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[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
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Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan
July 28, 2010
Call number: 2008.031.2.003
0:31 - Introductions; family background, leaving Italy at 16; arriving in NYC; childhood on Adriatic; life lessons from grandparents; leaving family behind
13:59 - Living at 639 Hicks St. until '78, then 4th St; gave his paycheck to family until age 30; married in '83, one block move; sunday dinners & reflecting on parents
19:26 - Todd Shipyards, originally Robin's Drydock; unique repair facility; yard during WWII; sold in '83 to NY Shipyard, but he chose to stay; finding work after it was bought in '05; appreciating job at IKEA
25:18 - Starting a family; wife's similar Italian origin, meeting her in Carroll Gardens, '79; wife went to FIT for design, worked in Manhattan; she died at age 45, how he and daughters coped; house on 4th & Court Sts: built by them, wife's design, family continued there in 2010
32:26 - Demographic, gentrifying changes to Carroll Gardens since '70s; Catholic procession & Van Westerhout Club founding by Mola di Bari descendants; club members & '50s origin; Dutch name for club
46:43 - Southern Italians settling in Brooklyn; being Italian: in U.S. vs in Italy; community ties to St. Stephen Church; loss of faith
53:33 - Todd Shipyards, 1920s; integration during WWII; stories of yard's early days from workers; shift work: hard, unpredictable, dangerous; final job at yard in 2005 & filling dock with sand
61:24 - Working on dry dock; describing, contrasting dry dock types; detailing his job & steps of shipyard in bringing ship into dry dock
78:29 - Dangers of shipyard work; ships capsizing in dock; losing a crane operator; explosion caused by burner; moving up ranks at yard
Oral History Interview with Pino Deserio
Pino (Joseph) Deserio was born in Mola De Bari, Italy in 1952. He came to the United States in 1970 with his father via ship, and eventually his mother and six siblings joined them. As soon as he turned eighteen, he started working as an electrician's helper at Todd Shipyards in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. He worked there until Todd Shipyards closed and sold the land to IKEA in 2005. Along with the rest of his family, Deserio has lived in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn since the 1970s. He was married and raised two daughters there. At the time of the 2010 interview, Deserio was working as the facilities manager at IKEA in Red Hook on the same site as his previous job with Todd Shipyards.
In this interview, Pino Deserio describes his life in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn and the Italian American community's establishments there; including the Van Westerhout Mola Sport Club, established by those originally from Mola Di Bari, Italy, and the St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church. He talks about his family, immigration, and changes in the neighborhood, and also changes back in Italy, which he visits every year. Deserio gives a thorough description of all the steps necessary for getting a ship into a graving dock, a difficult process that was his responsibility by the time Todd Shipyards closed. Deserio also discusses the loss of his wife to breast cancer when she was only forty-five years old and shares his hopes for his two daughters. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.
The Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Business and industry series features a dynamic range of narrators. Some are well-known in their communities and others are well-known in their field. This ongoing series focuses on Brooklyn workplaces and the experiences of these narrators, as well as documents local, national, and international history. The narrators often discuss their positions as owners or operators of businesses. The oldest narrator in this series was born in 1920.
CitationDeserio, Pino, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, July 28, 2010, Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Business and industry, 2008.031.2.003; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Deserio, Pino
- New York Naval Shipyard (New York, N.Y.)
- Todd Shipyards Corporation (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- Emigration and immigration
- Family life
- Italian Americans
- Marriage customs and rites
- Navy-yards and naval stations
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- Carroll Gardens (New York, N.Y.)
- Red Hook (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidVoices of Brooklyn oral histories: Business and industry