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Donald Condrill

Oral history interview conducted by Jennifer Egan

December 29, 2006

Call number: 2010.003.033

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DONALD CONDRILL: My name is, ahem --

JENNIFER EGAN: All right, here. I want that recorded. I'm old-fashioned. I'm going to take off my bracelets. Um, so let's just start with, um, your telling us your full name, including spelling.

DONALD CONDRILL: Okay. The name is Don, or Donald, Richard bar and grill Condrill, C-O-N-D-R-I-L-L, Condrill. And I was born and raised on Sands Street, ahem, and I left in 1942, May, to go into the Army. I enlisted in the Army and left Sands Street forever.

JENNIFER EGAN: And, um, what was your address on Sands Street?

DONALD CONDRILL: The last one was 241.

JENNIFER EGAN: OK. And also, for the record, it is December 29, 2006. I'm doing that really carefully now, [laughter] so we know. Um, okay, and what is your date of birth?

DONALD CONDRILL: [date redacted for privacy] 1921. That's why you call me an 1:00older gentleman. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: Aw, you're not going to forget that?


JENNIFER EGAN: And what is your current address?

DONALD CONDRILL: It's [address redacted for privacy]

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. Um, and talk a little bit about your family, what your parents did, brothers and sisters, just kind of the world you grew up in, your family, family life.

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, my mom opened the store, uh, right outside of the gate on the left as you came out the gate, past the gate. I'm talking about the gate on [inaudible]. And it was a Greyhound bus depot with cigars, sandwiches, candy, ice cream, soft drinks, so on, workingmen's gloves. And she opened that in the morning at 6:00 a.m. and she closed at midnight.


DONALD CONDRILL: And when I get to be older and my sister got to be older, one of my sisters, why, we'd go down -- I'd go down in the wintertime particularly and get the potbelly stove going. It was a coal-fired thing, and, uh -- so she wouldn't have to come down and do that. And we finally talked her into closing 2:00the store about eight o'clock at night instead of midnight. Uh, the big income, I guess, was from tickets. We got a, a, a, a percent of the tickets she sold, like it was ten percent or whatever. Um, she got to know a lot of the ranking people in the Navy Yard that would come in for cigars or cigarettes or whatever, and very friendly, very nice people. Uh, my dad was a plumber, a master plumber, ahem, and he worked at that for many years. And one of my first jobs I can remember is carrying his master plumber bag, the big black bag, when I was like eight or nine years old. Uh, my oldest brother became a plumber also, my brother Gene, and he married one of the Falosa [phonetic] girls, was one of the big names of the neighborhood. And my brother Jim, uh, he was in -- he worked for the Internal Revenue Service, married to a Brooklyn girl by the name of, uh, Genevieve. And Jim passed away in 1985, and Gene passed away about ten years before that. They all died before they got to be 70.



DONALD CONDRILL: Uh, Gene was my big brother, protected me, and Jim was kind of away a lot. He just moved around a lot. But he and I got along fine after -- we got to know each other after the -- after I retired and he'd come down to Texas every other summer.

JENNIFER EGAN: And he was also older?

DONALD CONDRILL: He was also older. And my older sister was Vicky, and she passed away I guess about, oh, seven, eight years ago. And my kid sister Dorothy died in 1963. She had a fall, an accident. Anyway, that was the family, basically. And, uh, the reason I got involved with the Navy was because the folks had this Navy canteen Greyhound bus depot. And my brother Gene kept --- he became buddies with some Navy CAGs off the Wyoming, because Wyoming was kind of permanently stationed there, and I got to know them. Uh, the lockers on board 4:00these ships are so small that, these guys who get to know my brother, they would also leave things in the -- behind the store -- in the storeroom of the store so that they could put on civilian clothes when they came ashore. Because the girls would not date sailors in those days.

JENNIFER EGAN: Huh. And why was that?

DONALD CONDRILL: Reputation. Uh, it was peacetime. Who loves a soldier or a sailor in peacetime? So that was the, the family, basically, and I grew up in that kind of atmosphere. And I also grew up in a Depression era. I'm not going to go into great detail on that. Uh, we never went without, without food, but we all -- we maybe had spaghetti twice a week or something, but we never -- we were never hurt. But I remember, Pop always had some kind of transportation for his business, and we would go out and poke around the so-called Hoovervilles of the Depression era. They were tin shacks, like out in the Flat, Flatlands out there by Floyd Bennett. And uh--



DONALD CONDRILL: When I was a kid, I used to like to travel around a lot. When I was ten, eleven years old, I was going out to Floyd Bennett, watching the, the planes, or going to Manhattan and visit Wall Street or Trinity Church out over there, and all around. I remember, I remember the Riverside Church, and we -- I went to a, uh, motor show put on by Ford Motor in 1933, and they had a talking car, had a little PA system [inaudible].


DONALD CONDRILL: It was the first time they put out the V8 engine.


DONALD CONDRILL: So that was what I was doing as a kid. I really liked to move around a lot.

JENNIFER EGAN: [inaudible] And so -- um, and, and the, uh -- your parents' store survived the Depression?

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, yes. It did. In fact, it was one of the things that helped, helped us through those years. And Pop's plumbing. He, he was -- he was one of the better ones at house plumbing. You needed a plumber whether you can afford it or not. But he would have a lot of people owing him, I'm sure, but, uh, he [inaudible]. And then one day my mom and I were talking about, um, [inaudible] 6:00newspaper, and Captain Hamilton, Marine Corps Captain Hamilton, he was [inaudible], walked in from the street. We knew him. And he asked me how old I was, and I said eleven. He said, "No, you're not. You're twelve." He said you did get those licenses, those passes I got. You could, you could see that it said twelve there. I said I was eleven, they took it down as twelve, and then the next year I'm still twelve. Two years' licenses and the pass were there.

JENNIFER EGAN: And the pass was to allow you to do what?

DONALD CONDRILL: Go in the Navy Yard and sell newspapers in the Marine barracks.

JENNIFER EGAN: I see. And what -- what are your early memories of Sands Street? What are your first impressions of it?


JENNIFER EGAN: And, and also of the Navy Yard.

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, Sands Street was a busy place. I mean, we had a couple -- uh, some unruly characters. We had a group of people, young men, who were banditos. They were no-goods. They didn't live on -- they didn't live on Sands Street. They would come down to Sands Street, and they would roll a sailor, out 7:00out of the -- handy for the three. They called them --

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you know where they came from? Oh.

DONALD CONDRILL: -- we called them the Dead-End Kids after the movie called The Dead End with Sylvia Sidney, remember that? And --


DONALD CONDRILL: So they were the Dead-End Kids. But that was the only bad crowd we had in the, in the area.

JENNIFER EGAN: Where did they come from?

DONALD CONDRILL: I don't know. Not Sands Street.


DONALD CONDRILL: They'd come through Sands Street.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah. And were they -- I mean, were they ethnically defined? Were they, like --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- Irish or -- ? [laughter]

DONALD CONDRILL: They were white. Well, various.

JENNIFER EGAN: No, no identification.


JENNIFER EGAN: And when you say "roll a sailor," that means rob him, right?

DONALD CONDRILL: That means, eh, bop -- they would get a -- drunken sailors was often passed out, and they would help them pass out further and take money from them.


DONALD CONDRILL: Now, they didn't do it in front of us, but we knew it was happening.


DONALD CONDRILL: There wasn't much you could do about it. You called the cops, the cops are going to let 'em know who called, and you're in trouble.

JENNIFER EGAN: Right. And so it sounds like, in a way, it pr -- uh, there were a lot of things to see and do for a kid there.


DONALD CONDRILL: Well, you know, uh, at one time I did some shoe-shining, but the newspaper thing is the thing I was interested in because it took me into the Yard, ahem, and I got to know a lot of people that way.

JENNIFER EGAN: And when did you begin that, that route?

DONALD CONDRILL: When I was eleven. Let's see, it'd be -- 1921 -- close -- 1930 -- 1932, I think. Actually, 1931, I think, when I first started. I became eleven in October of 1932. All right.

JENNIFER EGAN: But it said -- your pass said you were twelve. [laughter]

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, that's right. But I was [inaudible] the Marine barracks, ahem. But those guys weren't making much money, and they didn't want to put [inaudible] holdover to payday. We're talking like a two-cent paper, you know, because that was -- two cents was enough to buy some candy and a couple of cigarettes in those days.

JENNIFER EGAN: So how did it work? You, you were selling papers?


JENNIFER EGAN: And so what exactly would you do? How -- what was the --


DONALD CONDRILL: I, I would take a pack of -- a stack of papers, the Brooklyn Eagle, the, uh, New York American, New York Journal, whichever it was called at that time, and I'd make my way on down and walk to the barracks, "Anybody want a paper?" And occasionally somebody would want a paper. And, uh, then I'd go down and board the ships and, and sell the papers on the ships. You know, sell one or three papers, that was a big day on the ship. I mean, they, they [inaudible]-- well, these guys were -- Marines were making like seventeen dollars a month. That wasn't much. And they liked to do things like these soldiers and sailors always like to do, chase girls and whatever. And that's not -- that's not for nothing. You got to take them out on a date and whatever. So [inaudible] the ones left. But also at the time I realized it was not profitable selling newspapers. So I just stopped selling papers and kept coming down and became their mascot for the baseball team and basketball team.

JENNIFER EGAN: Hm. How did that happen?


DONALD CONDRILL: I don't know. I, I can't tell you now. Things were happening everywhere, I don't know.

JENNIFER EGAN: So you were -- you sold papers for how many years?

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, six months to a year.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, not too long. Oh, okay.

DONALD CONDRILL: No, because I realized that I was wasting my time. And I just enjoyed it.

JENNIFER EGAN: And you were wasting your time because -- because of what you said, that the Marines didn't have enough money to really buy a lot of papers?

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah that's probably right. No, they, they were not interested in national or international subjects in those days. You know, they -- the Marines in those days are the rough-tumble guys, great guys, wonderful guys, uh, liked -- not, not too well educated. But they were wonderful, great soldiers, they loved the Marines, uh, they loved me, evidently, and they were great to me all the time.

JENNIFER EGAN: And it was Marines rather than, um, Navy sailors that you were hanging out with?

DONALD CONDRILL: Right, right, because the Marines were more or less stationary, 11:00and the Navy came and went kind of thing.


DONALD CONDRILL: But also with the, the families, like the Weitzels as an example, uh, Lieutenant Commander Charles W. Weitzel, and they had two sons, Charles and -- Charlie Junior and, uh, Roy. And okay Mrs. Weitzel's a wonderful, wonderful lady. And they were well off enough that, uh, they went to private school, Adelphi Academy.


DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, ahem. And one day they were having a dance at Adelphi Academy, and Mrs. Weitzel said, "Now, you boys are going to have to take Donald with you," but they didn't mind. But [inaudible]. So she took us in the library and passed out books to us, and the books told how babies were conceived. And she's a nurse, so she lets us know, c'mon guys, okay, other things happen, too. Then she taught us how to dance.

JENNIFER EGAN: Wow, what a lady! [laughter]

DONALD CONDRILL: Wonderful, wonderful. She taught us how to dance. She was an elegant, elegant lady, I'd say.



DONALD CONDRILL: And the old box step, she taught us. So that night, we went out and we danced, and that's all we did. [laughter] Twelve years old, you know, I was, I was scared of girls.

JENNIFER EGAN: [laughter] Um, and the dance was at Adelphi Academy?

DONALD CONDRILL: Adelphi Academy.

JENNIFER EGAN: And where was Adelphi Academy?

DONALD CONDRILL: I don't know, Long Island somewhere.

JENNIFER EGAN: Somewhere nearby?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, no, I think it's out in Long Island somewhere.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, a different --

DONALD CONDRILL: It's a private academy.


DONALD CONDRILL: But, I, I can't tell you where it's at.


DONALD CONDRILL: And then after that, we, we were invited to dances at various places, like Park Slope, some of the homes there, and they were always very nice. They enjoyed, the young ladies we danced with, uh, and I got to learn how to dance at an early age, and I enjoyed it. So. That made you a very eligible young man, you know. If you danced, you didn't have two heads, and whatever. [laughter] And liked -- didn't like to [inaudible] in company, anyway. [laughter] No, I, I enjoyed it.

JENNIFER EGAN: And were the sons of Charles Weitzel, uh, friendly? I mean, were they good friends of yours?

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, very much so. Charlie particularly. Roy was 13:00kind of the, uh, black sheep of the family. Liked to chase girls and brag about how much he did with girls and [inaudible] stuff, but Charlie was my -- me and him -- uh, I was very adventurous as a kid, but I think Charlie was more so.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. And what -- when you say adventurous, what, what kind of things did you, did you get into?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, I'd, I'd go off to Coney Island by myself when I was ten, eleven years old. I'd [inaudible] go exploring in New York City, and the various museums and everything --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Daniella, please come to the security desk. Daniella, please come to the security desk.


DONALD CONDRILL: -- the parks, so on. And, uh, of course, going with the Marines, that was adventuresome too.


DONALD CONDRILL: In fact, we, we would play basketball and baseball against [inaudible] sailors and the Army guys.

JENNIFER EGAN: The Army guys played the Marines?



DONALD CONDRILL: Both for basketball and, um, and baseball.

JENNIFER EGAN: Now, were there as many Army people here as there were Marines?

DONALD CONDRILL: In the base here? There were no Army here.



DONALD CONDRILL: But they were around. Fort Slocum. Uh, that was up in the -- in the Long Island Sound. Fort, uh, Hancock over in Jersey, and a dozen, a dozen Army posts around there.

JENNIFER EGAN: I see. So they would come especially to play?

DONALD CONDRILL: Fort Hamilton -- Yeah. So we'd go there, they'd come here, and we'd play basketball against them, or baseball.

JENNIFER EGAN: Right. And were your other siblings as, as into the Yard as you were?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, I was the only one. In fact, I was the only one in the neighborhood into the Yard at all.

JENNIFER EGAN: Is that right?


JENNIFER EGAN: And what was it about the yard that was so appealing to you?

DONALD CONDRILL: I don't know. It's a place to do things, and, uh, I liked the people. They liked me, evidently, because they, they put up with me. But I, I would go out with the Marines and do things. Uh, they'd come by the store and they'd want some company. Uh, they, one of, uh, my brother Gene's friends, uh, Tony Hans [phonetic], he was half-Indian, whatever, a Navy CPO on the Wyoming, which is a big ship, he came by one time and says, uh, "Let's go over and see 15:00Sergeant York," it was the 1940s, so we went to see Sergeant York. But he was always looking for company and didn't want to miss -- he didn't have money enough to date a gal, and maybe just want to have a good time without, eh, fooling with the gals. But then I -- I also -- I don't know how I met him, because he was Air Marine, but that's when I started going to movies.

JENNIFER EGAN: And you don't remember how you met them?


JENNIFER EGAN: And how were they different from the other Marines?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, because they, they only -- they had a one-day-a-week drill, and then they're civilians the rest of the time. But I got the same reception from them as I did the regulars. And, uh, I did go on two maneuvers with them, one to Croton Reservoir, and then the one we did the landing on, the [inaudible] yacht club.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yacht club?

DONALD CONDRILL: I, I wish I knew the name of the yacht club, and I wish I knew 16:00the date. And I've, I've, I've got my -- I lived near the archives --


DONALD CONDRILL: I lived near the archives, and I've gone over there -- I've spent a lot of time there trying to find things about dates and such, just going through their records, but I can't find it. Uh, the only thing I could find -- the only other thing I found reference to is the Marines had a, uh, detachment, Reserve detachment, flying World War I planes at Floyd, at the Floyd Bennett Airfield, and I could plant some stuff there. And as I already mentioned, the captain, Captain, uh, uh, Bernard Darren [phonetic], were -- they complained that he was letting his men play basketball on their drill nights, and they couldn't do it. They wanted to do what he did on drill nights. Well, that's not true, because on drill nights I would sit in on a classroom and watch the military [inaudible], the whole nine yards, you know. And in fact, I really wasn't quite imbued into, uh, being courteous to the officers. I was the same as 17:00them. I did command a [inaudible]. We were sitting there and they were coming up with what trucks that people were going to ride in to the maneuvers up in Croton Reservoir. And they asked me, "[Inaudible], what truck are you going to ride in?" I said, "The first," and he said, "The first what?" I said, "The first truck." And they all laughed. And "What are you laughing about?" "You're supposed to say 'sir'; that's the lieutenant." "Oh. First truck, sir." I didn't know. They thought that, that was very funny, and the guys were laughing.

JENNIFER EGAN: So you got to go along?


JENNIFER EGAN: And what did they do? What was the maneuver?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, we went -- see, it was a typical maneuver exercise where they -- the, uh -- they had one, one element was the enemy and the main element is the friendlies, and they would have to put people on guard duty. Uh, it was cold, wintertime, I remember that. And I was in the, the hut with the officers. They had bunks, bunk beds, and a potbelly stove, but the potbelly stove needed firing up at night to keep it going all day. So they got this one Marine who was 18:00caught committing a nuisance on the post, and committing a nuisance on the post would mean he was urinating on, against a tree instead of going to the latrine, I understand. So he's the one brought in, and punishment was keep the stove fired. I remember that.


DONALD CONDRILL: And of course they had -- they had a, uh, a mess set up, they had food and such.

JENNIFER EGAN: How did they keep the stove fired when they weren't punishing anybody?

DONALD CONDRILL: They'd have to do it themselves, the officers.


JENNIFER EGAN: Um, and so, uh, it sounds like you ranged all over the yard. Were there particular areas where you were the most?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, I'd say the officers' quarters and, uh, the Marine Corps quarters. The paymaster was Mr. LeClaire [phonetic]. I mentioned him. He had a son, Teddy, about my age. And Mrs. LeClaire was very nice. She always gave us lunch together, and the first time I ever had a BLT was with her, and I'd never, 19:00I'd never heard of it before.

JENNIFER EGAN: Because your mom was busy at the store.

DONALD CONDRILL: My mom was busy at the store. Well, she always made sure that I, uh, uh, that I was OK, but she also knew [inaudible] parent.

JENNIFER EGAN: And, and then you also were boarding the ships, at least for that period when you were delivering the papers.

DONALD CONDRILL: Right, even when I wasn't. [inaudible] came in, used to have as a, uh, a mascot, it was a wildcat. I, I'm trying to think whether it was a, uh, -- what, what kind of wildcat it was. It was a, uh, it was chained to the deck, I remember that much, and I worked, worked my way around it, you know.


DONALD CONDRILL: It was a -- it was a -- not a leopard, but I want to say -- what's the biggest, fastest wildcat?


DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, it was a cheetah, and they had it as the mascot of the ship.

JENNIFER EGAN: Wow. Where did they get -- they got the cheetah from Africa?

DONALD CONDRILL: At my age I wasn't concerned, I just wanted to keep my distance from this beast, you know?

JENNIFER EGAN: That's amazing. I, I wouldn't think a cheetah would survive in captivity.


DONALD CONDRILL: Well, it didn't --

JENNIFER EGAN: It would get bored on the ship.

DONALD CONDRILL: I may be wrong about the brand, but it was, was, it was a cheetah or one like it.

JENNIFER EGAN: Right, wow.

DONALD CONDRILL: And it stayed chained to the deck, and I guess some, some sailors had the job of taking care of it. I don't think it was using a, a litter box or anything. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: Ugh. And was it easy to just get on the ship? How did you actually board the ships? Were they just --


JENNIFER EGAN: You just walked right in. It's so interesting for me to hear this, because I'm interviewing a lot of women -- well, some women -- who worked here during the war, and it just sounds like the whole environment had changed so much. You, you could only stay in your small section. Most of them never even saw a ship, much less boarded a ship.

DONALD CONDRILL: My Aunt Liz worked there during the war, and so did my friend Sophie Nolan, and I got -- my best memory is that they were working in the cafeteria as waitresses or, I don't know, [inaudible].

JENNIFER EGAN: And so are -- is either of these people still alive?


DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, no, my Aunt Liz died at ninety-five some thirty years ago.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm. Oh, too bad. I'm, I'm dying to speak to anyone who's around.

DONALD CONDRILL: She was my very favorite aunt. Take me down to Parnell [inaudible] when I was a little kid, buy me a bucket of [inaudible]. Always had something to, to give. She never had children of her own, so [inaudible] always had something to give us when she came over. No, nthing really expensive --


DANIELLA ROMANO: Should we get our food or -- ?

JENNIFER EGAN: Are you hungry? Do you want to eat?



JENNIFER EGAN: Maybe we should get some food.

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, where's it at?


DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, yeah, okay, I was not paying attention

DANIELLA ROMANO: I didn't want to interrupt because it seemed like you were in a good story and I didn't want to crinkle all the paper.

JENNIFER EGAN: I feel like I'm kind of dominating, so maybe you should jump in and take over for me.

DANIELLA ROMANO: No, I, I'm hap -- I feel like --

JENNIFER EGAN: Wow, I'm glad we're splitting that. [laughter] That's insane. I'd have to call an ambulance if I ate that

DANIELLA ROMANO: [inaudible] sandwich, I know. Oh shoot -- oh, good, they did [inaudible]. Yeah, there's a --


DONALD CONDRILL: [inaudible]

JENNIFER EGAN: Hm. And here's a [inaudible] -- I shouldn't talk with my mouth full. Did, um --

DONALD CONDRILL: You have my drink.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, I'm sorry. Wait, you had a Coke also?


JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, I'm sorry. Oh, great, yeah, I don't even like Diet Coke.

DONALD CONDRILL: How dare you.

JENNIFER EGAN: Didn't take a sip. So you were basically on Sands Street for about twenty years. Cheers. Thanks for lunch, Daniella.


JENNIFER EGAN: Did you notice -- did you see changes on the street in that time? What did you notice that changed?

DONALD CONDRILL: I guess they tell you to go uptown [inaudible] upscale, and some of the people [inaudible] were going to call ourselves the Navy Yard Village.


DONALD CONDRILL: Because the, the ice truck had a sign out, Horse-Drawn Ice 23:00Truck, Navy Yard Village. I remember that. But, uh, yeah, so, "Where do you live?" "Well, I live in the Navy Yard section." That was about it. But no, not really any changes.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's interesting. Except it sounds like by all reports that it did start to change in the forties.


JENNIFER EGAN: And got a little rougher.


JENNIFER EGAN: And how did you feel about leaving?

DONALD CONDRILL: I volunteered. I enlisted. I wasn't gonna wait to get drafted.

JENNIFER EGAN: When did your parents leave?


JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, the same period. So you enlisted in forty-two, and they moved out to Long Island in '43.

DONALD CONDRILL: They were looking to get out. I guess Mom was getting -- her heart wasn't too good, and, uh, Mr. Bazouls -- who owned a restaurant, whose son 24:00Billy I used to hang around with a lot -- the guy offered my mom a certain price for the store, and Mr. Bazouls said, "No, you got to give double that." So the guy wanted the store, and he gave my mom double that. And the reason Mr. Bazouls [inaudible] told her, she said, "Our sons, our sons played together."

JENNIFER EGAN: Aw, that's great.


DANIELLA ROMANO: We're trying, we're trying to figure out why the Navy Yard, this neighborhood turned basically, it sounds like, in forty-three.

DONALD CONDRILL: Now, Billy Bazouls --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- is still alive and is living out here in Long Island in one of those rest thingers.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Oh. Do you have his info?

DONALD CONDRILL: I can give you a phone number.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Great. What's his name, again?

DONALD CONDRILL: Billy -- William -- Bazouls.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Billy -- and how do you spell his last name?



DONALD CONDRILL: Let me get you his number. I, I, I haven't talked to him in many years, but we exchange Christmas cards.





DONALD CONDRILL: I got to scroll all through this thing and -- that's a good sandwich, by the way.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Oh, good. I'm glad you like it. Do you want any of this, uh, chicken cutlet sandwich? Do you want any of the chicken cutlet?

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, no, no, thank you.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Are you sure? Okay.

DONALD CONDRILL: This is plenty for me.

DANIELLA ROMANO: It's enough to feed four men.

DONALD CONDRILL: Okay. The number is [number redacted for privacy]


DONALD CONDRILL: And his name is Billy, or William. His wife's name is Jen. She's a girl from Pollacktown. He married quite young.


DONALD CONDRILL: Very nice gal. Polish girl.



JENNIFER EGAN: Which is pretty much Vinegar Hill, what's now Vinegar Hill, right?


DONALD CONDRILL: I don't know.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I thought that was Irishtown.

JENNIFER EGAN: You were saying it was on Hud -- on, um -- as we were driving down, um, from Navy --

DONALD CONDRILL: Is that what they call Vinegar Hill? I'm not sure of the area.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Greenpoint? Would it be Williamsburg?

JENNIFER EGAN: No, he was, he was saying --

DONALD CONDRILL: Greenpoint is a Polish neighborhood. Always has been.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah. Right as we were driving, Daniella, from where Navy turns into -- is it Hudson?

DONALD CONDRILL: Polishtown is when you go down Hudson --

JENNIFER EGAN: He said that was Pollacktown.

DONALD CONDRILL: Front, Front Street is the beginning of -- was the beginning of Pollacktown.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, originally that was an Irish town. I mean, that was what -- that was why it was named Vinegar Hill. This is really originally; this is 1800.



DANIELLA ROMANO: Mm-hmm. So this must have just been as all the groups -- as all the immigrant groups --

DONALD CONDRILL: Never heard of it as a kid.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Huh. How about, um, Filipino people?

DONALD CONDRILL: There were some --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- up above, up above, um, Bridge Street, I think, on Sands 27:00Street area. There was one, one black family that lived on the corner of Hudson and Sands, and the guy -- the, the guy about my age's name was Bozo. I don't remember any last names. But he was a big, big, big guy, and we'd occasionally go to school together.

JENNIFER EGAN: You went to school with the kids from that family?


JENNIFER EGAN: You went to school with the children from that family?

DONALD CONDRILL: One of them, Bozo.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm, oh.

DONALD CONDRILL: Bozo was, ahem, behind me coming up the stairs at P.S. 5, and a couple of Hispanic kids started pushing me around, and he grabs me and said he was my friend, let me go. And Bozo's a big guy; he didn't have to fight, he just had to be there. [laughter]


DANIELLA ROMANO: Um, Nick Cato quote -- well, you were quoted in that New York Times article about the, um, when the ConEd plant, or I guess it was Brooklyn Union Gas at that time, when it was started.

DONALD CONDRILL: It was, that was Brooklyn Consolidated Edison.


DONALD CONDRILL: Different place now.

JENNIFER EGAN: So it was always Con Ed. Um, when the -- when -- I guess when it would start up and the stacks would spew --

DONALD CONDRILL: You could hear, it was kind of a roar.


DONALD CONDRILL: And all the ladies in the neighborhood would go around saying, "you better you get your clothes in." There was clotheslines around in, in the yards.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Because it would -- it would just pour down, rain down on the neighborhood?

DONALD CONDRILL: Very fine soot.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Did people have to cover umbrellas or anything?

DONALD CONDRILL: This is before they had driers.


DONALD CONDRILL: The women used to hang them out on the clotheslines.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, and they'd be covered with soot.

DONALD CONDRILL: It didn't give them time, you know.


JENNIFER EGAN: It would just go all day, or would you get covered in soot if you were outside?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, I never had any problem walking around. They would blow every so often. I don't know how often. I have no idea, but anyway you'd hear that extra roar coming out of the smokestacks, and that's when the ladies ran around and said, "Get your clothes in!"

DANIELLA ROMANO: Um, because I'm interested in kind of the ambiance as well as, uh, the buildings and anything that -- which this is great, actually; you've got a really good memory of the buildings that are unfortunately no longer standing. But, um, I'm interested in the ambiance, like smells, sounds, anything that kind of stands out as being unique to the neighborhood.

DONALD CONDRILL: I can't think of any smells or --

DANIELLA ROMANO: Or bakeries or --


DANIELLA ROMANO: I don't know, if there were any bakeries or sort of industries --


DANIELLA ROMANO: I guess the slaughterhouse. Did that have a smell?

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, but we didn't get any, didn't get any -- well, they usually had, but really I don't recall, because it was three or four blocks away.



DONALD CONDRILL: We went to St. Michael's Catholic Church. It used to be on Concord Street, but they tore that down, too.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I don't even know where Concord Street is.

DONALD CONDRILL: Now it's called St. Michael's and St. Ann's, over on St. Ann's--


DONALD CONDRILL: And they had a fire and lost my baptismal certificates. I got a letter from them saying it, it was destroyed in the fire.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Hm. When was the fire?

DONALD CONDRILL: [inaudible] I guess.


JENNIFER EGAN: And would you say -- was there a lot of turnover of families on Sands Street while you were there?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, no, no, not very --

JENNIFER EGAN: But it sounds like there was also a population that was more transient.

DONALD CONDRILL: Not on Sands Street, ahem.

JENNIFER EGAN: No? What about the sailors?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, they, they're not part of Sands Street.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. Except as customers, it sounds like.


DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, because they were always turned up. There was ships always going in, in or out. The Wyoming was based here; that's how my folks got to know them, and my brother got to know some of the sailors, and I got to know the sailors.

JENNIFER EGAN: And -- but they're here for some period.

DONALD CONDRILL: No. This was its home base for them.


DONALD CONDRILL: And Sagamore's seagoing tide was based here. Now, I've got, ahem, I don't know what the Navy calls it -- I've got a, uh, flag with 48 stars on it. Uh, I forget what they call the thing -- it's a Navy term -- and they used, when they get, when they're in pier, in a port. They have it flying from the mast. And I guess somebody gave it to me last year at the family reunion, they were saying it belonged to Sagamore. But nothing on it says Sagamore.

JENNIFER EGAN: How did they think that it belonged to the Sagamore?

DONALD CONDRILL: Ahem, word of mouth. Somebody gave them this from the Sagamore.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Hm. I don't know. I don't know what that -- what a flag flown 32:00in the home port is called.

DONALD CONDRILL: It's called the Union Jack.




UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I've heard of that.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay, yeah, me too.


DANIELLA ROMANO: I thought the Union Jack was a Confederate flag.

JENNIFER EGAN: No, obviously it wouldn't be.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I think, I, I think of it as the Union Jack as opposed to the Confederate flag during the Civil War, but maybe they kept the name on --

DONALD CONDRILL: No, I mean as opposed to the national colors.



DONALD CONDRILL: So they, they would fly this one and tire up at the dock, I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: But what's the difference between a 48-star flag and the national colors? Isn't it -- ?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well one, one has the stars and the stripes on it and the other doesn't.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Oh, I see, this just, it just had the 48 stars.

DONALD CONDRILL: It's just a blue background with white stars on it.


DONALD CONDRILL: It's called the Union Jack. I, I found that out when I got on the computer, and there was an, an organization of tugboat retirees, sailors, 33:00and he, he mentioned -- the guy explained that the thing goes up when the, when the ship is in, in the dock and ties up, then you put this up.


DANIELLA ROMANO: What did you eat a lot for lunch? I mean, do you -- we talked a little bit.

DONALD CONDRILL: Ham sandwiches.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Ham sandwiches.

DONALD CONDRILL: My favorite -- my favorite food.


DONALD CONDRILL: We had a Jewish delicatessen on the corner of High Street and Navy Street. The guy, his name was Abie.


DONALD CONDRILL: And we'd get fifteen cents' worth of ham. My mom [inaudible] at the time, or lamb with an intestine. She'd give me fifteen cents to get ham from Abie.

DANIELLA ROMANO: How do you spell Abie?



DONALD CONDRILL: Ahem, in fact, this was a local joke in the family --

DANIELLA ROMANO: A ham sandwich from the Jewish delicatessen? All right.

DONALD CONDRILL: Don's coming in, let's get some ham for him, heh. My Aunt Liz 34:00always got -- we'd, we'd come back and see her. She lived in northern -- out in Washington Heights. When we came back from overseas every three years or so and go by and see Aunt Liz, and she'd always have ham for me there. Everybody knew I liked ham. This was great. [laughter]

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Do you know what Abie's last name was, by any chance?


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did you ask, um, whether -- did you -- what was the name of the diner that the guy who owned [inaudible] had?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Oh, I don't know. Do you know anything about the Sweet'N Low manufacturer? He, he was -- he ran a cafeteria outside of the Yard before the war, and then he came into the Yard during the war.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I'm not sure he was in the yard, but he was --

DANIELLA ROMANO: I thought he was.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I don't know. I remember reading that book --

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay, well, I need to read that.

DONALD CONDRILL: It must have been on the Common Street side. The Common Street side was a foreign, foreign area to me.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: What side -- what was?

DONALD CONDRILL: Common Street, the Common Street gate. I -- it didn't exist, you know, it was far away.

DANIELLA ROMANO: The neighbor -- so, so Wallabout Market, you all may be -- he 35:00learned how to drive his car, or his father taught him how to drive in Wallabout Market on the weekends.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Sunday when nobody was there?

DONALD CONDRILL: Exactly. Yeah I --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: You know that building that we were looking at where we thought that back of the building was the front of the building?


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I wonder if he would know what that was or whether that really was the front of the building.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Mm, maybe. Were, were you very familiar with Wallabout Market?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, one of, one the neighbors worked there --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- and his name was, the last name was, um, Felosa, first name is Benny, but he got the nickname like many others in the neighborhood, Benny Fish. [laughter] Yeah?


DONALD CONDRILL: Um, Benny Fish was the father of Josephine Felosa, who is very dear to me, my brother -- my oldest brother's wife.


JENNIFER EGAN: And you said that they were a big family and that she was a well-known girl in the neighborhood or -- ?DONALD CONDRILL: No, it was just -- not really. The, um, the neighborhood -- the, uh, the immediate neighborhood 36:00knew her, and she had two brothers, Patty and, uh -- three brothers, actually, Patty and Larry and, um, Frankie-Boy they called him. Frankie-Boy is still alive, and if you want to get a hold of him, you go through Bob Villarosa.


DONALD CONDRILL: And they had some sisters. But the unusual thing about that family was they had a, a son named Larry who was three or four or five years old, and he came running out of the house-- ahem, they lived on Prospect Street -- and [inaudible] ran across the street, he was hit and killed by a truck.


DONALD CONDRILL: Larry Felosa. He was probably a little kid.


DONALD CONDRILL: Some years later, Larry Felosa -- they named the second boy they got Larry, another Larry --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- he was killed when he stepped out of a bus to let some people on and the bus driver didn't see him and ran over him.



DONALD CONDRILL: Guy went through World War II and he was killed [inaudible] -- same name, Larry.



DANIELLA ROMANO: Horrible name. And what was her name, the daughter?


JENNIFER EGAN: Patty, who was a paratrooper in World War II, 82nd Airborne. Eh, uh, both great guys. And Frankie-Boy. There were some sisters, and, uh, I understand one just died recently. There was Emma, who died about fifteen years ago, the younger sister Josephine, and, um -- oh, I can't remember the other sister's name that died recently.

JENNIFER EGAN: So there were four Felosa girls and three boys?

DONALD CONDRILL: I think that's about it. I can't remember anybody else. Because Benny Fish and Mrs. -- Mrs. Felosa, they were wonderful Felosa kids, they were very nice. Most the neighbors was that way, they were nice kids.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: The build -- the buildings that you lived in that were across the street, they were, like, four- and five-story, like, tenement condos?


DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah. They, they weren't tenements. They were, they were three or four stories, I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And they, they were -- had apartments?


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And how big were the apartments?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, the one we lived in --

JENNIFER EGAN: Pardon me. I don't -- I don't want to, uh, intrude in my questions.

JENNIFER EGAN: No, please, jump in.


JENNIFER EGAN: That's a great question.

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, that's where we lived.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So would there have been like two apartments per floor -- ?DONALD CONDRILL: No, one.


DONALD CONDRILL: And on the, on the one we lived in, on the right-hand side.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: [Inaudible] please dial extension 124. [Inaudible] please dial extension 124.

DONALD CONDRILL: It's a good sandwich, kids.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, good, I'm glad.

DONALD CONDRILL: How, how's yours? It must be okay.

JENNIFER EGAN: I'm devouring this. I'm just so hungry.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So was it a lot of big families? Was it all big families? Did everybody have five or six siblings?

DONALD CONDRILL: I would say so, pretty much. The [inaudible] had four, the Romanellas [phonetic] had, I don't know, six, seven, whatever that was.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. And then you had four.


DONALD CONDRILL: We had five in mine.


DONALD CONDRILL: Now, one time or other, we lived on Hudson Avenue, but always within a block of Sands Street. We started out in Sands Street and moved to Hudson Avenue when I was a little, very little kid. Then there was the other side of Hudson Avenue, [inaudible] Hudson Avenue, then back to Sands Street, then we made two moves on Sands Street. So we were rather transient within the street, so to speak.

JENNIFER EGAN: Right. Hm. And did the -- your mom worked hard, it sounds like.

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, oh oh, yeah, I think she killed herself.

JENNIFER EGAN: And what about -- was that common? Did a lot of the women work?

DONALD CONDRILL: No. Many of them did, but they either worked in the factory or they did -- I forget what they called it -- work at home, piecework at home, like making babies' booties or whatever.



DONALD CONDRILL: My mom also -- they mentioned my mom. She remembers that it was a three-horse-drawn fire engine back in 1905, 1910, coming down Sands Street 40:00real full, full tilt, made a left onto Navy, couldn't make the turn, and the horses are smashed up against the wall of the Navy Yard, and they had to destroy the horses.


DONALD CONDRILL: She remembered that.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Horrible. Were there a lot of injuries?

DONALD CONDRILL: My wife asked me last night -- we're getting tired of eating at that Marriott Hotel -- what would I like for lunch. "I, I'd like nothing more than a ham sandwich today," I said. [laughter]I wasn't sure. This is wonderful guys.


JENNIFER EGAN: And you know your ham, it sounds like.


DONALD CONDRILL: Mm hmm. Good Boar's Head.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's a good sandwich, too.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Mm-hmm. And so were there a lot of -- were there trolley cars?

DONALD CONDRILL: Yes. Oh, yes. They ran --

JENNIFER EGAN: Did they come into the yard? Sorry. No? Okay.

DONALD CONDRILL: No. They ran out to Flushing, up along Flushing Avenue. They turned right on Navy Street, went down to Sands Street, turned left, and went on 41:00up to the bridge.

JENNIFER EGAN: Uh-huh. And then over the bridge?

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, some of them did. Oh, maybe you had to transfer. I can't remember. Because when I -- when I went to work after I graduated high school, I would go up -- I guess they transferred and, uh, and took -- did it go over the bridge? I don't recall. I really don't remember. I used to work over there -- uh, I, I would go across the bridge and walk from there to Liberty Street, about six, seven blocks. That's near Ground Zero right now.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. Did you go into Manhattan very much?

DONALD CONDRILL: To work. But, yeah, when I was a kid, I was sight-seeing.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. And was that common? It sounds like you were pretty adventurous. Did a lot of the kids go over the bridge much?

DONALD CONDRILL: No. Well, on occasion they would dare each other to go over the bridge and go get a cup of in the Bowery or something, you know, like teenagers do. But I guess I was the only adventuresome, uh, heh, individual around.


JENNIFER EGAN: What about Coney Island? You mentioned you liked to go there. Was that a common place to go for a family?

DONALD CONDRILL: Yes, it was. But my family was busy working so they couldn't go. My Aunt Liz would take me there, or I'd go by myself, or the Catholic nuns at St. Michael's would take us there, a bunch of kids holding hands following along. Kids in there I guess five, six, seven years old, they would take us down to Coney Island, go to a bathhouse, change clothes, and go out swimming. They always carried brown bags with us for food, and -- So this is the Catholic nuns.


DANIELLA ROMANO: So the store -- if your mom ran the shop until midnight or until eight or nine, what did -- what would you do for dinner?

DONALD CONDRILL: She'd make dinner too.

DANIELLA ROMANO: She'd make dinner too?

DONALD CONDRILL: She'd come home and make dinner, then go back to the shop.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Who would man the shop? Would she just close it up?

DONALD CONDRILL: One of us. [inaudible]

DANIELLA ROMANO: And would she eat with you so you'd have a family dinner 43:00together, or would she just go back down to the shop, mostly?

DONALD CONDRILL: Uh, I don't remember



JENNIFER EGAN: Um, and how many bedrooms were in your apartment?

DONALD CONDRILL: Boy. There's a master, so-called master bedroom back there, ahem, and there's one, two -- I guess three bed -- bath -- bedrooms.

JENNIFER EGAN: So how did you split up? Who, who slept in whose room?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, Mother and Father, of course, kept the, took the bigger room. My two sisters slept together, and I slept by myself in another bedroom, which we had converted over to a, uh, sleeping sofa so we could have a space to have friends in.


DONALD CONDRILL: That was my bedroom before I went in the Army, ahem. Uh, we had a dining room--living room combination, then they had the kitchen. You took baths either in the kitch -- the kitchen washtub or, uh, public baths downtown. There was a public bath near P.S. 7, and you could go down and take a bath 44:00there. Where'd you go to the toilet? My father put a -- used to go in the backyard, outhouse kind of thing.


DONALD CONDRILL: Then he put in, ahem, toilets in the hall, because it was a communal house. Then when we were getting older, we said, "Pop, I'm going to take a shower now," so he put a shower up in the kitchen. So, so, so we didn't have to go down and, and take a, uh, bath with the neighborhood.

JENNIFER EGAN: See, this is why having a father who was a plumber came in pretty handy.

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, but, you know, some of the houses always leaked pipes. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: We got a little more into the apartment.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I was going to ask more questions, but I guess you probably already asked.

JENNIFER EGAN: No, go, I -- go on. We were asking -- we were just -- you were just saying that there were three bedrooms and five kids. So what about your two older brothers?

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, they were married then.


DONALD CONDRILL: Gene lived around the corner of the Navy Street, and he had 45:00five kids.


DONALD CONDRILL: Three sons -- three boys and two gals. Uh, I will see them all on the first of January.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: How many bathrooms?


DONALD CONDRILL: In the house? There weren't any. I was just explaining, ahem, my pop -- we used to go out in the backyard to go to the toilet. They had an outhouse back there. You wanted a bath, you went either in the kitch -- the big kitchen tub/sink kind of thing where my mom washed clothes. When you got too big for that, you went to the local neighborhood bath.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So if you had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you had to go downstairs to the backyard? So that's a very old one, because then this is 19 -- They passed the tenement law like in 1900 or thereabouts, or maybe a little bit earlier, where they would build, um -- they, they required [inaudible] and bathrooms on the floor, and then in 1937, I believe they outlawed that whole type of construction. So that -- so one, one out -- one privy for everybody in the building?




DONALD CONDRILL: I, I can't answer. I don't think anybody did. Somebody may have dumped lye or something into it, lime or whatever. No.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And then you, um --

DONALD CONDRILL: There wasn't a flush thing.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Right, just a hole.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: But it never had to be emptied?

JENNIFER EGAN: Go excavate.

DONALD CONDRILL: That was beyond my worries in those days. I don't know.

JENNIFER EGAN: [laughter]

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: What, what else was in the backyard? Was there a --


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: -- swing set or something?

DONALD CONDRILL: -- after they --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: [inaudible] please come to the security desk. [inaudible] please come to security desk.

DONALD CONDRILL: After they closed that down, we got in, inside the house plumbing, I went around the neighborhood asking the ladies could I plant some flowers in the backyard. It was common, a sort of common backyard. So I planted some flowers back there when I was about thirteen, I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So eventually they did put plumbing in the building.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Eventually they did put plumbing in the building.

DONALD CONDRILL: My father did. Yeah, he's a plumber. He put -- the only place 47:00to put a toilet itself, the commode, was, um, in the hallway, part of the hallway, so you, you kind of fenced it off. It was very small. And he put a shower stall in the kitchen so the kids could shower.

JENNIFER EGAN: And other, other tenants did the same on their floors?

DONALD CONDRILL: I, I think so. But also, also in the ba -- in the, in the kitchen, we had -- in the thirties you had, uh, uh, iceboxes.


DONALD CONDRILL: Not refrigerators. So somebody in the family -- when I got big enough, I'd empty out the bottom of the, the pan at the bottom.


DONALD CONDRILL: Right. And the ice man came every couple days and put ice on that -- on the -- on that box.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Who owned the building?

DONALD CONDRILL: The Velanis [phonetic]. They were upstairs. They, they owned the building. They -- we -- we were good friends.

JENNIFER EGAN: So there would have been like three families and the stores, right?

DONALD CONDRILL: Except they took the, the bottom apartment and, and took all 48:00the [inaudible] out and made it the Sons meeting -- meeting hall for the Sons of Italy.




DONALD CONDRILL: Mussolini was coming into power, I guess, at that time, and they thought he was pretty wonderful, and then they realized what a bum he was later on, but [inaudible] he was a hero. And I -- I don't understand Italian but I could come by a meeting every so often, week -- every week or so, maybe sing "Giovinezza," kind of the national song of Italy. But they, they'd be talking in Italian, so I couldn't understand them. It didn't bother me. I mean, I didn't even think about it much.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did anybody have a car?

DONALD CONDRILL: My father always had transportation of some kind because he was a plumber, and we may take a Sunday ride in a, a little van truck. But we had a 1936 Chevrolet he got in 1937, and I, I wore that to the ground many years later. It --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So how would you have been at -- how old would you have 49:00been in that, that year?

DONALD CONDRILL: In '37? Fifteen, sixteen.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: You were born in '22?



DONALD CONDRILL: You couldn't drive until you were eighteen in New York in those days, because I turned eighteen, I went down and got my learner's permit, [inaudible].

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah. Where would they park?

DONALD CONDRILL: On the street. And you can see where the trolley car is, they're up on the sidewalk, and they're up on the sidewalk partially.

JENNIFER EGAN: Do we know what year this is?

DONALD CONDRILL: No. I'm guessing 19 -- well, this said World's Fair somewhere -- '39 or '40.


DONALD CONDRILL: The World's Fair was 1939, and then they extended it one year.

JENNIFER EGAN: You also mentioned that the ice man had a horse. So were you still seeing horses on the street in, in the thirties?

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, pretty much. The guys that delivered wholesale candy to my folks, they had a horse-drawn van.

JENNIFER EGAN: And that would -- did that -- right into the forties?


DANIELLA ROMANO: So there were trolleys --


DANIELLA ROMANO: -- oh, sorry.

DONALD CONDRILL: The, the Knell family ran that, K-N-E-L-L, and Mrs. Knell and 50:00my mom became very close friends.

JENNIFER EGAN: And what -- they ran -- what, what did they run?

DONALD CONDRILL: Wholesale candy.


DONALD CONDRILL: The store was on Hudson Avenue as I recall, and after they closed then [inaudible] --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: [inaudible] contact the security desk. [inaudible] contact the security desk.

DONALD CONDRILL: After everything got closed down and, uh, we moved off to Long Island, she lived in Fort Wa -- Mrs. Knell and her brother lived in Fort Washington, ahem. He was an elderly gentleman. [laughter] He was old. In those days anybody seventy or older was old. And, um, he was visiting [inaudible].

JENNIFER EGAN: And so they -- she -- they got to know your mom because they supplied candy for the store?

DONALD CONDRILL: That's how -- that's how they got to meet. But they became very -- she was a very dear lady, Mrs. Knell.

JENNIFER EGAN: And they would ride their horse and buggy over the bridge and deliver to you?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, this was a, uh, horse and van, kind of a van-truck-thing.


DONALD CONDRILL: But, uh, they, they lived -- they had the store out on the, on 51:00the Hudson Avenue, so [inaudible].

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. Oh, Hudson Avenue in -- I'm sorry --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- I was thinking Manhattan. Okay, I see.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: If people made it, if they got wealthy, from this neighborhood, where would they move to?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, my folks moved out to Springfield Gardens, Long Island after they sold the store. Uh, the Romanellis, when they sold out their place [inaudible], lived on Vanderbilt Avenue, above a [inaudible], an, an undertaker.


DONALD CONDRILL: Undertaker. I, I visited them there once.

JENNIFER EGAN: There's still an undertaker on Vanderbilt, just north of Dekalb.


JENNIFER EGAN: So they wouldn't move to Brooklyn -- people wouldn't move to Brooklyn Heights or Manhattan or anything? They'd move out to the suburbs?DONALD CONDRILL: Mm-hmm. Brooklyn Heights was above us, seriously, financially.


JENNIFER EGAN: But when people got more money, rather than moving to someplace like that in Brooklyn, they tended to leave altogether?

DONALD CONDRILL: [inaudible].

JENNIFER EGAN: Sort of somehow makes sense.

DONALD CONDRILL: No, they did, they didn't go together. It didn't work that way.

DANIELLA ROMANO: How about Fort Greene? Fort Greene is a really beautiful neighborhood.

DONALD CONDRILL: [inaudible] Did I tell you about people beat up coming out of -- people trying to beat us up coming out of Fort Greene?


JENNIFER EGAN: Was it Navy Street where there -- you probably asked this question, so forgive me -- was it Navy Street where there were a lot of the houses of ill repute?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, none in the neighborhood. Absolutely none.

JENNIFER EGAN: Might not have been a pre-war thing. [laughter]

DONALD CONDRILL: No. I'm talking [inaudible] 1942. We had no houses of ill repute anywhere. And we did have prostitutes that came into the streets for 53:00sales. Now can I tell you [inaudible] name?


DONALD CONDRILL: Fat-ass Sammy was one of them.

JENNIFER EGAN: [laughter] Fantastic!

DONALD CONDRILL: Okay. And Indian Mary was another.


DONALD CONDRILL: Mary. She looked Indian.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And you got to know them?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, no. They didn't even -- prostitutes didn't even go into the store.

JENNIFER EGAN: From a distance. But, but you knew what they looked like.

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, yeah. Everybody knew Indian Mary. She looked like an Indian lady. And Fat-ass Sammy was that big of a, uh, rear end.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So not to be graphic, but where did they do their business?

DONALD CONDRILL: The only thing I can answer that is, uh, one experience I had when I was a kid, I was walking down to get some milk on Hudson Avenue from Sands Street, and I saw motion -- and this is nighttime -- some motion in the -- 54:00you stepped down [inaudible] under the house. They were down there, and, I -- even at my age, I knew they were doing whatever they were doing. And when I got the milk, came back around, and I saw them walking back into Leo's Bar and Grill, and she was dusting herself off and trying to -- [laughter] So that was my first experience seeing people [inaudible], you know.


JENNIFER EGAN: And was that -- which -- was that one of these two ladies?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, I, I didn't recognize her. Because they had some other gals around too; those are the only ones I remember their names.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And this would have been before the war?


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I imagine business picked up during the war.

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, I imagine, yeah. Uh, again, they maybe even had houses of prostitution after I left, but, uh, I can't, I can't answer. But there was not -- the neighborhood would not have allowed it. It was a decent neighborhood, actually, believe it or not.

DANIELLA ROMANO: It does have a reputation of being a neighborhood of ill repute, but this must have been the World War II period.

DONALD CONDRILL: After 1943, I understand, 1943.


JENNIFER EGAN: Interesting.

DANIELLA ROMANO: And do we think -- is it because -- did a transient element 55:00come into the neighborhood with sailors? I mean --

DONALD CONDRILL: More sailors, more money.

DANIELLA ROMANO: -- more sailors, more money.

DONALD CONDRILL: Where, where do you go to the bathroom here?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It's right over here.

DONALD CONDRILL: Excuse me, guys.

DANIELLA ROMANO: No problem. More sailors, more money, less, um-- less kind of stable [inaudible] neighborhood, you know, because peop --

DONALD CONDRILL: I would guess so, and they had -- [inaudible] and then they had two bowls one urinal was marked for VD --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- and one of the bowls was marked with VD, two separate bowls.


DONALD CONDRILL: And the Marine came in and he -- and he unbuttoned himself, and he said, "Look, kid," and he had a bloody damage on his private parts. He said, "Don't ever fool around any of the girls around here; if you do, use a rubber, because I learned the hard way." So I was getting taught that, too, I guess, [inaudible].

JENNIFER EGAN: They didn't have penicillin at that --

DANIELLA ROMANO: No, they had penicillin, right?

DONALD CONDRILL: But they were --

JENNIFER EGAN: It was not in wide use until World War II, as I understand it.



DONALD CONDRILL: Say that again.

JENNIFER EGAN: As I understood it, penicillin was not in wide use --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- until World War II.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So you didn't -- you couldn't cure VD?

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, they got a cure, but I don't know how. Uh, don't forget, what was it, Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet. He came up with the cure for syphilis or something. I think Dr. Ehrlich, is that his name?

JENNIFER EGAN: You mentioned as we were driving that there were people selling contraception in the Yard. How, how was that done, and who, who were they?

DONALD CONDRILL: Not in the Yard. They were outside the gate [inaudible].

JENNIFER EGAN: So how did -- how did --

DONALD CONDRILL: Friday night's payday. They'd be there, and they'd be selling contraceptives and I don't know what else. And razorblades. And then again, the Daily Worker, they were trying to get rid of that, but nobody -- nobody would have any, anything to do with the communists in those days, but they were still trying to sell their paper.

JENNIFER EGAN: Contraceptives, meaning condoms?

DONALD CONDRILL: Mm-hmm. I don't know why they -- they sold them under, under the counter, so to speak. They had a, a box of some kind with razorblades on top, and you pulled up the thing, a shelf kind of thing, and [inaudible]. I don't know why they had to do that, but they did.

JENNIFER EGAN: What, it wasn't out in the open?


DONALD CONDRILL: I don't know. You gotta be kidding. I, I was twenty years old when I left here, and I wasn't fooling with girls after -- [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: After that lesson.

DONALD CONDRILL: No. I, I was dating, though, a gal from high school. She joined the Marines later on.


DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, yeah, very nice. We used to go -- well, I'd, I'd go -- I'd make three dollars on the Saturday, working -- Jewish -- Jewish fellow next door, he had a used clothing store, and on a particularly good day he'd give me a tip. My regular salary was three dollars a day. He'd leave the store to me, and I, I'd run it. It was right next to my folks' place. That was when I was eighteen, I guess. No I had to be. Ahem, and I would pick up Mary and take her over to, uh, Fort Lee [inaudible], some kind of -- some, some famous band -- I can't remember the name of it -- was playing there. And I could get -- I could put a tank of gas in the car, go over there and have a sandwich and a soda and dance and come back by ferry, pay the ferry, all for the three dollars I had.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Where did the -- where, where were you going to?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, up in uh, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Fort Lee, New Jersey? You could take a ferry from here to Fort Lee?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, you could take a ferry, uh, from Manhattan side over there.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So you took the subway into Manhattan --

DONALD CONDRILL: No, I drove over. Put a -- put a tank full of gas in for a dollar, I think it was.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: You could drive, drive to Manhattan, park the car --

DONALD CONDRILL: At this [inaudible]. Took the ferry over, car ferry.


DONALD CONDRILL: Over to New York. Over the, over the Palisades where -- in one case, the Palisades Amusement Park was.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: This was before the George Washington Bridge, then.

DONALD CONDRILL: It was, uh -- they were still running ferries, even with the George Washington Bridge. There was a -- there was a ferry up on, uh -- above the bridge -- I'm trying to remember. [inaudible] sea ferry would take you into the -- into the Palisades area where we camped oftentimes.


DONALD CONDRILL: We used to camp at the bottom of the Palisades, and the bridge was there at the time, but the ferry was still running. Anyhow, Fort Lee had 59:00this -- I can't remember the name of the, of the place where you, they had this world-famous band, and you could do all this, as I say, for three bucks and get back home. And I was broke, but we'd have a, uh, nice evening. [laughter]

DANIELLA ROMANO: Three dollars sounds like a lot of money, if the Marines were making seventeen a month.


DANIELLA ROMANO: Unless the Marines were just broke.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Well, seventeen a month, but they probably also got room and board.


DONALD CONDRILL: When I first went to work, I got a job for Pratt and Whitney machine tools. I was paid sixty-five dollars a month. I was offered another job by Eberhard Faber in their laboratory for six dollars a week, provided I worked seven, six days a week. That was twenty-four dollars, uh, a month. I went to work for, for Pratt and Whitney, and they gave -- offered me sixty-five, which I grabbed, of course [inaudible]. I also give, gave Mom five bucks a week because I was living, I was living at home. And, uh, money went far in those days.

JENNIFER EGAN: Um, you mentioned that you didn't, you didn't keep the paper 60:00route for very long because it wasn't lucrative, uh, lucrative enough, but at that age, you were only eleven and twelve years old, how did you get money without that? Did your parents give you money?

DONALD CONDRILL: I, uh, I worked around the house and my, um, my, my folks' store.


DONALD CONDRILL: And they gave me, like, an allowance, a few dollars -- a few dollars -- a few cents a week. We had a theater called the Gold Theater, up the, up the street, ahem, and it was like ten cents weekdays and fifteen on weekends.

JENNIFER EGAN: A movie theater.

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah. We used to call it the, uh, Dumps. There was an article in one of the --


DANIELLA ROMANO: Why was it called the Dumps? It was just bad?

DONALD CONDRILL: I don't know. It was the name they had, and, uh, everybody accepted it. It was officially the Gold Theater because it was on the corner of Gold and Sands Street.


DONALD CONDRILL: Uh, I wrote an article on that in the -- it's in the, that --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- one of those things in --

JENNIFER EGAN: And you worked there, like, selling tickets or that kind of thing?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, no, I didn't work in the theater at all. I --

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, I see. Oh, that was an expense.

DONALD CONDRILL: I worked in the folks' store, right, and my mom and -- there wasn't any allowance. I'd say, "Mom, can you give me money to go to a movie?" 61:00"Sure." Or, I'm not, they don't have it at the moment, whatever. It was never an allowance, per se.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. And --

DONALD CONDRILL: If I wanted to go to Coney Island, well, I'd go to Coney Island. I knew I could spend everything I had and go to a cop at the subway and say, "I'm broke," and they'd let you go underneath the turnstiles and come home. (laughter]



DONALD CONDRILL: It was something you pulled, everybody pulled, [inaudible] I guess. The cops were pretty good.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did you have a radio?


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: You didn't sit around and listen to the radio with your parents?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, we had -- yeah, we did. We had a, uh -- I didn't have one, but the family had one [inaudible]. And we -- it was a -- it was a console-type radio, [inaudible] or whatever it was, and we listened to the Lone Ranger, Little Orphan Annie, and Mom listened to her soaps on it, uh, if she was ironing or something, she listened to soaps, and uh --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: You listened to the news, I assume.





DONALD CONDRILL: No, it wasn't interesting. [laughter] And they had big [inaudible], I think Thursday nights, and, and Bob Hope. And speaking of Bob 62:00Hope, I was crossing Sands Street one day -- did you read that?


DONALD CONDRILL: I wrote an article on it. And here comes Bob Hope. This is thirty-something, late thirties. Came around in a, in a convertible with two gorgeous showgirls alongside of him. And obviously he was evidently heading for the bridge, because many, many came around by Flushing from Long Island and then Navy, then Sands Street. And because [inaudible]. But the next time I saw Bob Hope was 1972, I guess it was. I was in Vietnam, and my family was in Bangkok, so I came -- I had arranged to come home for Christmas, and Bob Hope was visiting Vietnam. But Bob Hope wanted plush surroundings, so he would fly in and out of Bangkok every day, uh, and stayed at Bangkok, at the Erawan Hotel, which is a beautiful hotel. They have some gorgeous hotels there. And the general I, I used to work for said, "Why don't you stay in Vietnam and see Bob Hope?" I said, 63:00"No, my family's in Bangkok." He said, "Don't you want to see Bob Hope?" Like, "No, I want to see my family." So I came back to Bangkok, we went to Midnight Mass, and there's some gorgeous showgirls standing along the side. The place was filled up. It was a Catholic church disguised as a, as a, uh, Buddhist temple. Beautiful church. And there was one gorgeous colored showgirl standing there next to an old lady, an elderly lady, I should say, an old, older person. And this guy got up and offered a seat to this good-looking gal, and she turns to the elderly lady and says you take the -- so she took the seat.


DONALD CONDRILL: Then who comes prancing in after the Mass had begun?


DONALD CONDRILL: Bob Hope. He made a grand entrance into the Midnight Mass, and he stood between -- he came in between the priest and the, and the parish, parishioners. He came on around, just prancing in. And my two sons were doing the collecting. My youngest son was then about eight or nine, I guess, nine or 64:00ten, whatever he was. And he came to me afterwards, and he said, "Dad, he's a cheapskate. He only put, put five dollars in the collection plate." [laughter] Another famous person I saw, I saw Lindbergh coming up the bridge. Heh, I think it was the Manhattan Bridge, uh, 1927. One of my uncles took me up there so we could see him. I read an article a couple years ago in Washington where the acting curator of the Air Museum was inspired to become a pilot because he was there as a young child also. And I called the guy [inaudible]. He's, he, he went to the -- his name is Don Lopes, Lopez. And he, um, joined the volunteer group, the American Volunteer Group in, uh, China and flew P-40s, and then back over to the, the U.S. Air Force when the, uh, U.S. got in the war. So that was my experience there. We also saw "Wrong Way" Corrigan come in. He was lost. Now, 65:00"Wrong Way" Corrigan was an Irishman who uptied -- applied for permission to fly the Atlantic Ocean. They said, No, you're not, this is crazy, you're not going to be able to make it. So he, uh, supposedly got into his plane, and he said, "I headed west, but somehow or other, the plane headed east and went across the Atlantic Ocean." [inaudible]. Of course they gave him a big parade when he came back to New York, and he was sitting in the back of this limousine kind of thing, an open, open limousine, and the kids playing ball on Navy Street there, by the, by the wall of the Navy Yard, and he came up. We recognized him. And he wanted to know how did he get to the Brooklyn Bridge. So we told him. We were all laughing because he got lost again, you know. [laughter] That's all I can remember, famous people around there.

JENNIFER EGAN: As you started to work and do other -- you know, working for your parents and this and that and then also in the machine tool place, were you spending less time in the Navy area then?

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah. I'd, I'd gotten too big to be a mascot anymore.

JENNIFER EGAN: So what -- what years were that -- did that mascot status last?


DONALD CONDRILL: I would say from about the time I was eleven to the, the time I was fifteen.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm. So it really, kind of in the mid-thirties.

DONALD CONDRILL: I would say so. I got interested in the Boy Scouts, and I became a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster of, um, Troop 19. I, I don't think it exists anymore. But the neighborhood kids that I knew, the gangs of [inaudible] that I was explaining earlier, went into the Troop 250. And the Scoutmaster was a, uh, a Mr. Larry Phelps [phonetic] and he was a bachelor. He bought a piece of property up in northern New Jersey, about 60 acres, near, um, Monroe, New Jersey, uh, just for the Boy Scouts.



DONALD CONDRILL: He lived down near the Brooklyn Dime Savings Bank Building, the big tower. He had an apartment down there.

JENNIFER EGAN: And so that became like a Boy S -- a place where the Boy Scouts could go.

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah. We also -- we also met at a Protestant Church, but now I can't remember which one it was, there in, uh, in the neighborhood.


JENNIFER EGAN: And was it that you -- did, did you get tired of coming to the Navy Yard, or just --

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, [inaudible], you know. I'd see the guys from time to time. But my interests now --

JENNIFER EGAN: And your parents -- did your parents have any -- they didn't -- did they have a reaction to your being here so much? What did they think about it?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, my mom really -- I think she tolerated, at least tolerated, my, uh, my traveling around the way I did from the time I was about nine or ten years old. And, uh, I don't know if, uh, if I would let my kid do that [laughter]. But she let me.

JENNIFER EGAN: Was it ever -- did it ever seem like it was unsafe? Like, was it -- you know, was it physically risky or -- ?DONALD CONDRILL: Never thought it was.

JENNIFER EGAN: But now, looking back, what do you think?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, I think I was okay. Because I was with the Marines [inaudible] time, and they were very protective. I'd go out to -- I only mentioned in passing Fort Lafayette.


DONALD CONDRILL: Uh, it was an island built to hold ammunition and Confederate 68:00prisoners of war. [laughter] And, uh, it's in the Narrows. It doesn't exist anymore. One of the stands or stanchions of the Verrazano Bridge is now where this used to be.


DONALD CONDRILL: And they, they had these huge [inaudible] with [inaudible] walls, that sort of thing, inside. And the, the ships and -- the big ships would anchor in Gravesend -- not Gravesend Bay, but, uh, the bay between Coney Island and Brooklyn, whatever the name of the bay was, and they would lighten all this ammunition into this island before the ships could come into the Navy Yard here. They'd have to have -- they'd have to, to re -- remove all the heavy, uh, stuff they had. And that's what Fort Lafayette did when I was there, but looking back in history, they kept prisoners of war there, too, from the Civil War.


DONALD CONDRILL: They also kept an American general, a, uh, a federal general, 69:00whose troops, when he wasn't even there, lost a battle in a place called Ball's Bluff, Virginia, and they got, they got massacred. [inaudible]. And the, the commanding general back somewhere else. So he commanded them with a bunch of others. He was put in prison, like you would do in Russia, I guess, or someplace, if you lost a fight. And I don't have his name. But I can come up with it if you need it. He spent six or eight months there and pled, "Charge me, whatever they charge is," and they, they refused to do it. And finally, um, he said, "At least put me over to Fort Hamilton so I can do business for my family." And they did this, and then after a few months another general said, "I want him on my staff" because they were both [inaudible] together, whatever, and he got out of -- he spent, he spent about a year, I guess, in prison because his troops down a couple echelons had gotten bad, badly beat in Ball's Bluff, Virginia. So that's another, uh, place, thing they happened in For -- Fort Lafayette. I'd go out there before they built the Beltway, and they had a 70:00special hideaway for a button to ring the bell over at Fort Lafayette. It was a little sliding thing underneath the, the rails for a little pier they had. And they'd look over and see me there, and they'd row over, before they got [inaudible] over there, pick me up. And they had a dog called Buster, a police dog. He always liked to ride up in the bow of the little thing, you know. So we'd go back over, and we'd listen to a football game or watch the big ships go by. One day we got to see all three of them go by, the, uh, the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mary, and the, uh, the Normandy. And that over there came quite close because this place was in the Narrows. But we'd get a .22 and pop tin cans out in the Narrows, and some of the guys would go swimming there, and I liked to watch that. And they had a four-man-crew boat with a coxswain. I was the coxswain, because I couldn't row; I was too small. We would go and down the Narrows and up and down the Upper Bay and Lower Bay, and they'd be pulling away 71:00to get their exercise and get away from the island, and I'd, I'd be the coxswain.


DONALD CONDRILL: I could paddle about, and that was about the size of it. But they wouldn't let me -- like I said, they would take care of me, no problem.

JENNIFER EGAN: And these were all Marines?

DONALD CONDRILL: All Marines, yeah.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Didn't the Normandy sink?


DANIELLA ROMANO: Didn't the Normandy sink outside the Port of New York?


DANIELLA ROMANO: I thought the Normandy sank outside of the Port of New York.

DONALD CONDRILL: No, the Normandy burned at the pier.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Oh, in Manhattan?



DONALD CONDRILL: And then she turned over --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- because they were pumping water on her like crazy. But I could see the, the flames from where I worked on Liberty Street.


DONALD CONDRILL: Ahem, it had to be '40, '41, somewhere in there.

DANIELLA ROMANO: It got refitted for the war.

DONALD CONDRILL: It was before the war.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I thought it got refitted for the war. I think maybe it might have been during the refitting.

JENNIFER EGAN: I think that sounds right to me.


DANIELLA ROMANO: It was getting refitted. Those cruise liners were getting refitted for the war, right?

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, the, the speculation was that a welder's torch had set it off.



DONALD CONDRILL: There was a little suspicion of sabotage, because we were at war with Germany. But again.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah. Did you ever go to the hospital? Did you ever visit the hospital complex at the Yard?

DONALD CONDRILL: One time, just to see what it looked like.


DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, I was just curious. I knew there was a hospital around; they had nurses and doctors and so on. And I just went over there once. I took papers with me --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- they, they didn't know me over there. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: As long as you had your papers, you had a reason to be wandering around. [laughter]

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, and I had my pass and whatever.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Were there any rumors at the yard about, um, either Confederate soldiers being housed here, Confederate prisoners during the Civil War, or -- ?DONALD CONDRILL: No, I never heard of that.


DONALD CONDRILL: Fort Laf -- Fort Lafayette, yes.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Okay. How about anything with the Underground Railroad or something like that?

DONALD CONDRILL: I'm not familiar -- I don't think so. I never heard of anything.

DANIELLA ROMANO: No anti-slavery rumors or -- ?DONALD CONDRILL: Now what, dear?

DANIELLA ROMANO: No, like -- it, it wouldn't have been part of any sort of anti-slavery passage or anything?

DONALD CONDRILL: Not that I'm aware of.



DONALD CONDRILL: I, I, I don't think there was a place for it here --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- not in that, in any particular [inaudible].

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did you ask about, uh, whether they're going to put a prison under the World Trade?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, yeah -- no, that actually -- I think we know exactly what that was now, yeah [inaudible].

DONALD CONDRILL: Just give me cookies and a coke and I'll keep talking. [laughter] If somebody would like to have a -- there are two more in there, and I'm only, I'm only going to have one.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did you have some of the cookies that are in the coffee room? They're really good.

DANIELLA ROMANO: No. Thanks, Elliott [phonetic] .UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: That'll buy us another half an hour.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Okay. Um, because there are -- in the hospital building itself, there are two -- there are two basement rooms that have prison bars on them, and the legend is that they are for Confederate prison patients, prisoner patients.

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah. I would assume they were not -- they're probably for American Navy prison patients.


DONALD CONDRILL: Because the brig, men that were too sick to go to regular brig.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Yeah. That would be a good guess.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah. Were there any parts of the Navy Yard that you were not allowed to go to? It sounds like you had absolute freedom, but --

DONALD CONDRILL: No, I can't think of any.


DONALD CONDRILL: Places I wouldn't go.

JENNIFER EGAN: And where, where were those?

DONALD CONDRILL: The building ways.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Building ways, okay [inaudible].

DONALD CONDRILL: Because it was too noisy and always some -- just a lot of noise going on. And I, I didn't think it was safe, so I wouldn't go there.


DONALD CONDRILL: I've gone down the dry docks, all the way down to the bottom sometimes.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, you said that.

DONALD CONDRILL: But not very often.

JENNIFER EGAN: You would just climb down inside? They had like a ladder?DONALD CONDRILL: Well there were, there were steps, too.





JENNIFER EGAN: Wow, a feast.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Do you want to ask the good memory, bad memory question? It's so simplistic, but --

DONALD CONDRILL: I don't understand you.

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you want me to say it?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, okay, I was just wondering -- was wondering if -- it's really simplistic, or a simple question, but I just want to know if you have 75:00your best memory and your worst memory easily --

DONALD CONDRILL: In, in the Yard?

DANIELLA ROMANO: -- easily at hand. Yeah. If anything stands out as being --

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, the worst was two guys from Cumberland Street --

JENNIFER EGAN: From where?

DONALD CONDRILL: -- about my age told me that if I didn't get out of the yard, they were going to beat me up.


DONALD CONDRILL: Because they didn't, they didn't want competition.

JENNIFER EGAN: So they were also hanging out in the Yard?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, they had newspapers.


DONALD CONDRILL: Because I had newspapers. This was down by the, one of the docks, and I went home, came back with my next-to-oldest brother, and he said, "If you talk to my brother, I'll kill you," whatever he said. They left me alone. [laughter] My best memory -- I have a lot of good memories. I can't say one is better.


JENNIFER EGAN: So did your brother actually go back and confront them, or --

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, he went back over there. It was my bigger brother.


DONALD CONDRILL: No, this was Jim.


DONALD CONDRILL: That was -- I guess that's my worst memory.

JENNIFER EGAN: And then when you saw them after that, they just --

DONALD CONDRILL: Left me alone. They were being tough guys from Cumberland 76:00Street. By themselves, they're not -- they had two of them. Two, uh, two makes people more brave than one, I guess. And the best time -- a lot of good memories --

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, mm-hmm.

DONALD CONDRILL: -- when my team beat the other team, we beat the Army. Why did I go to the Army instead of the Marines? Because I was colorblind.

JENNIFER EGAN: You mentioned that.

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah. I wanted to become a Navy pilot. I went to 90 Church Street for an exam. I was twenty years old. They were taking men with high school degrees and high school diplomas. I went through all the exam, except when they got to the chest -- I was, I was a very skinny kid -- and when it got to the chest expansion, I didn't weigh enough. He said, "Go back to the Navy commissary and lift weights the next three weeks, months, three months, and then come back." I did. And of course I was very sore, hurting for the first couple of weeks, and [inaudible]. I picked up the chest expansion, put on some weight, 77:00went back over. And I finished up the exam, so they brought out the color test, and I, I couldn't do it. So I could see the numbers, but I'd see the wrong numbers, you know?

JENNIFER EGAN: Had you ever noticed that before, that you had a different color perception?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, but my sister said they did because I would look at her dress and say it's some color, and it really wasn't. But I could see red and green lights; they don't bother me any.


DONALD CONDRILL: So I, I went over to the Marines, and they said, "Nope."

JENNIFER EGAN: How disappointing.

DONALD CONDRILL: Well, Captain Barron [phonetic] went by my store one day when I was already in the Army, asked my mom how I was doing and where I was. She said, "He enlisted in the Army." "In the Army?" She says, "Yes." He said, "I could have got him in the Marines." And my mom said, "I really was glad he didn't get you in the Marines." But I, I wound up in the Army because the Army had a matching test with color yarn, and I could do that.


JENNIFER EGAN: So they didn't know about your --

DONALD CONDRILL: Ten years later I'm a captain and I'm in Germany. The Ger -- 78:00the German contract doctor for the American Army, he was telling me to look at colors and whatever. I says, "You're wasting your time, doc." And he says, "I'll have to put down you're color [inaudible]." And ten years in the Army, the Army had too much invested in me then, I guess, so it never presented a problem. Only one time in the Army I had a problem was on the staff, and I was supposed to brief a bunch of generals the next morning. And they -- the staff came up with a color chart, and it had all the finite shadings of different colors, uh, a bar chart kind of thing, and I said, "I can't read that." Uh, I said, "You guys are doing the wrong thing. These are generals. They're not interested in numbers." I said, "I'll put on something," and I did, and I got [inaudible]. But that's the only time I had a problem in the Army with colors. Flyers in the field, no problem, colors or whatever, you know, no problems.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's amazing, that it just came down to the way they did the test in the Army which made it easier for you.

DONALD CONDRILL: I'll tell you something I'll always remember. I took the 79:00physical [inaudible] in 4J [inaudible]. And the guy ahead of me was -- saw the psychiatrist first, and I heard him, the question he asked, the, the psychiatrist asked him. He said, "Did you ever put the boot to a woman?" He said, "Yes, I have." He said, "Okay, you're passed."

JENNIFER EGAN: Put the what?

JENNIFER EGAN: Your boot to a woman?

DONALD CONDRILL: And he asked me, "Have you ever put the boot to the woman?" I said, "Yes, I have." I passed. And I asked the guy, I said, "What is he talking about?" He said, "Well, I guess he means sex." He said, "Because they want you to be normal and have sex before they come in the Army." I said, "I'm only twenty years old. You know, I don't get involved in that." [laughter] And that [inaudible].


DONALD CONDRILL: The only time I ever heard that again, I was watching a TV show last year sometime, [inaudible], and the guy on the TV show said, "I'm going to put the boot to that woman." What he was saying was he's going to beat her up.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's what I thought you meant.



DONALD CONDRILL: But the psychiatrist meant did you have sex, you know. And, 80:00"Sure. Me? Yeah, sure, all the time." [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: All right. I'm going to start clearing out --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- but I -- but yours is still rolling.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Ah, I can't -- can you think of anything?


JENNIFER EGAN: Well, we're -- um, I don't know.

DONALD CONDRILL: Do they get to keep the cookies?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah. [laughter] I'm trying to think, is everything else --

JENNIFER EGAN: We talked about, um, friends that he had, adults who were friendly to him in the Yard and kind of places where he hung out, kids that he knew. Um, a couple of maneuvers that he went on with the Marines.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Um, did you talk about security getting into and out of the yard?


JENNIFER EGAN: The lack thereof.


DONALD CONDRILL: Never a problem. I never even carried my pass after the first couple of weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Was that just because you were you? Like if somebody walked -- if an adult walking up the street had tried to get in, would they have trouble?




DANIELLA ROMANO: No, until World War II --

DONALD CONDRILL: No it was something the Marines --


DANIELLA ROMANO: -- when it was on lockdown.

DONALD CONDRILL: -- and they, they all rotated the Yard gates positions, and they got to know me. So I, I would -- I think I showed the pass maybe the first or second week, and that was it.

JENNIFER EGAN: But they didn't just let anybody into the yard.

DONALD CONDRILL: No, no, no. No, no. Uh-uh.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And also, there was a Marine barracks and there was the rest of the Yard. The Marine barracks was separate, right?

DANIELLA ROMANO: There were two Marine barracks. I mean -- well, this is the Marine barracks during 1938.

DONALD CONDRILL: They was in a couple of blocks from the Sands Street gate.

DANIELLA ROMANO: And then -- yeah, right there, right across from Building 121.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I see, [inaudible]. Yep.

DANIELLA ROMANO: And then this had originally -- see over here, Don? This had originally been the, um, Marine, the entire Marine Corps installation was, uh -- this is, this was Marine commandant's quarters.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's the gutted building, right?

DANIELLA ROMANO: These were officers' quarters. Yeah. These were, um, officers' quarters, like lower rank. [inaudible] Then the commandant, I guess, and then 82:00these were the barracks, those were the barracks.

DONALD CONDRILL: No, no, the barracks was --

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, before all this, before all this. This was developed, and they came about after

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: That would have been demolished like in 1915 or something.

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, oh, yeah.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, 1918 was when Building 3 was built.

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, okay. But the barracks building was by the Sands Street gate, I mean.


DONALD CONDRILL: Now, one of these was marked for four twenty-five--

JENNIFER EGAN: I've got to run, but it was a pleasure. Thank you so much.

DONALD CONDRILL: Thanks, Jennifer. [inaudible]

JENNIFER EGAN: It was really fascinating. Great to talk to you.

DONALD CONDRILL: You too, hun.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Four twenty-five was the --

DONALD CONDRILL: You going to send me your books?

JENNIFER EGAN: [inaudible] the tape recorder.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Bye. See you soon. Happy New Year.

JENNIFER EGAN: All right, talk to you soon.

DONALD CONDRILL: You're going to send me your books?

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah. Oh, yeah, I've got to get your address. Oh, thanks for reminding me. And Daniella, remind me [inaudible]. I'm always hesitant to offer because I don't want people to feel like they have to read them, do you know what I mean?

DONALD CONDRILL: Four twenty-five.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, when people say that to me, I'm like [inaudible].


DONALD CONDRILL: That was the paymaster's quarters. That's a non-com.


DONALD CONDRILL: [address redacted for privacy]

DANIELLA ROMANO: Four twenty -- yeah, quarters, noncommissioned officers' quarters.

DONALD CONDRILL: [address redacted for privacy]

JENNIFER EGAN: I will send them.

DONALD CONDRILL: Seven-oh-three.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh. Oh, sure, we'll do that, too.

DONALD CONDRILL: Just in case.


DONALD CONDRILL: [number redacted for privacy]. Right.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Do you remember your phone number -- did you have a phone number when you lived on Sands Street?

DONALD CONDRILL: It was Cumberland something. Cumberland something.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Thank you. That's a great question.

DONALD CONDRILL: [inaudible]

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Cumberland probably in the four digits, right?


JENNIFER EGAN: It's still rolling over there, yeah.

DONALD CONDRILL: Thing is, Cumberland five four was four digits, so it actually had five digits.




JENNIFER EGAN: Thanks so much.

DONALD CONDRILL: Cumberland is [inaudible].


DONALD CONDRILL: Because we had the telephone that uh, what do they call them now, it had the separate horn.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Yeah, did you have to, um, crank it?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, no, it was after that. We didn't have to crank any -- now see here, four twenty-five was a -- the Marine warrant officers' quarters.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I see that. It says noncomissioned officers, US -- USMC.


DONALD CONDRILL: He's considered a commissioned officer. He's always a warrant.


DONALD CONDRILL: And the commissioned officers -- well, we played tennis there, and the commissioned officers is one of these buildings around here somewhere.

DANIELLA ROMANO: That's all covered up by Building 77 now.

DONALD CONDRILL: And these were, um, garages down below. He was on the second floor, over the garages. Mr. LeClaire [phonetic] was the, uh, paymaster then, but he left and someone took his place. But they had a daughter named Alice, and she got me in the closet, [laughter] and she started to kiss me. Oh! What's going on? You know, I thought, I was --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Not bad, kissing the paymaster's daughter.

DONALD CONDRILL: I wasn't into this, you know, I was like thirteen years old or something. And just then, who opens the closet door but the mama.


DONALD CONDRILL: And "What are you doing here?" You know, I'm the, I'm the, I'm the intruder. I was glad to get out of there, because she wouldn't stop kissing me. [laughter]

DANIELLA ROMANO: And how old was she?

DONALD CONDRILL: She my age, about thirteen, I guess.

DANIELLA ROMANO: They develop faster, don't they? I'm trying to think of 85:00anything else. We've asked about -- um, anything you want to volunteer, too.

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh, we played tennis.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did you play tennis on the courts down by Admiral's Row?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, there's one over here, by the Marines there.


DONALD CONDRILL: And there's one behind the, the officers' quarters here.


DANIELLA ROMANO: Mm-hmm. There was one behind the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: They had them by the hospital, too, but I guess you didn't use those.


DANIELLA ROMANO: Um, when they were doing this extension of, of Building Four, uh, the huge structural shop, the mold loft, they uncovered bones. Do you remember anything about that?



UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: You know, we just uncovered one of the piers for Building Four yesterday --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- because we're trying to excavate prior to building the new [inaudible] building there.



DONALD CONDRILL: One of these buildings is the dispensary, the Navy dispensary.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, that was 122.

DONALD CONDRILL: And I got to use it one day. We were playing -- there was a big sand pile inside this building, had a big opening in the ceiling. The building was like two stories or something.


DONALD CONDRILL: And we would jump from the opening into the sand pile. And I leaned over and got hit in the eye with the, the used casing of a rocket --


DONALD CONDRILL: -- and I lost my sight from one eye right then and there. So they rushed me over to the dispensary, and he said, "Ah, you'll be OK tomorrow." Just some pus and bleeding. And the, the next day I gained my sight back. It was scary.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Maybe that's where you lost your color.

DONALD CONDRILL: No, because that -- my sisters claim I was, I was bad on that before, about the color of their dresses and such.

DANIELLA ROMANO: That's in your brain, yeah. That is. I didn't know that there was a color perception -- I thought you could only be colorblind or color 87:00not-blind, I didn't know --

DONALD CONDRILL: No, there are shades --

DANIELLA ROMANO: -- that you could misperceive colors.

DONALD CONDRILL: -- there are shades.

DANIELLA ROMANO: -- question I had one.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did you ask about women working in the yard?

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. In the cafeteria. Right? Women working in the yard?DONALD CONDRILL: My Aunt Liz and, and my friend Sophie Nolan.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: But were they mainly menial jobs, or were there any women officers or anything?

DONALD CONDRILL: Not in those days. There, there were nurses, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: But no women in the, in the upper, upper ranks?


DANIELLA ROMANO: Civilian secretaries.

DONALD CONDRILL: That didn't until later on. In the Army, we had WACs, and WACs had officers.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Uh, and, was there a WAC division in this yard?


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Well, this would have been WAVE, yeah.

DONALD CONDRILL: No, no, not at my time.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did you ask about, um, vehicles, how you'd get around the yard, transportation?

DANIELLA ROMANO: I asked about trolleys, and there were no trolleys within the yard.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So how would you -- the yard is such a big place. How 88:00would you get from one end to the other?

DONALD CONDRILL: At the time I'm a young teenager.




UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Was, was that how everybody got around?


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: They didn't have any shuttles or buses or anything?

DONALD CONDRILL: No, that's sissy stuff. [laughter] I don't know. The answer's no, you walked.


DONALD CONDRILL: We never thought anything of it.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: So there must have been crowded -- just prior to the war there must have been crowds of people on the street all the time.

DONALD CONDRILL: No, it wasn't that popular.


DONALD CONDRILL: Except at quitting time or going-to-work time. I don't --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did they have whistles to mark the shifts?

DONALD CONDRILL: Uh, no, but they did have a whistle, kind of a strange whistle, for an alarm in case of a fire or an accident.

DANIELLA ROMANO: We hear it go sometimes, like an air whistle.

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah. Wah wah wah. And everybody knew, even us on the outside, knew there was an accident or a, a fire in the Yard.

DANIELLA ROMANO: And then it would have been too early to ask if there were air 89:00raid sirens.



DONALD CONDRILL: They would never come here. [laughter] We thought.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So you enlisted in '42. Okay, I'm just trying to think of December eighth. Do you remember -- ?DONALD CONDRILL: December seventh.

JENNIFER EGAN: December seventh, sorry.

DONALD CONDRILL: We were listening to that console radio we were talking about -- ahem, Mrs. [inaudible] came up -- down from upstairs, because she had John and, and Frank eligible for the draft, and the girls were standing there wringing their hands, "Have you heard?" you know. And, uh, we turned on the radio and heard about Pearl Harbor. We had an idea where Pearl Harbor was because we were around the Navy so much.

DANIELLA ROMANO: And then, um, that day -- the day of the eighth, apparently, they um -- there were gunners and lookouts posted, uh, all, uh, around the Yard 90:00and in Green-Wood Cemetery, with the sight of Manhattan and underneath --

DONALD CONDRILL: Why were they in Green-Wood?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Because Green-Wood Cemetery is high enough --

DONALD CONDRILL: Oh. I can't answer that. I don't know.


DONALD CONDRILL: Maybe they had anti, anti-aircraft.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, that's what it was

DONALD CONDRILL: My first assignment, I mean, I was, they stationed me in the anti-aircraft artillery in San Diego. We were posted in the hills around San Diego, protect the battalion of B-24s and B-25s and so on. And, um, you could see North Island, the Navy station out there. I remember walking through the plant, and most of the workers were women, Rosie the Riveter, and I was twenty-one, second lieutenant, and I got whistled at all the way through that plant. See, it's funny because they had the, had the machine guns on the roof. And, uh, I enjoyed it, you know. And, uh, eventually I made a date with one of 91:00the gals that I couldn't keep, and I couldn't call her, I had no phone number, but I was shipped out. But I wanted to. But I was -- I was very timid, very, very shy. Things change. That's the way I was then, you know.

DANIELLA ROMANO: All right. Can you think of anything more? All right, Don. We're going to stay in touch anyway [inaudible] --


DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, I'd like to continue being in touch with you, and I -- you know, if you can -- if you -- if anything comes to mind that you would have liked to have said today, don't hesitate to call, and I'll probably call and follow up with you. You come into New York fairly often, right?



DONALD CONDRILL: Christmastime.




DONALD CONDRILL: Next year we'll [inaudible] come up with a family reunion on the first of January, but my wife wants to spend her birthday with her family up 92:00in, up in New York State.


DONALD CONDRILL: If we didn't, we'd spend it here at the Rockettes. [laughter]

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Where is her family in New York State?

DONALD CONDRILL: Her family's in Norwich. It's about fifty miles northeast of Binghamton. And what she's got left is one aunt and two brothers, ahem, up there, and the aunt had thirteen children, all alive, all married, all got spouses, kids, and grandkids.



DANIELLA ROMANO: You don't remember the Fayellas [phonetic]?

DONALD CONDRILL: [inaudible]

DANIELLA ROMANO: You don't remember the Fayellas, to think of -- the guy -- um, well, Vincent would be about your age --

DONALD CONDRILL: Are you talking about the, uh --

DANIELLA ROMANO: The [inaudible], and then their dad is Nat.

DONALD CONDRILL: The name I don't, but I, I probably know the -- I probably have seen them around.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah. Nat was the dad, the grandfather, and then Michael, and I 93:00know Vincent. They've moved. They've moved over to Red Bank, New Jersey.

DONALD CONDRILL: Ahem, [inaudible].

DANIELLA ROMANO: But they're gone. Mm-hmm. All right.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: How did you get here?


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Uh, do you have a car?

DONALD CONDRILL: Yeah, I've got a Prius SUV, very comfortable. We drive, we drive --

[Interview Interrupted.]

DONALD CONDRILL: He got shot up about five or six times, survived it, and had to go to court to testify. And I remember he came into the store -- I was a little kid at the time -- and got a good cigar from the store and, uh, undid the wrappings and put some money where the wrappings were and put the wrappings back on top. And my father said, "Who's that for?" He said, "That's for the judge." [laughter]

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: What'd he get shot up for, do you know?

DONALD CONDRILL: I don't remember.



DONALD CONDRILL: Hamil's Garage. H-M -- H-A-M-I-L, Hamil's. And there was a store that went up on the corner of High Street, ahem, and MacGill Street that, uh, guys came in to hold it up. They, they, they fired all the ammunition they had into this guy's back. He turned around, took the gun away from them, and beat the hell out of them with the gun, and he survived. So we're tough people around here. But we had some of these doings in our neighborhood again, but, uh, we -- now we talked about rolling sailors, that was [inaudible].


DONALD CONDRILL: [inaudible] But there were some -- and there was a fellow by the name of Broadway To -- excuse me -- Broadway Tom, who was picked up by the cops because he had blood on his shoes and he was wearing the jacket of a man that was killed, and [laughter] he must have been drunk, I guess, but they picked him up. They, uh, for some reason they weren't, they weren't able to, to find this guy guilty. He got acquitted. All the evidence was against him. Broadway Tom. Then we had, um, Cupid that was a cab driver.



DONALD CONDRILL: He had a ca -- he had a cab stand at the corner of, uh, Sands and, and Navy, facing the yard. Ahem, nice guy. You know, he was a nice guy. But yeah, he got the, the got the nickname Cupid because he ran a couple of the neighbors down to, to, uh Maryland where they could get married without a two-day wait.


DONALD CONDRILL: So he became, uh, he became Cupid.



DONALD CONDRILL: Mister Dusty, he was another guy. Lost a leg to, uh, to, uh, diabetes, I guess it was. Well, if I think of anything else, I'll [inaudible].

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah. Well, that was a lot of good stuff that just came out right there. [laughter]

DONALD CONDRILL: I'm glad. I'm glad.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I like these characters. I think Jenny would be interested in 96:00that too, so.




UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Good to meet you. Wow, I got a grand view there.

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Interview Description

Oral History Interview with Donald Condrill

Donald Richard Condrill (1921- ) grew up in Brooklyn on Sands Street. His father was a plumber and his mother ran a store right outside of the gate of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Condrill sold newspapers in the marine barracks as a kid and later became the mascot for the basketball and baseball teams before enlisting in 1942. His parents moved away from Sands Street in 1943.

In this interview, Donald Richard Condrill (1921- ) mostly discusses spending time with the marines and soldiers in the Navy Yard and on Sands Street when he was growing up. He explains that he stopped selling newspapers after less than a year because marines did not want to spend their money on newspapers. He also talks about the neighborhood and the changes that took place during the twenty years that he lived there. Condrill goes on to describe his experience in the Army and his difficulty with color blindness. Interview conducted by Jennifer Egan and Daniella Romano.

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.


Condrill, Donald Richard, 1921-, Oral history interview conducted by Jennifer Egan, December 29, 2006, Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection, 2010.003.033; Brooklyn Historical Society.


  • Condrill, Donald Richard, 1921-
  • New York Naval Shipyard


  • Childhood & youth
  • Family life
  • Great Depression
  • Marines (Military personnel)
  • Military bases
  • Military life
  • Naval ships
  • Newspaper vendors
  • Newspapers
  • Ships
  • Shipyards
  • Waterfronts
  • Work
  • World War, 1939-1945


  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sands Street (New York, N.Y.)


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Finding Aid

Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection