and where you could go. And a good friend of mine -- we were good friends, you know, from little kids -- and it was someplace in Manhattan that we went because I remember, we went for an examination. And they asked you everything you could possibly think of, you know, we're figuring out, you know, what's -- what is this all about? So I think I must have been, I'd say around August, September. But I do know that they called people right away, because I remember my first Christmas, because my cousin had a baby up in Mount Vernon and I went up to visit the baby and took all these gifts -- I had money, I'm working, you know?

9:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I, you know, and I'm right there. Um, they called me not too long after, you know, I had um -- after I took the test. And they didn't call her!

SADY SULLIVAN: And what was -- it was a paper test?

BETTIE CHASE: It was like sitting in school taking an exam.

SADY SULLIVAN: Uh-huh.

BETTIE CHASE: They asked everything. Just an all-around thing. And uh, then, uh, then they sent for me. The whole process and everything that's kind of foggy, but I do know that they called me to come to the Navy Yard and they didn't call -- as I say, they didn't call her. As a matter of fact, they didn't call her 'til almost a year after I went to the Navy Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh so you both --

BETTIE CHASE: But we didn't work together. We didn't work together.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- you both applied but you --

BETTIE CHASE: We both took the test but they, they didn't call her. They called me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, why do you think?

BETTIE CHASE: They called me after I got there, and what they had me do was because of my height and my weight.

10:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh -- and years later I look back, I say, I you know people should not just think they call people from applications, says, there's a reason for them to pick certain people.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And of course she was taller than I was -- not heavier, but she, you know, she was a bigger girl.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And as I said I was four eleven and a half, I struggled at four eleven, all my life I never reached that five foot thing.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: And um -- because at four-eleven, and I think I weighed about 104, 105 pounds.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So then they assigned me to what they call tack welding.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I didn't know anything about it, of course, and it was, it was in the Yard, in the, in the Navy Yard itself, and it's funny how you notice you're learning how to do something but you can't remember how you learned.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, how to do it, how to do the tack welding. Now tack welding was -- you see it out in the street when they working, and putting 11:00things together. And they give you something that -- and you have like a wand, and it, it's like silver that comes out.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. And, and you move it. But oh it's a terrible odor.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. You're -- but everything about it, because of the war, it wasn't done deliberately, just, hey we're in a war, we've got all these different things that have to be done, how we going to go about it?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So you are not really completely training these people as to, sometimes, to what the hazards are to doing this, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I developed a condition in my throat that made me sick. So I had to go to the doctor about it, and he, he told me, he said, "Did they tell you anything?" I said, "No." He said, "First," he said, "they should tell you that you had to drink milk."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because of that. I think you've seen -- you've seen, they have, when little sparks fly -- ?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You see them in the street, and they've got -- there!

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, they're completely covered.

12:00

BETTIE CHASE: We didn't have that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: Have that. And, uh, they had glasses, some kind of glasses, but they didn't have that other -- the thing to protect me because every once in a while these little sparks, you know, would fly.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: So, uh, I said okay, so now I had to take -- I took the exam, I went through all the processing and everything of working there. I am now an employee of the government. And, uh, if I quit, it's bad on my record.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, I, I can't, I can't do that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: If I quit, my future is really messed up.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So therefore, if it's not good for you, you have to go -- you should go to the doctor, get a note from the doctor, but that is not the only thing, then the doctor from the Navy has to also give you an examination.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And they found out it was really affecting my throat.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh wow, so what was it doing? The fumes from the welding?

13:00

BETTIE CHASE: It was the fumes, and they -- so they had, didn't tell us about, uh, the milk, they didn't tell us about a diet that should go along with it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: You're inhaling this stuff. And the doc -- one thing the doctor said, anybody that's working like that, and he particularly mentioned beauticians.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh --

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- interesting.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. Especially beauticians.

SADY SULLIVAN: Because of the chemicals.

BETTIE CHASE: Because of the chemicals and the smoke and everything, he said, people that -- even people that smoke.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: He said something about milk, it seems to absorb -- absorb this, so.

SADY SULLIVAN: Huh.

BETTIE CHASE: So, okay, so now I'm a good tack welder, I'm a very good tack welder, they said, because I had a steady hand -- you have to have a -- you had to have a steady hand.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because if they want to weld from here to here I have to do it like that, I can't do this.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: I have to, you know, I have to go straight, straight down the line. Uh, clothing was involved in that too. There was a special place that we had to get clothing, um, like workmen's, you know, two-piece clothing, you had 14:00to keep your head covered, and you had to have safety shoes -- oh, I remember those safety shoes. They looked like oxfords.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But the whole top was metal.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: The whole top was metal. And the purpose of that was -- one of the purposes, I remember they told us is, uh -- was that, um, when you are in a, like a Navy Yard, or any place with construction you're dropping a lot of things, dropping on your feet.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. So anyways -- so you had to wear these special shoes.

SADY SULLIVAN: And did they make those specifically for women?

BETTIE CHASE: Ah, eventually they made them, made them for women but yes at first you had to get, you know, try to get the shoes, we're talking men's size until they, uh -- until, you see, the wa -- the war, everything wasn't the way it would be under peace times.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It was just here, here and there, here and there we'd had -- we've got to do this. So with the shoes, the shoes looked like oxfords, but they 15:00weren't. What they would do, they -- men would walk around, especially the bosses, and they stepped on your toe.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: Hard. They stepped on your toe and if you didn't have on those shoes you're in trouble.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because some of the women didn't, uh -- didn't want to get the shoes.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. And the shoes were very uncomfortable because you have that plate, that metal plate, you can't, you know, wiggle your foot or anything like that, they're supposed to be for your, you know, for your -- your safety.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So that was it. Getting to work -- the first [inaudible] was on night shift.

SADY SULLIVAN: The first--?

BETTIE CHASE: Night shift.

SADY SULLIVAN: The -- at first you were on the night shift? Wow.

BETTIE CHASE: Night shift. Worked on the night shift. Stayed on night shift, I'd say, two years, or something like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow. So what were the hours of the night shift?

BETTIE CHASE: Oh I'd say about -- I'd leave the house by about 10 or 11 o'clock at night.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow.

16:00

BETTIE CHASE: And um, we were in a -- maybe a room this size, because this would be the size they'd be working on.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I had to get in all kinda crazy positions to do this welding.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Had to lay down on the floor, I had the rod, you know I had to do all this crazy stuff.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: So maybe that's the reason why I was the only one who went into that, because you know, I was short, and I could get in tight places.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. Now, involved in that was getting to work. I lived on Franklin Avenue, which was -- I guess it must have been trolley cars then. I'm going back to the '40s now.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Ahem. And, um, ahem, I could get a trolley and go to Flushing Ave -- do you know Brooklyn?

SADY SULLIVAN: I do, yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: Okay, then you know where I'm talking about. Okay.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: I would get on the trolley and head right to Flushing Avenue --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and take the Flushing Avenue to Sands Street Gate --

17:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Uh-huh.

BETTIE CHASE: -- Navy Yard. After about six months or a year -- no, no about a year -- a young lady came with me out -- now I was the only woman up there in that, that tool room -- oh I got to tool room too quick, I better not tell you about the tool room, I'll tell you about that later.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay.

BETTIE CHASE: But anyway, that's the way I went to work.

SADY SULLIVAN: So were you the only woman tack welder?

BETTIE CHASE: The only woman tack welder.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: See I was among really the first group that they started putting into the Navy Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: That they put in construction. Now, my friend stayed in the office all the time, she was in an office on Flushing Avenue, she didn't have to do anything, she could wear whatever she want, never have to work nights, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But it took a year before they called her.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And um --

SADY SULLIVAN: So you started in 1941? Is that --

BETTIE CHASE: No I think it was '42.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah 'cause the war end -- the war was, was December '41, yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Oh right, so you started --

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, right.

18:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And um -- so then at first I used to go that way -- I went that way a long time until -- only one person I remember, her name was Amelia, and Amelia lived uptown in Brooklyn, but she said she could take the subway.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I figured, I said, "Oh that sounds good." So we would meet at Borough Hall, and then we would, uh, go one stop to High Street.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And walk to --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, you would walk from High Street.

BETTIE CHASE: Walk from High Street --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- you know, to, uh, to the -- to the gate.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Ahem. And that was much better. My mother was much -- she was happy about that. She didn't like the idea, you know, of, uh, me standing in Flushing Avenue waiting for the -- you know, something, you know, to come soon.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, because that was -- what time would you be going home from the night shift?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, I'd leave at about six, seven o'clock in the morning.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow.

BETTIE CHASE: After they -- that, that -- after that shift came in.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

19:00

BETTIE CHASE: I would, uh, I would leave there, but doing the tack welding, and all like that, it -- it was altogether different. You see, you see, I didn't stay tack welding long.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because they took me off it. You know they had, they had to -- they had to take me off.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And that's when I started working in the tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now working in the tool room, there's just two -- two of us in there, I was the only woman.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I always remember this -- this guy, his name was Stanley Cook, we called him Cookie.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: Never -- never forget him. And, uh, then a guy used to come in about six o'clock in the morning, and I know, I know his name was Max, I never did know his, uh, his last name, but as I said, I went from the welding to, you know, I was transferred to, um, to the tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I was in the tool room a couple of years.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. And in the meantime -- then they started bringing women into a lot of the construction things

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now being in a tool room had its disadvantages because, after all, 20:00this is a place, this is a construction -- it's a Navy Yard: men. You're gonna have to go to the bathroom -- where you going?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Set up strictly for men. Urinals, that's all.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, so what are you going to do with that? So the only thing they said, "Well, if you have to go, we have to call somebody to go with you." And I had quite a ways to walk --

SADY SULLIVAN: Uh-huh.

BETTIE CHASE: -- if I wanted to go to the bathroom. This would be two or three o'clock in the morning, see, because I come in about eleven o'clock.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: Eleven o'clock at night --

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: And to walk with me, you know, part of the way there because, you know, urinals have no doors.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: See? So as I say, this was strictly for men.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So I said, "All right, okay, I'll, uh, you know -- I'll work with that." But next to the tool room was an office that was only open during the day.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And the boss talked to the man there and said it was possible to leave a key so if I had to use -- I could use the bathroom in the office.

21:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: But it took a while before, you know, I could really -- they gave me permission, you know to do that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So then I started -- then I started doing that. Uh, something else I wanted to say about that too-- I know you -- I know you had to be very careful. Uh, they said -- hearsay you know, hearsay -- they said a couple women had been attacked.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, they didn't, uh, they didn't say whether they were from workers, sailors or what, but until they got that business straightened out, no back and forth, uh -- no back and forth to the, you know, to the ladies room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow, so they were -- the women were working, it was women who were working in the Navy Yard who got attacked?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah but not, not when I was -- see all this stuff happened maybe after about a year. As I say, I was like in the first group.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: That's why I was assigned to a different place. Assigned. Until -- now eventually, after about maybe six months or something, look, they had two 22:00other women in there with me -- was just me and Cookie.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: We were the only ones that were, you know -- and I'll never forget him -- he, he was a gentleman all the way, you know, never said anything --

SADY SULLIVAN: Tell me more about him, he sounds neat.

BETTIE CHASE: He never -- he never said anything out, and as I said, as a matter of fact, I got a lot of information from him.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But I didn't get it all, neither, but you know he would tell me, you know, different things, especially about the guys. Now the guys -- for the tool room, would come in there, men resented it. Now --

SADY SULLIVAN: How do you mean?

BETTIE CHASE: They, they're working, they resented the women being in the tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: Men just resent women period, we know that, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: They resented that. Now what they would do, when they would bring their tools in -- see I would come in at the end of a shift.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So therefore, they'd be bringing stuff in, and also there'd be some coming in for the next shift, you know, taking out. Now some of them would 23:00come in and they -- and they'd have machinery, and they'd take the machinery and sit it right in front of me to put it away. And as Cookie used to say, he'd say, "Machinery," he said, "set it aside, and when I'm not busy," he said, "I'll put it away." And, uh, he had a talk with them about it, he said, "Now you're just being mean." And the guys said, "Well, she wants to work here she ought to do her work." Now, with that it was just for women. Not just me in particular, it was, you know, women. They said, "Ought to do her work." So he said, "But she can't do those, you know, machinery."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But tools -- until this day I know tools. As a matter of fact, I got into an argument with someone, uh, that the landlord sent to do my sink and I said he wasn't doing that job -- I said, see, he's using lead pipes. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: I know about wrenches. I know about screw drivers. I know about nuts. I know about bolts. And, and even 'til this day.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know -- I remember the tool room.

24:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because I spent more time in the tool room than I did anywhere else.

SADY SULLIVAN: So did people who were working -- did they borrow all of their tools from the tool room or was there certain things that --

BETTIE CHASE: Well, whatever they needed had to come from the tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I wasn't the only tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Mine was for certain things in certain areas. Now, during the time, there was someone that used to come to the tool room and leave -- well, he'd be quitting work, and he would drop his tools off. But in later years I found out who it was, and it was John F. Kennedy.

SADY SULLIVAN: Ah!

BETTIE CHASE: But, you know, at that time, you know, you didn't know, you know, who it was. And, um, nuts and bolts and stuff -- they had everything up there. Another thing that as a woman that you couldn't -- they said this was something left over, that had to be straightened out, was: you're not supposed to sit down while you're in there. Now these were rules that were for men.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

25:00

BETTIE CHASE: You're not supposed to sit down. You are always supposed to be seen. Now you can be seen. When I say you can be seen: they really liked to say there's no lights in Brooklyn, well, all of a sudden this office is open, everybody can see you, right?

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: Okay, that's the way it was.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: This tool room, and those in tool rooms, were supposed to be seen all the time.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And uh, Cookie, he -- he felt sorry for me, you know, he said, "You know you're here, so, you could lean on the counter," you know. But you're not supposed to sit down.

SADY SULLIVAN: That's a long time to stay standing.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. There was a big can, they called it a waste can, it -- it was material, real soft stuff, that you give the guys when they bring the machinery in, you know, it's got all this grease and stuff on there --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- that you could, you know, take it, you know, and wipe your hands and where you put it and all like that. So then Cookie decided, he said, "Well," he said, "we'll leave the top on the waste can," he said, "and you sort 26:00of like, don't sit on it, but almost sit there, because you'll be near there," so that's how we got away with it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, like that. But you -- you were supposed to always be standing.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And he said that that was a rule.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That was the rule. So I said, "Well, it's not fair." He said, "Well," he said, "remember," he said, "only men were there."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: One thing that was really funny, was when I first started in the tool room. There was a man used to come in about one o'clock in the morning, and he was -- well, he was disfigured. I wondered, you know, why. And then he and -- he and, uh, Cookie would get into a big argument or something like that and so he told me what it was. I don't know if whatever happened to him happened in the Navy Yard --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- but he was on leave and, do you know, that man would come in every night until the boss had to come in and tell him -- to help him.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, even though he wasn't working really?

27:00

BETTIE CHASE: He was supposed to be -- he wasn't working when he was supposed to be working.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, and he'd come in, and I -- when the first time I saw him I said, "Oh, what's that man," you know, "what's he doing here?" And every time he'd pick up something Cookie would snatch it from him, or tell him to sit down, you know, and they got in -- they really got into an argument.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And so he told me that's what it was. He said, "Well," he said, "he said he's supposed to be on sick leave," he said, "and he lives in the area," he said, "he keeps coming in here, supposed to be helping," he said, "he's not supposed to do it."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And we'd tell him, said, "You're on sick leave, stay home." So he just probably was less committed to do, um, you know -- not work.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. What was -- what was motivating him, do you think?

BETTIE CHASE: Not being able to work, I guess.

SADY SULLIVAN: And he really wanted to?

BETTIE CHASE: Could be that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Do you think -- was he getting paid when he was on sick leave?

BETTIE CHASE: He was on sick leave, of course.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: He was getting paid.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I don't know whether it was an accident, whether it happened in the Yard, or what, you know ---

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- I didn't -- I didn't get into that.

SADY SULLIVAN: And what was wrong with him, physically?

28:00

BETTIE CHASE: He was just disfigured, you know. He looked -- he looked, you know -- the way he walked, and everything.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And even some of the guys would say, they'd say to him, "What are you doing here?" Because, you know, evidently he must have worked there before whatever happened, you know, happened to him.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Uh, another thing was time cards.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I'll tell you about time cards. When you come in the Yard, you get your card, put it, you know, put it on the other side. Uh, when I went into the tool room, I had put the card, you know, on the other side. Now, as I said, after overt a year or something, you know, women started coming.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So, so Cookie said to me one night, he said, "You're in trouble." So I said, "I'm in trouble?" He said, "Yup," he said, "you're in trouble." I said, "What happened?" He said, "Well," he said, "the girls were looking through the time cards, they found out that you make more money than they do." I said "Yes," I said, "but I was here before they were."

29:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: He said, "You don't understand," he says, "you make more money than me too." You see, they took me off the welding but they didn't take -- they put me in a section and they didn't change the pay, still getting the same. And I'm --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and I didn't even know it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I didn't know all this was going on, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And all like that. So I says, "Oh boy," you know. They didn't say anything to me but they started acting real funny, you know. So then one night I said, "You know," I said, "I notice some of you been acting funny." I said, "You know," I said, "I didn't just start here," I said, "I started, you know, somewhere else."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, "You're new here." So that's how I tried to let them know that maybe I kept getting raises, or something like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So then I got -- I got them off my back.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So the only thing Cookie said was -- he said, "Now," he said "I'm trying" -- he said, "When the boss comes in," he said, "I'm not telling him anything about what's happening with the cards," he said, "because," he said, "then he may do something about it and it'll bring your rate down to where you're supposed to be working in the tool room" -- I didn't know I was making 30:00more money.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: Because I didn't pay any attention to that. Yeah. I also learned about punching time cards, especially for the government.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: When you punch your card, be ready to work.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now, if I came in and I'm late, and I punch my card, but I don't consider myself you know, like late, late, I'm going to come in and punch my card, if a -- if a boss is there he's going to come over and say, "Uh, what time did you punch?" So I said, "Yeah, well, let's say I was supposed to be there 2 o'clock --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- so I punched 2 o'clock." He said, "You lose an hour." I said, "Why?" He said, "Because you punched this card you should be ready to work." And I learned that, too.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: He had a point there, too.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because I punch and then I come breezing in, change clothes and everything, all like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So he says -- so he says, "Therefore," he said, "uh, you're going 31:00to lose an hour."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And of course I argued about it -- being a woman, why not.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: I argued about it and he said, "No, he said, "that's the rule." But it's a rule that I learned about punching.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, punching, uh, you know, time cards. Uh, I think that's about the main things that I remembered about [inaudible] was that tack welding. Now with the tack welding, an incident came up, twenty years later --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- about tack welding. And, uh, that was on Williamsburg -- Williamsburg Bridge.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I was on the bridge and, uh, I just happened to look and I saw a tack welder and I almost had a heart attack, because I know what tack welding is, you know. But, uh, outside of that it was all right. But I -- I never went back on the bridge. I didn't go on the bridge again for a couple of years -- I was scared. And afterwards, you know, my friend said, she said, "You're stupid, 32:00what are you scared for?" She said, "You think because you saw a tack welder the whole bridge is going to fall down?" I said, "Yes," I said, "but I saw that area," I said, "I don't know," I said, "when it was tack welded," I said, "it should not be tack welding, it should have been welding on top of it." The welder, he's the one that makes the money, he's supposed to come right behind and seal it. It's the same as if you're making clothes.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You baste until you get it together, then you get the machine.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So, you know, that's what um, that's why you know it was called by that, you know: tack welding. But as I said, when I first went into the Yard I went in for that. I went in, uh, for the tack welding. I went into the Yard as a woman, period. Uh, they didn't have many women come in when I did. Now after a while, things sort of settled down and a lot of mistakes and everything were trying to be corrected. I mean government-wise, Navy Yard-wise and all. And one thing which they thought was wise for some people, but it wasn't wise for me: 33:00they took me off of nights. And I was enjoying being on nights.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: I mean, I had no problem with nights.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, so they, they put me in the tool room for days.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I couldn't get along with those girls, I just couldn't -- [laughter] I just couldn't get along with them.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Why not?

BETTIE CHASE: They were trying to keep from working. They said -- well I had a -- when they started to put me on nights I had that problem, too.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: When it was just, uh, just me and Cookie, you know, I had that problem. You're supposed to take your time when you bringing in the machinery and stuff, and they'd finally go off in a corner or someplace like that, "oh I took the last string," and I'd say, "I've been doing this for a year -- more than a year," I said, "now why all of a sudden it becomes a problem?"

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So then they, they sent me to one, it was closer to the -- well, 34:00we were mostly over there by the river, we were -- we were -- while they were working. They were working on a ship, didn't -- they were -- and we didn't know what we were doing -- I didn't know what I was doing. And I didn't know all this was on the Missouri.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: I didn't know that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That I was working on the Missouri. Because I said -- well I know that it's not there -- but I said, "Hey, I put my initials in the corner once [inaudible]." [laughter] When I found out, you know, what it was -- what it was supposed to be.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh cool.

BETTIE CHASE: But, uh, when they, um, dedicated the Missouri, all of those that worked on it got, you know, notice and tickets, but I didn't go, because by the time they got around to it, oh, I was -- I was -- I wasn't even on, on the tool room. In fact, I think I was about ready to leave.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know -- you know I -- but we found out that I was working on the Missouri.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: After a while. And, uh, I teased Howie about it, "I was working on the Missouri." They signed the treaty on the Missouri and I -- I put in my 35:00little bit.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: Down in the corners, you know, doing, you know, doing all that. It was an experience, it was, it was an experience, it really was. We did our part, as -- as women, we did our part.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Did our part. As I said, I can say to myself, being when I first -- I wasn't the, the first woman to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but with the first group --

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: -- that went in. Uh, being assigned with the tack welding, and going into that, I didn't meet any other women. I don't know what part of the Yard they were working in -- I didn't meet any other women.

SADY SULLIVAN: Really?

BETTIE CHASE: They were working in another part. I don't even know what they were doing.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow, so you -- when you were trained for welding you weren't with any other women?

BETTIE CHASE: No.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: I went into this place and they showed me what I was supposed to do and I did it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. As I said, afterwards I figured it out, I said it was 36:00because of my size.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That I was suitable, you know, for that. It wasn't exciting. Not exciting. Nothing exciting about it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But it was -- uh, in the tool room at first, a lady came in, and, uh, she was a -- a musician, she knew a lot of musicians, she used to tell me a lot of things about that. She started me going to Radio City.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: Early show, you know. And that was nice. We started going home, eating breakfast and going to bed. And um, I started going to Radio City and doing, you know, little things like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: After -- so you'd get off of work in the morning, and then what would you do?

BETTIE CHASE: Have breakfast and go to Radio City.

SADY SULLIVAN: Cool.

BETTIE CHASE: Do the first show, it would be about ten or eleven o'clock in the morning.

SADY SULLIVAN: And so what kind of acts would you see? What would you see at Radio City?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, just the same as they have now -- they have, they have -- 37:00they always have a movie.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And they always had a stage show.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That's one thing they did, they always had a movie. I liked that because this was the first time the movies were in New York, so I would have the opportunity to see all these movies before other people. The only other place where you could see movies before they hit New York was Atlantic City, because when I had vacations I used to go to Atlantic City. I had family living in Atlantic City -- it was years ago before they ever thought about casinos or anything, it was just strictly a resort.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, I used to see all the latest shows in Atlantic City, and then I'd actually also see them at Radio City.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And uh, I'd get out of Radio City at about one, two o'clock, I would sleep until about six, six o'clock. My mother would call me -- I had a dog, oh, I had a dog. I had to take the dog out. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: Before I -- before I went to work my mother said you have to take Teddy out. I'll never forget Teddy.

38:00

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: And, um, I'd take Teddy out, and I'd leave the house maybe about ten o'clock.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So as I said, going to Radio City, um, those shows lasted a long time. I mean one show can be a month or something like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: There was another movie called the Roxy -- a lot of people don't remember that but it was the Roxy and Radio City.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, where was the Roxy?

BETTIE CHASE: Manhattan.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm. Radio City had their, uh -- had their dancers, and the Roxy's girls were called The Gae Foster Girls. Their choreographer, her name was, you know, Gae Foster.

SADY SULLIVAN: Ah.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, then I said Radio City had, you know, their own group. Their other shows there that I would go to.

SADY SULLIVAN: And would you go with your coworker?

BETTIE CHASE: No, she wouldn't go.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: She told me about it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: She'd go home -- she lived in Harlem, she had a long ride home.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, she would tell me that. She acquainted me with musicians, she knew all the dirt about them, but she's -- I mean, all these big important 39:00musici -- oh, did she know a lot of stuff.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: Then she would, um, she'd tell me about. She was a good worker, too.

SADY SULLIVAN: What was her job in the Yard?

BETTIE CHASE: She was --she was in the tool room with me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, okay, I didn't -- Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I think she was just the next person that came in the tool room with me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, and she was very nice, I really liked her. I always remember because she had a strange name -- her name was Hes -- Hester. You know. And it just seemed like-- Now, Amelia -- whose name always stayed with me -- Amelia Brooks --there was something about Amelia.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Amelia was real cute. She was cute.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I was small but she was cute. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: She was, you know, small-boned, small structure and everything like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. Amelia was real cute. I visited her a couple of times. She had two children and-- Uh, trying to think -- it seems to me something else that I -- that I should have mentioned about there. I told you about the clothes, I 40:00told you about being there. You have any questions you know, you can ask me, maybe I'll -- I'll remember better.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay, I do have -- well we can -- some -- a lot of them you've answered, but we can maybe go back and, and -- and get a few more details. Um, so your friend -- when you said you applied with your friend but she didn't get called back for a year --

BETTIE CHASE: Not for quite a while.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- and then, and then what was her job, that she was hired to do?

BETTIE CHASE: She said she was working in -- sounded like she just said ordnance.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh. But it was more of an office job?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, she was working in one of those building that's, uh -- they were before you get into the Yard itself. It was a big building that she worked in. Whatever it was it was instruments. Hmm, instruments or something that she was working in.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: But, uh, she was not in the Yard itself, where she worked was 41:00outside of the Yard, but she was working for the Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: But, uh, she didn't -- she didn't have to change clothes or anything, she wore whatever she wanted. She didn't have to work nights.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Just like a regular nine to four -- nine to five job.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, that, that she had.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And she used to ask me, she'd say, "How come they got you doing all that?" I said, "Well one advantage is," as I said, "I make more money than the rest of them do."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, "I do." Of course it was an hourly thing -- you know, we got paid by the hour.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. Do you remember how much you were making?

BETTIE CHASE: Forty dollars stands out somewhere, but I can't remember where is it. Forty dollars I always remember, forty dollars. I can't remember whether it was the Navy Yard, or if it was another, another government job.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But, uh, there's something about forty dollars. But then when I left the Navy Yard I still continued to work for the -- for the government though. But I went into office work.

42:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, I didn't, uh, do anything like construction, or, you know, anything like that. Uh, I met nice people. I will say about the guys -- the guys were all right. The guys. Some, as I said, resented the women.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Only thing about it was I -- that I was resented was none of my business. When the women started coming into the Yard, it got a little bit out of hand.

SADY SULLIVAN: How do you mean?

BETTIE CHASE: Because the women started making dates with the guys.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, and stuff like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, it -- it created a lot of confusion. It just created confusion.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Then the boss, he would, he'd come in and he'd talk about a couple of them that -- that worked with me, you know, were dating some of these guys, and some of these guys were married.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: Now, you must remember that there was two letters that they used to tell you, if a guy is that, stay away from them. That's 4F.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

43:00

BETTIE CHASE: These are 4F, and if Uncle Sam don't want them, you're not supposed to want them either.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: Now, 4F could be because of physical, and 4F could be because of those old enough to go into service, working in, in the Navy Yard, who were needed for their work.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You see, so there two different classifications for 4F.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But if a guy was kind of young and he's 4F, they said stay away from him.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. And, uh, as I said -- right away, "Where did you meet him?" And the first thing they'd say, "Is he 4F?" [laughter] And you know, and it would be, it would be a joke.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I didn't date any guys in New York.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Uh, as I said, I was involved in church.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Not a fanatic, but involved, you know, in church. Although I worked nights, I could still go to church in the afternoon, Sunday afternoon. Now, for your days off, you rotated. You did not have Saturday or Sunday.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

44:00

BETTIE CHASE: You had Saturday and Sunday, all right, next week you had Monday, next week you went Tuesday, next week Wednesday -- you rotated your days off.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: So, uh -- when you're on construction you're rotating the days. You didn't just say oh I'm off every Monday, no, that didn't work.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: No, it was rotation --

SADY SULLIVAN: But you were still, it was five days on and then a two day --

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, um, it, you know, it went that way.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, that was good, unless you know, like, people had certain things, you know, they wanted to do. But, uh, I remember the rotation. There was a time when you got two together and I liked that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, but, uh, they kept regoing to you, just keep rotating, you know. You're off Wednesday, okay, you're off next Thursday.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Uh, of course, young women, you know, they want to make changes, you know. They said no. This is the deal --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- you take off what we give you or else you know, you just don't work here.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: That's all.

SADY SULLIVAN: And how was it on your days off to be on a night schedule? I 45:00mean, did you, did you keep your sleep schedule?

BETTIE CHASE: It was all right. It affected me when they took me off nights.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It really affected me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm, because you had gotten used to it?

BETTIE CHASE: Because I couldn't sleep.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, I mean, you know, I -- I'd be awake all night.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. It was -- it was bad. My neighbor upstairs had a son who was, he was going to elementary school, and my -- my room was -- what do you call -- you know about a hall bedroom?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Okay, I had a hall bedroom.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And so, therefore, when he came down from his -- upstairs, he would have to pass our door to go down the next set of steps, and he and his little friends when they come downstairs they used to bang on the wall.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: So, I had -- I told my mother about it, she said, "You have to talk to him," you know, I said, because they make it a big joke. I don't know why. They'd do it every day, hear the boys coming downstairs, all of a sudden you hear the giggle and-- [laughter]

46:00

SADY SULLIVAN: So they knew they were waking you up.

BETTIE CHASE: Waking me up, and it's two or three o'clock in the afternoon but, I mean, I need that sleep.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. So I spoke to my mother about it, I said, "You know--" I said, she said, "Wellm I'll speak to Alice," that was his mother's name. And, um, so she spoke to Alice, and Alice almost had a fit because she was a working mother, you know, and all like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So um, what my mother did was one day she didn't go to work, she stayed home, and, uh, [inaudible] came running down stairs, he's banging on the door, banging on the door, because you know the hall bedroom's always at the front, like this, and because, you see, you know the layout --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- so then there's a back door, you know, that goes to the rest of the house and then on the side is the bedroom.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And my mother opened the door, she said -- her expression was "he almost peed on himself." [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: He was shocked, you know. And so she told him, she said, "Don't you do that." She said, "I already talked to your mother." [laughter] So I 47:00didn't have any more, you know, any more trouble with it.

SADY SULLIVAN: And that stopped it. [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah that, that, uh, that stopped him. But going into days was difficult.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It was really difficult. You know, I'll tell you, I was about a nervous wreck, just couldn't go to sleep, you know? I said, "Oh my god," I said. Then in the daytime, you know, I'm so -- I'm all groggy.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, "This is awful." But they claimed that, whatever that -- they took a survey. These surveys are something else. And they said they found out that people that work nights should not continue to work nights for so long.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: It just -- it was bad for your health or something. It does something to you.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, so that's why they switched you?

BETTIE CHASE: So that was one of the reasons why they took me off, took me off the night.

SADY SULLIVAN: Ah. Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But they kept me, uh, kept me in the tool room. Want to stay in the tool room? I said, "Ah, no problem."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

48:00

BETTIE CHASE: No problem at all. So you just clang -- change clothes and punch the clock.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. So where would you -- tell me more about the clothing, um, where did you have to go to get the special clothes?

BETTIE CHASE: I can't remember which store it was but all of a sudden, uh, because of the war, I think, it must have been a certain company started, you know, getting clothing for women.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. And it was -- this was made for women, the, the special?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. It was just --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- it was just a top shirt and pants.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: See women -- then women didn't wear pants, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh right.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. So this is where you had to have your pants --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- you had to have your shirt --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- you know, and, oh, I think -- I can't remember if we had caps, I didn't think I had a cap.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Maybe somebody, you know, we were supposed to put our -- of course you had to have those special gloves, gloves that you had to have.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And of course the same with the shoes, the shoes are a must.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: They're a must. Women -- women resented it but they said you had 49:00to do it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because any time they could come and step on your foot, and if you say ouch or something like that, you're in trouble.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: In trouble, cause it was a requirement.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Definitely a requirement.

SADY SULLIVAN: But there wasn't like a helmet, or a facemask or anything that was required?

BETTIE CHASE: No, I didn't have the helmet, see that was the whole thing. I didn't have nothing to -- I had glasses or goggles or something like that --

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: -- but I didn't have what I really should have had.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. So that's why you were breathing --

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm. Breathing. And also with -- because of the little sparks. I can remember that, just see myself just going all, all like, around the side there. And, uh, they'd be watching you, too. Tell me compliment, to me he said, "you got a steady hand."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: [inaudible] keep it going, said you gotta keep -- and you, you have to keep it going.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It isn't like you do an inch and stop, or something like that, you 50:00had to keep it going.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You had this area you're supposed to do, let's do it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. And a couple of women were in -- were into that too.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: With the -- with the tack welding. I didn't know about them; all I knew is I was having problems in my throat.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. So what, um, what happened when you went to the doctor? Did they know that it was from the fumes?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Especially when the doctor asked me what was -- what was I doing.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And that was it right then and there.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And that's why he said, "Did they tell you?" And I said, "No," he said, "They were supposed to tell you."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, "No they didn't tell me." And of course he said, "Well I understand," he said, "it's war time," he said, "but when it comes to workers' health," he said, "they're supposed to tell you."

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: And he said, "And it's not good." And, as I said, and the -- and the Navy doctor had agreed, too, he came in and said that was it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Couldn't do any more tack welding.

SADY SULLIVAN: So the first doctor you went to was not a -- was not in the Navy Yard?

BETTIE CHASE: No.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: No. My uncle recommended a doctor for me to go to.

51:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: He was, you know, he was a medical doctor.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: A license and everything.

SADY SULLIVAN: But then you had to see a Navy doctor?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: And where was that?

BETTIE CHASE: In the Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Was it in the hospital building?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, yeah, I guess you'd call it like a hospital building. But anyway the final examination was done in the Yard -- had to be done in the Navy Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Brought in a note, which was all right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It was just a matter of whether he was going to, you know, okay it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. And so based on that, they -- they took you out of welding and --

BETTIE CHASE: And transferred me to the tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: As I said, there was nobody up there but me and Cookie.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And as I said, Cookie, he, he was all right, he was okay. That's what I tell everybody, I say, I got more of a -- of a -- I wouldn't say a lesson, but I knew a lot about life from Cookie.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: He's the one who told me watch out for the guys, he said, oh yeah, 52:00watch out, watch out for --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: One guy come over and asked me, uh, would I go with him to the movies.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I said, "Yes," I said, "but you have to come to my house," and I said, "and you have to meet my mother and my aunt."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know? And he says, "No problem." Well okay. So now we're supposed to come to Manhattan, we're going to a place, you know, supposedly to the Apollo. So okay, he came over, he met my mother, he met my aunt, we left. We took uh, we took the A train, we went to 125th street. Uh, we got off the train and he said we're supposed to meet a friend of his and his friend's girlfriend, and we're going to go to the movies.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So he said, "You go along with me," so I said, "Okay," you know, and we're laughing and talking we go along. And of course we're not going to the 53:00Apollo first we're going to meet this friend.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And when we met this friend I said, "Thank god for Cookie," because I looked and I knew where it was, the Hotel Theresa, and the Hotel Theresa had a reputation.

SADY SULLIVAN: What was it?

BETTIE CHASE: Hotel Theresa.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: In Harlem.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: It had a rep-u-tation. Everybody knew about the Hotel Theresa.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: When I looked up there and I saw Hotel Theresa and the first thing I said was, "Thank you Cookie." [laughter] And, uh, so we went in there to the hotel he says to me he says, uh, you, uh, sit here and I'll contact, you know, my friend.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So I said, "Okay." So he left. So when he left, you know, I went -- I got up and I followed him. He went to the desk, he spoke to the girl, he gave her money, and she gave him a key. When he came back I was on my way back 54:00-- I passed him, was going back home --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: Cookie had already told me.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, tell me --

BETTIE CHASE: My mother had told me about There -- Hotel Theresa, I learned about Hotel Theresa too.

SADY SULLIVAN: What is it?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, it's a hotel, but, you know, one night stands.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh. So --

BETTIE CHASE: It had a reputation for that.

SADY SULLIVAN: So he was hoping to --

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, you know --

SADY SULLIVAN: -- get you inside.

BETTIE CHASE: Well, yeah. Yeah when I saw -- looking right at him, but he didn't see me, I was going to be sitting where he told me to sit.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, and I saw him walk over there right to the desk and she did something like that, and he went and handed her the money and she handed it -- and I saw her hand him that key and I said, "Mm-hmm, okay."

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: "No Apollo tonight."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So, when I came home my mother said, "You home mighty quick," you know. I says, uh, yeah -- well, my aunt was my mother's younger sister, so my aunt knew more -- a lot of things, you know.

55:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And so my aunt says -- I can still see her now she said, "Mm-hmm," she said, "I didn't like him the first time I saw him." [laughter] No, but my mother said that she did say that, she said, "I don't like him, he looks a little sneaky."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, my mother said, "Honestly," she said, "he seemed mannerly and everything." But he was married. I didn't know that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: He was married.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now he worked -- that is to say, my uncle worked with him in the Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: So, uh, my aunt and uncle and I, we all, you know, we -- we used to talk about things a lot and I said I've got a date with a guy from the Yard, you know, that's all. So, and, um, about a couple of nights later -- my, my uncle worked on the other side of the yard --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- whenever he could he used to sneak over and see how I'm doing.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You see I'm only -- I'm only eighteen or nineteen years old, a kid. They think I'm a kid.

56:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And he came over so he said, "I hear you had a date." So I said, "Yeah." He said, "Well," he said, "the guys were talking about it." So I said, "The guys?"

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. They said he was over there bragging about it, you know, he had a date and everything was supposedly you know [inaudible] -- so he gonna come over there he gonna find out. But you see, my aunt had already -- already told him.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: He came home, my aunt told him about it, you know, that I came home and all like that so, that was the end of that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So my uncle said, he said, "You know," he said, "you know he's married," I said, I said, "Well that's something. I didn't know he was married; I just know I saw that key."

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, I wasn't going to follow the key, that was for sure.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But that's the only problem that I had. I would -- I never gone with the --guys, you know, guys are guys, they do things, you know. You reach and take the tool they want to hold your hand, you know, so that's all right.

57:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I go along, as long as it doesn't go past there.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. So did you ever see him again, the guy?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, but he was -- he knew to stay away.

SADY SULLIVAN: Uh huh.

BETTIE CHASE: He bring -- sometimes he had to bring, bring in tools, or take tools out.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But he always made sure that Cookie waited on him --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- even though the other girls were there.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I didn't say anything to the other girls, anything about him at all, I don't know if anything, you know, went on, that wasn't my business.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I was just you know, just sad. And that was a lesson I learned, you know. Even if these guys are married, they do stuff. There -- I mean there are -- some guys are not like that. We know that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That's life.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. But uh, I remember -- I remember that one particularly -- to this day I can almost see his face. I saw him a few years later.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm. And he turned around, looked at me, I said, "Yeah," one word. "Yeah." And he -- he walked away. [laughter] "Yeah." [laughter] 58:00[inaudible] am I supposed to -- you know, like, you look at a person [inaudible] and when he looked back and I said, "Yeah."

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: I'll never forget that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And he knew what the deal was so boy he turned, he turned and he went the other way.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: So my uncle said he got him straightened out.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: He said, he said, "I talked to my niece, my niece didn't say it went the way you telling these guys," he said, "You shouldn't do that, that's not nice."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. But it was interesting. It was interesting.

SADY SULLIVAN: What was your uncle's job in the Yard?

BETTIE CHASE: I think he did -- he had something to do with electricians.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But he wasn't directly to come to my tool room. Whatever he needed he really didn't have to get it --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- from my tool room but whenever he had opportunity, you know, he would, uh -- you know, he would come over.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: This guy, he could get some stuff from the tool room, that's the 59:00reason why, you know, he was there.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Uh, I learned a lot, as I said, about carpentry, plumbing -- from tools, how to put things together. I can even remember now, you know, a lot of things. Hammers, I always remember the difference between a hammer and a ball peen hammer, I'll never forget that. That's the hammer got the little end on the thing that if you hit it -- it's got like a ball on the end.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, then there's just a regular -- there's a claw hammer, there's a monkey wrench, uh, there's a regular screw driver, there's a Phillips screw driver, that's the one that's got those little things, points, and things that -- that's usually mostly what electricians --not just with that one thing -- for a screw driver.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I learned all that stuff. You know. Nuts and bolts. With that I had to be careful because there's sizes -- different sizes.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, I mean crazy. Not one quarter and one half, three-sixteenth inch, you know all kinda --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You make sure you had to give them the right, um, the right stuff 60:00-- what they order. And when you take things in you had to be careful about, you know, what you took in. And uh, it was interesting. I enjoyed it. Maybe because I was young, and, you know, I enjoyed it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It was a job.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I had other jobs. I worked with a -- mostly from there I went on to -- I went on to government agencies, I worked for agriculture and all different parts.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Uh, war's still on, you know. When I, when I transferred, you know, when I got out of there. I managed to get out of there.

SADY SULLIVAN: And so why did you leave the Yard?

BETTIE CHASE: I left the Yard because the guys were beginning to come back.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: And then you didn't have a hard time getting out.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: You see, you could get out. You see, before, no, you're supposed to be joining. When the guys started coming back --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- that's when you -- you could get out.

SADY SULLIVAN: And so did, were they laying people off, I mean the women, or 61:00were they...?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, some of the women were, were being laid off. My friend was being laid off.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: She was being laid off.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: As, uh, for me, I wanted to get back into, uh, office work.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And when I graduated from high school I had an academic diploma.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But my school -- high school -- girls' high school developed a night school --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: And night school had commercial, you know, typing and stenography and stuff like that

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I was interested in that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So then I went to night school.

SADY SULLIVAN: After working in the Yard?

BETTIE CHASE: No, that was before.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, I see.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hmm, yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because see, I had a break time in between.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And so I'd do that, and therefore you had to take -- this is a government job, but once you had that Navy Yard business straightened out you could still, you know, go into government.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

62:00

BETTIE CHASE: And then -- so then I went into that. I remember I was working in downtown Manhattan, and our base was, was California, and, uh, I always remember that I came in one day and they told us, you know, that, that something happened in our base. And we, we all had -- what do you call it, uh -- ? Well, there's such a thing as RIF, reduction in force --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and there's a different way that the government has it where they tell you that you're, you're not really being laid off but, you know, you can get a job, you know, somewhere else.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But I always remember that. That was downtown. It was one of those bases, California, because those bases were the ones that were involved with -- when we were at war with the Japanese --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- so it was over there. But I forgot, I forgot the name of that city there particularly in, uh, in California.

SADY SULLIVAN: Hmm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I liked doing that, too. Spent a lot of time doing that.

63:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Then I went to work for the City.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I worked for government, you know, worked for the City. Then I got married! [laughter] Then I got, uh, I got married.

SADY SULLIVAN: What year did you get married?

BETTIE CHASE: '49.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Wait a minute, '48, '48. I got married in 1948.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. And do you have kids?

BETTIE CHASE: I have three children.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Had ten grandchildren.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: And I got thirty great-grandchildren. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh! Wonderful! And are -- do -- does anybody live nearby?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm. I have a daughter who lives in the house next door to me. I have a daughter who lives in Virginia.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I have a son that lives Sheepshead Bay. He has all the children. He and his wife have a lot of children. But, uh, my oldest daughter has one daughter and my other daughter has two.

64:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, let me see, my -- my son has seven children, and he has twenty-four grandchildren. The -- he has twenty-four. It's his grandchildren.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow! [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: Or is twenty-six? To -- to make it forty, he has twenty-six --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- because the others only got three or four among them --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- you know, so he has a lot of them. But, uh, you know, that's it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But I told him about all my experiences in the Navy Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I'll always remember it, but -- I'll always remember Cookie, because Cookie was always a gentleman.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, he never, ever said anything out of order.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: He helped me. He told me about life.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Well, he told me in a, in a, in a nice way, you know? He, he used no, no dirty terms or anything like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: He talked to me, and he would tell me, he said, you know, he said, "You're eighteen, nineteen." He said, "Your mother talk to you?" I said, "Yes," I said, "my mother talks, she talks to me." He said, "Okay." He said, "'Cause 65:00there's a lot out there." You know, he would tell me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. And so how old was he when you were working together?

BETTIE CHASE: Oh, Cookie must have been about... He was close to thirty.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But he wasn't married.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. And why was he still working in the Yard? Why wasn't he drafted?

BETTIE CHASE: I don't know. He wasn't -- well, it could have been because of his job. See, that's what I'm telling you: sometimes their jobs had a lot to do with it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: Lot of guys look healthy to you, even young --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- but they were, it was essential for the, you know, real wartime era.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: So sometimes you didn't know. That's why I said the 4F, you know, cover a lot of stuff.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But you used to always see, see a young look in his eyes. It must be a health problem --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- but I don't think Cookie had a health problem.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I think that he was a... Because he ran that tool room. I mean, well, it was just like both of us just, you know, doing it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: He ran that tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: He was in charge of that tool room. Everything had to go a certain way.

SADY SULLIVAN: And where was he from? Where did he live?

66:00

BETTIE CHASE: Bronx, New York.

SADY SULLIVAN: Ah!

BETTIE CHASE: That's why we could talk. [laughter] Cookie was from the Bronx.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. Yeah he, um, he used to tell me about -- he told me about, you know, about his family, about his father and his mother. He told me about, [laughter] one day he told me, he told me about sex. I was, I was in hysterics. I was just sitting there, you know, and he's, he's getting all red and every color. "Now, you know so-and-so, so...?" [laughter] He was trying to tell me, "Now, you got to look out for this, you got to look out for that," you know, and all like that, and I'd be sitting there and I say, you know, I'd be listening and all like that. He'd be turning every color red, "Oh, we're finished here, [inaudible], I got to talk to you." He said, "I don't think your mother talks to you." I said, "My mother talks to me. Don't worry about it."

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter] So was he telling you -- what kind of things? Like, I mean, did he talk about, I don't know, like birth control and that kind of stuff, or what?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, yeah, in a -- in a way about -- yeah.

67:00

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: In a way he talked about, "Watch out for the guys."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: That's what he said: "Watch out for the guys."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I really appreciate -- he never didn't know... I saw him about ten, fifteen years after World War II. I wasn't sure it was him and he wasn't sure it was me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: It was right at Eastern Parkway Station --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and Franklin Avenue --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and one of the -- one was going up and one was coming down, and you -- what -- and we both turned around and looked, you know, and I said, "Cookie!" [laughter] And he said, "Bettie!" And he says, "How are you?" And I said, "Fine," you know. It had to be a long time.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, that's so nice!

BETTIE CHASE: Uh-huh, Mm-hm. I don't know about Max, though. Ma -- Max was, he was, he was -- you know, he was old. That's what he said: Max, Max was old and cranky --

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: -- so we didn't, we didn't bother too much Max. But Cookie, Cookie was good. I always tell everybody, I said Cookie, Cookie was a gentleman. I 68:00said, "With me there," I said, "he could've said most anything, he could've said any kind of talk or anything like that." I said, "he never said anything ."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. I said, "he looked out for me." I said, "when the guys would come in with that stuff he'd be hammering or something but he'd be watching to see what goes on and he'd be yelling at them. He;d say, "Okay," he'd say -- he'd check your stuff and he says, "Get back to work" --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- you know, something like that. Or he said, "Oh, you spend no time talking to her. She doesn't have any, have any time, you know, to talk to you." And, uh, that's, that's the way -- that's the way that went.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And as I said, he told me now, he said, "Make sure," he said, "you lean on the counter." He said, "You know, you lean any way you want, like that," he says. [inaudible] But, uh, he said, "There are no chairs in here," which was true, no chairs in there! He says, "So," he said, "you can't, cannot sit down." He said, and after a while -- well, this was an early part -- and, uh, he said -- uh, after a while he said, "I'll see when I see the boss," he said, "I have to tell him," he said, you know, "it's not fair," he said, "expect the girls to 69:00stay up," you know, and all --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and all like that, to lean on the... Where are you supposed to smoke? We had one who used to come in, and she smoked all the time. "I don't care, I'll smoke if I want to." You meet -- you meet all kinds of people.

SADY SULLIVAN: Nobody was supposed to smoke, or just the women?

BETTIE CHASE: You were supposed to smoke not in there.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, not in the tool room.

BETTIE CHASE: No unh-uh.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You go outside, go outside and you can smoke.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Can't smoke inside the tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: No. That was definitely a no-no.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. What about, um, eating -- I guess it was night -- but your lunch? What did you do for eating?

BETTIE CHASE: You had to bring your own stuff in.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And you could eat it. There were no restaurants or nothing there --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- you know, for you. You could, uh, you could bring it in. There was no hot plate or anything in there for you.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You had to, you know, make arrangements the best way you could --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- when it came to, uh, eating. Now, when I used to come by 70:00subway, I think it was, that -- walking from the subway to, to the gate, on the way was a little, little delicatessen or a restaurant --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and that's when I used -- I became acquainted with, uh, heroes. You know, you call them heroes --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and they have [inaudible], things like that, and I would, uh, I'd get one, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Was that on Sands Street?

BETTIE CHASE: It was on, yeah, it was on, was on -- well, you know, it was on the street. You're in the street and you go, you know, this way.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Ahem. And it was like on a corner, only about a block or so before you got to the gate --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- was, uh, was this little, uh, little deli.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And you get cookies, you know, or something like that. You could bring something in, bring your own soda, something in here, but nothing hot.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You couldn't do that. And, of course, they check you at the gate, you know -- whatever you bring in, they check you.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Make sure you know what you're doing. Didn't frisk you, they just 71:00checked you! [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: The women they didn't, you know, didn't do too much. If you had a bag or something you had to open up your bag, of course.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, and they always, always will have metal detectors --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- see if anything is there. And so you came in, you went wherever you were supposed to, however you were supposed to sign in -- like I said, you went to the time clock, watch that, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: So was the -- were the time cards right when you come in the gate or were they in the tool room?

BETTIE CHASE: No, but -- well, I had one in the tool room. It was just for the tool room. That was -- I didn't punch that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: I just turned that from one side to the other.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: The main clock was outside.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: Outside when I came in, you know, past the gate.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: That was the one.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. So would there be -- I imagine that there's a lot of people going in and out, so did you have to wait to do the one but...?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, well, you just have to get in line. You just -- because you knew you had the two sides: in, out.

72:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, so, uh, you know, you would do it, uh, you would do it that way.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, your boss is already watching, because I said that's how they would catch you on --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- coming in at eight o'clock, you know, and they wanted to know, "Did you start work at 8:00?" "Well I--" "Well then, you lose an hour."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It's up to you, do what you want. You want to work an hour free, that's up to you. Nobody say anything.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. But, uh, you're not going to get paid for that.

SADY SULLIVAN: And where would you go -- where did you go to change into...? Or did you wear your work clothes?

BETTIE CHASE: Uh... Well, I had to change clothes in the tool room. You know, you go over back in the corner. Like I said, they only had that, uh, one place -- well, more than one place, where guys were in there to go to the bathroom.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, something like that. You could, uh, you know, you could 73:00go over there. But I remember that place. It was horrible too. It made -- it make you nervous, you know. You just see a whole long line, nothing but, you know, urinals --

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and no doors or anything, and just these bright lights so everybody could see it.

SADY SULLIVAN: U- huh.

BETTIE CHASE: You know... And, uh, once -- a couple of times, uh, he -- Cookie had to call for somebody to go with me. See, I couldn't just go with anybody.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Got to call on somebody, you know, to go, to go with me. And this particular time, a couple of times, I saw a woman outside of it, smoking. But then, as they say, how stories get out, they said that there was a woman that attacked a woman, and I said, right away I said, "I wonder if that was her."

SADY SULLIVAN: A woman attacked a woman?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, what do you -- why? Or a man attacked?

BETTIE CHASE: No, it was a woman. That's, that's what they said, the whole 74:00thing, they said it was a woman who, uh, who attacked her. It was quite a big thing about it, too --

SADY SULLIVAN: So --

BETTIE CHASE: -- but I never did find out too much about her.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- tell me what the story was that was -- that was being told.

BETTIE CHASE: That the woman sexually attacked her.

SADY SULLIVAN: An --

BETTIE CHASE: That was the whole thing.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- another woman?

BETTIE CHASE: That's right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh! Oh. In the bathroom area?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. And what about...? But did it ever happen that -- I imagine that fear of the men attacking women would be...

BETTIE CHASE: Well, see, that was, that was the whole idea was they didn't want, you know, the women out there until they made arrangements.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: See, and we had to deal with this until, you know, arrangements were made.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: We had to deal with a lot we weren't too happy about, but, uh, that -- that was the main thing.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But it was, it was -- it was interesting. Some nights -- I, I made 75:00-- at home I made a mental note of something. I can't remember, but I think I've already said it. I think it might -- I think it was about the shoes.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I mentioned about, you know --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- got to have your, uh, had to have your special shoes.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh... My mind has gone back to two -- see I was in three tool rooms. I was in one, nights, and I was in two, day.

SADY SULLIVAN: And where were they located?

BETTIE CHASE: Just, just around, around in the, in the Yard itself.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: See, because these are areas where they were building --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- see, they're doing all kinds of building, different things. You don't know what they're doing, they're building.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That's the way they put a ship together. To put a ship together they have about four or five different yards working on it --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and then when they get it ready for launching, which they call "put it on the ways" --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- that's when it comes.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. Because I remember the ship was on the ways and 76:00everybody was excited. Everybody said, "You going?" I said, "No, I'm not going." They said, "You are." I said, "No, I'm not going. No." "You want to go hear, uh, Truman's daughter sing." I said, "I don't want to hear her sing." [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Why not?

BETTIE CHASE: I knew her, just -- I didn't have to hear her sing. I mean, we hear her sing any -- anyway. I think she did, you know, she did the Star Spangled Banner.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, you know, all the dignitaries and everybody was there. They were coming into the Yard and I was going home.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, "No, that's all right."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I did my part.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I came in the early days... That's what I always say. I remember. I said, "I came in at the beginning."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. Women were coming in there by droves after a while.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And all the sudden, every time -- just like I said, it was just me and Cookie. One time there was about three or four of us and Cookie.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Almost, you know, falling all over each other.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But, um, I -- maybe I was enjoying it better just, just having 77:00Cookie, because these were different types of women. There were different types of women.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: They were all ages.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Middle-aged, children, no children or anything.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And as for me and Amelia: Amelia had three but they were school age --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and Hester didn't have any.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So we were used to our, our time, you know, in the tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. So how did you -- were you, were you aware at the time that, that this kind of work was not traditional wom --- for women? And was that -- how'd you feel about that?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, I said, during wartime you figured it had to be done.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now, to me it was -- it was a learning process to me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I mean, I enjoyed it. I really did. I enjoyed it. I always liked to do something. I want to do something, do something different.

78:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, and to acquaint yourself with that. And then in later years it paid off.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because I said, I could always find a job working in a tool room.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: Because, you know, I recognize, you know, all the tools.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, to this day I recognize a lot of them. You know, I see 'em in operation, uh, as I said, I got in an argument with the man trying to repair the sink in my house.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I told him it was the wrong stuff, and I told him, I said, "It's lead pipe." Lead pipe always was a no-no.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Always, you know. And, uh, I recognize that. I don't know where he got all these pipes from. He was going to replace the pipes, and I told him, "You can't do that." And he said, "You think you know everything?" I said, "I know that."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, "I'm going to tell the landlady. And I told her, too. I said, "He's putting lead pipes in."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, "And that's bad. Real bad." I says, "We ought to put in brass."

79:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: Put in brass pipes.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Then you hook up stuff. See, he'd got hold of all this old stuff that people threw out.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: And then he's trying to, you know, make money, and suppose -- supposedly repairing --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- other people's, uh, problems --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and it didn't work.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It definitely, you know, did not work. So he got mad. Oh, he was mad with me. Every time he'd see me he'd start: mumble, mumble, mumble.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: So I said, "Well, you're not going to work in, in uh, my kitchen."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: "You're not going to do anything like that." I said, I said, "You don't know what you're doing."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: "Yeah, you know everything." I said, "I know everything about plumbing."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And outside of that, nothing more I can do.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But I tell you, it was interesting, it was really interesting. Probably people figured we didn't do much, but we did our little part.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm!

BETTIE CHASE: If it wasn't for us we wouldn't -- I wouldn't say we would have, 80:00we -- we would've lost the war, but we were able to put that little bit in --

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: -- to make it possible for these guys to go to war. Ahem. When I say that, I was upset about war itself.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That's upsetting anyway.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, that you, you got to take young men, who don't have any chance, you know, in life --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- that they have to go.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But then you can't just sit back and let people do things to you. See, that's why -- you see, you're put in a position that you can't get out of.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You're not happy about what you're doing --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- but you have to do it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Did you feel that way when you were working there? Were you think about that this was part of the war effort, your work?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, I got -- the reason why I get upset, because you see, at my age, I knew young men that age.

81:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I also knew young men in my neighborhood who didn't come back.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: See. But that was in -- that I went to school with, you know --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- in elementary time.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I remember them in the next block, three guys.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: All around. Some of my friends knew, remembered guys, you know, they went to school with.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That they went and they lost their lives.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. I met other people not through school but through church.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I remember on December 7th a girlfriend, she was a singer, and I was a musician --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and she used to sing for different programs out in Flushing, and we used to go out to Flushing. That Sunday we were supposed to go to Flushing.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: We did go to -- go to Flushing, but I'll never forget Times Square, because we had to go through Times Square because we had to take, get 82:00that train that goes from Times Square to Flushing --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and all we could see was women and children weeping and crying --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- where their husbands were sailors or so, had to go back to wherever they were, you know, their bases and all of that. It was a sad day.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It was sad. And then when we got to church, it was sad having the service going on and people crying and praying about some members of the church had to go. It was a -- it, it was a bad time.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It was really a bad time.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Very bad. So the person who said that war is hell knew what they were talking about. War is hell.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It, it's rough. So whatever we could do, we had to do. We weren't happy about doing it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because we figured we were doing something supposedly to help the war effort, but, when you look at it, we're sending our boys out there to be killed.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: If you want to look at it that way.

83:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And it's still the same now.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It's still the same.

SADY SULLIVAN: How did, how did news about the war travel in the Yard? Did -- did people talk about stuff? Was there radios? How did you know it was going on?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, in the Yard itself you didn't know hardly anything.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Only way you know anything is if people that are from outside the Yard came in and brought it in.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But, uh, outside of that, no. They wouldn't have had the newspapers and stuff like that, no, because that would damage the war effort.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: You see?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Here you're working, doing the best you can, and all the sudden here they come in with this, "Oh, such and such a ship was bombed last week" or something like that. You don't want to hear that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: So bad news, you heard it at home --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- not in the Yard --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- unless somebody brought it in from the outside.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I don't think anybody would do that unless they were -- well, like we said, like we have now, who we have -- it was -- they didn't use the 84:00word 'terrorists.' but it was the same thing.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: They had terrorists then.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm.

BETTIE CHASE: And always will have. Always will have terrorists.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So that was a bad part about it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I know, like with church, I said we used to go to what they call fellowship programs --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and all like that. They always end up having a prayer for, nine times out of ten, somebody that was there, was young, and is not going to be with us because they were killed in the war effort.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So it was a sad time, really sad. It's sad now.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You see on TV, see parents crying, you know, and all like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But that's the way it goes.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You're not happy. But you try to make the best out of, out of what you have.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And that's all you do is just make the best. I said, with me 85:00personally, I say, I've been blessed. My son did not have to go to war.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I have ten grandchildren but I have, how many -- I think -- I think I got five, I got five grandsons --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and five granddaughters. None of them have had to go to war.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But then I have friends who, you know, have lost their families.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Their sons, gra -- grandsons, cousins, and everything. I know some of them. Being with this church group, I remember a few of them that I would see maybe a couple Sundays, maybe last year, this year, "What happened to so and so and so?" "He was killed in the war."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. So. War is really hell, they're right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: War is hell. Was hell. But if anything we did could help our side, 86:00as women, I know we all did. I hope that a lot of women went to work -- went to work in the Navy Yard because they wanted to help. Some just went in because it's for money. Well, we need money -- of course you know that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm.

BETTIE CHASE: But, uh, you know, there was a reason for it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: There was a reason for it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I always remember December 7th, never forget it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Never forget it. I remember December 8th more than I do remember December 7th, because that was Monday, and I was working downtown in New York, and I forgot which building it was, but anyway, the building I was working on -- in -- must have been about, say about, maybe the fifteenth floor or something like that, and I can still see this now, and I'm sat across the street from a -- 87:00it was another building that had Japanese workers, Japanese, and we were standing right there seeing the government agents come and get them. Never forget that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow!

BETTIE CHASE: It was December --

SADY SULLIVAN: On, on December 8th.

BETTIE CHASE: -- December the 8th. The 8th, because we went to work.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow.

BETTIE CHASE: Everybody had to go to work. I went to work. That was a Monday.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: I went to work. And they raided that place, because the boss said, he said, "Look," he said, "you see that?" He said, "That's a Japanese place, do you see it? They're being -- " What do they call it, interred or something? Whatever they did. You know how they had --

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, the internment camps.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm. We saw it, and I'll never for -- I can see that, standing right by the window. Of course we're at, you know, like that -- what they call it? The canyon, you know, downtown? They call that "canyon Broadway" or something like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, I don't know, but...

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, all the -- all the big buildings on this side of the street --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- the other big buildings across the street --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and you can see from this building directly into the other one.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. Because that -- the street is not that wide. It's kind 88:00of narrow.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I can still see myself standing there looking.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm.

BETTIE CHASE: As the boss called our attention to it. He said, "You see over there?" He said, said, "They're getting the Japanese." He said, "Now," he said, "we're at war with the Japanese."

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow. And so what was the, what were, what did people think about that, about the Japanese people being --

BETTIE CHASE: Well...

SADY SULLIVAN: -- taken away?

BETTIE CHASE: You see, people get upset, and you figure, you -- you're American --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and they're Japanese.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You figure, they deserve what they get, right?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I mean, that's, that's common knowledge. That's common knowledge.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I'm not saying it's right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: Because they're losing people, too.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But it, it was a -- it was a nasty way to go about it. That's when they bombed Pearl Harbor. That was really nasty.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: It was very nasty. A friend of mine lost her boyfriend that way -- he was... I guess he's still in the bottom of the harbor.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. But, uh, that's -- that's the way that was.

89:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I lost... I don't think I -- I don't think I ever -- or maybe a couple guys I knew that died.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I know a few that were hurt.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I only know a couple, you know, that, that, you know, actually were killed.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So... It's something else, but that's the way of life nowadays.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, we see warfare now, it's, it's worse. See, now we got chemical warfare and we got all this stuff. We didn't have that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So you don't know from one day to the next what's going to happen.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You really don't. You don't know where it's going to happen, either. But I survived.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: A lot of people I know survived. Is there anything I missed?

SADY SULLIVAN: Well, I was just looking, because we definitely covered, uh, these questions, but I'm wondering if there's, um... Let's see... Were you, uh, 90:00were you part of a union? Was there a union?

BETTIE CHASE: You work for Uncle Sam, you don't, you don't have a union --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- at that time.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now, the only time I got involved -- I wouldn't say involved -- in a union, that was, that was after I got married.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, I had my oldest daughter.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, when I had her I think we were -- we were probably -- well, we were out of World War II, I know that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, I was working for -- I had been working for the City. I was working for the Ci -- New York City when I was expecting her.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And after I had the baby they said, you know, "Come back to work if you take the test." Well, I took the test. I was ready to come back to work. So then they said, "Well, you can't come back right away," so they gave me some kind of excuse. So I was a transcription typist.

91:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And they were hiring people for the, um, Federation -- Federation of Jewish something, they had that -- they were hiring people for that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So I said, "Well, I'm ready to go back to work, I've got a babysitter and everybody." I said, "I'm ready to take this job, you know" --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- until the City calls. But I never went to -- back to the City, after that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, the only thing about that was with this group -- oh, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, that was the whole title.

SADY SULLIVAN: Ah!

BETTIE CHASE: So then, um, I -- I went to work for them. Well, that was in my almost neighborhood. I could almost walk to work. That was working out fine.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, in Brooklyn.

BETTIE CHASE: In Brooklyn.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, cool.

BETTIE CHASE: But they, they wanted, they wanted a union.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: They -- you know. And I said to myself, I said, "Now, I don't know what's going to happen here." I said, "I've got just one kid. I don't know what's going to happen."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, "So I'm ready -- I think I'm going to, I'm going to stay here, you know, for a while." So the City, they had, they had a union, and 92:00Federation also. You know, Federation was supposed to be having, trying to get a union. Now, I'm sti -- I'm working Federation. Ahem. Those people acted terrible, the union. They were having -- Federation would be having meetings, the guy would come in, he'd break in on the meetings, and they'd say all kind of things, you know. I thought it was terrible.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I really thought it was awful. So I said, "Unh-uh, this, this is not for me, you know. I think I'm going back to the city."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. So I went back, went back to the City. So by this time -- now, this time the City sent for me. Now, I wanted to work when [laughter] they wouldn't employ me, now they sent for me.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So I went back to work for the City, and, uh, I was -- I came home from work one night and there was this letter from Federation of the Jewish Philanthropies: The union, got a union there, they managed to establish a union. 93:00You know what, they sent me some money! Because of while I was there, they said. I was surprised.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: They sent me some money.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow!

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm.

SADY SULLIVAN: Because of wages, like the increased wages, or why...?

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah, u- huh, everything changed and all like that and they sent me some money. I said, well, look at that! I was --

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow!

BETTIE CHASE: -- I was surprised. But I didn't like to get -- see, Uncle Sam doesn't like for you to be messing with unions.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And the -- they don't like it at all, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Don't be bringing a union in on them.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But people do it. They try it, you know. And some people say they belong to a union but, uh, it doesn't affect them on their job.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I don't get involved in unions.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Figure make out the best way I can.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now, I worked for the Episcopal Church for twenty years. I, I retired from them in 1986.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh! What did you do for the Episcopal Church?

94:00

BETTIE CHASE: I was a supervisor of a transcription and department and everything.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: And I worked for them up until 1986, and I retired in 1986.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: So what's that, twenty-four years, right? Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow! Um, and where, where was your office?

BETTIE CHASE: Uh, well, we were on -- well, we moved, yeah, we were on, um, Second Avenue in Manhattan.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And the main Episcopal office is on Second Avenue in Manhattan. Uh, and that was the insurance company.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But at that time I was, you know, I was with the insurance company. But, uh, they didn't have a union.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: They did not have a union. But I spent, you know, I spent a lot of time with them.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So I've been getting a pension for twenty-six years!

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: You know, from them. Then, of course, I have the Social Security, too.

95:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, so, uh, you know, that was that. But that's my life.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Um, I have one more question, which is about, uh, Sands Street. Did you see -- I've, I heard that that's where there was bars and activities and stuff. Did you ever go to Sands Street when there was stuff going on?

BETTIE CHASE: No, I don't think so. To me, all I knew about Sands Street was a gate to the Navy Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That's all.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now I understand Sands Street had a reputation.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I'll say now, I say, work -- walking from the subway to Sands Street I never saw anything at all.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Only just that little deli.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm, Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That, you know, that sold sandwiches --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- stuff like that. That's all I saw then. But as I said, that was in the early days --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- you see.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right.

BETTIE CHASE: Those were really early days.

96:00

SADY SULLIVAN: So what year was it that you left the Yard?

BETTIE CHASE: Hmm?

SADY SULLIVAN: What year did you stop working at the Yard?

BETTIE CHASE: Oh, let me see... God, I can't remember when was that. When was the war over? '46? '47? Let me see, I got married in -- I got married in '48. I was not -- I was, I don't think I was with the Navy Yard in '48. No, '48 and '49 I was with the City.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I was working for the City --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- when I got married. I was, I was working for, uh, the City, so I would have to go back a couple years to, you know, to the Navy Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Um, and so I guess I'm just -- this is sort of related but sort of not, but I'd just like to hear about, um, Evening Star Baptist and where 97:00it is, and tell me about what you do there.

BETTIE CHASE: [laughter] Evening Star Baptist. Evening Star Baptist Church is right here in -- in Brooklyn. It's a -- it's a nice church. You'd call us a family church. I have been there thirty-six years.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow.

BETTIE CHASE: I can tell -- tell by, how old is my granddaughter and I know --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- thirty-six years.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Thirty-six or thirty-seven years that I was there. Before that, I -- I used to play for other churches, but, uh, this is in my -- this is in my neighborhood.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That's why. This --

SADY SULLIVAN: Where is it exactly?

BETTIE CHASE: This church is on the corner of Gates Avenue and Franklin.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, Gates and Franklin, Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm, and, uh, at that time when I started there I was living on Franklin Avenue.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, as you see, now I'm on, you know, I'm on Bergen Street.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, it's -- it's a nice church, it's a nice -- it's a friendly church.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I'm their organist and the choir director, or they call me the 98:00Minister of Music.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm!

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, the people are nice. I have no complaint. Very nice. The pastor is nice. The pastor is also the President of what they call Empire Baptist Missionary --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: -- Convention.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That is a convention of New York State --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- Baptist churches --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- uh, uh, which organize with him that's almost, you'd almost say like a union --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- organized by that group, and there are approximately, let's say, over 300 members.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow.

BETTIE CHASE: Churches, [inaudible] churches --

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow.

BETTIE CHASE: -- that, that he, that he, um -- he's over-Supervisor of it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, it's just a nice church.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Nice, friendly church. People there -- people are people, right?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm. I have no problems. I enjoy working with them.

99:00

SADY SULLIVAN: So how did you first get involved at Evening Star?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, I knew about that church.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, um, a friend of mine was looking for a musician for Evening Star Baptist Church.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: In the meantime, I had, I had my son in the YMCA on Bedford Avenue.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So I used to pick him up in the evening. This particular evening, I went to pick him up, and she saw me but I hadn't seen this lady for a long time, so she ran over to me and she said, "Are you playing for any church?" So I said, "Well yeah, but sometimes, not with any one particular church."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And so she said, "Well," she said, "I'm having a -- supposed to have a meeting for a musician." She said, "And if it doesn't work out can I contact you?" So I said, "Sure!"

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So it didn't work out and she contacted me. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: And that was thirty-six years ago! [laughter]

100:00

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. Now they're stuck with me.

SADY SULLIVAN: And so how did you learn how to play the organ?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, first there's piano, always piano.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: First was, uh, you know, piano. And, uh, my teacher, well she was the one that was responsible -- when I told you we went out to Flushing --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- on December 7th --

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: -- she was, she was my piano teacher, and she was also my organ teacher.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because she was a, uh, an organist for that church.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So, uh, that was how.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So I started -- I must have been about ten or eleven years old --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- when I started to learn how to play, uh, play the piano. Wasn't too happy about it. My mother insisted.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: She insisted that I play, you know, play the piano.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And, uh, I did that from time I was about eleven until high school, and then when I went into high school I enjoyed it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

101:00

BETTIE CHASE: And when I got out of high school, I paid. Before, my mother was paying, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I paid. Then I went -- and then I went to the organ. So... That was my music background.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But my mother was a musician. My mother was a pianist.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: But she said that I was responsible for her not continuing, because she said that she had a piano and the musician -- the man that used to come to the house, she said, but "While he's trying to teach me," she said, I'd be banging on the keys.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: Terrible. That was the end of that. But, uh, I enjoy -- I love music.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Well, they say music has charms to soothe the savage breast --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm...

BETTIE CHASE: -- and it is true.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Even people that don't work at it find it's really interesting.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Sometimes you just sit down and play something or listen to something and it, it makes you feel good.

102:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You don't have to be a music -- musician yourself, just a lover of music.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Just a lover of music.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I love good music.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I say good music -- I love music. I love rap. I love everything!

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But I mean, my favorite is church music.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. But, uh, I like music. I tell everybody. I say, "You know what?" I say, "You have to love music." And I have people in the church, there's only certain types of music that they like.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And that's why churches should have different types of music. You can't push music down people's throat. You can't say, "You come to this church and we only have hymns and we only have anthems," you know, like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: To keep a congregation happy you got to have a little bit of everything.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh! So do you do that? Do you play other...?

BETTIE CHASE: Now, my specialty is hymns and anthems and spirituals and things like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And all like that. That's my specialty.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I can play the other stuff. But then I have another musician that, 103:00that plays all that other stuff, so that balances it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, it balances it. So every Sunday we have both types of music.

SADY SULLIVAN: That's great.

BETTIE CHASE: And then it keeps people interested, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: So what does the other musician play? What kind of stuff?

BETTIE CHASE: Well, he plays what they call contemporary.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. That's the jazzy stuff.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm. And he also plays the other, too.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, but, uh, he leans more to that, and I got my basic training with the, with the other type.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I lean to that. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But if I have to, you know, I can do the best... But we have an understanding --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- see, and that's how we get along.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: See, in life you got to have understandings.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: When I say we have an understanding: he knows the type of music I like to play, and I know the type of music he likes to play.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now, during the summer we're on vacation. He has a month off and I 104:00play for everybody. He takes off for July and I play for everybody. I take off August and he plays for everybody.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You see, and then that's how we, uh, that's how we balance it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And I think if a lot of people worked out stuff we wouldn't have so much confusion in the world.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, just try to get everything worked out. You're not going to get everything you want.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Anybody thinks they're going to get everything they want, forget it! So you got to try to make ways to, uh, say, well, we got to live in here together so let's try to do something.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And that's what I believe in. Let's try to do something. I know my way. I tell them. They understand that very well at church, what I tell them.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because once, one young lady said to me, she said, "You don't play like the other guy." And I looked at her, I said, "He doesn't play like me."

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: So we settled that one.

105:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. And she stood there for a minute and she said, "Oh." [laughter] That's how we get along, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: We have, we have to do that. That's how you get along. I do something maybe you can't do and you do something I can't do.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I'm not going to get mad with you --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- I'm just going to continue to do my own thing, you do yours.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and we're going to make it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now, I don't have -- neither of my children are interested in music.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: No, they're not, not interested in making it a profession, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: No. Grandchildren --

SADY SULLIVAN: Are they members of the church?

BETTIE CHASE: Uh, well, they're members of a church, and that's the thing that I have to abide by.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Join a church.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I don't think you should join a definite church, but some people used to say years ago, um, "My father is a Methodist. My mother is a Methodist." So?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

106:00

BETTIE CHASE: There's no right way. The thing is, you don't have to be a Methodist.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. You can be a Baptist, one of them be Methodist, one Presbyterian... As long as you say you acknowledge God.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: My son is a Muslim.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: As long as -- I tell him, I said, "As long as they acknowledge a God and they give him a name."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said, "If you're an atheist or an agnostic I'd be very upset."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You see, but outside of that, no. As long as you acknowledge your, you know, God.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I play for a Baptist church but I'm a Methodist.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: That's all right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Because then I went to play for a Baptist church I had the understanding with the pastor.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm

BETTIE CHASE: He says, he knows.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So he said, he knows.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, when I have an off Sunday I go visit my church.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So that's the way it's, you know -- I figured that's the way it's, you know, supposed to be --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- for me.

107:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, that's for me.

SADY SULLIVAN: So what Methodist church do you go to?

BETTIE CHASE: Uh, it's called, called, well we -- well, now you got to be careful with Methodist churches, because there's so many different Methodist churches.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: There's a Methodist, there's a Methodist Episcopal, there's United Methodist, [laughter] there's African Methodist, there's African Methodist Episcopal Zion, they're all -- but they're all classified as Methodist.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: They're all Protestants.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: See? So that's why we say when people talk about religions -- I have a thing about that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And especially if you're applying for a job, be careful how you answer the question, because the question is what is your religion, and people always put down Baptist, Methodist... That's not the real -- that's your denomination.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, yeah.

BETTIE CHASE: Your religion is, is uh -- Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and in recent years they have added Muslim.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: That's religion.

108:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Any time I see, I see -- "You don't know," I say. "Baptist, Methodist is not religion. It's a denomination."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I said: you're Protestant.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Protestant, Catholic, Jew, or Muslim. That's your religion.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: So now people that I'm connected with, they, they got it straight.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I say, yeah, get it straight now. There's a difference.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I say, you can never tell, I say, answering questions can mean whether you get a job or not --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- by the way you answer a question, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But um -- but that's it. Now my, my granddaughter, my oldest granddaughter, she's Methodist.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: She graduated from Duke University.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: She got her Masters in Divinity --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: -- at Duke University, and the year before last she got her PhD. 109:00She leans towards the Methodist --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- she leans to, to the Methodist side.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now, her, her mother -- my daughter, my oldest daughter, she's Methodist also.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But she doesn't have all those degrees that her daughter has, so she said, "How can I get degrees?" She said, "I had to pay for her to get her degrees!" [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: So, some people say that, you know, I'm glad -- it doesn't upset my daughters, but people talk, and they don't think about what they say. "Oh, how come your daughter got all those degrees and you don't have any?" [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: But she's, she has -- my granddaughter, she has those degrees.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: She got her Bachelors from, from Duke first.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And then she decided she wanted to go into the ministry.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: She went back to Duke, to their Divinity School --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

110:00

BETTIE CHASE: -- and she got her Masters in Divinity, and then she got a PhD in education, so -- so she's all set.

SADY SULLIVAN: Where does she live now?

BETTIE CHASE: She's in, uh, she's in Virginia.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Now, her husband is part of, uh, Obama administration --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: -- and he was, up until a few months ago, Director of Faith-based Initiatives --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: -- under Obama. But now he's a CEO and President of a, of a -- some kind of political council sto -- for charter schools.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: So they're good for each other.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, they're well educated so they're good for each other, and they have two children.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And my daughter, she's a -- what is she? Executive Assistant at that famous AI -- AIG. [laughter]

111:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh! [laughter]

BETTIE CHASE: That was her first job. She went there to work when she was about eighteen years old --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, wow, and she's been working there --

BETTIE CHASE: -- and now she's fifty-four and she's worked her way up to, up to that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow!

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. And, uh, my oldest grandson, he's a legal assistant with, uh, Jones Day.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: A big company there, so they're doing all right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I tell 'em, I say, "You better do!" I say, "Make sure they -- and make sure they stay in school!"

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I get so tired of seeing these kids walking around the streets, I mean grown, with their heads wrapped with stuff and their pants hanging all down like...

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: There's no excuse. The school is open. The door is open.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Nobody's dragging you kicking and screaming in there. You have the opportunity to go --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and I made sure my kids went, and my two older grandchildren, 112:00because I said -- my grandson who's with Jones Day and my granddaughter who is a preacher --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- they were brought up together. They're cousins, they're first cousins, you know. They were brought up together, and I saw to it they went to school. I sent them to private school.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: Made sure they had the education.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know, you got to do it. It's the only way you're going to make it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You have to make it. And I tell them, I didn't put anybody in school to take care of me, either. I'll take care of myself.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I come and go. It takes me a while, me and my cane. I got a special car service I can call and I'm on the road! [laughter] You know, I'm on the road.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: And that's, and that's how I survive. That's how I do it. I got my little studio -- see, that's only a studio apartment I have, where you were.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: I just got a studio, yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I got my own little place there. I got my, have my TV, and I don't even, I don't even have a cell phone. I don't even have cable. I don't want cable.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: You know. I tell 'em I stay busy with the church.

113:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I'm involved with senior citizen centers. My life is full.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: I have a -- you know, I have a full life.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: Today with the car service the guy said, "I don't know how to get to Pierrepont Street." I said, "Don't worry, you'll find it." [laughter] I said, I said, "I've heard about it." I said, "I know the, I know the area." You know, um, you sent me a letter --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and I'm sure you had something in there. I can't find it. I don't know if I took it out.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: But, um, afterwards I went and looked through the part of the letter, you know, that I have --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and all the sudden it dawns on me, I said, remember that you did -- whatever I did see had something about directions how to get here --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and I can't find it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: So I, so I must, I must have took it out and laid it down, and all I have is the original letter and the little card.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh!

BETTIE CHASE: That's all I have.

SADY SULLIVAN: But not the directions.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm.

114:00

SADY SULLIVAN: Uh, well, I can definitely -- we have one, I can give you one of our brochures that has the, the directions now, if you want now.

BETTIE CHASE: No, no, I mean, I mean, it's no -- it's -- no, it's not the directions --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh.

BETTIE CHASE: -- it said in the letter, "Enclosed," and I read what was enclosed but I cannot find it. Am I supposed to sign something when I finish talking with you?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, yeah! Well, yes, well, we can do that now.

BETTIE CHASE: All right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, the release form.

BETTIE CHASE: Yeah. And all the sudden it dawned on me, I said, now, I said, wait a minute! When he was telling me about Pierrepont Street, I said, "Now, I saw something that said how to get there" --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hm.

BETTIE CHASE: -- and, uh, then I read your orig -- your letter over again, and then in there it said "enclosed." I said, "Oh!" I said, I took it out and I didn't put it back in the envelope. I must have it somewhere in the house.

SADY SULLIVAN: Well, this is the one that... This is the important one, 'cause we will both sign this one.

BETTIE CHASE: Mm-hm.

115:00

SADY SULLIVAN: So what this, um... Okay, I can write... This is the release form that will give the Historical Society permission to, uh, archive the interview, and also the Navy Yard is going to archive the interview, and the interviews -- well, I'll let you, I'll let you read it -- the interviews are made available in the Othmer Library, which is on the second floor here --

BETTIE CHASE: Uh huh.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- for people to listen to, and, uh, so this is giving BHS and the Navy Yard permission to keep your interview, um, and you will definitely get a copy of the interview, also. I'll, I'll mail you a CD.

BETTIE CHASE: Oh, okay.

SADY SULLIVAN: And...

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Interview Description

Oral History Interview with Bettie Chase

Bettie Virginia Emory Chase (1922- ) grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. She is African-American and her mother was from Virginia and her father was an orphan. She attended PS42, PS9, and graduated from Girls High in 1940. Bettie worked in the Navy Yard from 1942 to 1946 as a tack welder and later in the Tool Room. She married in 1948 and has three children. Chase was the supervisor of transcriptions for the Episcopal Church in New York for 24 years, from where she retired. She currently works as an organist and choir director at Evening Star Baptist Church in Bedford Stuyvesant.

In this interview, Bettie Virginia Emory Chase (1922- ) describes how she came to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and her experiences as a tack welder and working in the tool room over the next few years. She thinks she was chosen because of her small size, which allowed her to get into small spaces that needed welding. Chase explains that she did not receive much training but was good at tack welding because she has a steady hand. She describes the role of tack welding as similar to a basting stitch in sewing. After six months, Chase was transferred to the Tool Room because of throat problems caused by welding smoke. She goes into detail about her work and coworkers in the Tool Room, including her clothes, time cards, tools, interactions between men and working the night shift (10pm-6am). She also discusses issues and events that took place in the Yard, such as interactions between men and women, sexual assaults, safety concerns, and the overall war effort, which she knew contributed to the deaths of her friends and neighbors. At the end of the interview, Chase talks about her life after the Yard and describes her role as organist and choir director for the Evening Star Baptist Church. 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.

Citation

Chase, Bettie Virginia Emory, 1922-, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, September 08, 2010, Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection, 2010.003.026; Brooklyn Historical Society.

People

  • Chase, Bettie Virginia Emory, 1922-
  • New York Naval Shipyard

Topics

  • African Americans
  • Baptists
  • Gender (Sex)
  • Methodist Episcopal churches
  • Naval ships
  • Navy yards
  • Religion
  • Sex role in the work environment
  • Sexual harassment
  • Shipbuilding
  • Shipyards
  • Tools
  • Violence in the workplace
  • Welding
  • Women
  • Women--Employment
  • World War, 1939-1945

Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Evening Star Baptist Church

Transcript

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Finding Aid

Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection