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Anthony Ferrara

Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan

June 23, 2008

Call number: 2010.003.011

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ANTHONY FERRARA: It's very, very, very part --

SADY SULLIVAN: It's an important part?

ANTHONY FERRARA: I'm gonna remember to say.

SADY SULLIVAN: I'm going to oop -- I'm going to get a sound check going. So, you sit where you're comfortable.


SADY SULLIVAN: I'm actually going to -- oop!


SADY SULLIVAN: I'm going to move the microphone to about right here.


SADY SULLIVAN: So, you're comfortable where you are?


SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. Because I just want to adjust the volume. So, would you count to five for me?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Otherwise, otherwise -- if there was a pause you close, right? Does that stay on all the time, or does it pause that you want to --

SADY SULLIVAN: If you would like me -- if at any time, you would like me to stop it --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Then the editor --

SADY SULLIVAN: -- I will stop it.

ANTHONY FERRARA: After this is finished, this is going to be edited, right? One 1:00way or the other, right?

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, that's right. And anything that you want closed to the public, we can close it. So, it's you, it's your interview.


SADY SULLIVAN: Um, and there's all kinds of things that we can do. We can, um, we can close a part of it and open a part of it.


SADY SULLIVAN: We can close it for a number of years.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Whatever it is, yeah, yeah, right.

SADY SULLIVAN: And then open it. It's up to you. It's your interview.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Right. Well, as I go along, you know, if I say, as I go along --



SADY SULLIVAN: So, let's just start, to start formally for the recording, for the archive, today is June 23, 2008, and I am Sady Sullivan with the Brooklyn Historical Society, and I am here in Baldwin, New York with Anthony Ferrara. If you would, uh, introduce yourself to the recording.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yes. Hi, I'm Anthony Ferrara, and I have worked at the Navy Yard shortly, but interesting story that has to be told.


SADY SULLIVAN: Very good. I'm just going to move this back a bit. They're -- they're sensitive mics, so we can have them a bit of distance from us. Um, so what is your -- just for our records, what is your date of birth?

ANTHONY FERRARA: [date redacted for privacy] '15.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh! Your birthday just happened!

ANTHONY FERRARA: I, uh, yes. It was just a few weeks ago.

SADY SULLIVAN: Happy birthday.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Thank you very much.

SADY SULLIVAN: And you're also a Gemini. I am, too. [laughter]


SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter] Um, and, um, where were you born?


SADY SULLIVAN: Where in New York?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Lower Manhattan.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Of course, known as Mulberry Bend. Now, it's called Little Italy. Mulberry Street.



SADY SULLIVAN: Oh. And is that where you grew up?


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yes, I grew up right -- one third of my life there.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And so, tell me how, how you came to the Navy Yards.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Navy Yard. Aha, I have to start reminiscing about Mr. Burke [phonetic], how I was introduced to him. My family owned a restaurant in Coney Island, and being a seasonal business that was done spring and summer, and after September, we would close. And I naturally would be looking to do a little part time work until the season started again. Which I did. In the interim, we, we served [inaudible] Beer, Rubsam & Horrmann was made in New York, Staten Island. 4:00And --

SADY SULLIVAN: What was that? It was a beer, you said?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, a beer, it was a beer company. It's called R & H, Rubsam & Horrmann.


ANTHONY FERRARA: And they were located at Staten Island.


ANTHONY FERRARA: And, and a Mr. Richie Corbiserio [phonetic], who was owner of the Sunrise Beverage Company, he was the distributor of that beer. And he also owned a restaurant on Sands Street named Oval Bar and Grille.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Two -- so, after the season is over, Mr. Corbiserio [phonetic] approached me and told me that if I wanted to work at the restaurant, he said he 5:00would provide, so I accepted it. So, I -- after the season, I worked at the restaurant, luncheon waiter and the evening was a backroom bartender. It was not really hard, it was just mostly straight drinks that were served. In the interim as a waiter, one fine day, Mr. Corbiserio [phonetic], the owner, approached me and he said, "Tony, tomorrow for luncheon, there'll be, you'll be serving a Mr. Burke [phonetic] and his guest, and I want you to serve them well." I says, "All right." So, so Mr. Burke, whenever he would come for luncheon, I -- he would be 6:00seated in my station. And over the time, we just, we talked. He got to know my name, and I told him my, that I was a 4F due to an ear injury. And we got on and on, then realizing a young man of 4F in the evening business at the Oval Bar, was mostly sailors, here I am a young man not in active duty. I was really, really downhearted about that. So, working, working. I approach -- one day, I approach Mr. Burke because we got to talk a little bit in between, and I said -- 7:00he was Assistant Aide to the Commander of the Yard. Now, Commander of the Yard is called -- I forget his name -- is usually a Rear Admiral or an Admiral retired that takes that position of commanding of the Brooklyn, Commander of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. So, when I requested that I wanted to work at the Navy Yard, he says, "All right," he says, "I'll bring an application, Tony." He called me Tony. "You fill it out, and when I come again, you hand it to me. In a day or two, you'll be working at the Navy Yard." So, I, "All right, does this." So, one day, when I was told to come to work, and I was told to go to Ship Fitting 8:00School, learn part as a ship fitter. Now, I liked that because I had told Mr. Burke I'd known that due to my ear injury, I couldn't stand loud, loud noise, it would affect my ear injury. So, I says -- so as I attended the Ship Fitter School, the instructor, I remember, the noise, I remember, didn't tell him. He was from Scotland, and he was a ship fitter for many years, global, and not at the War. He was called to work at the Navy Yard, now he's an instructor. Now, at the beginning of the school, he says, "You know, ship fitter is like a ship 9:00builder. We put pieces together and we form a ship. Now," he says, "In order to be a ship fitter, you -- my school doesn't take that. You'll be sort of assistant for a ship fitter, because ship fitter takes years and years and years, and just a few days of schooling, you're not -- you're going to know the knowledge a little bit about ship fitting, but you'll have to learn the blueprints, and we go on from that." And, doing, and going to school, I liked it and I enjoyed it, and then one day, when I came in, the instructor called me and said, "Mr. Ferrara, you are to be put to Mr. Burke's office." He told me the 10:00building -- I remember, Building Four -- that he wanted to see you. So, the next day, that's what I did. I didn't go to school, I went to see Mr. Burke. I, he says, "Hello, hello." He says, "Tony," he says I was assigned to be fire prevention because at the present time, there's a little -- not melted fi-- -- small fires that's occurring on the docks of the, occur the docks -- so he says, "Now, I was in charge. Now, at the present time, there are fire watch." A fire watch is, consists of just that. Fire watch stands and when the welders are 11:00welding above, he has an extenditure. Whenever, that sparks sometimes hit the wooden dock, it would cause a small fire. Now he said, "Being that there's been quite a few more, they've assigned me that job, and I am making you a fire warden." Now, I didn't know what fire warden, W-A-R-D-E-N, and I didn't know what. He says, "I'm going to explain it to you. I'm going to, I'm going to send you to another -- my aide, he's going to instruct you on your job, and to teach you about different fire extinguishers in your position." So, all right. So, I become -- so then I was instructed to learn about the extinguishers and what my 12:00job was. To go around as the welders were working on, um, on the ships, that when the welder -- they should have a fire watch there at that position with, with an extinguisher. And, and as you go along, there was a fire station, uh, they called that, where extra extinguisher was there. So, he says, "Your job is to go and see as you're making the rounds, that the welders working above has a fire watch there." Not an individual fire, but he's there, whatever position 13:00that he could watch when the sparks -- so that was nice. I liked that. And it was an easy job -- not easy -- because most of the people that frequented my, when I was, was a waiter at Sands Street, were all mostly from workers at the Navy Yard. And Mr. Burke would come with a shirt and tie, and I now, working as a fire warden, I was clean-shaven all the time. Clean, when I, nuh-no-no ways I'd be getting dirty, you know? Walking around and just watching, that sometimes when I did -- when I watched, there was no fire watch at that time, I would get -- my instruction was to get the supervisor of that division and to, and to make sure that a fire watch was there. A fire watch that was previous taught about 14:00the use of different fire extinguishers. That was the right -- so I did that, but, mmm, and you know, walking around, walking around, and naturally workers working up there, I was told, many time I was told, they says, "Who are you? I'm a, I say, what's your job?" I said, "fire warden." They said, explained it, they said, "Well, what a job." They said, they said -- so naturally, when I made the rounds the, the, those that are working up on the ships would call out to me and say, "Hey!" You know, call down, all kinds of names, "Get a job," "What are you doing?" Because I was always, I was, I was clean, nice and clean clothes, never did my face ever dirty, and he said, "Why don't you get a job like a man?" You 15:00know? I says, you know, I just let it go. But then sometime, I assumed not to wear a helmet, you know, then they would throw things from above. Really. Wow. I said, "My God, they're going to kill me." So, I thought, "Wear a helmet." So, I says, I went and made a round, around, did the job. So, all right. So naturally, there was small fires that mean nothing, but that was part of my job, to see that's not happening. So, one fine day, one night it had rained previously, and on the ship was, on the ship there was water, water, on part of the -- and there was called a water brigade. They would get some buckets and get the water and throw it in the water, get it in the drink, the water. So, so they were throwing -- as I made the rounds, I got doused with a bucket of rusty water on me.



ANTHONY FERRARA: That's right. My God! There was a ladder, a three-story ladder. I must have made that in seconds. I got there, I got there, I said -- and there was one man just sweeping and sweeping, and I said to him, I said, "Just a minute. Where's the gangway?" He says, "I don't know, I just got here." He said, "I don't know, I don't know. They hide." Now I'm drenched with that rusty water all over me because they couldn't see, they couldn't see me working, you know, clean. Because I wear -- one time I, my outfit would be like brown. Next time it would be gray. Every day it changed. And I, you know, and they seen that the job that I was doing, you know? And let me put this into a story. Most of those employees through the war time, generally 4F's and undesirables that worked there.



ANTHONY FERRARA: They, they didn't, they couldn't get into service, but the Navy Yard employed them. They didn't care about their records. Of course, we needed help in the Navy Yard. So, then they could, content, those that worked there. So now, I write, I report that to -- all the incidents I report to my boss, I guess he would report to Mr. Burke, you know? And then they would not, right, right. At that time, the Missouri and the Iowa was on a carvel being built, you know? And also, four LST, LST, Landing Ship Tanks. Them tanks were, they could go, 18:00them tanks would bring equipments, whatever was necessary, on the beach or on land. It was fit to go anyplace.

SADY SULLIVAN: One of those was being built?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Four of them. Four.

SADY SULLIVAN: Four of them were being built!

ANTHONY FERRARA: Four being built, two at one time.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Now, whenever there's a launching to be held that day, they, it's considered a most -- a holiday. Because nobody would work no, and no matter what your position was, you were told the place has to be clean and the water has to, all that debris that is in there, because to launch it they had to be cleaned. You know? Two or three days before everything had to be perfect because when that, when there was the launching, you know, there'd be nothing in the 19:00way. So, and I watched that process because I had no, I went up to get where the ships were built, and at that time they were putting tons and tons of grease on the, on the, on the runway. Grease, grease, grease, because after the ship is launched, all the shorings are off, so you go sliding on that grease and she goes into it. So in the interim, now naturally working at the Yard, you made some friends. And that day at the launching of the, I believe, two -- I forget the numbers -- and it was being launched. And I says, I went down to see, I was put in the position to see because this was, you know, something to be seen. So my friend said, "Come, come, Tony." I says, "Where are you going?" He says, "Come with us." I says, "Where are you going?" It was two, me and two other 20:00guard men. And he says, "We're going to a position where you can see the launching nice coming off the runway, up to it, and go right into the water." I said, "Where are you going?" He said, "Just follow us." So -- but there was -- then the -- they, when there's a launching, there was a rule that said you couldn't be in a certain area, you couldn't go beyond that. So, we went, so they said, "Come follow us," so we went over. He says, "Come, come." I say, "Where?" There was loads of twelve by twelve lumber, fifteen, eighteen feet long, piled like a pyramid, you know? I say, "What are you going?" He says, "Come, come." So, we, he says, "Come." We climb over the, the stacks there, and down, down, down, down, and we were in position. I says, "Are we allowed to do this?" "Don't worry. They're," he said, "Nobody's going to bother us here." So, we were 21:00stationed. Now, but come time of the launching, it was nice. It was right, we were not too far away, you know, right there almost. And the, when the launching, and you see the ships coming off one at a time, coming off, coming off, coming off. And when they hit the water, they make waves ten, twelve feet high, and we were doused and we were lucky. Doused, I was doused again. And we were lucky not -- because if the lumber would have tipped, we were underneath, we would have been killed. And that was one, my experience of the launching.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow. So, the wave came up?

ANTHONY FERRARA: The wave, yeah. The wave, when the wave came up, they're high, you know? No one's supposed to be there.


ANTHONY FERRARA: I don't know if anybody noticed, because nobody -- they would have sent somebody to get us off. But nobody told us to get out, no -- so the 22:00wave, you know, come so high that that hit the lumber. And if the water -- you know, and us. I don't know how we didn't get, we didn't get surrounded with that wave. Well, I mean, I -- that was one of my experience. So naturally, everything that was done was reported, and Mr. Burke, they was -- you know, he was the big assistant to the Commander. I got to know, you know, know him through the years. So that, I decided I don't -- about this fire watch, I says, "You know what happened with being the fire warden," I says, "They don't care for me. They throw things from up above. And that thing," I says, "they almost drowned me," and I said, "I almost got drown," but I says I'm a, a says, "Mr. Burke," I says, 23:00as I'm making the rounds, I says to him, "You know? I've been at different shops and where there was a lot of noise there, and this was the time I would -- position myself with my ear, and I noticed that my ear wasn't bothering me so much, being that, you know, I was getting accustomed to the noise." So, he says, "All right. Tony, you know," he says, "You know, again, we've got another problem. There are little problems that come, you know, problems starting with us, you know, assistant to the Commander." He says, "You know, you know that the Iowa and the Missouri's being built. And the Iowa has been going up fast." But he said, he said, "We got an order from Washington to get the Missouri right done too." He said, now, they assigned me because being that the work, a lot of 24:00work was done on the, on the Iowa, they couldn't -- the material for the Missouri was scattered all over the Yard, do you know what I mean? And they, they needed a material chaser to go after, to location, to anything that was stamped sixty-three, that was the Missouri material. And if, when, he said -- now he told me my, I was told what to do. So, when -- I become a, a materials chaser -- whenever I found any material, I would make the location, what it was and what position, and that was reported. It was reported and they would take that and would bring a sample to where, to the Missouri. So, I'm doing that. In the interim, they want that, the two ships, the battleships to be built right 25:00away, and there was incoming new material for the Missouri. [inaudible] So natural -- so being a fire watch was, you know, the job was so big to get to the different positions, I'd walk. And he says, I was told that sometimes you could borrow one of them scooters. They says, "Be careful," he says, "Same scooters that belong to the lieutenants, you know," but he said, "These are the ones with a red handle, yellow handle, you could take." But sometimes, I didn't, I used to take any one and go around, you know, the Yard. You could walk. You know, it was, was, you can see on the map here, very, very big. So I, after that position, then I get, he says, I says, "You know, I was going to school," and I 26:00says, "I liked it, that's -- could I go to school again a little bit to finish?" He says, "All right.

SADY SULLIVAN: To finish the ship fitting?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, ship -- because they need -- because now they are bringing new material that was ordered, you know, into the Yard. You know what I mean? And the material -- because that was all scattered, they don't know how they got scattered. You know, where have I seen sixty-three, mark it down, notify, you know, and it was a piece here, beams all over. So, I, so now I went, now I went a little bit back to the Ship Fitters School to become a Ship Fitter, become an aide, an aide to one of the -- so all right. So, I liked it, so I went back. Then after finish, I was assigned to be an aide, and they -- now, they 27:00were assembling. When I got there, they were assembling bulkheads to be assembled. You know them pieces? Tons, and there was a tick, and a what -- on the place. They had to be welded, and then when finished, they would be picked up by a crane and brought over to, to be assembled. Now, they --

SADY SULLIVAN: Was that the hammerhead crane?


SADY SULLIVAN: Was it the hammerhead crane?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. Not talking about that. When the work was done, they had to have, the hammerhead crane would come down, pick, pick these, pick up the material and go above, hundreds and hundreds of workers underneath, and they would -- you know, and when this was happening, everybody's looking up because 28:00there's alarm set that material is being moved. You know? And they, they ought to be careful because if that -- there were, you know, there were angles, clips, and accidents, accidents would occur. So naturally, you had to look up, and look, and look and see that, you know, that nothing's happening. So, all right. So, I'm now working there. There were women introduced, workers in the Navy Yard becoming welders, and some chippers. Welders. Not -- they were not considered welders, they were spot welders. They would spot these two pieces in place, and then the real, then the a-a-a-a, a welder, not a spot welder, would come in 29:00between and finish. Then after that was done, there was a chipper. A chipper is someone, it's like a chisel with a big machine. After the excess welding was done, the chipper would come along and make, and smooth, smooth the excess off.

SADY SULLIVAN: Of the seam?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. The seams, yeah, they would smooth that off. And then after it was done, like I said before, they had to be hoisted up with the cranes and brought to wherever it was to be delivered. And I had a nice -- I really liked it, doing that. But the only thing is that when these women, I had -- they were not my assistant, they were spot welders working where I was. I used to watch what they were doing, you know? And when they would weld, make the spot 30:00weld, they had to -- we all wear goggles, and when they, any, when welding was done, you had to wear your goggles because whatever, it takes your eye and you get bad, bad infect. So now I would deal, they were told then, they were told, I was told, they were told -- that when you start the weld, you make that spark, you have to make the announcement because whoever's around would generally put the goggles down. Because once you start to weld, once you make that first spark, it's a tremendous spark that affects your eyes instantly, so you have to be, so you have to be told when that occurs. So, in this occurrence, it happened more than one time. I just told whatever the name, Mary, "Please, please, how 31:00many times are you told that when you're ready to make, to weld, you have to shout out and warn. Look at this now. Look, I'm blinded, I can't, I have to go to the dispensary. I have to go to the dispensary now. Look, I can't see." Said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." All right. Go to the dispensary. Now he gives you drops in your eyes and he says, "All right, wait, wait, wait." He says, "If not," he says, "I'm giving you these drops. You have to go home." And I was sent home. You know? He said, "Do this," so I knew how many times, "Do this, do this." Said all right. Next morning it was all right. And, and you know, and naturally now the ships, they're being built, and oh, there's an instance, an instance that had occurred to me when I was a fire warden that has to be reported, I had 32:00reported this, what happened. I'm making the rounds as a fire warden. I noticed that underneath, there were steps going underneath the ship, you know, steps going down. So, my -- being inquisitive, I says, "I'm going to go down and see what's under there." You know? I didn't know. So, as I went down, one, two, three steps, was greeted by a big flash on me, on my -- I was told, "Whoever you are, stop and don't move." So, I hear a voice say, "Don't come down. Stay where you are. Who are you?" I was shaking. I says, "I'm considered a fire warden." He 33:00said, "And what is that?" He says, "If you put the light on my left side, you'll notice that I have a badge stating fire warden." And he says, "I don't care who you are. You, you, you made these steps. Don't ever, ever make these steps again. Be very, very careful." So now, almost blindfold, I go up, you know? And as I said before, all incidents I would report to my aide, he would naturally get back to Mr. Burke. Mr. Burke was a big assistant, you know, and I got to know him. And then later on, I found out what was after, you know? That when the 34:00ships had to be launched, the launch of the ships, all the shoring that's holding it up was all off. The last thing they would do, whoever does this, there's buttons to be push, there's locks, they're called locks. They're locks. They're after everything is off, they would, these locks would be released. The locks would be released and the ship would come down. That's why, if anybody -- so if there was any sabotage to be done, you know, they could be done. They could be done any time, even while the work was being done. But that wouldn't affect right away. It would take a long time before the locks would open, but gradually, gradually, that would slide down. That's why that was Marine stand, 35:00you know, guarding that part.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, they were guarding, they were down there guarding because they were about to launch the ship?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Not about. When. When, you know, when the occurrence came they wouldn't be there. When the occurrence, when that time came that whatever was built had to be launched, then them locks had to be released, you know what I mean? The locks, there were locks underneath holding, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Holding it to the dry dock?


SADY SULLIVAN: Holding it to the dry dock?

ANTHONY FERRARA: That's right, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, at the end, you know. Now, the launching, the locks would open, gradually with the weight, the weight, the way the angle, the way the ship is up, it's got to float. Now with the grease, 36:00all that tons of grease, it would float the ship into the water. So, I remember now this incident, that I think -- so now, where can -- back to school, excuse me.


ANTHONY FERRARA: I'm reminiscing. I want to show you if I left anything out. Now, what'd I do with it?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, I think the paper might have fallen over there. Let me look.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Small piece -- yeah, that's it. I got it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, I can get it.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Do you want to stop now, Miss, do you want to take a drink?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh no, I'm good. Do you want a break?


SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. Here you go.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. Ahh, let's see now. Mr. Burke, the Commander, Coney Island, Mr. Corbiserio [phonetic], Mr. Burke, top, Navy Yard, ship fitter 37:00school, welders, working welders, name calling.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, what's the name calling? We didn't get --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Well, the name, I saw, yeah, when I was working as a -- name caller. They --

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, they weren't happy about --

ANTHONY FERRARA: And there was the scooter, the noise, the ships, the [inaudible] plates. Yeah. Now, ahem, the workers at the Navy Yard, they were taught to be welders, shippers, and when they become many, after they become welders and shippers, they would leave the Navy Yard to go work, and I think at 38:00Bethlehem Shipyards, I think it was in New Jersey. They would go there because private, they would earn more than the, than they were making at the Navy Yard.


ANTHONY FERRARA: So, then this occurred, you know? Because in the interim, I'd been a 4F. I know I'm working the Yard, but I was so disappointed that I'm not in active, some service duty. So now this was occurring that many were leaving, and when you did -- when you resigned from working at the Navy Yard, you just 39:00don't resign. You have to post three letters -- three, the department, one has to go to the commander. Three letters has to be posted before you're given permission to leave. And one fine day, I was told that there was a big notice, all over the place there was a notice put on that everyone would eventually leave your position in the Navy Yard, but no rhyme or reason, just you know, to work at another yard, but automatically being inducted into the Armed Service, whether -- under no condition. You automatically would be put into service.

SADY SULLIVAN: Even if that person was 4F or something?


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. Yeah. It was mostly, most, you know, most of the people, most of the guys, as I said, were 4F's and undesirables, you know? Because in the Navy Yard, they want welders, you know, for all the years, but now this is wartime. They have to have workers, right? Now, the workers now, most of the, most, they're in the Army, they're in the Service, so what's left? You know what I mean? What's left. So, during that, when that notice was posted, I said, "Wow," I says, "If that's true, if that's true, then I'll be, you know, be able to go and be in one of the services." So, what I did, I notified Mr. Burke, he says, "Tony, I don't know, you're making a mistake." I said, "I know Mr. Burke." I says, "Being here, you know, working in the part time after the season, Coney 41:00Island," I said, "And to see these young sailors, here I am, a young man 4F. I just can't bear it." And I says, and I just thought, I said, "My father," and I was the head of the family, and now being the 4F and my younger brother would be inducted, so I says I wanted to go instead of him because he was not, he was -- not a boy -- was a young man, but was not -- he had a little sickness growing up. So, I resigned. After that, I got my notice. 1A. Previously when I was first 42:00inducted, I was told the reason why being that my ear infection. So now I get a 1A, I'm so happy, I say one, one, I've been here. So, when I went to register, the doctor says, "Hey, Mr. Ferrara, you -- do you know what's wrong?" I says, I just, I didn't answer him, I just nodded my head. He says, "You see the clock on the wall?" He says, "You see when -- " I think it was number three on the wall. He says, "You have a perforated ear drum. And you know, you cannot be inducted in the Army." Because at that time, doing the first, World War I, they were using German bombs, gas bombs, you know? And even though you had protection, gas 43:00mask, being -- if you have an ear perforation, they can't, gas eventually would go into your system and you would die.


ANTHONY FERRARA: So that's why they didn't want their, they don't know if the gas bombs were being used.

SADY SULLIVAN: I see. So, it was --

ANTHONY FERRARA: So, anybody that was 4F due to that infection were automatically 4F. So, he says, something, boom, 4F again. I was so disappointed, you know. I said, "I don't know what to do now." I resigned from the Navy Yard, you know? And went back to my family's business, because that was a seasonal business. I used to go back and forth. I was a [inaudible]. And -- let's see 44:00now. And now, that was my resume of working at the Navy Yard. I didn't contribute a lot, you know? But the story telling, and I'm glad that I was -- I was so interested in the battleship, especially the Missouri that later was called Big Mo, that what had happened, you know, in the War. That the ending was signed aboard the ship, you know? And I said, you know, I said, "Well," I said, "I didn't contribute a lot of the shipping, of the building of the Missouri. But 45:00I think I did just a little, a little to really think about the ship as it was being built."

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. That's great. Um, so I have, you have so many --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Do you have some questions?

SADY SULLIVAN: -- so many great memories of the Yard, and so I'm really excited to ask some more. I'm just going to go through what you told me, and I have some just specific detail questions.


SADY SULLIVAN: Um, a lot of the questions are about what things looked like, and you know, the sort of sensory ideas. But let's start just from the very beginning. So, you were -- how old were you when you started at the Navy Yards?

ANTHONY FERRARA: That was a -- the ending of, uh, of '41.


SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. So, 1941 you started?

ANTHONY FERRARA: I think -- yeah, yeah. I was about twenty-six.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, you were twenty-six. And how long did you work there?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Uh, uh, about, um, about maybe fourteen, fifteen months, like that, something like that.



SADY SULLIVAN: So maybe '43, until 1943 or so?

ANTHONY FERRARA: About the ending of '42, like that, yeah.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Something like.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. And your ear injury, what had happened to cause your ear injury?

ANTHONY FERRARA: I had, what caused that? I remember, elementary school they 47:00called at that time Seven-B, and my head was turned, you know? Not talking, I was listening. But the teacher, her name -- I always remember her name, but right now it escapes me. She hit me across the ear. At that time, I heard some kind of a burst, you know? And painful, you know, it was painful. I didn't say it to her, but when I got home my stepmother, I reported that to my step -- and she, at that time, my aunt, they came, and they were putting drops of hot oil on my ear, you know, and plugged it up, you know? In them days, you know, Miss Sullivan, there was not too many doctor care, you know? Everything was done -- 48:00being immigrants from different lands, they brought different remedies with them, whatever the occurrence was, a headache, whatever. And they knew. You know? So naturally, they -- it eased up a little bit, you know? But I had to be careful, that whenever there was a sharp, a big sharp noise, anything like that would affect my hearing, you know. And through that, I had an opportunity to work, at that time, the Hearst Publication, the New York World and then this, and I had a chance to work there. And the first day I went there, they took, brought me down, right down to the bottom where the presses were, and you know, as soon as I got into that room, I had to run out.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. I had to run out. And my friends that worked there all 49:00day came with me. They'd become fly bore, they called it fly bore, because as you're working the press, all that paper, that dirty paper that's all print, you had to pick it up, and you had to wear -- they told you, you had to wear the, the very, very dirty old clothes because you get like [inaudible]. So, through that, through that occurrence, I didn't -- so they beat, these friends as they worked, they would level off. Become fly bores or [inaudible], they'd become pretty [inaudible] at that time. I needed, I saved my money. That was Depression time. So, go ahead. That was my story.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, wow. So, did anything happen to that teacher that hit you? That's --

ANTHONY FERRARA: No. I, you know, them days, you know, actually with that, it was done. You know. It didn't bother me that much, you know what I mean? Because that was, that was [inaudible] reason I could become, that I graduated, and I 50:00had to be careful, you know? My father did, my father did want to go to school, and blah, blah, blah, and I said, I said, "Daddy," I said, "If you go, you know, I'll, then I don't want to face her." He said he's going, and when the pain was down, I said, "Look, there's nothing happened. You know, I'm all right. If," I said, "If it gets, then I'd tell you to go to see her." But he didn't, never did.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. So how old were you when that happened?


SADY SULLIVAN: How old were you?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Seven-B? Let's see, I graduated at -- fourteen, around thirteen years old, thirteen.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And where was, was that --


SADY SULLIVAN: That was in Little Italy?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, PS 21, was right by others, the border of Chinatown. See, Mulberry Street becomes a border with Chinatown, right?



ANTHONY FERRARA: Closer to Canal Street, you go onto Mott Street, and that was Chinatown, located.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, who was in school with you?


SADY SULLIVAN: Was your school -- who was in school with you? Was it, was there Italian families and Chinese families?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. Now you just brought that, yeah, in that -- yeah. There were many -- not many -- a few Chinese that would be older than we all were and would be students in the classroom, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Um --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Because one time, this had happened. There was this -- I don't know what, a Chinese boy was sitting next to me, and they didn't know -- I think I wanted to sneak, you know? Because in them days, you had an [inaudible] desk, you had to put your head behind you, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Put your hands behind you?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. And stay like this, you know, nice. So, I don't 52:00know, I wanted his attention, so I just did a little bit, just gave him a little squeeze, a little bit, to get his attention. He didn't give me no eye contact, nothing. So, after about maybe, uh, uh, five, fifteen, twenty seconds later, he goes, "Ouch!" So, he says, so the teacher says, "What happened? What happened?" He says, "Nothing, nothing." [laughter] I just remembered that. But, you know, that is, the Chinese, you wrote that, about the Chinese --

SADY SULLIVAN: So, your -- tell me about your parents. Did your -- where did your parents grow up?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, well my, uh, my, my mother. 1917 was the time of the influenza, and she was pregnant at the time, too. I was three years old. She -- they both passed away. So now --

SADY SULLIVAN: Your mom and, uh --


SADY SULLIVAN: Your mom and dad both passed away?


ANTHONY FERRARA: No, just my, just my --

SADY SULLIVAN: Your mom passed away with the 1917 flu.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, the flu, yeah.


ANTHONY FERRARA: While she was pregnant at the time. And now, I grew up with different part of the family back and forth, you know? Then in 1921, my father imported a messed up mother, fittedly, and when she arrived, they were married. 1921.

SADY SULLIVAN: And had they known each other before?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, they knew each other from the old country in Italy.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay, so was your mom and dad, were they born in Italy?


SADY SULLIVAN: And did they come over together to the States?

ANTHONY FERRARA: My -- you mean my first mother?

SADY SULLIVAN: Your first mother and dad, yeah.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Oh. My mother was a widow, she had -- my mother. She had a son. 54:00My stepbrother, you know? And they, my father married this widow. That was my mother. Now, I can't recollect now if they got married, came here before. But I did some research with my daughter and we looked up everything, and the ships, but right now I don't remember.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, that's fine, that's fine.

ANTHONY FERRARA: You know, because my daughter, you know, we looked different, when the ships, hundreds, and hundreds of the ships for [inaudible] came. What year, what ship, you know? I had that, but right now I don't remember.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. Um and so, getting back to --- oh, well actually, let's 55:00talk about your family-owned restaurant in Coney Island. What was the name of the restaurant?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Angelo, Angelo -- that's my uncle's name -- Famous Sandwich and Restaurant.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh. Do you know where, where in Coney Island?

ANTHONY FERRARA: I was a subscriber to the Italian Tribune, and I told them that story, this story, and they printed. And this is --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, fabulous!

ANTHONY FERRARA: This is my father. This is my brother, my brother. I'm here at the Clam Bar. This is my uncle right here, this is Angelo, my Uncle Angelo.


ANTHONY FERRARA: My father, and my kid brother. Yeah, that's me. That's me, and 56:00in back of me is my brother.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, this is great. So, when, when -- this is in the Italian Tribune. When did this come out? So that we can --

ANTHONY FERRARA: When it came out? Oh --

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, when this article came out.

ANTHONY FERRARA: This, this, this, when it was published?


ANTHONY FERRARA: I believe it was, I had, you know, I had a date here, see, and I -- is every date hidden?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, is it, is this it? July 1990?


SADY SULLIVAN: July 1990? Would that be the date?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, is that, did I put that down?

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, yeah.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, that's it.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay, okay. So, it says here it was on 527 Surf Avenue --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Surf Ave, yeah, Coney Island.

SADY SULLIVAN: -- Coney Island. Oh, that's great.

ANTHONY FERRARA: See, Coney Island, it's a seasonable business, you know? 57:00Because after the spring and summer months, most of the businesses are closed, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: That must have been a fun place to work.


SADY SULLIVAN: That must have been a fun place to work.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, you see, and if you notice that, Miss Sullivan, the sandwiches were listed, Italian Heroes, ten cents a sandwich. Ten cents. Now you have to pay four or five dollars. And then you see, I'm at the Clam Bar. The clams are -- now, you buy clams, they're not ten cents half a dozen.

SADY SULLIVAN: You're kidding!

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, for little necks, and fifteen cents for cherrystones, you know? That was 1940, because my father's there. See, he passed away 1941, so that must be 1940 I believe. And there's a story. There's this story that I wrote.

SADY SULLIVAN: And so how long did you work there seasonally?



ANTHONY FERRARA: I, my uncle -- and my uncle passed away in 1949, then that 58:00means I was to take over. And I decided -- at that time I was married, you know, and I had a son. And my wife said, we decided best decision, business is hard, a lot of work to be done, that's -- I sold it. In 1949. And we, I think he opened, I think my uncle opened 1939.

SADY SULLIVAN: Ah. And what is this one?

ANTHONY FERRARA: This is the story growing up on the Lower East Side, and telling the story of different immigrants from Italy and different dialects that would talk.


ANTHONY FERRARA: At that time.



ANTHONY FERRARA: You know what I mean? So naturally, the right -- we lived on Mulberry Street, and most of the people on Mulberry Street were mostly people from Naples, and they spoke with a Neapolitan dialect. And now on Mott Street, that's only a block over -- see, there was Baxter Street, Mulberry Street, Mott Street, Elizabeth Street, then came the Bowery, the Bowery. The Bowery -- we used to say the Bowery bums, but they know, we as kids used to say the Bowery bums and they knew about it. They were poor, unfortunate, mostly war veterans that gradually, gradually they went down, and down, and down, and they wind up coming to the Bowery.

SADY SULLIVAN: Wow, mostly war veterans from World War I?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, we used to say hey, they Bowery bums, but they were really, really -- most of them, you know, had occurrences happen in their life, they went one level, one level, and the lowest level was when you landed on 60:00Bowery. You were really, really down. There was no other place to go.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, and so it was mostly men on the Bowery?


SADY SULLIVAN: Mostly men?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Men, yeah. None -- this here story is that, being that people from Mulberry Street spoke the Neapolitan dialect, and now on Mott Street was people from Bowery, that was another tough town, and they spoke with a dialect. Elizabeth Street, another. And then, when they used to meet, because they spoke the dialect, you know, they may call this a big microphone, they call different name, and it had a different sound, different name. And it was hard, it was hard to communicate because of different dialects, until after Italy became, you know, then they made one language, the Tuscan type of language. But at that present time -- but this story I'm relating here is I was a kid growing up, and you know -- if you want a copy of this, I can give you a copy.


SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, actually I should write down the -- so did you grow up speaking Italian in your house?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. Yes, my stepmother only spoke Italian. My father, you know, being that he came here very young and he attended a little schooling, and he spoke English pretty -- not, you know, not perfect, but pretty well to be understood. But my stepmother spoke only Italian, and I learned, well, naturally I learned to speak Italian dialect. Not that perfect Italian.

SADY SULLIVAN: And did that stay with you, that being able to speak Italian?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Well, yeah. Because after that, you know, I become a waiter. I worked mostly in Italian restaurants, and most of the cooks and chefs and owners were people, we used to say [inaudible], meaning high class. Because we had the 62:00Naples out of some part, and they were from Milan, Tuscan, they spoke the real Italian. So naturally, when you worked in an Italian restaurant and you had an order, you had to speak clean, you know, speak real. So, I learned how to -- you know, it was fortunate, you know why? Let's talk about that. I lived in this house out here, that was my daughter you met. That was my daughter and my son-in-law. Since they're [inaudible], I've been living here since 1996, and in this house there's three grandchildren, see. And it was fortunately, at my time going to school I didn't get much of an education. You know? Because at that time, Depression time, being a family of seven, eight, you know, I had, when I finished my graduation from elementary school, I didn't go beyond that. I went a 63:00little bit night high school, but the determination being earning power. That was needed. But in this household, my three grandchildren, they all went to school. Not all of them are college, graduates. One of them, my granddaughter, she's attended to second year college, one went to Washington College, one went to [inaudible] University, and one went to George Washington. And now my granddaughter, she's attending American University. And they all spoke, they all took Italian. You know? Yeah. And it was nice. So, for me, the tongue that I learned was, you know, in restaurants, you know? And little bits, teach when my 64:00grandchildren talk a little bit. [inaudible].

SADY SULLIVAN: That's nice. That's nice that they're, that they're connecting with their roots like that.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. And, and, and the best part, they all went to school in Washington D.C., you know? See, my younger grandson -- the older grandson, Tony, he's working like in the, illustrious publishing, you know, company. Yeah. And my second one, John, he graduated. He's gone to -- what's the school after graduation degree?

SADY SULLIVAN: Graduate school?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. And another one's job, some kind of government, form of government job, you know? And I can't explain, you know? I was told many, many times his duty, and I -- I feel, I usually close my eyes when I'm 65:00talking. Are you all right?

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, that's fine, that's fine. [laughter]

ANTHONY FERRARA: So, that's the long -- have you been here too long?

SADY SULLIVAN: No, I'm, I'm doing great. Do you want to take a break?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, no. Up to you.


ANTHONY FERRARA: You want another beverage? Huh?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh no, I'm good, thank you. Um, so I wanted to know more. I'm so curious about Sands Street, because I've heard a lot about it. Um --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Oh yes, I'll tell you.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, tell me about -- just describe it, and who was there, and what did it look like, and all of that?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. Well, Sands Street. At that time, being in the Navy Yard there, so you'd be seeing sailors. And in most, in the restaurants I worked, in the evening, most of our clients were sailors, you know? Because they were in at 66:00the Navy Yard because their ships were being repaired or whatever for lots of time, so naturally in the evening, they would have to go. So, working, so working there, you learned about the different, you know, you got to speak to some of the sailors. Where did they come from, where, you know, what they do, what position they have in the Navy? You know? And, uh, and it was nice. And there was -- I was told that -- water has to be dumped from the ship, it's been hit, you know. You know? And you know, up to this date, Miss Sullivan, my memory -- you know, sometimes I could remember so many, and I remember the ship that I 67:00was told that was hit, and I can't remember the ship that was in dock in the Navy Yard that was being repaired. There was so much damage done, you know? And there was -- Sands Street was very busy, going back and forth with sailors, you know, with their girlfriends. You know, back and forth, and it was an experience. But being a 4F, I was, you know, I liked to have been one of them, you know? And the occurrence, that never did happen. You know, to this day. But my young brother was inducted, he was put in the army, and I heard that he was hurt, that he did get hurt. And the funny thing -- you want to know the funniest thing that I was about to tell you now, Miss Sullivan? Not too long ago, I was 68:00informed by another brother of mine that this brother, my brother Gino that was inducted in the army, that he was awarded seven medals, Bronze Star, this, and this. I says, "Wow. I didn't know that, you know, that about, this." So, I said, [inaudible], we had, we called that Ferrara Gathering. We had it a couple weeks ago. And when I was, I questioned the story, I said, "Gino, I don't know why you never said about this, just never [inaudible], had said that you [inaudible] the medal. Why you never said?" He says -- so my brother Joey says, "You know, a lot of people don't want to talk about the [inaudible], about that." So, Sands Street, as I said, was run by sailors. You know. And the work had to be done at 69:00the Navy Yard, too, at the Missouri and the Iowa was built, you know. There was, I think it was six were commissioned. Two, as I said, we had two in New York and another two, I just can't remember.

SADY SULLIVAN: So were most of the sailors, they were American sailors. Or were there --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, and most were all young boys. Yeah, boys from different parts of the country, yeah. Yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: From different parts of the US.


SADY SULLIVAN: Did you ever get international sailors?



ANTHONY FERRARA: I don't remember that. I remember just -- but, sometimes soldiers -- the Navy Yard has quarters, right?


ANTHONY FERRARA: At nighttime, some soldiers would come in you know and 70:00[inaudible], when the girlfriends would come in there, and the sailors would like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, if -- wait. Where were the soldiers? They were Army or something?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. They were in uniform. No, they were -- yeah, everybody, they, mostly all in uniform. You know what I mean? We didn't get many civilians there.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, so the sailors were civilians?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No. No. I'm talking about the civilians didn't frequent -- mostly Navy Yard bars.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay, so they weren't on, there wasn't civilians?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Unless they were part of the owners, blah, blah, blah. But strangers, civilians never would, you know, frequent the bars on Sands Street location. Because there was quite a few, you know? There was a lot of business being done. And when the soldiers, so naturally when the soldiers would come in, 71:00the one with the other, before you know it, [inaudible], there was a conflict and there would be a fight between the sailors and the soldiers, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: So, between Army and Navy?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, the Army, yeah. There was, you know, they would fight, and sometimes they would go out of the restaurant in the street, you know? And they say, "Get out of here, you so and so, so. This is our territory, you don't belong here." You know.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, it was sailor territory --


SADY SULLIVAN: If the sailors wanted it for themselves, they --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, but you know. But they would -- nothing would be said unless something, it would be said to start off, you know, it was somebody's passing remark, you know?


ANTHONY FERRARA: Blah, blah, and that's how one word gets another word, and before you know it, a conflict occurs.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. Especially if everybody's drinking. [laughter]

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. That's right.


SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. What about Marines? Were the -- did the Marines come to that bar?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No. No, Marines, Marines not -- no. Mostly the Marines that were at station in the Navy Yard, they were to guard the ships, you know? Because you know. When I was a fire warden, there was two Marines. They never made eye contact with you. They would march, one end to the other, never talk.


ANTHONY FERRARA: You know, make the rounds.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, they were sort of isolated?


SADY SULLIVAN: The Marines were pretty isolated?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I never remember Marines coming in to the, the Yard.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, what was the name of your, your bar that you worked at?



ANTHONY FERRARA: Bar and Grille.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. And who was --

ANTHONY FERRARA: How big was the number at Sands Street? I think I still remember the number. 212 Sands Street.

SADY SULLIVAN: Number 212 Sands Street. That's great. And who was the owner? It 73:00was a friend of yours?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, he was the one that got me that job. His name, the owner, is name, Richard Corbiserio. I'll never forget that. Called him Rich. He was the owner.

SADY SULLIVAN: How do you spell Corbiserio?


SADY SULLIVAN: Ah. And tell me some of the other business that were nearby.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Nearby was most -- Richie Corbiserio and his brother, Tony Corbiserio, he owned the Oval Bar, and across the street, Tony owned -- I'm trying to think now, the name of that bar. Square Bar.



SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, so the Oval and the Square.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because the Oval Bar, Richie had like, you know, it was an oval, you know. And then when I frequented Tony's bar, it was a square bar, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, so the actual bar where you would sit?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was square. And the oval, the oval, that's 74:00-- they had a bar, and then there was a sort of -- it was pretty big -- and they used to serve luncheon, where I worked as a luncheon waiter, that's where I had met Mr. Burke, you know? At luncheon time, they would do at least 100 some odd -- you know? We would serve, be serving luncheon. Dinner was mostly sailors, a lot of drinking. So, I didn't want to work on the floor, so I was working back bar, where the waiter says -- you're the same waiter, waiters come over. So [inaudible], blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. There was no mixed drink. Every so often you'd get a Manhattan, a martini, but as far as mixologist, I was not. Just pour it. Pour. You know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. What did people tend to drink? What was a common drink for the sailors?

ANTHONY FERRARA: At that time, there, there, there was -- the wide was Wilson 75:00Rye was -- matter of fact, and Calver's, C-A-L-V-E-R, was a -- and mostly, not much scotch. Mostly, and a little rum. Rum. You know, rum and that rum was imported. You know, Bolivian rum. That was mostly --

SADY SULLIVAN: So, rye and rum were the popular drinks?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. And if there was beer, the beer was served at the front bar, they didn't use no bottle. It was draft beer. You know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. And you said R&H was the name of the beer?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No. I might. That was at my place we had, R&H Beer.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, that was in --

ANTHONY FERRARA: That was in my restaurant.

SADY SULLIVAN: In Coney Island.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. But they, but Richie had R&H beer, but he had other beer, you know, like bottle kinds and other. And R&H was a local beer, and a lot, in 76:00talking about that beer, nobody really liked it, you know, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Nobody liked it?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No. Yeah. But it was, [inaudible], "Give me a beer." They'd say, "What kind of beer is this?" I'd say, "It's R&H." They'd say, [inaudible]. "It's Coney Island." "Well, I've never heard of R," I'd say, "What do you mean? The R&H Beer is made on Staten Island, blah, blah, blah, blah." So that's --

SADY SULLIVAN: People didn't like it. [laughter]


SADY SULLIVAN: Ahh, and were there other business on Sands Street besides restaurant and bar?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Well, yeah, the other business was Navy supplies, like you know? There was supply, you know, whatever, uniforms, shoes, that the Navy sailors would you know, equip, whatever their equipment was. There was that there. But as far as other business, there was little luncheon, coffee shops there, and bars, most of the business were bar business because sailors, when 77:00they go off duty, they love to drink. You know what I mean?

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter] Yes.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Then they booze drink because they were hard drinkers, you know?



SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. What about other, what about more underground business stuff, like drugs or prostitution?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Huh? Say it again.

SADY SULLIVAN: What about underground business going on --


SADY SULLIVAN: Drugs, prostitution?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, no, none of that kind of, no selling drugs, you know, anything. It was too -- we're talking about, now, the '40s. And there wasn't drugs wasn't -- but as far as prostitution, most of them had landed and their girlfriends, that they were where they would meet, you know? And then they were, girls were told that they wanted to be on Sands Street and to meet, meet, and meet at different bars. Ahem, ahem. Is this being recorded?


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, every, yeah? What do you like?


SADY SULLIVAN: I think it's good, it's good. Are you comfortable with it?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, I'm all right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. Um, what about, did any of the women who worked in the Navy Yards, did any of the women who worked in the Navy Yards come to the bars on Sands Street?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No. At that time --

SADY SULLIVAN: Like the women welders?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No. At that time, you know at my period of time, they were just introduced, you know, working there. But there were mostly house, neighborhood people that lived in the neighborhood that worked, you know, in the Navy Yard. But they -- most of them didn't frequent, didn't frequent, uh, the bar. They were mostly married with children, you know what I mean?


ANTHONY FERRARA: [inaudible] and there were --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, so tell me more about Mr. Burke. He sounds like an interesting guy.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah, Mr. Burke, uh, he was a retired captain of the Navy, retired. Then, uh, uh, he got to work, to work at the Navy Yard, to be 79:00with the Commander of the, of the many, many assistants, you know? And so, so, as I'm working as a luncheon on Sand Streets, I got, was introduced to, Mr. Burke. You know, very interesting man. And I -- now that you mention it, when, when he was told about the restaurant at Coney Island, I think he did frequent it once or twice, you know? Yeah. Now, I don't remember actually, if it was -- well, it doesn't have to be a man. Not man, man '50s, you know, but I'm better -- he never came with a female or what. He was with other male friends, you know? He'd come for lunch. Every summer he came along. He always had, you know, someone with him.


SADY SULLIVAN: Did he live at the Navy Yards in the Naval quarters?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, I think. At that, that, at that particular time, when you worked at the Navy Yard -- like an assistant, like that -- usually inside those quarters that you would stay, you know. You know what I mean? The important, the important people, you know what I mean? Other, others, rode trains. Others rode trains, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Do you know, was he from, was he from New York originally?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, he told me, no, he was not from New York, but I know he was from another state and I can't remember the state where he came, but he was not a New Yorker, you know? Because he questioned me one time, that I had a New York-ese talk, you know, that I talked, you know, and he made remarks, he says, "You know, you know you're from New York." But later on, then I just had a 81:00Brooklyn, you know, [inaudible]. So anyhow.

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, and did you ever, did you ever -- the Commander of the Yard, did you ever have any interactions with the Commander?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No. Not with the Commander of the Yard. He'd never, you know. I didn't see, no. At the launching, there was an announcement being made, you know, that he was coming. But I had never really, really seen, you know? I knew his name at that time, but I don't remember now. A retired Admiral.

SADY SULLIVAN: And then you said that Mr. Burke's office was in Building Four?


SADY SULLIVAN: What else was going on in Building Four?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Was all offices, you know? Building Four. Different officials of the Yard. And I, you know, and I didn't get -- and not, now, in Building Four --


SADY SULLIVAN: Let's find it on the map.


SADY SULLIVAN: Maybe we can find it on the map.


SADY SULLIVAN: I think, um -- H3.


SADY SULLIVAN: So, it might be -- oh, that's great.

ANTHONY FERRARA: The memory, I know, I was, going back, you know, I was telling stories about, you know, my memories, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: That's such a good thing.


SADY SULLIVAN: That's such a good thing to do.

ANTHONY FERRARA: So, when I go and they put it in the Italian Tribune, that's the newspaper --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, that's great.

ANTHONY FERRARA: -- I'll send you a copy there.

SADY SULLIVAN: And that, is that -- that's here?

ANTHONY FERRARA: The same thing, yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: That's so great.


SADY SULLIVAN: So, let's look, let's have a look and see if we can find Building Four. I think it's H3. Oh, there it is! Building Four, right here.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, there's Building Four?

SADY SULLIVAN: That's Building Four. So, do you remember what gate you would come in?


SADY SULLIVAN: This is -- so here's Sands Street.


SADY SULLIVAN: And here's the Sands Street gate.

ANTHONY FERRARA: The Sands Street?


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, it was right across -- yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: And then, and, so then this was Building Four?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. It was right here. Now where's the -- now show me the docks, the --

SADY SULLIVAN: Here's dry dock one and here's dry dock four, I think that's where the Missouri was. Or maybe it was dry dock five.

ANTHONY FERRARA: I know they were across -- no, no, they were, no. Not -- like this, in between.

SADY SULLIVAN: Here's, here's the ship building ways, number one and two, and here's dry dock one. That's one of the oldest ones, that's smaller. And then five and six were the bigger ones. So yeah, it was one of these where I think the big ships were made.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, the battleships, yeah, yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, did you -- how did you get to the Navy Yard?

ANTHONY FERRARA: How I, how I got there?


SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, like what was your commute?

ANTHONY FERRARA: There's a commute that there was a -- where I lived, there was a bus, because it was called the Red Bus, that would go over the Brooklyn Bridge and then we would stop right -- and you'd walk. I forget the street you get off at. And you walk down that street, and it leads right into Sands Street.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, you would come in at the Sands Street gate?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. At Sands Street Gate, yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: And was there security there?


SADY SULLIVAN: What kind of security?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Security there was that, that -- when you brought your lunch in, your lunch in, anything that holds liquid, they would -- you had to open it in front of them, whether it was coffee, and they'd want to see, no alcohol of any sorts. You know? And there were Marines, Marines security. Marines, I think.


SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, it was Marines at the gate?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. So, I drove past thousands and thousands of people going there, right. Now you have to stop, right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Everybody had to stop?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, if you're carrying, if you're carrying something --


ANTHONY FERRARA: -- you had to be stopped. They had to look. Not for sandwiches, stuff like that, no. But anything that contained liquid, they had to open it and smell it. You know what? I resented that. Ask me why.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Because in wintertime -- it was wintertime, right? And some of them, you could see dripping sometimes. You know, they were so cold. I don't know how they, you know? And then we went and maybe, I don't know --

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh! Their noses dripping.

ANTHONY FERRARA: I don't know. Sometimes, you know, no, I'm just saying this.


ANTHONY FERRARA: They would do that. Not intentionally, you know?



ANTHONY FERRARA: Maybe put their nose out, they just drip into your container.


ANTHONY FERRARA: So not a slug, okay? Not a slug, you can't swallow it hot, you have to put a nose to it to smell if it contains any beverage of sorts.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. Oh, and then they get it all germy. [laughter]

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, saw that many times, saw them, a line was [inaudible], we allowed that we'll bring no liquid. We went -- I forget now how we got the liquids, how we got the coffee and stuff like that at the Yard. I don't remember. So, what's the next question?

SADY SULLIVAN: And what about leaving? Was there security when you would be leaving the Yards also, at the end of the day?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, they were between, they would always stand guard, but, you know, but there's nothing to be taken, you know what I mean? You understand, there's nothing to be stolen. They just go back. Not the security there, gone, gone. You want to see where I was. You want to see my picture in the Navy Yard?



ANTHONY FERRARA: I think I have -- and I wanted to -- I don't know if I have it. You know the ones that -- I thought I had it. Should I get it?



SADY SULLIVAN: Not right now, but later.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Not if there's one that's, that was of all the people, and I told my daughter, "That's me. That was me."

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, so you would come in, and then when you were a fire warden, where were you? You were around the dry docks?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. Well, usually I would go to where, mostly where the Missouri and the Iowa was built, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: So probably these two. The big ones.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, and my, and my duty was -- I can't remember now if there were other -- there were, uh, I think there were other 88:00fire warden besides myself, but I can't remember that. See, we'd make the rounds, you know what I mean? Back and -- and the ship would built -- not up ahead, now, it's welding and welding to be done to put these parts together, you know? These are, most of them are armor plates, you know what I mean? These are bought armor plates and they were of thickness, who knows, thirty thick armor plates that the ship was built, [inaudible], you know what I mean? They would be welded.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, this right here was where the hammerhead crane was.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Well, that crane was to move around.


ANTHONY FERRARA: It didn't stay there.

SADY SULLIVAN: It moved around?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, I think that crane moved around. It was that kind, because if it -- the way they were built -- Yeah, that crane moved around. Because when, when, when something had to get picked up, they had to come 89:00overhead, you see? You know what I mean? And they had to pick up their prep material, you know what I mean?

SADY SULLIVAN: How would it move? On the rail lines?

ANTHONY FERRARA: That, that, that I don't remember. You know? You know what I mean, but I know that crane, it was a -- there was a, they would come up and pick up the material that, it had to be, that's the only way they could have pulled the big water for the ships, was about crane, see.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, because they were so, such big stuff.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah, they were. But heavy, heavy. And then, and when that launching -- Oh, this, oh, now, I don't remember this now. This is what happened. Yeah. Not, I don't remember my position that I had at that point, but I was --- when, when, when [inaudible] was hoisted, put, assembled, on the ship, 90:00they had to put the crane, right, crane picked it up and, and, and this eventually the riggers, the riggers there -- now what happened? I remember this incident, this comes to my mind now. It didn't come to my mind before, that actually happened. Now what was the accident, that while this tin's being hoisted, one of the wires cracked, and that lever was top, that [inaudible] directing one of them employees above, that thing snapped. And it snapped around his neck.


ANTHONY FERRARA: I'll never forget that. It's a -- I don't know who it was, but 91:00it was reported that this accident happened. Was not reported in the newspapers, no. Because there was a lot of accidents. Oh, there was a lot of accidents.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Oh, there was a lot of accidents. Not reported, do you know what I mean? Happenings, people who got killed. You know?

SADY SULLIVAN: People would be killed?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah, because you know, as I've said, they were, you know, their workers, they got a job there, you know? Maybe what happened is that one of -- there was a lot of accidents that never was reported in the newspaper. Buried, buried there.

SADY SULLIVAN: What would happen? Would it be kept quiet?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, it'd be quiet, yeah. It would -- otherwise, it would, it would go around person to person, you know. You know what happened? Blah, blah, this happened. You know what, you know, you heard? Did it really? Yeah. You know? But the local papers never you know, I never read it.


SADY SULLIVAN: Do you think that it was -- was it a safe place to work?


SADY SULLIVAN: Was it safe? Was the working conditions safe?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, it was -- no, it was pretty safe. But, you know, naturally you create your own, your own, hazards. You know what I'm saying? If you're not careful enough, you know what I mean. You don't wear a helmet. Like me, I was walking around the ship and not wearing a, I didn't like to wear the helmet, you know? See, now what happened sometimes, not intentionally, something falls down, there's always something falling down, you know? And you could get hurt, you know. And of course, [inaudible], and pretty heavy material, it could kill you. You understand?

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, right. Right.

ANTHONY FERRARA: So, things happen, you know, through carelessness. Carelessness. That's what I said.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, so being the fire warden, did you have a uniform?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No. Just, just had a badge that was issued to me, wear it on 93:00your chest.

SADY SULLIVAN: A badge, yeah.

ANTHONY FERRARA: A badge, a badge that says, "fire warden." That it.

SADY SULLIVAN: And what about, what were the fire extinguishers? What were they, what did, what did they look like?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Well, they were big, big, as far as they could be handled, manual, you know what I mean? They, there was different extinguishers for wood, there was an extinguisher for electrical, you know? And we, so often, there would be, they'd call fire station. You had to go look and inspect and see if there was anything, if the equipment was there.

SADY SULLIVAN: And what were, so what were, what did they use for -- what was the material? Was it water and --

ANTHONY FERRARA: It was mostly foam.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, foam stuff. Okay. So, what we would use today?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. Same thing. Same one, when, when the sparks -- when the sparks used to hit the -- not all the time, but they were at night. But 94:00there was sometimes they're wood, you know what I mean? So next if it was left alone, that spark would become a flame, and then you know, and then there'd be a big fire, see?

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. Did you remember, did any fires happen before you were made fire warden?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, no, not that, that, not anything that was -- well, this, what they wanted to do was take out [inaudible], because now this is the Missouri.


ANTHONY FERRARA: These are battleships.


ANTHONY FERRARA: And they don't want nothing to happen. And they wouldn't need it, that it was urgent, it had to be completed, they wanted -- it had to be built fast.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, so there could be no mistakes?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. So, they don't want anything to be a disturbance or fire, something. Sabotage. You know, because they think, they think sabotage [inaudible] come in through the waters, you don't see nothing, you know?


SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Do you remember how much you were paid when you were fire warden?

ANTHONY FERRARA: The, the pay?


ANTHONY FERRARA: I think at that time it was, I get paid, I think every two weeks. I think it was about thirty-five dollars, something like that.

SADY SULLIVAN: And was that more than you were making at the restaurant?


SADY SULLIVAN: Was, were people making good money at the Navy Yard, or?

ANTHONY FERRARA: You mean, the -- no, uh. Naturally, that was my pay because I was only assistant, but welders were paid a little more, you know? Not more, more. And private shipyards would pay even more, you know? But they were, but they would be at port [inaudible] in the Navy Yard, you know? And then they used to leave and get work --

SADY SULLIVAN: At the private shipyard. Great. What was the name of that private shipyard?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Beltingham [phonetic], Beltingham [phonetic] Shipyard.


SADY SULLIVAN: Beltingham [phonetic]?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Beltingham [phonetic], right.

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, and do you know how much more, how much more they would be paid?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, no, I didn't know that. I know --

SADY SULLIVAN: But enough to lure people away.

ANTHONY FERRARA: I know it was enough for them to leave the job, enough to do that, to get more. And that's why that was issued, that anyone -- because they noticed that they were replacing, you know, different places noticed that -- were manmade. Why? Due to all the people resigning their jobs, see? Working. Then came the time when they tried to put a post to scare people, you know, that whoever leaves the, whoever leaves the job would [laughter], you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Be enlisted. Right.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, right, but you know. I wish that had happened with me, but it didn't happen.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Because at that -- they didn't use no gas bombs.


SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, they didn't, yeah.

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, so I could have been the --


ANTHONY FERRARA: I could have been a captain in the Army. [laughter]

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, let's see. Oh, so tell me more about the launchings and how -- so you said it was like a holiday and that everybody would clean up.

ANTHONY FERRARA: You know, it wouldn't -- I said whenever there's a launching, there's be help. They, it, there was an issue, no matter what position you are, that everything had to be taken out of the way. You know, everything that was in the way of the launching had to be -- especially the water. There was always different material floating in there that had to be cleaned up. And, and I was able to do, to do that, clean that up, you know, because the day of the launching, you know, that was ready. Now, when the Missouri was launched, I 98:00think, I think Mrs. Truman's daughter, I think Margaret launched the Missouri, I think.

SADY SULLIVAN: Margaret Truman?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Not -- yeah. The President Truman's --


ANTHONY FERRARA: -- daughter.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. She was --

SADY SULLIVAN: Describe what the -- describe what it looks like to see a big battleship launch.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Well, you don't see what, what -- you know, you didn't see nothing, you know? Because it's been built, you know what I mean? You know, like it's on the ways, is that right? And a lot of shoring all around, right? And people, people all around, different layers, inside. Whatever, they were putting together the machinery parts, parts in the -- but you really didn't see nothing, 99:00you know? All right. How's it look? I couldn't see nothing by looking up, you know what I mean?


ANTHONY FERRARA: That's all I could see, you know. Just to see a big bowl, you know, that's put there every day, come, different sidings going to go up, you know, but inside. Inside's where all the things, tons and tons of people, putting, putting together in the, you know, the turrets. You know. But the outside was mostly armor plates. In that case, if the ship was being hit, you know, it wouldn't be able to penetrate, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: So, were you surprised when, when the ship was completed? What it looked like when it was done?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. You know. Naturally, after that, after I, I was noticing, I was reading and seeing the completion. And I did, I did some, some -- I had my 100:00daughter, on the computer, bought some -- where is it? Why didn't I take that -- take that inside? You know? [inaudible] the day of the launch and everything. You want that?

SADY SULLIVAN: Of the -- oh! Well, no, if you -- we can find it. Um, I'm just thinking terms of, I'm, in terms of what it looked like for you, like what the experience was to -- what, what the feeling in the Yard was, and, and -- were 101:00people excited or proud, or?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Well, we, well, that's just, it was being build, and I know the print of its claw was a battleship, you know? And you know, and I was -- after I always used to say, "I wish I could have contributed more than I did," you see? The little bit I did. But what little bit that I did, when I, when I read about, you know, read about the Missouri, what it has accomplished in the war, you know, I was very proud of being a little bit, at least a little tiny --

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, well, it takes, it takes everybody's --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah. Whether you're going around --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. So, tell me more about the, your job when you were a 102:00materials chaser. How did -- what did you do? So, you must have been going all over the Yard?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, you have to -- no, I wasn't. I'm trying to recollect whether I was on the Missouri, both sides or one. I can't remember now. But the idea was wherever there was welding to be done, I had to go make my rounds to see. The fire watch was posted, and then he had a fire extinguisher in case of an emergency.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Do I have something -- are these mine?

SADY SULLIVAN: Yup. These are yours.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Oh. Oh, there it is.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, let me see! There it is. Humongous. Okay. So, it was launched 103:00in 1944.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. I did not see --

SADY SULLIVAN: Mighty Mo, Big Mo. So, you didn't see this one being launched?


SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Um, I wonder, it was decommissioned in '92. I didn't realize it was around until then. That's great. So, laid down in 1941.


SADY SULLIVAN: So, what does that mean? Laid down. Does that mean it was put into the --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Laid down means that, yeah, the day that she was put --

SADY SULLIVAN: In the water?



ANTHONY FERRARA: Laid down is when they start. Otherwise, this one is laid down, now they're starting.


SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, in the dry dock.

ANTHONY FERRARA: In the dry dock, yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: I see, I see. Um, let's see, I had more questions. I asked you about Beltingham [phonetic]. Um, oh! Tell me a little -- you were saying that most of the other people working in the yards were 4F's, and if so, what was the racial/ethnic mix of people that were working in the yard?

ANTHONY FERRARA: The ethnics? It was all Italians, Irish, all different. You know? Black, there was blacks, you know. It was a mixture of us. New York. New York. And Brooklyn, you know, was all different ethnics, population.

SADY SULLIVAN: And did people, did people segregate according to different jobs?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, they, whatever job, you know, you and I are in a different job. You're a welder than naturally you'd be with a welder, you know? Welders 105:00and chippers and ship fitters, you know, all had their different jobs. And those that worked inside the ship, the helpers, you know, of assembling of all the mechanical parts that's being put in.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And what about, did you remember, did you have any interaction with any of the women who were working there? The women you were --

ANTHONY FERRARA: My job was, my period, that was almost at the end of my, you know. Because as I -- many times that I was talking, they didn't listen to what I had to say about the warning of the, of the arch, you know? You know, and I was, and I -- especially my left eye was always the same thing. And you know, the, you know, you did come to, you got to know their names, you know, blah, 106:00blah, blah, but as far as, that's as far as it went, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. What was the general attitude about women being there doing that kind of work?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, no, there was -- I noticed that when they had to leave, they had to go to the bathroom, they only said, hey, they'd always take one or two with them, you know? They never went alone. I noticed that, you know, so I said, "Hey, you," I said, "Hey, what are you doing?" "We have to go to the bathroom." I said, "Go ahead, go ahead." You had to wait until they came back. You had to wait for them to come back, because you know, they had work that had to be done. Because I was taught just how to be spot weld, just how to -- know what I mean? The chipper had to come, you know, you know. You couldn't -- it had to be done. But the only problem, the women, when they left, they never left by themselves. They always went escorted.

SADY SULLIVAN: Do you think partly was that just because they wanted some social 107:00time, or was it a safety thing?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, you know, what -- what, why? The reason, you know, I don't know why. Because they're not, no harm's going to come to them there. You know? You know. They just wanted to chat. Whatever. To pass the time.

SADY SULLIVAN: How was their -- was there sort of a social scene at the Yard? Was there gossip, how, what was that environment like?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, it was nice. I mean, it, the, the men would claim that was always, uh, the social, because you know, we are [inaudible] and we're doing raw material, you know, so everything serious, serious-minded. Do you know what I mean? Talk. You know.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, people felt pretty invested in their work?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, you know, most of them, yeah. Because as I said, there were a lot of them had 4F's like I did, most of them, you know? But back then 108:00there was a lot of experienced people that worked there at the Navy Yard the years before, you know, the War.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. So was the, was, did everybody who was 4F really want to be, I mean, it's -- I think some people would feel like thankful that they didn't have to go to war.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, well --

SADY SULLIVAN: Did people feel both ways?

ANTHONY FERRARA: You know, naturally that was a personal feeling that I had, you know? I guess they had their own personal feeling, you know. You know, some maybe were happy that they were 4F's, you know? You know. Back and forth, you know. Like I really, to this day you know, I recount the same story, that I wish I was able to serve. You know, you know what I'm saying?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Um, and so what did you do after? So, you left the Navy Yards thinking that that would maybe, you would be enlisting that way.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, that I would be enlisted. Yeah, then I went back and worked my uncle's [inaudible], this is my uncle. Worked there, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: In Coney Island?

ANTHONY FERRARA: And then, and then -- at Coney Island. Then seasonal, I worked waiting, I waitered some place, I don't know where. But I was always in the restaurant industry, you know? And then that was the end of, then the restaurant was, I sold it. I sold it. I'd become the owner after my uncle died. I ran it for one year, 1949. He died in 1949. I ran it, me and my wife, we ran it for one year without -- and it was very hard, you know? It's all very hard, the hours are very -- and we decided to sell the business.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And what did you do after you sold the business?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. After that, right, I talked about -- I wanted to open 110:00another business, my own. She says, "Nah." Shee says, "You know, Tony, we have a son now, and the hours are long." Says, "To open a business, another, is hard." So no, she says, "Why don't you work as a waiter?" A waiter makes, you know, pretty good because you work, you know, waiters depend on tips, you know? But the salary is very small, and I didn't -- so that's what I did, you know? [inaudible] Then later I opened a little business, but that was the end of, you know, I was working there, in the restaurant, uh, business.

SADY SULLIVAN: Um -- so, I have just a couple more questions.



SADY SULLIVAN: Is there something, is there some, is there a certain memory of the Navy Yard that stand out as most vivid?

ANTHONY FERRARA: The, the -- that stands out mostly?


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, just standing, that, ahem. The way, the work that was done, you know? How it was done. Told how it was done. And, uh, and the, the -- besides when they're launching. Now, what I really, really [inaudible], is the launching, [inaudible] the launching. I couldn't imagine the launching other than a battleship, you know what I mean?

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, so this was a --

ANTHONY FERRARA: I was down there, but I just can imagine. But my outcome after the [inaudible] of the Navy Yard, a tremendous, big as it was, you know? Because 112:00at one time, this is -- my little brother, the brother, my brother Gino that later was employed into the Yard, and he -- as the schooling that he did, right, learned how to weld, you know, as you go see him. You know? And in order to go see him, it was so far, [inaudible] hammerhead, it was so far, you know. And I says, "Take a scooter." You know, the scooter. And ride, you know. And I never was caught, if I was caught taking that scooter, I would have been punished somehow. I don't know how, but you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, so it was only, the scooters were for officers? Or who were the scooters for?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah, it was only the lieutenants, you know, that they needed, you know, they were, yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, a scooter, is it like a moped. Like a motorcycle?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, it was a moped. Yeah, it was a moped, yeah, yeah. Like a moped, you know, zzzz, you know? And I used to drive them back and forth, you know?


SADY SULLIVAN: So, your brother, you said, was a welder? Your brother was?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, yeah, he learned, yeah, he was going -- yeah, he was there as a welder, it was then later on -- ahem -- he went to ship fitters' school, you know, and he learned. But then he, after that, very soon after that, he was drafted in the army.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, so you guys were there at the same time, though?


SADY SULLIVAN: Did you get him the job?


SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. How did he come to be working there?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Well, he knew that I was working, you know, he knew that. You know, and he asked me, and I says, "Yeah," I do not remember now, but I went and gave him an application, you know? I think I did. You know. And he, and he --

SADY SULLIVAN: Because from what I understand, it was hard to get a job in the Navy Yards because it was usually that kind of thing, word of mouth, or --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Was it very hard?

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, to get a job in the yards?


ANTHONY FERRARA: No, no, I didn't find it that way.


ANTHONY FERRARA: I found it because they needed it, you know.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. They needed people to work.

ANTHONY FERRARA: They needed people. You know? Older, they could get older people, you know, a certain age, they're not able to enlist. And then there were others, younger ones, that were 4Fs and undesirables, ones that have records, you know? That the service would have nothing to do with them, their past records. Ahem.

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, so what, do you have a memory of the Navy Yards that, as your worst experience there?


SADY SULLIVAN: What was your worst experience at --


SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. At the Navy Yards.

ANTHONY FERRARA: [laughter] The worst experience that I had, you know, being thrown things, people telling me, you know, they seen the way I was dressed, not dirty, to be told, "Hey, why don't you do it, do a regular, become a regular 115:00worker? Get dirty." You know? And you know, that, that really stood out. And the experience of getting doused with the water and getting thrown, things thrown at me, you know? It was another person's memory, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Right. So, they were resentful of the fact that you had a clean job?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, and I, yeah. Because I, you know, they didn't know who I -- at the beginning, they didn't know who I was. You know? I had to explain, you know, like [inaudible] used to say, you know, my job is this, clean-looking, you know. Never, and the face isn't dirty. [laughter] And then experience, the experience of the launching, when I went down, them twelve by twelves overhead. If that would have tumbled down, that was my, you know. But that was all, but 116:00the whole picture, being a part of the, you know, the assembly, of the works. I am proud. A little bit.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And what was your best experience at the Yards?


SADY SULLIVAN: What was your best experience at the Yards?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Best experience was that, you know, chasing, chasing for the material, you know? To think that, you know, that that material was to be on that battleship, you know? And to this day, I always marvel to see, the way it was -- you know it's big, right? And pieces, and you just find pieces all over, you know? Hey, it's sixty-three. Anything that was marked sixty-three, doesn't belong here. That's the Missouri. So, they had, had to be notified, and they had to be picked up and brought.

SADY SULLIVAN: Why was it all, why was it all everywhere?

ANTHONY FERRARA: I don't know why. To this day, I don't know. I don't know why, 117:00that's why Mr. Burke said, when he was assigned to get -- not only me. I was not the only one, you know? It was --

SADY SULLIVAN: So, there was a lot of people going and finding?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, going around, yeah, going around chasing -- they called that material chasing. [laughter] I don't know what that was, material chasing. You know? That's, that was the experience, you know, the finding that. And then also when I, when I did find a piece of material, I was so happy. I said, "Oh boy! Had another find, where it was, another find." And then the crane, then the crane operators with finding it, you know? They had to picked -- soon as they were found, they had to be picked up and brought to the spot where it belonged, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. Who was doing the, who stamped it sixty-three? How did things get labeled?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Oh, I don't know. It comes in like that. That comes in.

SADY SULLIVAN: It arrives with the stamp?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Oh, those, yeah. When that material comes on, it's stamped 118:00sixty-three. All that material was for the battleship Missouri. And sixty-two was the Iowa. You know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, okay. So, sixty-two?

ANTHONY FERRARA: See, at, at that time, the Iowa was going up fast, you know?


ANTHONY FERRARA: And when, when the work from Washington come, that, they noticed that, uh, the Missouri was going very slow, then the orders came to the Yard to put everybody, everybody that were able to work on the Missouri to get it done fast. You -- they needed the parts they needed very badly. I was not told personally. I was not told this personally, you know, "Hey, Tony, come on, get that Missouri up. Hurry up." Say, "Okay, Mr. President. What's your name?"


SADY SULLIVAN: But the word, word did come down.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Hey. Yeah. The word.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. That's great. This is -- you've told me so much. This has been wonderful. Thank you very much. Um, is there anything that I didn't think to ask about?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Uh, no. I think I -- I think we went over through most of the, the little experiences I had, and the outcome of what, you know, of that little bit period of time. Because I think, think others, Miss Sullivan, you said you interviewed other men, ma'am?

SADY SULLIVAN: We're trying, yeah, we're trying to.

ANTHONY FERRARA: You did, you did? You did already? I mean, you did, already?

SADY SULLIVAN: I've interviewed a few people, yeah.

ANTHONY FERRARA: They worked in the Navy Yard?


ANTHONY FERRARA: Well, could you remember the positions they had? One or --

SADY SULLIVAN: Um, an electrician.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Electrician? He worked on the --



ANTHONY FERRARA: Did he work on the, on the battleship did he say?

SADY SULLIVAN:I don't remember.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Do you remember anyone that you interviewed that worked on the Missouri or the Iowa that you know of?

SADY SULLIVAN: I don't think so.


SADY SULLIVAN: I don't remember. I don't remember the specific ships. Um, all right. So, this right here is a, um, is the release form that will give the interview to the Brooklyn Historical Society's archive.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Say it again, say it again.

SADY SULLIVAN: This is the release form that will give the, this interview to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archives and also to the Brooklyn Historical Society Archives. Um, and I can mail you a copy of the CD, too. I'll make a CD of this that I can mail to you. Um, so let me just, I have your address here, but let me 121:00confirm. So, uh, it's [address redacted for privacy]

ANTHONY FERRARA: You said you're a Brooklyn resident?



SADY SULLIVAN: I live in Greenpoint.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Oh, Greenpoint?


ANTHONY FERRARA: I lived in, uh, my married life I lived in East Flatbush.


ANTHONY FERRARA: I owned a property, I have a house there. And then, then, 1996, then I sold my house, and I live here with my daughter since 1996. I live here with my daughter.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, but you were in Brooklyn until '96?



ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. I, I, I moved to Brooklyn. After I got married, '44. And in '54, I, I, I bought a house in Brooklyn.

SADY SULLIVAN: And what, and what made you move to Brooklyn? What was the reason for moving?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Huh? Say it again?

SADY SULLIVAN: What was the reasoning for moving to Brooklyn?

ANTHONY FERRARA: You know, at that time, you know, I had a young son. My son, my son Larry, Lawrence, he worked for the Delta Airlines, been working with the 122:00Airlines for the last thirty-eight years. Still there. Lucky, lucky. So, there was a son to be brought up in New York at that time, you know? I wanted them, you know, in my early days, the '20s, growing up, it was not, not healthy to be, to live in, you know, there were a lot of murders, you know, happenings, uh, robberies happening. And mostly at that time, I've got a story about that. A reading about, hearing about all that [inaudible], all the [inaudible] things, Ferrara's, the Anthony's, all the -- I'm always amazed, just they make movies, all the gangsters are Italians.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Somehow they manage, but mostly, at that time, Capone and all 123:00these, all [inaudible], they want to look Italians. And as a young boy, and so that's how in the first place, I wanted to get my [inaudible], but that's why I'd gone before that. And I didn't like that, you know, reading about all the ten names, blah, blah, blah, murderer, blah, blah, blah, gangster, blah, blah, at that time.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, right, right.

ANTHONY FERRARA: At that time.


ANTHONY FERRARA: And that's why I had to [inaudible] very bad. And then you want to go to the movies, [inaudible], what's his name? Joe Bascalucci [phonetic]. All had Italian names, they're all gangsters, murderers.


ANTHONY FERRARA: But see, they left me with that, you know. But then going to school, you know, you read about Marco Polo, Christopher Colombo, Marcone, all the legend names, you know, blah, blah, blah, and I was always, you know, you read about those, you know, Marco Polo, Christopher Colombo, and Marcone 124:00[inaudible]. Oh, you know, you know, and then, you know. They, at that time, I was glad, then I was glad, you know. Then that period passed, you know?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Up to that they would [inaudible], all the Italians, right?

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, they were starting it up again.

ANTHONY FERRARA: [inaudible]

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, yeah. Was there, was there, were, was there prejudice, do you think?


SADY SULLIVAN: Was there prejudice because of those --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Say it again.

SADY SULLIVAN: Was there prejudice in the, in the community?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Oh, it'd be -- yeah. You know, some naturally, naturally my education was [inaudible], you know? So, one day, a friend of, one day, I happened to -- I think he worked for NBC. NBC. So, he says to me, "Tony, why don't you blah, blah, [inaudible] that was," so I remember going there and being 125:00interviewed prior to that. Let me, let me go prior to that. What's more, [inaudible], so now I got graduated, now I'm looking for a job, you know, nineteen -- I'm going for a job. I was fourteen years old. 1929. So I'm looking for a job, and whenever, they ask you, "What's your name?" "Anthony Ferrara." "Ferrara. Italian. Where do you live?" "Mulberry Street." "Where do you live?" "129 Mulberry Street." "Oh, we'll let you know." Never let you know, never. I was their messenger boy, Western Union, so now -- it was, it's a big, Western Union was, I was accepted right away, right there. But now, posted [inaudible], the story in there, got postal telegrams, officers from Western Union, same 126:00business. Telegrams, communication. The head was Clarence McKay, I have a story about -- and Clarence McKay became Irving Berlin's father-in-law.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Berlin married his daughter. He was the head of that. So now, posted telegraph came into -- it wasn't a communication, but they was in the telegraph business, so then he'd post a telegram list for me, and I noticed that messengers all for Western Union was [inaudible], but the posted telegraph, you know, like a policeman. Blue with a stripe, blue shirt, with a cap. Just like a policeman. I'm going to get a job, I've got to get a job as a postal telegram. So, what I did? I quit the postal telegraph and I went and applied, not bigger, but the Postal Telegraph.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, you quit Western Union and you went -- mm-hmm.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, at sixteen. I remember the date, my daughter tells me yesterday, she tells me -- it was yesterday, I don't remember. But I now I'm going to 16 Broad Street. They're hiring. I went there, how had -- there was so many people lined up to get, be a job there. "Okay, your name?" "Anthony Ferrara." "What's your address?" "139 Mulberry Street." "Okay, try tomorrow." And they, not, you're Irish, right?


ANTHONY FERRARA: This, [inaudible], it's in the story, right? Next kid, as I'm watching him. Now we, the ones that they didn't hire were sent this way, the ones that they did hire, they would say -- how I did, right, "What's your name?" "William Brody." "Where do you live?" "[inaudible]." "Okay," he said, "You get over there." Did it, too.

SADY SULLIVAN: Right, right.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Said son of a gun.


SADY SULLIVAN: What was the owner's name? Macky [phonetic], did you say? Or McKay [phonetic]? McKai [phonetic]?


SADY SULLIVAN: What was the owner of this one?

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, no, this is, this is a Post Telegraph. This is a big corporation, you know? But I'm talking about the owner, [inaudible]. So, I said, I said, anyway, you say Ferrara, Mulberry Street -- so I applied to, so then another person, he says, "You know who this is?" "Yeah." He says, "Then why don't we go to [inaudible]?" I says, "Yeah." He says, and he says, "Come to the left." You know, it was a big, big room. Why don't you go to sneak to the right, you know? He used to hire ten, and nobody noticed that. He used to hire ten every day. So, so I did that. I forget now if he did that. He says, "Okay, sign them all up." Because, you know, so I said, "It's time to go this way." I sneaked, I got this way, but [inaudible], they looked, one, two, three, four, 129:00how about the rest of yous, try tomorrow" Not that I'm getting back to NBC.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, you, so you got a job there?


SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, that's great. [laughter]

ANTHONY FERRARA: And I got the, another story that's in, it's in my memoirs. I got to meet -- another story -- got to meet him personally, Clarence McKay. He became father-in-law, Irving Berlin, the songwriter. It's all written down. So yeah, so I went for a job at NBC. Same thing. Oh, I loved it, you know, back and you're watching, and your [inaudible], as you're going on. There was broadcasting going on, always going on.

SADY SULLIVAN: Is this up in, in Rockefeller Center?



ANTHONY FERRARA: Okay. "What's your name?" "Anthony Ferrara." "Where do you 130:00live?" "129 Mulberry Street, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, buh, buh, buh." Kind of like, this is what we mentioned, I never got hired out of there. But that was it, it went on. That went on. You know? I mean, there were other -- yeah, but we had a lot of instances to [inaudible], and --


ANTHONY FERRARA: Now, see, now if I was hired at NBC, who knows now? Would have been a big, big anchor some place, in Alaska.

SADY SULLIVAN: [laughter]

ANTHONY FERRARA: Could I [inaudible] question with you?




ANTHONY FERRARA: This is your job?


ANTHONY FERRARA: What you're doing now?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh yeah, it's my job.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Do you get paid for this, what you do?

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Uh, besides this, is this what you're doing, is this what you do?


SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. I'm the Oral History Program Coordinator for the --


SADY SULLIVAN: I'm the Oral History Program Coordinator for the Brooklyn Historical Society. So, we, we take on oral history projects, and I do, I do interviews, and then also I, I manage the archives of interviews that we, that we've collected for a long time.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Can I -- you do, it's what you do?

SADY SULLIVAN: That's my job, yeah.


SADY SULLIVAN: Am I married? No, I'm not.


SADY SULLIVAN: No children.

ANTHONY FERRARA: So, can I, can I, is this you?

SADY SULLIVAN: That's my card, yeah.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Can I get my daughter to explain my, my grandson's position? It sounds like your job, that he's doing in Washington.




ANTHONY FERRARA: Lorraine! Lorraine! John?


ANTHONY FERRARA: Lorraine? Can I see you one minute?


ANTHONY FERRARA: You met my daughter?


SADY SULLIVAN: Yes, we met. We met when I came in.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Lorraine? It seems if she would explain her job, you could explain what Johnny's job in Washington?



LORRAINE: Uh, he has a job with the -- it's FEEA, Federal Employees Educational Assistance. So federal employees who would like to go back to school and can't afford it would apply to his office. That sounds so, you know, good. And then they would evaluate and decide whether or not, you know, he would be able to, that whoever that person is would be able to receive aid to go back to school.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, they have a good deal.

LORRAINE: [inaudible]

SADY SULLIVAN: The Federal. [laughter]


LORRAINE: Well, he doesn't have a federal, his job isn't federal, but the employees, you know, would have to be federal employees.


LORRAINE: It's a nonprofit organization. And they do other charitable works with Katrina. They did some things like that.


LORRAINE: So, um, what are you looking for? A picture of Johnny? [laughter] That's an older one.


ANTHONY FERRARA: This is Johnny we're talking about.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm, right.

ANTHONY FERRARA: This is my first grandson. That's my, Tony.

SADY SULLIVAN: Mm-hmm. And every, all of your grandchildren live in D.C. now?



SADY SULLIVAN: Do they all live in --

LORRAINE: Yeah. Lauren's here for the summer, but --

ANTHONY FERRARA: Where's one? Lauren? Lauren? This is my granddaughter, Lauren.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Did you know what this is?

SADY SULLIVAN: I do. [laughter]

LORRAINE: I got it.



LORRAINE: Can I get you something else?

SADY SULLIVAN: Thank you so much.

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, that's good. No, no, I -- you were leading the story, I was thinking about if they was similar but they're not. The jobs. No.

LORRAINE: No. The, uh, the article, this article, did you say this was 1990?


LORRAINE: No. Because I was going to say, you only moved here -- this is '03 on the top.


ANTHONY FERRARA: Oh, you're right.

SADY SULLIVAN: What about this one, do you know?

LORRAINE: Did he say -- because he didn't do any of this until we moved here.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Right, right, right. Where did I put my --

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, do you know when this one was?

LORRAINE: That's the same, that's the same.


SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, it would be the same year?

ANTHONY FERRARA: What says 1990? Wait, wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. No, 19 --

SADY SULLIVAN: I must have misread that.

LORRAINE: You wrote that.

ANTHONY FERRARA: No, no, it's 1940.

LORRAINE: Oh, 1940!

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay, the photo's 1940.

LORRAINE: Now, is this part of the same article?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. No, no, they're different.

LORRAINE: Oh, okay. Yeah, because this was after we moved here. He didn't move here until, uh --


LORRAINE: '96. Right. So, this one says '03, though, Daddy.


LORRAINE: And now, this is yours. Anthony Ferrara.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, do you think this is around the same time, 2003?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, must have been, yeah.

LORRAINE: But I'm saying you wrote two articles, right?


LORRAINE: This was one of them and this was the other?


LORRAINE: It was around the same time, because when he was on his writing jig, he, uh, he did one then the other.


LORRAINE: I knew it wasn't 1990, but I didn't want to interrupt before.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Let's -- yeah.

LORRAINE: I thought I heard that before.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah, that, that, that's --

LORRAINE: Well, because it looks like a nine. It's a four, right.

ANTHONY FERRARA: Yeah. Yeah, when you said that, I didn't relate it to this picture.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, that was my mistake. I just saw a note on there and --


LORRAINE: And there's no date on this one, no year? Yeah, you see, you should have put the, you should have put the date on here.


LORRAINE: Well, this one says 1927 to 2004, many, many years, many, many stories to be told. So, this one is, the Memory Lane one is 2004, Daddy. I think. So that's 2003, that's 2004.

[Interview interrupted.]

LORRAINE: He has to go back to writing.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah. Well, I will --

LORRAINE: A brownie? Could I offer you a brownie?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, oh, no, I'm good, thank you.

LORRAINE: No? How about a brownie, Dad? No?

ANTHONY FERRARA: Miss Sullivan doesn't take a --

SADY SULLIVAN: No, please do, please do.

LORRAINE: How about some more iced tea?

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, I'm great, thank you.

LORRAINE: You're fine?

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, yeah.

ANTHONY FERRARA: What, are you going --

SADY SULLIVAN: Thank you so much. This has been so --

Read All

Interview Description

Oral History Interview with Anthony Ferrara

Anthony Ferrara (1915- ) grew up in Lower Manhattan in Little Italy. His family owned a restaurant on Coney Island that they ran during the summer season. Anthony Ferrara moved to Brooklyn in 1944 and spent most of his life working in restaurants. Because of an ear injury, he received 4F status and was unable to serve during WWII.

Anthony Ferrara (1915- ) began working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1941, after meeting a Navy Yard supervisor at the restaurant he worked at on Sands Street. During his interview, he discusses his duties as a fire warden and how the cleanliness of his job often separated him from the other workers. He also expresses his disappointment and embarrassment about being unable to serve overseas due to his 4F status. Ferrara's position allowed him to observe many of the things happening in the yard, including the progress of the USS Missouri, the USS Iowa and several Landing Ship Tanks. Ferrara also describes security at the Navy Yard, and how on one cold day, a security guard's nose dripped into the lunch container he was inspecting for alcohol. He left the yard after a little over a year and after attempting to get rid of his 4F status, he returned to working in restaurants. Ferrara remained in Brooklyn until 1996 when he moved in with family on Long Island, New York. An excerpt of this interview is used on a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

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


Ferrara, Anthony, 1915-, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, June 23, 2008, Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection, 2010.003.011; Brooklyn Historical Society.


  • Ferrara, Anthony, 1915-
  • New York Naval Shipyard


  • Cranes, derricks, etc.
  • dry docks
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Ethnic neighborhoods
  • Ethnicity
  • Family
  • Iowa (Battleship)
  • Italian Americans
  • Missouri (Battleship : BB 63)
  • Restaurant workers
  • Restaurants
  • Security systems
  • Shipfitting
  • Work environment
  • World War, 1939-1945


  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)
  • Little Italy (New York, N.Y.)
  • Long Island (N.Y.)
  • Sands Street (New York, N.Y.)


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Finding Aid

Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection