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Ida Pollack and Sylvia Everitt

Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, Jennifer Egan, and Daniella Romano

April 24, 2008

Call number: 2010.003.019

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SYLVIA EVERITT: [inaudible] And, I don't know, now it's maybe six or eight months ago. And their -- it's a very good pair.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's nice.

SYLVIA EVERITT: He even came to see her. To see where she was --

JENNIFER EGAN: That's nice. I guess when you're ready and --

SYLVIA EVERITT: There's the one picture there that has the name of the three people, but not mine.


IDA POLLACK: Doesn't have --

SYLVIA EVERITT: It depends, it depends on who --

IDA POLLACK: Wrote it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Each place is different. You know what I mean? Whoever published --

IDA POLLACK: You mean, Honigman, the name Honigman isn't even there?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No. Not my name at all. Three names of the four women.


IDA POLLACK: Who? Kitty, that's Kitty.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. But I never knew her name.


JENNIFER EGAN: So, you were Peewee?

IDA POLLACK: I'm Peewee.



IDA POLLACK: She did that.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I started that.


JENNIFER EGAN: So Peewee, Kitty. What was your nickname?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Nothing. Syl. They just called me Syl.


SYLVIA EVERITT: And -- no, I mean, when -- before the Navy Yard, when we were kids.


IDA POLLACK: Yeah. Oh, when we were kids, yeah.


JENNIFER EGAN: I'm just going to use your bathroom, is that okay? Can I use your bathroom?


DANIELLA ROMANO: So, you two knew each other growing up?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, yeah, I was about -- we were --

IDA POLLACK: About twelve.

SYLVIA EVERITT: That was seventh -- no --- seven or eight years old.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Of course, that's the one. My brother was going somewhere with your sister.


SYLVIA EVERITT: In a group. I don't know where they were going. And she was saying that her kid sister was having some trouble with arithmetic. And he said, "Well, why don't you introduce her to my sister? She's a --- she could help her, big shot." So that's how we got to know each other.

IDA POLLACK: Was I living in the Coops at that time? Must have been.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh yeah. Must have been. And then you moved to that --- you know.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, my father moved around --

DANIELLA ROMANO: I was just going to ask, yeah.

IDA POLLACK: -- all the time. Because at that time, they were offering new 2:00tenants a month's free rent.


IDA POLLACK: So, he --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, sure, so people would move.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So, he'd always move to get the first free month.

IDA POLLACK: So, he moved a lot.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, a lot of people did that, they moved a lot. No one had money.


SYLVIA EVERITT: But you lived in that particular house quite a while, didn't you?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, yeah.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Because I remember you washed -- walked to high school, too --



JENNIFER EGAN: So, do you want to position us, Sady?

SYLVIA EVERITT: What are we doing here?

SADY SULLIVAN: Do you want to ask questions?

JENNIFER EGAN: I don't care. I mean, I want to just do whatever -- pardon? No, I'm good, I can work with what I got.

SADY SULLIVAN: Would you like to sit up in here so that we can put the two microphones there?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't know when --

SADY SULLIVAN: That would be -- that would work well.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I could show -- I don't know at what point you wanted me to show the pictures that I have.


JENNIFER EGAN: I'm going to bring another chair up.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, you -- Jenny, you run the show --

IDA POLLACK: Grab the chair, and Penny is coming.


SYLVIA EVERITT: So Pee, how long ago was that?

IDA POLLACK: Oh, about sixty-five years ago. Barely.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, it's more!


IDA POLLACK: About seventy years ago.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Seventy and eight would make seventy-eight, and I'm in -- we're in -- and I'm in quite up in the eighties, so it's longer than that.


SYLVIA EVERITT: It's amazing, isn't it?

IDA POLLACK: It is amazing. [laughter]

SYLVIA EVERITT: Who could believe it?

IDA POLLACK: We're like family almost.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It's ridiculous.

JENNIFER EGAN: Actually, you know what, I always forget to have them do the release forms.


SADY SULLIVAN: And before we get started, just everybody should turn off cell phones, beepers, Blackberries.

SYLVIA EVERITT: The house looks nice.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Looks nice. You moved things around.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. This isn't always up.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, of course.

JENNIFER EGAN: These are just release forms that give us all your information and allow us to use the interview for the museum and all that.

DANIELLA ROMANO: And research.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Is it both the same?


DANIELLA ROMANO: They're identical.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, so let me one. Can you hold the other one?

JENNIFER EGAN: But read over it so that you're comfortable.

SYLVIA EVERITT: This is the Brooklyn Navy Yard History Interview.

IDA POLLACK: Okay. I can't believe how this incident never dies!


SYLVIA EVERITT: This says -- wait a minute. This -- is this something you want signed and so forth?

SADY SULLIVAN: Yes, please.

IDA POLLACK: Yes, we should sign it.

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you need a pen?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, it's a release. But read over it, you know.

JENNIFER EGAN: Here you want to, maybe we can, why don't you rest it on that.

SYLVIA EVERITT: You plan to retain the product as part of its permanent collection!

IDA POLLACK: Is today the 25th?

JUDY KAPLAN: Today's the 24th.

IDA POLLACK: The 24th, thank you.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Ownership of the property -- wait a minute. What means ownership of the physical property?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Of the recording.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Does that mean that no one else can use it?

DANIELLA ROMANO: The physical, the physical recording. We can -- let me read it. Let me see what your question is. Um, the ownership --


SYLVIA EVERITT: Because a lot of other people have used the same material.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Let me see. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the participant, this, your words --

JENNIFER EGAn: I think it means the actual, this particular recording.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh. So, this particular recording --

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, this recording. Not the story. We can't own a --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Because that would be impossible. It's been, you know, it's been all over the place, you know?DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, exactly.

JENNIFER EGAN: No, no, just this actual, this session.


DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, exactly. Okay.

SYLVIA EVERITT: You're reading quickly.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Don't give up any copyright or -- yeah.



SADY SULLIVAN: Old fashioned cassettes.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I release the BNYDC -- oh, that's who we're talking about, huh?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, well, for the Navy Yard.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And it's -- from any and all claims and demands arising out of our connection with the use of such recording.

IDA POLLACK: Anyway, what could be [inaudible]?

SYLVIA EVERITT: You know, this has been in so many places, you certainly couldn't stop it from going to --


JENNIFER EGAN: Well, that's -- we want the opposite. We want people to know the story.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, I'm sorry, thank you.


SYLVIA EVERITT: You have to open it, huh?

IDA POLLACK: Yes, you do.


SYLVIA EVERITT: A pen you've got to open. A pen is to open. What's today's date?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Two four, two four.

IDA POLLACK: You didn't have trouble getting here, did you?

SYLVIA EVERITT: You have to tell me the month, too. You think you just have to tell me the --


JUDY KAPLAN: April 24, 2008.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I forget every day. [laughter] April 24th, huh?

IDA POLLACK: Right. You didn't have trouble getting here, did you?


SYLVIA EVERITT: April 24th, 2008. At least I know the year.

DANIELLA ROMANO: You know, there are these portable positioning systems which you can rent with the car, and so there's a woman's voice who's given you 7:00directions the whole time. But then the whole, like where the Van Wyck and the Union Turnpike and Grand Central Parkway, where everything comes together.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, and you're not familiar with it.

DANIELLA ROMANO: No, I'm not familiar with it.

IDA POLLACK: That's right.

DANIELLA ROMANO: And not familiar with driving outside of the Yard. You know what I mean? I'm on my bike.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. [laughter] That's right.

DANIELLA ROMANO: We don't go that fast, sixty miles an hour. But we were fine.



DANIELLA ROMANO: We stopped and had to tell the little widget to recalculate, so it was not a big deal.

JUDY KAPLAN: I lived at a couple places in Queens when we first got married. So I'm kind of familiar --

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, we were by Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard, and so we just thought, "Why can't you just get on Union Turnpike?"

IDA POLLACK: That's right, that's right.

DANIELLA ROMANO: But this thing was like, "No!"

SYLVIA EVERITT: I think that's it, you'd better take a look.

IDA POLLACK: No, it --


SYLVIA EVERITT: See, I knew I'd forget -- where? Oh, of course, right at the beginning.


IDA POLLACK: That's right, I've been here over forty years, and I sometimes have trouble.



IDA POLLACK: Sometimes. I don't drive too far anymore.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, I don't -- driving is a -- I don't know. I'm not such a big fan of driving.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay, so -- and they don't need to come over to a microphone?

SADY SULLIVAN: No. It will pick -- it'll pick it up.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, one thing we need to do, just for clarity on the tape, is that the transcriber what each of our voices sounds like so that if a question jumps in, they know who's asking it. So, we're each going to -- I guess I'll start by just saying so it's, it is Thursday, April 24th, 2008. And we are in Queens. Do I need to give the exact address? And I'm Jennifer Egan.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Daniella Romano.

IDA POLLACK: And I'm Ida Pollack.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I'm Sylvia Everitt.

SADY SULLIVAN: I'm Sady Sullivan.

JUDY KAPLAN: I'm Judy Kaplan.


ALFRED KOLKIN: And I'm Al Kolkin.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, I think what we'd like to do -- of course, for part of this, you'll both -- you'll be sharing memories, which is great. Um, but I'd love to start by just having each of you say and spell your names clearly and give us your birth date.

IDA POLLACK: Be my guest.


SYLVIA EVERITT: My name is Sylvia Everitt. S-Y-L-V-I-A. Everitt is E-V-E-R-I-T-T.

JENNIFER EGAN: And what's your --

SYLVIA EVERITT: And what else?

JENNIFER EGAN: Your birth date.

SYLVIA EVERITT: [date redacted for privacy] 1921.


IDA POLLACK: My name is Ida Pollack. I-D-A P-O-L-L-A-C-K. My birth date is [date redacted for privacy] 1922.

JENNIFER EGAN: And what were your names when you worked at the Yard? The same?


IDA POLLACK: I was still Pollack.

SYLVIA EVERITT: My name was Sylvia Honigman, H-O-N-I-G-M-A-N.

IDA POLLACK: She's -- she shouldn't be eating that. But she likes grass.


JENNIFER EGAN: So why don't we start -- let's start with you Ida. If you could just tell us briefly where you come from and how you came to be working at the Yard, and what years you worked there. And then Sylvia can do the same, and then we can jump in together.

IDA POLLACK: And if I am, forget the date --

SYLVIA EVERITT: I'll help you.

IDA POLLACK: You help me.


IDA POLLACK: OK. I lived in the Bronx. I lived with my parents because my husband was in the service. And I had married at nineteen, so I must have been about twenty-one. And, uh, I don't remember the details of how we got to answer 11:00the request for women. Tell me.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Uh, someone told me, I think Hesch [phonetic] told me, that they were interviewing people for the Navy Yard. They were beginning to --

IDA POLLACK: Well, we were --

SYLVIA EVERITT: They were going to begin to hire women.


SYLVIA EVERITT: And I think I told her.

IDA POLLACK: And that must have been in 1941, right? No!


IDA POLLACK: No! 1942.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Two, it's two. 1942.

IDA POLLACK: 1942. So, wherever we went, we went, were interviewed, and we had to take an exam. Which was called --

SYLVIA EVERITT: I didn't take the same kind you did. It was a --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I think you --

SYLVIA EVERITT: But I don't remember what it was called.

IDA POLLACK: It was called, we were called mechanic learners, which was a new title.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, that's right. Yeah.

IDA POLLACK: And we were paid about half of what the third class welders were paid when -- the men, these were the men.

SYLVIA EVERITT: When we got in there.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. So, let's -- now let's jump to Sylvia for a minute. Just to back up. Where are you from and how old were you at that time?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Okay. What part of the city, you mean? Where?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, I lived in the Bronx. Had, had just graduated from Brooklyn College that June or whenever it is. And then I heard through a friend of mine that there was an exam to see if, you know, looking for women that could work in the Navy Yard.

JENNIFER EGAN: Were you both already working at the time?


SYLVIA EVERITT: No, I was not working.

IDA POLLACK: I was, but what was I doing? [laughter]

SYLVIA EVERITT: I had had a few -- I graduated in, you know, the end of the season. This was sort of the end of summer. I had had some odd jobs, but nothing in particular.

IDA POLLACK: Well, I dropped out of college. I had, there was a lot of stress in my home with my parents, and I decided to work. So, I dropped out of college -- also, because I didn't do too well on the first year. That is, educationally.

JENNIFER EGAN: Was that Brooklyn College, also?



IDA POLLACK: And we used to travel, by the way, from the Bronx to Brooklyn, and there were a group of us on this train --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Took over two hours a day.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. But we'd laugh for about two hours a day.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, we always got into the --

IDA POLLACK: [laughter] We --

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- front car.

IDA POLLACK: And we met each other on the different stations.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And everybody came in, into that car. So, we, we got a seat. I 14:00got a seat at least, because I was way up in the Bronx. And by the time we got to Brooklyn College, I had a pile like this! With, you know, it was a group of us, and it was fun.


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. At any rate, what did you ask me?

JENNIFER EGAN: You were, you were explaining that you had dropped out after one year and were working.

IDA POLLACK: That's right. I took a lot of little strange jobs. One was in a factory that -- a greeting card factory where I had to sort, um, about a dozen cards, put a rubber band around them so that they were a unit, see. And don't know how I got to that job, but somebody else that I knew worked with me, and this guy who owned the factory was hiring young people right off the boats.


IDA POLLACK: They were all immigrants. And he paid them almost nothing. So, she and I thought maybe we could organize a union. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: In the factory?

IDA POLLACK: In the factory. And of course we were fired. [laughter] But later on, we heard -- sometime later -- that they did get a union, see? So -- what else I did? I think almost nothing. There was a New Deal Program at that time. The NY -- I forgot what it was. And it was in the library, in the school system, but they were sporadic. They weren't definite, you know, long time jobs.


IDA POLLACK: And then this came up, the Navy Yard came up, and I was all for it 16:00because we all felt that we were helping getting rid of Hitler. Who at that time was running all over the world, see. So, we felt good about the job. Now, when we got hired, they had a training period of about six weeks, it was, where they taught those of us who chose welding how to weld. And Lucy, Al's wife and Judy's mother, became a ship fitter.

JENNIFER EGAN: Now had -- did you begin at the same time at the Yard?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Excuse me, I'm sorry, I didn't -- well, as I recall --

IDA POLLACK: You came in first.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- we did not pick it. We were given this section we were to go to.

IDA POLLACK: Oh, we were?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. I -- yeah, yeah.

JENNIFER EGAN: And when exactly did you begin your training? Do you remember what month?

IDA POLLACK: I don't remember.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It's all in these newspapers I have -- if I could pull out some of the stuff I brought.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay, that's fine. So, you did -- you began around the same time, 17:00or Sylvia --

IDA POLLACK: Just a short time between. I think perhaps they hired alphabetically, I'm not sure.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I'm not sure. I don't remember.

JENNIFER EGAN: And did you actually train together?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No. We weren't in the same training shop, even.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. What had you studied in college, Sylvia?


JENNIFER EGAN: Uh-huh, okay.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I was going to be a social worker.

JENNIFER EGAN: Um, okay. So, talk a little bit about the welding training.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Mm. Well, let me first say -- I wanted to go back a little.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Uh, I don't know how they picked people. It seemed to be --

[Interview interrupted.] [inaudible]

PENNY LATHARS: Hi, I went shopping.



IDA POLLACK: That's my daughter.

JENNIFER EGAN: Should we pause?


PENNY LATHARS: Oh, don't pause, don't pause. I just work here.


SYLVIA EVERITT: That's right, she just works here. [laughter] And, um, the day 18:00we entered, I have a whole slew of pictures from the newspapers because they picked a group of people to follow through the day. And a lot of pictures were taken, and it was in all the newspapers, and I have copies of them all that I can show you.

JENNIFER EGAN: Great, great.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And, uh, as I recall, we were just placed in the, like I was placed in the, like I was placed in this place to learn to weld.

[Interview interrupted.]

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was like a, a small room with like four or five sections to it, and we were taught by the senior welders.

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you remember what part of the Yard that training happened in?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Not really. It was really all on -- that first level was huge, 19:00you know? And I don't really remember just where it was.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Uh, and they would test us, test us after each thing was taught. Like how to go uphill in something. How to handle the, uh, the -- how do you put the fire --

IDA POLLACK: The torch.

SYLVIA EVERITT: The torch. How to handle the torch. And --

IDA POLLACK: And how to put the juice on.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And some of us were more adept at it than others.

JENNIFER EGAN: Had either of you --



SYLVIA EVERITT: I was always adept with my hands, so that it came very easy to me.

JENNIFER EGAN: Had either of you done anything like welding before?


SYLVIA EVERITT: But as I say, I did a lot with my hands, you know? Sewing, various other things. I seem to have, uh, an inclination for that kind of work.

JENNIFER EGAN: And Ida, what about you? Did the work come easily to you as well?

IDA POLLACK: I think so. You had to learn how to weld flat material --


SYLVIA EVERITT: First, first.

IDA POLLACK: -- which was the easiest.


IDA POLLACK: And then you had to learn how to weld vertical, and vertical was a little tricky because gravity pulled everything down. So, you had to know how to adjust the heat that you were using in the torch so that the metal would stay where you put it and didn't run down. And then, of course, there was overhead. Which that --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Was the most difficult.

IDA POLLACK: Which, like I've explained. And overhead, you always got some fleck, you know, so you wore leather and you had your hair in a whatever. And a cap. And you wore metal-tipped shoes. And in the winter, you wore a lot of underclothes. [laughter]

SYLVIA EVERITT: And you wore, and you bought your clothes --

IDA POLLACK: On Sands Street.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Is it already if I walk here, for a minute?

JENNIFER EGAN: I think -- Sady, is that okay with you, if they jump in?


SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, yeah, be aware of the recording to not speak totally over each other, but going back and forth is great.



SYLVIA EVERITT: Because the only place we can buy clothes were in the soldiers' --

IDA POLLACK: And the sailors'. On Sands Street.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. Where their clothes were sold.

IDA POLLACK: They had stores, right.

SYLVIA EVERITT: They had stores, it was second-hand whatever. We had to buy clothes that were suitable, it isn't as if you could buy it, any, in a store, you know, a regular store. And that's where we went and got our clothes. And we always had our head covered, of course.

JENNIFER EGAN: And you brought the --

JUDY KAPLAN: Why? Sorry, why did you have your head covered? Because of the --


IDA POLLACK: Because of the sparks and --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Everything had to be covered.

IDA POLLACK: And sometimes metal.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Everything had to be covered.




SYLVIA EVERITT: We had to learn how to strike the arc to get the, get it going.

JENNIFER EGAN: How to strike the --




IDA POLLACK: It's called an arc.

SYLVIA EVERITT: The flame coming up.

IDA POLLACK: Where the metal you're using merges with the metal that you're welding. That's what makes it --

SYLVIA EVERITT: And if you learn it quickly, though, you do it, begin to do it automatically. You know, very quickly. And we would --

IDA POLLACK: I went --

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- be working on various small -- at that point, you know -- smaller pieces that were being put together.

IDA POLLACK: I welded once after the shipyard, because my longest period of work was in the hospital. I was a medical technician, and one time, in the machine shop, I don't -- or the maintenance place, I don't know what they called it -- they needed something welded, a door, and we got to talking and I had told them that I had done welding, which of course they couldn't believe. [laughter] But I did weld it, and that was about fifteen years later.


JENNIFER EGAN: Did it come back? Did it?

IDA POLLACK: It came back, yeah.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, and I tried to find a job after I had left the Navy -- you know, I'm jumping ahead. I'm married, and I went up to, um, Boston. I spent a long time trying to find a job, and they all thought I came from some insane asylum. [laughter]


SYLVIA EVERITT: You know, they looked at me like I was a total lunatic. "You're going to weld? That's you know, that's funny!" [laughter] So I got, you know, some other kind of job. I don't remember what it was, working in a place.

PENNY LATHARS: Can I ask a -- they taught you? How long did they, how long was the training for you?


SYLVIA EVERITT: It took about six weeks.

IDA POLLACK: Six weeks.

JUDY KAPLAN: But you didn't do any welding until you got that training completed?

IDA POLLACK: No, because --

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, they -- we were taught by --

JENNIFER EGAN: Since we're all recording, if you would just introduce yourself so that the transcriber knows who's talking when you jump in with a question.

PENNY LATHARS: Yeah, I'm sorry. I'm Penny Lathars, I'm Ida Pollack's daughter.

JENNIFER EGAN: Great, thank you.



SYLVIA EVERITT: So, yeah, and we were tested. We were tested before we were allowed to go into the shops.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. That is, the metal was tested. The work, the --

JENNIFER EGAN: Can you talk a little bit about that, about the process of being tested and, and, um, transferring from the training into actual professional-level --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Before then, just to talk about this, you know they, uh, you know they, at least where I was, they watched us do it. You know, like a seam. It was called a seam, to put two parts together. You had to learn how to do it so that it went smoothly and that it was all covered. They were very good teachers, I thought, they were people who worked there a long time. And then, after the -- whatever, the five, six weeks, they tested us and then they sent us into a shop. And that's when I told you this man went ahead of us and was --


IDA POLLACK: Mr. Taylor.

SYLVIA EVERITT: He as the foreman of the shop. He was, he was ahead of us and he was yelling to the men, "Watch your language. These are teachers." Which was -- he was a very nice man, actually.

IDA POLLACK: But we really learned how to curse.


SYLVIA EVERITT: And we really learned -- and boy, did you pick up that cursing. I had never cursed in my life, and that language was very attractive. It has remained with me all my life.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Anyway -- [laughter] So --- uh --

JENNIFER EGAN: So, I want to pause for a minute since you weren't doing all of this together and get Ida's impressions of the same -- of the same transition.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Right, right.

JENNIFER EGAN: Ida, could you describe what you remember about that transition from the training to the, uh --

IDA POLLACK: Well, I'm sure we were all nervous about it, and we worked in this Bay One, and Mr. Taylor was the --

SYLVIA EVERITT: He was the one I was talking about.

IDA POLLACK: He was the foreman. A very quiet walking man with a cigar. You 26:00never could, you never could miss him. [laughter] All you smelled was the smoke and you knew he was around, see.

SYLVIA EVERITT: He was a good man.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, he was, he was, he was all right. And when Syl mentioned a seam, most steel has a, uh, a width. And you couldn't just put two pieces together and fill in the crack. They beveled them. So, there were several layers of weld so that they would withstand ocean traffic and battle and whatever. And when they did test it, it was x-rayed to see if the weld was solid because there's always somebody who would like to get it done quickly and just put a surface weld on. But that never was allowed to go through.


JENNIFER EGAN: So instead of a surface weld, are you saying that you had to re-weld the same area?

IDA POLLACK: No, add on top. A layer on top of a layer, see, until you got to the surface. And then -- that's right, like this.

JENNIFER EGAN: Just like that.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. And whatever, whenever you see any pipes or any metal structure, take a look and you'll see, like, penmanship. We used to do penmanship.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It's just like a smooth line.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. And we all got good at it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Not all. We were.


IDA POLLACK: No! I'm sure there were --

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, I'm kidding.

PENNY LATHARS: I didn't hear of any ships sinking, so --


JENNIFER EGAN: Do you remember how many, roughly how many women you were being trained with? Like how large was your class?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, I think --

IDA POLLACK: I don't know.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, when you talk to me, I'll pull out some of the newspapers I brought.

IDA POLLACK: I couldn't remember

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't know.


SYLVIA EVERITT: But, uh, we'd get an idea from the newspapers because they all 28:00had articles.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. In terms of purchasing this outfit, because I'd like to know clearly exactly what you were wearing. You wore, you said you wore caps. Were they made of leather?


JENNIFER EGAN: Let's start from the head and go down.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Are you talking about --

IDA POLLACK: And you had a bandana, a what do you call it?

SYLVIA EVERITT: A hood of some sort.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, what tied your hair back so that your hair wouldn't get on fire.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And you also had to cover your face.

IDA POLLACK: You had a leather jacket and leather pants. And the -- also, just regular Navy clothes which we got secondhand.

SYLVIA EVERITT: From the men's shops.

JENNIFER EGAN: Under the leather, you mean?

IDA POLLACK: Under the leather.


SADY SULLIVAN: Did you buy the leather, also, or that was something that was in the shop?

IDA POLLACK: That was in the shop. Wasn't it? They issued it, didn't they?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, but you bought the -- you bought your clothes in the secondhand stores.

IDA POLLACK: But they didn't sell leather.


IDA POLLACK: No. That came with, in the Navy Yard. You had to wear high shoes 29:00with steel tips. Work shoes, see, because --

SYLVIA EVERITT: In other words, you were covering as much of your body as possible.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, because you could drop something on your toes.

PENNY LATHARS: Which you did.

IDA POLLACK: Which I did. It went down the shoe.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And you wore a hood.

JENNIFER EGAN: And do you recall buying these items on Sands Street? Do you remember going and doing that?


JENNIFER EGAN: What was it like? Did you go just alone, or did you have a friend with you?

IDA POLLACK: We usually walked in more than singles. Didn't we?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. Or maybe with someone, but it was right in the area. Sands Street, you know, was right out of, right outside of --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, and then at one point -- I don't know, maybe after a year or so -- we began to ask for equal pay for equal work.

PENNY LATHARS: Good, good.

IDA POLLACK: And there was a union, but I don't remember which union.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't either.


SYLVIA EVERITT: But there was.

IDA POLLACK: And they stepped in for us, and eventually we got that one -- that 30:00one, dollar, fourteen cents an hour which the men had been getting.

JENNIFER EGAN: And you had been getting half of that?

IDA POLLACK: We used to get half -- we started out with a new title. They were called third class welders, and we were called, when we were hired, mechanic learners. So --

SYLVIA EVERITT: And they gave us a fraction of what the men got.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, about half. Yeah. Sixty something cents an hour, wasn't it?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I thought it was less.

IDA POLLACK: Oh yeah, maybe.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, like fifty cents. It was terrible.

IDA POLLACK: So eventually, we got the same.

SYLVIA EVERITT: After a big fight.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, it was a big --

JENNIFER EGAN: And were you then third class welders?


JENNIFER EGAN: Did you get the title as well?

IDA POLLACK: Yes. We got the title, and then from there -- I don't know how long the time -- you got to be a second class welder, which was a dollar, twenty-six. And then a third class -- a first class welder. How much was that? Do you remember?




SYLVIA EVERITT: Forty cents?


SYLVIA EVERITT: No, it was very low.

IDA POLLACK: It was low, but it went from one, fourteen to one, twenty-six to --

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, I think it was less -- well, it doesn't matter. It was very low.

IDA POLLACK: To one, forty something. But as low as it was, for that time, I earned more money than my father.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was a job.

JENNIFER EGAN: What was your father doing?

IDA POLLACK: My father was a factory worker. He worked on leather. Shoes and pocketbooks. They used to make pocketbooks out of leather only. [laughter] So -- but I don't know if he was aware of it, but he worked, I don't know how long a week. I worked, we worked, a fifty-eight-hour week, which was ten hours on weekdays and eight hours on Saturday, which was considered a half a day, jokingly.


SYLVIA EVERITT: We worked Sunday, too.

IDA POLLACK: Some, yeah, because we rotated shifts.

SYLVIA EVERITT: We worked seven days.

JENNIFER EGAN: Did you work daytime or a night shift?


IDA POLLACK: It shifted.

SYLVIA EVERITT: You went from one to another.

IDA POLLACK: There was an afternoon shift in between.

JENNIFER EGAN: And so, in --

SYLVIA EVERITT: The worst is the swing shift --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, that's the afternoon.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- to work in. Because you start in the afternoon, and in the middle of the night, you leave.

IDA POLLACK: And since we all traveled by subway, we were going home at all kinds of hours, see.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, are you saying that in one week, you might work day shifts and night shifts? That they would switch it that way?



IDA POLLACK: No. It was every few months that we would rotate.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Or whatever. A period of time.



JENNIFER EGAN: And did you determine that, or did they?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, you were, you were given it.

JENNIFER EGAN: Um, so, okay -- so after six weeks or so of training, you moved into the actual building that you worked in. And can you remind me of what 33:00building number that was?

IDA POLLACK: Bay One. At that time, it was called Bay One.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yeah, was that 268?


DANIELLA ROMANO: Was that 268 that we saw?

IDA POLLACK: No. Then we went to 268 or 9, I'm not, I don't remember which.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, so Bay One was the prior building?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Bay One wasn't 268?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. And at one point, they took the women out onto the ship because one of their arguments was, when we asked for higher pay, that you weren't working on the ship like the men were. And we said that weren't refusing, you just weren't sending us out on the ship. So, they did.

SYLVIA EVERITT: [laughter]

IDA POLLACK: And you would think we came from Mars when we got onto the ship.

JENNIFER EGAN: How long had you been working there at that time?

IDA POLLACK: Maybe two years. I'm not sure.

JENNIFER EGAN: And how did it feel to be walking onto a ship after two years?


IDA POLLACK: It was kind of scary because it was a ship under construction. It wasn't a fitted ship. And in order to put your juice on for the torch, they were set up on a, sort of a balcony or built high, and you had to climb up a lightning ladder which was like a foot wide and a foot this way. And it was scary. You had to get used to it. And if you had claustro -- if you had agoraphobia like my daughter, you could not have done it.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, you climbed up a lightning ladder -- wait, I'm sorry. You had to climb up a ladder to get onto the ship.

IDA POLLACK: No. Well, yeah, you had to get on a gangplank to get on the ship, or a walkway. I don't remember. But to put your juice on, your source of energy for the torch, you had to go up on a lightning ladder, it was called -- I don't 35:00know why -- and turn on, each one had a machine there that turned your juice on.

SADY SULLIVAN: And how was that plugged in? Like a tube that went --

IDA POLLACK: No, lines. It was called a line. It was a narrow, heavy wire, covered, you know, that was attached to the torch, and that's how you turned on your flame.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So, the juice -- sorry -- the juice is oxyacetylene.


DANIELLA ROMANO: The juice was the oxygen acetylene, not electricity?

IDA POLLACK: No, the juice was electricity.


IDA POLLACK: The oxygen acetylene was for the burners. They -- and the burners -- those who did burning cut steel with a flame, and they had, it was called an acetylene torch.


SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, but that's not what you used for welding?

IDA POLLACK: That's not what -- no, that's not what you use for welding. Welding, you get -- what kind of light is it? It's a, it's a light that --

DANIELLA ROMANO: The arc light, right?

IDA POLLACK: -- that you can't look at.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Magnesium. Magnesium, isn't it?

IDA POLLACK: I'm not sure what kind of light it was.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't know what that is.

IDA POLLACK: You couldn't look at it --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, I don't know what that is.

IDA POLLACK: -- or you'd get what they called a flash. You'd get your eyes burned. And everybody got flashes because you would get them, if there was a welder behind you, you would get, it could hit your shield and then you'd get a reflection. You could look at a flame, but you couldn't look at a welding torch flame.

JENNIFER EGAN: Did you wear goggles or any kind of eye protection?

IDA POLLACK: Yes, you're supposed to wear goggles and a shield that had -- I'll show, I have a -- I have a -- you could look at the sun through the shield. It 37:00was a, it cut out the ultraviolet. That's what the shield did. Wait, I think I have --

[Interview interrupted.]

JENNIFER EGAN: Um -- I'm going to wait until she's back.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Do you want to find out about -- I want to know a little bit more about the Sands Street experience, because Sands Street has a reputation for being a very dangerous area during World War II, and for there being a lot of prostitution and gambling, and --

SYLVIA EVERITT: We were totally unaware of anything like that. All we knew was it was a place where we went to buy some clothes, to have a bite to eat. To me -- that's interesting you're saying that --

IDA POLLACK: Nope, can't find it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- because to me, it was a rather friendly place. I never had 38:00that kind of feeling in Sands Street.

JENNIFER EGAN: I just want to back up to these logistics again --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- since we're right into the work part. So, I think one thing that would help me, because I've never welded, is if you could just give us a sense -- you come in through the Sands Street gate. Is that how you came into the Yard?


JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. You -- did you walk to your building?


JENNIFER EGAN: Then what happened? You were wearing some clothes that you bought on Sand Street, but you had --

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, no. You came dressed from home.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay, so take me through the whole process of getting dressed and equipped for your work.

SYLVIA EVERITT: You went, there was a -- what would you call it?

IDA POLLACK: A locker room, a locker room.

SYLVIA EVERITT: A locker room, thanks.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay, where was that in the building?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Right, right nearby.

IDA POLLACK: Near the gate, I think.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Near the gate. And you went, and you had your own locker. And you changed your -- you took your clothes out, your home clothes off, and put on the clothes that you were going to work in.

IDA POLLACK: Right. And there were also bathrooms there, part of the locker room.


IDA POLLACK: Bathrooms.


IDA POLLACK: And at one point, they found out that people were sleeping behind 39:00the closed doors, so they took of the doors and just left one with a door, and the line formed -- so they put back half doors. You know, to the knee and --

JENNIFER EGAN: People were sleeping because they were tired and wanted a nap?

IDA POLLACK: I don't know why they were sleeping.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, well, yeah. If you're working a night shift, for instance. The worst shift was to come in, like, late in the day and work ---


SYLVIA EVERITT: -- till the middle of the night. You know, you did get very tired.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, you go into the locker room, you take out your clothes that you bought on Sands Street, and you put those on. What about the leather part of the outfit?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, where'd we get that?

JENNIFER EGAN: Where did that come from?

IDA POLLACK: You know, I don't remember.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Um, I don't think we, -- I don't recall buying those, I think they were given to us.

IDA POLLACK: I think they were given.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I think they were given to us.


JENNIFER EGAN: So, where did you go to get the other part of the gear that you needed -- including the torch. Like just sort of walk through --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, that was given to you in the shop.

IDA POLLACK: That was a supply room.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was supplied by what you were going to -- how you were going to work.

IDA POLLACK: That's right.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay, so you went into the supply room, and what did you get?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, it depends on what you were going to do.

IDA POLLACK: You got your shield. If you had to replace the lens that blocked out the ultraviolet ray -- if you had to replace anything, if you needed a hammer, or if you needed -- I don't think you got your clothes there, because when we got the leather, it was in our locker.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was with the clothes.


JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. So, what were the --

SYLVIA EVERITT: And the shop itself that you were working in had like a little shop where you could go in and get material, like things to work with. The -- 41:00what do you call it -- the rods that you put in --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, that's right.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- and all the other -- because I, for a while, I was working right in that shop at a table, doing some small, uh, welding, and I knew that people would come in and come for their supplies.

JENNIFER EGAN: I see. So, did you work in the same shop?



IDA POLLACK: In the beginning, yes.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, at the -- yeah, but we didn't work together on anything in particular.

JENNIFER EGAN: How many shops were in, in, uh --

SYLVIA EVERITT: They were big. Each one was big.

IDA POLLACK: And, and a lot of them.

SYLVIA EVERITT: But, you know, you're talking about a very huge place in terms of --

JENNIFER EGAN: Right. This is the, uh, building, this is Bay One?



JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. So, you would -- do you want to interject? So, you would go in, go to your lockers, get your stuff, and then go to your shop.


JENNIFER EGAN: And what were the basic units of equipment that you used, generally, to weld?


SYLVIA EVERITT: The torch, right?


IDA POLLACK: It was called a torch.


IDA POLLACK: It was attached to --

SYLVIA EVERITT: And you had to have the -- what was on your head?

IDA POLLACK: The shield.

SYLVIA EVERITT: The shield. But that was there all the time. We had that.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. No, but you had, and --

SYLVIA EVERITT: You had the shield, and the --

IDA POLLACK: And you had a little steel bucket where you had your welding rods, and that you got from the supply room.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, you went to the supply, the supply room that I talked about.


IDA POLLACK: There was always some kind of remark made, too, by them.


JENNIFER EGAN: Some kind of?

IDA POLLACK: Some kind of a remark made.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, always to the women.

JENNIFER EGAN: Give -- like what?

IDA POLLACK: Oh -- like what? Well, you were once asked to go --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, like, this guy, he was such a nice guy that was giving out the material. You know, he was next to where I was working. And they would come in for material, and he was always very nice and just, you know, businesslike. And I was there like every day because I was working at this little table. But 43:00suddenly, one day, out of the blue, you know, I almost fell to the floor, he wanted to know if I'd go away for a weekend with him. [laughter] Before then he was barely talking to me because they didn't talk to us. [laughter] You know? Needless to say, that was the end of that.

IDA POLLACK: And one of the reasons they withheld us, they didn't put us out on the ship that often and when they did it was only on new construction, not on repair ships, because repair ships had bunks and beds and --

SYLVIA EVERITT: They were afraid of what might go on.

IDA POLLACK: What might go on, right.

JENNIFER EGAN: Because they were --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- sailors on the ships?


JENNIFER EGAN: Because there were sailors on the ships?



SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, yeah, but also men working, you know, a lot of men working around in small places. [laughter]

IDA POLLACK: It was quite an experience. [laughter]

SYLVIA EVERITT: I didn't work on the ship.

IDA POLLACK: No, that's right.


JENNIFER EGAN: Was -- in terms of the welding shop, were there men working -- there was a man giving out supplies?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh yeah, they were all, they were all where we were working.


JENNIFER EGAN: So, what was -- how many -- do you have any sense of what the mix was? Were there half women, half men, or just a few women?


IDA POLLACK: No, there was --

SYLVIA EVERITT: A minority of women.


JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. So, this guy would -- you'd go to the supply room and get what you needed, and then how would you know, who would tell you what to do?

SYLVIA EVERITT: The foreman.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Tell you where you were going to work.

IDA POLLACK: And you worked on parts of ships.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Parts of the ship.

JENNIFER EGAN: And did it -- would you be working on a job that would take many days, or was every day different? You would just walk in and he would say go here or go there, or would you return to an ongoing job?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, they were usual -- no, they usually were not many days. They were something that could be done in a particular day.

IDA POLLACK: I don't even --

JENNIFER EGAN: Um, and so now, go back to this thing about climbing up the 45:00ladder to get the juice for your torch. How did that exactly work?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, that's on the ship.

IDA POLLACK: That was on the ship.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, that was on the ship.

SYLVIA EVERITT: The ship. That's not in the shop.

JENNIFER EGAN: I see, okay.

SYLVIA EVERITT: In the shop, it's there.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, in the shop, how -- the torch was already juiced?

IDA POLLACK: No, the boxes were not way up.

SYLVIA EVERITT: They were not high. They were at our level.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. So, the foreman says, "You're going to work on this."


JENNIFER EGAN: You walk over. What are you looking at? A huge thing? A small thing?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, they varied.


SYLVIA EVERITT: It depends on what part of the -- well, particularly in the shop, of course, whatever part of the ship you're working on. Some of them were small. They weren't very huge, they were never very big in the shop. You know, they might be this big.

IDA POLLACK: Oh, I don't know, I don't remember.

SYLVIA EVERITT: But I think I worked more in the shop, longer anyway. And you had to -- what you're doing is making a seam. You're seaming these two parts together and making them one. And it has to be very smooth.


IDA POLLACK: And solid.

SYLVIA EVERITT: So that it will --

IDA POLLACK: And solid. No holes.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And very solid. And the foreman would come by and he would say, "Fuck it. It's good enough." [laughter] There were a lot of Irishmen.


JENNIFER EGAN: Really. So, the foremen, a lot of foremen were Irish?

SYLVIA EVERITT: But they were very -- some of them were quite friendly.

JENNIFER EGAN: And the foremen, I assume, were usually men? Always men? Were the foremen --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Always men. Oh, we were much too, uh, young -- you know, we had just come in. They did not appoint women to anything like that. As a matter of fact, I don't know, when you're ready for it, I have to tell you a story.


SYLVIA EVERITT: [laughter] Because it was the one moment where things sort of differed in the shop.

JENNIFER EGAN: Well let's hear it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: We worked separately at all times.

JENNIFER EGAN: You worked separately? Not as a team?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No -- first of all, you're working by yourself.


SYLVIA EVERITT: But rarely were there even men around in the particular place we were working. We might be working where there might be some other women, 47:00generally. Some men were quite hostile, some were not. There was one guy who was recorded as one of the top welders -- I forget his name, but he was quite well respected. And one day, they decided to take a shot at having a man and a woman work together. And I don't know what this part of the ship -- what it's called -- but it's like a round barrel, open on both sides. You following me?

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. Like a cylinder.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And they were going to put, in the center of it, they were going to weld I guess something to strengthen it in the middle. Something going around this inner part, which required --

JENNIFER EGAN: From the inside.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- one welder on one side, one on the other, welding at the very 48:00same time to get this --

IDA POLLACK: A double lock.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- seam, to get this seam very solid.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, one inside the cylinder and one outside the cylinder?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, they're both inside, but either side of this.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, okay. Ah, okay.

SYLVIA EVERITT: So, they decided to use a man and a woman. And I was the woman, and everybody watching.

JENNIFER EGAN: Wow. How many people watching, do you think?

SYLVIA EVERITT: A lot. They were standing around. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. Were you nervous?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't remember being nervous. I was -- to me, welding was not difficult. Didn't you feel that way?

IDA POLLACK: It wasn't.


IDA POLLACK: You got used to doing it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, you just -- you know. But he was right there, and he consented, which was interesting to me because he was such a son of a bitch. So --

JENNIFER EGAN: So, he had been, he had been one of the hostile ones.

SYLVIA EVERITT: He -- yeah! And he was sort of a leading welder. And everybody's watching, you know, and you're climbing in on either side. So, but it was a good 49:00experience because it came out well and they were all admiring the weld afterward. So that, maybe, you know, it was sort of a beginning of working together.

JENNIFER EGAN: How long had you been there? Had you been there long at that point?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, I wasn't very long there altogether. You know, I don't even know how long I was there.

IDA POLLACK: No, when Ben, when your husband died, you left.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Not when he died, no. Way before.


SYLVIA EVERITT: I was with him in the Army.

IDA POLLACK: Oh, I didn't know that.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, I was with him when we got married -- I married a man I met in the Navy Yard.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh. We'll have to talk about that.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Another one of the people that was not of that background, you know?


SYLVIA EVERITT: So, um, but anyway, that's another story. So, um, what were we 50:00talking about?

JENNIFER EGAN: Well just to return for one minute to your anecdote. So, the two of you, you had to -- did you have to match up what you were doing?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Yes. Right opposite each other. In other words --

IDA POLLACK: You had a really --

SYLVIA EVERITT: You had two people doing exactly the same thing.

IDA POLLACK: It was merging both arcs --


IDA POLLACK: -- on either side.

SADY SULLIVAN: At the same time -- so would you -- if these were your torches, were they going sideways?

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was, it's a round, let's say it's like a round barrel.

IDA POLLACK: It was an inner bottom, wasn't it?


IDA POLLACK: Wasn't it called -- no, not the inner bottom.

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, it was round, so I don't know what it was.

IDA POLLACK: The weld mint [phonetic] --

SYLVIA EVERITT: This seam --

DANIELLA ROMANO: How wide? Yeah?

SYLVIA EVERITT: It wasn't a seam, it was a -- something to make it stronger, whatever you would call it, in the center. So, they had this guy coming in this side and me coming in this side, and we sort of faced each other, and we were welding at the same time.


SADY SULLIVAN: On the same, on the same wall like this?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Either side. Either, either side of this --

SADY SULLIVAN: So opposite each other?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, it's going right up the side of this round --

JENNIFER EGAN: And then meeting at the top?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. So, it was quite a morning.

IDA POLLACK: It was usually called twin arc.

JENNIFER EGAN: Now this was someone who had not been nice to you in the past, this gentleman?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Nice? He never talked to any of us. He was a real son of a bitch.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, he didn't say mean things, but he just ignored you?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, yeah, he was like he was above it. [laughter] He thought.

JENNIFER EGAN: Was there any change in his attitude after that experience?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't remember. You know, I don't remember any -- I guess nothing stopping happened. All I remember is there was a lot of hullabaloo about the whole incident.

JENNIFER EGAN: It's very nice that it turned out well. [laughter] Um, so in general --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, we were good welders.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, we were. But we weren't the only good welders.




JENNIFER EGAN: Was there acknowledgment of your abilities by the foreman?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh yes, of course.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, what would they --

SYLVIA EVERITT: They would say, "That's good," or "That's fine." Or he'd try to be funny. Some of the foreman were very nice. He'd just look at it and he'd say, "Oh, fuck it, it's good enough."


SYLVIA EVERITT: But he meant it was good. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: Um, okay. Uh, so let's see. Talk a little bit about the structure of the day. Was it -- you had a lunch break?


JENNIFER EGAN: So, did you -- was there sort of a morning period of work, lunch, and then another long period?


JENNIFER EGAN: Talk a little bit about the rhythm of the day as you remember it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, I remember bringing lunch. We would -- did you?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, but sometimes we went out on Sands Street.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, but mainly -- for me, I recall mainly -- well, she was in there much longer than I, so she may have had a longer experience.


IDA POLLACK: We brought lunch. We used to go off to the side. There were sections that you could go into -- where, by the way, there were rats that also inhabited --

SYLVIA EVERITT: What are we talking about? The shop?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh yeah. But -- and I remember, in the shop, just going to one end that was fairly empty and we sat on the floor. We had brought our lunch and we ate together.

IDA POLLACK: And we sat on, by the way, we had mats. You couldn't lean on the steel, it was too hard. So, you had, you were issued like pillows, mats, but they were made of asbestos. At that time, I don't think anybody was aware that asbestos -- but interestingly enough, recently, my doctor had asked me, was I ever exposed to asbestos, because he said there is evidence of it along the lining of the lung. So that's probably why. But that's what we used, asbestos 54:00pads which we also went to the supply room to pick up, by the way. And we sat on those.

JENNIFER EGAN: And the purpose of those was to give you a place to sit to eat your lunch?

IDA POLLACK: There was no lunchroom. Was there?

SYLVIA EVERITT: There was no -- no! No, we sat on -- I'm telling you, we sat on the floor --

IDA POLLACK: There was no lunchroom.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- and brought our lunch.

JENNIFER EGAN: And did you eat together sometimes, or were you not?


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, we --

SYLVIA EVERITT: There was a group of us.

IDA POLLACK: There were a group of us.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Of friends of us, you know, friends that got together.

IDA POLLACK: Including some guys from the union.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, Sam came. That's the guy I married. And so, did your wife.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. We had become friends and we would do a lot of that together.

JENNIFER EGAN: Now, Lucy was not, presumably -- was she in the same building?


IDA POLLACK: Yeah. Yes, she was.

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, but I mean, she wasn't doing the same work is what I meant.

JENNIFER EGAN: But she was also in that --



SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

JENNIFER EGAN: Bay One, okay. And how had you met her?

SYLVIA EVERITT: So was Sam, I think.

IDA POLLACK: How had we met her? Through the union, maybe?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Probably union.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, talk -- this is a good moment. Talk about, about the life of the union in the Yard and the attitudes toward it, and what that part of your yard experience was like.

IDA POLLACK: There as one guy --

SYLVIA EVERITT: There was what?

IDA POLLACK: Do you remember a Kenneth? I don't remember --

SYLVIA EVERITT: I remember, we had good relationships because the people around us were all in the same boat, and they wanted to rectify this crazy --

IDA POLLACK: This difference between --

SYLVIA EVERITT: The difference between what they were paying us, and they were paying the men, so that we had quite a, quite a strong tie between us.


SYLVIA EVERITT: And we had, there were union meetings that we all went to.

JENNIFER EGAN: When and where were those meetings?

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was nearby, but I couldn't tell you where.


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, it was nearby, but --




SYLVIA EVERITT: I think I have a picture in one of the -- I have several pictures here I wanted to show you.


DANIELLA ROMANO: When you -- can I just ask a couple questions, again about Sands Street? When you would go to lunch, do you remember the names of any of the businesses where you would eat?

IDA POLLACK: No. There were some delis and there were some uniform shops. And I guess there were photography shops.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Photography shops?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, they took pictures of --

JENNIFER EGAN: Were the union meetings on Sands Street?

IDA POLLACK: I think so.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was right in that area. I don't know exactly what building.

JENNIFER EGAN: And so, who would be at the meetings? Was it all women?


SYLVIA EVERITT: No, lots, some -- well, that's where I met the man I married.

JENNIFER EGAN: You met him at one of these union meetings?


JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, wow. Now, why was he there?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Because he believed in this -- first of all, he believed in the union and what it could do for the workers. And he believed that women should be 57:00treated more equitably.

JENNIFER EGAN: And what part of the Yard was he working in?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, he was nearby, but I don't know just where he was.

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you know what his -- what work was he doing?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't remember exactly what he was doing, but he was working on the ships.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, it would --



SYLVIA EVERITT: The picture here with Lucy, guys. [laughter]

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, they may have it.

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you want to pass it, or?

SYLVIA EVERITT: It's a union meeting. You remember her. What the hell was her name? She was our neighbor in the Bronx.

IDA POLLACK: I don't remember the name.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, this is me. This is your mother.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Peewee isn't in on this meeting.

IDA POLLACK: No, I'm not in that one.

SYLVIA EVERITT: But we were all sitting and talking. It was just a union meeting, taking an active part in the drive for members of the Brooklyn Navy Yard of Industrial Union Local 22. That's what it was.


IDA POLLACK: Local 22.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was the group above, shown at a recent meeting in the Division's Headquarters, 102 Hudson Avenue, Brooklyn. Wherever that was.

IDA POLLACK: Wherever that was.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Sister Lucy, Lucille Gerwitz?




SYLVIA EVERITT: That's your mother, right?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Is serving on the grievance committee, which has been meeting regularly and successful with Navy Yard officials. Sister Edith Towsner [phonetic] --


SYLVIA EVERITT: -- recording secretary of the Local 22 Navy Division is lauded by National Organizer Roy Granella [phonetic] for the swell job she is doing.

JUDY KAPLAN: They called them "sister." What newspaper was this? That wasn't the New York Times.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was a clipping found by Edith Towsner [phonetic]. She found it. I don't know where --

IDA POLLACK: Edith Towsner [phonetic].

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, that's her. That's Edith Towsner [phonetic]. Where is she? Here.

IDA POLLACK: That's right.

JUDY KAPLAN: She was right nearby dad.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. That's a great picture.


JUDY KAPLAN: It says, "Xeroxed by Al Kolkin."


SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, Xeroxed, yeah. But the picture, she did.

IDA POLLACK: This was the Brooklyn, the day --

SYLVIA EVERITT: This is the day we were --

IDA POLLACK: From the Brooklyn Historical Society.

DANIELLA ROMANO: That's from the Eagle.

IDA POLLACK: They had that get-together.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Which get-together?



IDA POLLACK: Yes, it is.

DANIELLA ROMANO: This is from the Eagle.

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, but darling, this is the shop.

IDA POLLACK: This is a shop?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh yeah. This is the first day we went in. This is -- it was followed all day. See, they're examining us. The first group of women that went in. Hmm? What?

IDA POLLACK: What does it say down here?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Terminology.

IDA POLLACK: No, no, no, the whole thing.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Where, where? "First lesson. Thomas Brodran [phonetic] teaches trade terminology." This --


SYLVIA EVERITT: They're all there, the first day that we came in. And here they're examining us before we went in. They took a group of us and followed us 60:00through the day of being accepted into the -- this is the same one.


SYLVIA EVERITT: And, um, I don't know why this, that same picture is here over and over. "Lieutenant Maynard Colin [phonetic] background examines the teeth of Miss Sylvia Honigman."


IDA POLLACK: That's right.

SYLVIA EVERITT: "Checking the height of Mrs. Audrey Tyrell [phonetic] in the foreground, and seen, Margaret Adaletta [phonetic], nurse in charge, checks the blood pressure."

SADY SULLIVAN: Was that typical of, of employment? To have a physical checkup like that?SYLVIA EVERITT: Apparently. Apparently, because they followed us through the day. They took a group to follow to show what, how it's done, I guess. And pictures were taken, and since it was such a revolutionary thing for women to be hired, these pictures and these stories were in all the newspapers. 61:00And my brother, thank his soul, cut them all out. That's how I have them.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh! Talk a little more about other, the general political climate at the Yard. Did people talk about the War? Were there differing opinions on the War?


JENNIFER EGAN: What else do you remember?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't remember of any differing opinions.

IDA POLLACK: I don't remember either. Except that everybody had to know that it was a war against Hitler.

JENNIFER EGAN: And what about the union? Were there some people who were angry that you were in the union? Did they know you were in the union?

IDA POLLACK: Well, they must have. Because they eventually changed the rate of pay. They knew that the union was fighting for us.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, and the, uh, my experience was that the, like the -- what was her name, that lovely black woman. I forget her name. She worked with me in 62:00that particular shop.

JENNIFER EGAN: It wasn't Alberta Day, was it?

SYLVIA EVERITT: She was a --

IDA POLLACK: Delegate?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No. No, she was just a member and she was very proud of the fact that she was in on this fight in the union. Most of the workers were if you talked to them about, because they were --

JENNIFER EGAN: They were involved?

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- because they were up in arms at the, what we were being paid.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Do you remember her name? The African American woman? It wasn't Alberta?

SYLVIA EVERITT: It would come to me if I saw it again --


SYLVIA EVERITT: -- but I can't think of it now.


SYLVIA EVERITT: But I was very friendly with her.

JENNIFER EGAN: What was the racial mix of women in your shop? Were there many black women there?

IDA POLLACK: There were black women.

SYLVIA EVERITT: There were a good number. I don't know how many, but there were a good number.

JENNIFER EGAN: And was the feeling among you -- what was it like? Was it comfortable?

IDA POLLACK: It was comfortable.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, this one woman that worked near me, we became very friendly. She was a lovely woman.

JENNIFER EGAN: There's an anecdote in Lucy's letters to Alfred talking about how 63:00-- I think there was a woman named Minnie.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, she wasn't in our shop --

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, right, right.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- so it's a little different.

JENNIFER EGAN: But she talked about how this woman felt that she was being discriminated against additionally --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, it was very possible.

JENNIFER EGAN: -- beyond being a woman and was thinking about quitting.



JENNIFER EGAN: And Lucy and her friends talked her out of quitting, and she stuck with it. I think her name was Minnie, and she ended up staying. So --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, I guess we -- you know, we were sort of a group stuck together, and we had a different attitude toward black people, so any --

IDA POLLACK: We were radicals. [laughter]

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- as far as I remember, any that were near us, we were very friendly with. As a matter of fact, I became very friendly with one of them and visited her several times in Harlem. She lived in Harlem. But I don't remember her name.

ALFRED KOLKIN: Lucy belonged to a union before she came to the Navy, Navy Yard.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Who was that?


ALFRED KOLKIN: And she worked, she worked in the Social Service Department --


JUDY KAPLAN: -- Department of Welfare.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, Lucy, you're talking about.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Is she talking about Lucy?



ALFRED KOLKIN: -- of the City Workers.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. Yeah, I remember. That's true.

ALFRED KOLKIN: So, she was very familiar --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, absolutely.

ALFRED KOLKIN: -- with union procedures and committees, stuff like that.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I'm sure, I'm sure.


PENNY LATHARS: Did women have leadership roles in the union? The union that you went to, to get help, did you ever --

IDA POLLACK: I don't think so, we dealt only with men.

SYLVIA EVERITT: What was that, what was the question?


IDA POLLACK: Were there women in the leadership of that union?


IDA POLLACK: I don't remember women.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I think so. I think in some, in some capacity. Because that's what these pictures show, we're sitting a union meeting, that there are some 65:00women. I don't know how much or in what position.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well it looks like -- I mean it says in that one photo caption, that Lucy met regularly with Navy Yard officials.



JUDY KAPLAN: It says she was on a Grievance Committee.

PENNY LATHARS: A delegate.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. Ahem. Yeah.

JENNIFER EGAN: There's a lot in her letters about the union.


JENNIFER EGAN: It was clearly --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, she was, she was involved.


SYLVIA EVERITT: She was very involved in that.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, you talked about this sort of gang of friends that you had that had lunch together --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- and did things together. Can you talk a little bit more about the social life at the Yard? Were you friends who mostly -- now you two already knew each other, but did you --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Were there new friends, are you saying?

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah. And what did, and what kinds of things did you do in and out of the Yard to have fun together?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Not much with -- you mean --

IDA POLLACK: It was a long day.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Did we have much of a social life with some of the women in the Yard?

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah. Like after work, or --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, as I said, I got to know a couple of the women with whom I 66:00worked close, where I was close to. The one I remember is this one black woman. We became very good friends because I went to visit her in Harlem several times, and we went out and did things together. So, I'm saying there was -- there must have been more of that.


IDA POLLACK: Penny, there's ice.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Kleenex or something.

PENNY LATHARS: Do you want water or soda?


IDA POLLACK: I don't remember.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I just happen to have this. I think it started because I was in this little shop that was near the place where they sold things, as I told you.


SYLVIA EVERITT: I wish I could remember her name. It would come to me.

JENNIFER EGAN: And she worked in the little shop with you?

SYLVIA EVERITT: For a while, yes. When I was in that particular shop working on small things. And that's how we became very friendly. She came to, well, I did 67:00various things with her. You know, movies, other things. Went to visit her home, her family.

[Interview interrupted.]

SYLVIA EVERITT: She was a lovely young woman.

PENNY LATHARS: I'll get it, I'll get it.

IDA POLLACK: That phone --

DANIELLA ROMANO: Would you go to the theater together?

SYLVIA EVERITT: And she came --

SYLVIA EVERITT: For my [inaudible] when my husband was called in. He was killed in action --

DANIELLA ROMANO: To see plays or anything.

IDA POLLACK: I remember some affair, but I don't --

SYLVIA EVERITT: She came to see me the same night.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, we were very good friends.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, you stayed friends.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And I can't remember -- no, but somewhere along the line, because I was away, I was out of town with my husband for a year.

JENNIFER EGAN: After the Navy Yard?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, before he was sent overseas. Yeah, after the Navy Yard.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. Um, Ida, do you remember --

SYLVIA EVERITT: I need something to blow my nose.

JENNIFER EGAN: -- some of the people that you worked closely with?

IDA POLLACK: I remember--

SYLVIA EVERITT: Ah, thank you.

IDA POLLACK: -- vaguely there. I don't remember that I got close to anybody where we socialized. Because I -- it was a long day, and then I had to go home 68:00and that was a long trip on the -- so I just came home.

JENNIFER EGAN: How did you actually get to and from work?


IDA POLLACK: Subways. Where did we get the subway? That was on Allerton Avenue, I got it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, I got it at Burke. You know, same one.

IDA POLLACK: Oh, at Burke. We took the -- what was it called? I don't remember.

SYLVIA EVERITT: At that time, we used to -- they didn't have names like they have now. We took the Lexington Avenue.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, right. From the Bronx to the last stop.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Way up in the Bronx.

IDA POLLACK: To the last stop in Brooklyn.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, but first, at one point we had to change and get another train, I recall.

IDA POLLACK: Oh, I don't remember that.

JENNIFER EGAN: And how long a commute was that? Do you remember?


IDA POLLACK: I thought it was straight.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was what?

IDA POLLACK: I thought it went straight.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, I remember changing. Maybe it's because I came from a different place. Whatever. But it took a long time. An hour and a half?


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, at least.


JENNIFER EGAN: So, when you were working shifts that allowed you to, did you ever go out with friends after work? Was there that kind of thing going on?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, we were very tried, I'll tell you. [laughter] We worked ten hours a day.


SYLVIA EVERITT: But the one shift that was just a straight --

IDA POLLACK: It was Saturday.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- day shift, you're through early evening. Remember? I forget what time. We would stop somewhere, in between -- short of where everybody would separate to go home, like 149th Street, I remember. We'd go to, uh, a restaurant or something and eat together.

JENNIFER EGAN: In the Bronx?


IDA POLLACK: In the Bronx.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And then each went their own way. Because you were very tried. You had to get home and get to sleep.

JENNIFER EGAN: But in terms of, like, hanging around on Sands Street --



SYLVIA EVERITT: None of that ever.


JENNIFER EGAN: But you mentioned that sometimes at lunch, Ida, you would go there. To Sand Street?


IDA POLLACK: Well, a lot of us did. One of the pictures were taken on Sands Street. We must have gotten somebody to take a picture of us.


JENNIFER EGAN: In one of the photo --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, we went out --

IDA POLLACK: No, one of the --


IDA POLLACK: One of the welders.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was a nice spring day, you know, and as I recall, and somebody had a camera and took some pictures. That's how that --

IDA POLLACK: There's one picture of me and Joan O'Neil. You remember Joan O'Neil?


IDA POLLACK: Well, she worked with me for a while, and we went to one of the photography shops on Sands Street, and that was a professional picture.

JENNIFER EGAN: Is that where one of you is sitting and one's kind of leaning. I think, I think I -- was it in one of the books that you --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, yeah.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, I saw that one. It did look professional.

IDA POLLACK: It was a professional.

JENNIFER EGAN: Um, so, so people would go have lunch, maybe get a picture taken.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. And I don't know what the other people did. Some of them -- many people ate in the Navy Yard. Didn't go out.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well I, I, I don't think I ever went out to lunch. If I did, it 71:00must have been once. I always brought lunch.

JENNIFER EGAN: What about movement around the Yard? I've heard different reports from different women who worked there. Some say they really barely left their little area, and Alfred, you mentioned to me that Lucy moved around quite a bit and actually brought blueprints to you in your building once. So, talk about how much movement and exposure you had, both of you, to different parts of the Yard.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, I could answer you very quickly.


SYLVIA EVERITT: I had almost none. I stayed -- because I always worked in that same area, whereas Ida went on to the ship and so forth. She was there longer than I.

IDA POLLACK: I didn't -- we didn't wander far. There were areas of the shipyard I never saw.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. Like the hospital.


SYLVIA EVERITT: I didn't really wander around the Yard.

IDA POLLACK: And it was uncomfortable if you were alone because guys would make catcalls, like, you know?

SYLVIA EVERITT: And the ship -- and the shop itself was very large. It's not as 72:00if you're talking about something small. It's a small -- it's a large area it's on.

IDA POLLACK: They had huge cranes in the shops, yeah, that brought parts of ships and -- that had to be welded and take back.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, cranes actually brought things in?

IDA POLLACK: The noise was -- Penny was mentioning, the noise was deafening.

JENNIFER EGAN: Talk about that. Just talk about sort of the environment you were in. If we just walked in today, what would we see, what would we hear, what would we smell, what would we feel?

IDA POLLACK: You'd hear chipping. You'd see welding lights, welding flash. You'd hear a lot of banging. [laughter] And you'd see people. Sometimes you wouldn't see people because they were small compared to the thing that they were working on.

[Interview interrupted.]


IDA POLLACK: What was the other call? Did she say?


IDA POLLACK: That phone was put in by my son-in-law to accommodate my deafness. It scares the hell out of me. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. So, there was a feeling, there was a kind of --

IDA POLLACK: Business.

JENNIFER EGAN: Mm-hmm. And what was making all -- you say it was very loud. What was so loud?

IDA POLLACK: The chippers. Mostly the chippers.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I wasn't out in that so much.

IDA POLLACK: Oh. The chippers --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Because I was in the shop.

IDA POLLACK: There was a --

SADY SULLIVAN: What's a chipper?

IDA POLLACK: A chipper was somebody who had a -- what they called a gun. A steel that you put a chisel in. Also worked by power so that when you got it into working, it cut steel. And you had to read lips sometimes if you were too close to it, because the noise was incredible, see. There was no flashing, nothing to 74:00hurt your eyes. But the noise -- I'm sure a lot of people -- maybe I got deaf because of it, I don't know.

SADY SULLIVAN: So, there was no -- you didn't wear ear plugs or headphones?

IDA POLLACK: You could wear ear plugs but I didn't. Yeah. I guess some people did.

JENNIFER EGAN: Did you work with chippers?

IDA POLLACK: Close by.

JENNIFER EGAN: How did your work interact? How did it connect?

IDA POLLACK: Well, a chipper would cut -- probably using a blueprint -- a chipper would cut metal where it had to, where he had to. Somebody like Lucy, who was a ship fitter, probably read a blueprint and decided where it had to be cut. And then, they were called spot welders, who just kept the pieces together with a tiny bit of spot welding until the welders welded the whole thing.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, yeah, something we wanted to weld had been spotted by someone else.

JENNIFER EGAN: Spot welders.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Spotted by someone else.


JENNIFER EGAN: Did you do spot welding?


SYLVIA EVERITT: No. We did the straight welding.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. So, the chipping was the loudest part of what was going on?

IDA POLLACK: I think so.

JENNIFER EGAN: And what would you see? You say sometimes you wouldn't see people. What about the cranes? What were they doing?

IDA POLLACK: Oh, wow, the cranes -- that's why they kept the doors open. So, the cranes could come in with material and take out what was, what had to be taken out.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So, these were cranes on tracks on the ground, not gantry cranes overhead?

IDA POLLACK: Oh, they were very high, but they were on tracks.

DANIELLA ROMANO: They were based on the ground?

IDA POLLACK: Maybe not. I don't know. Maybe not. I never paid attention.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I'm trying to imagine if they're the big -- like the big cranes 76:00that you see next to the dry docks now going into buildings, or if they were overhead cranes.

IDA POLLACK: No, they were in the building. They came from outside, into the building and out. One -- maybe one door and out the other, but the wind came with them. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: And did they close the doors when the cranes were not coming?


JENNIFER EGAN: So, the doors were always open.

IDA POLLACK: Always open.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, what were the temperatures like in the building?

IDA POLLACK: Oh, gosh, they were cold and hot. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: And did you wear all that leather and heavy stuff even in the summer.

IDA POLLACK: If you were -- yes. If you were working on a job where you could get flack, where you could get pieces of metal or flame hitting you, you had to wear it.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, you must have been pretty hot in the summer.


JENNIFER EGAN: In all that leather.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Even in the shop, it was -- it got very hot --

IDA POLLACK: Very hot.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- in the summer.

IDA POLLACK: It was --

SYLVIA EVERITT: It also got very cold.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. There was one particular job.

SYLVIA EVERITT: There was one day when we couldn't weld because it was so cold. 77:00It was below ten degrees. You couldn't strike an arc. You couldn't get it going.

IDA POLLACK: Oh, I don't remember that.


SYLVIA EVERITT: It was very cold.

IDA POLLACK: There was one job that was called -- it was also a round, very big, and the rudder, the rudder shaft, the rudder of the ship fit into it, so it had to be welded because it was put together in parts. And you had to get inside it, and in the summertime, which was when they did a lot of that kind of welding because they couldn't afford to have it crack from cold. You couldn't stay down there more than about a half hour. You had to come up and cool off, see, before you went back in.

JENNIFER EGAN: Were you on the ship doing this?

IDA POLLACK: No. In the shop.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay. Did you know what ships --


SYLVIA EVERITT: It was terribly hot in the summer, too.

IDA POLLACK: Oh, it was terrible.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Terrible. The summer was terrible.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, was summer worse or winter?


IDA POLLACK: They were both.



JENNIFER EGAN: When you were working on something, did you know what ship it would ultimately be part of?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, we were all working on the --

IDA POLLACK: Missouri.



SYLVIA EVERITT: It was the Missouri.

JENNIFER EGAN: And you knew that?


IDA POLLACK: And the Franklin Roosevelt Aircraft Carrier.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, that was later, yeah. And the Missouri was the big one which they signed the peace, you know.

JENNIFER EGAN: But Ida, you were there long enough that you must have worked on some other ships as well.

IDA POLLACK: Well, there was the Franklin Roosevelt. I can't remember any other.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Is your toilet over there?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Is the toilet right over there.

IDA POLLACK: Yes, yeah.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I've got to go. Excuse me.

IDA POLLACK: All right. Let me get out of your way.



IDA POLLACK: What time is it?

JENNIFER EGAN: A little after -- it's about 12:15.

IDA POLLACK: Okay. I hope you're hungry because I ordered pizza.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, you're so sweet.

DANIELLA ROMANO: That was so sweet.


PENNY LATHARS: Jenny, could you -- did they need security, you can ask them about security clearances and stuff, or [inaudible]?

JENNIFER EGAN: No. Let's hear about that.

IDA POLLACK: About security.

JENNIFER EGAN: Security clearances?

IDA POLLACK: Well, I had to sign a Loyalty Oath to get the job.

JENNIFER EGAN: Good question.

IDA POLLACK: I think we all did, yeah. And I thought maybe I wouldn't get the job. [laughter] Because of that.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Because of your --


DANIELLA ROMANO: Because of your communist --

IDA POLLACK: Because we were radical, most -- at least I was, I know.

SADY SULLIVAN:I wanted -- I had actually had a question about that when you said, earlier, when you mentioned that you had the idea to unionize the card shop, I wondered. Where did you have that idea? What had --


IDA POLLACK: My background.

SADY SULLIVAN: And where did your background come from? I mean, how --

IDA POLLACK: From my house. My family.

SADY SULLIVAN: Your mom and dad?


SADY SULLIVAN: Your parents?

IDA POLLACK: My father. My parents didn't -- my mother didn't have much to say, and my father was the one. And he --

JENNIFER EGAN: Your dad worked in a factory, so was he -- was that factory unionized?



IDA POLLACK: Most of the time. At that time, they were beginning to unionize a lot of places, and it was very dangerous for a union organizer to be seen on the street. And they were -- the workers were usually cautioned, "If you recognize them, don't make like you know them." Because some of them were killed, some of them were put in jail. You know? And my -- we had a -- our family had a friend 81:00family, and I was friends with the little girl, she was like my age. And her father -- I forget what kind of a factory he worked in -- but he got into his car. He had a car. He got into his car one morning, turned the ignition on, and it blew up.


IDA POLLACK: So, he was killed.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Do they know who killed him?


DANIELLA ROMANO: Do they know who killed him? Did they find out?

IDA POLLACK: No. Most of the police were with those who didn't want the union.

SADY SULLIVAN: And where was your father from?

IDA POLLACK: Poland. My mother was from the Ukraine, I think. I'm not sure.

SADY SULLIVAN: And so, did your father get the idea, his unionizing and that kind of radical movement, was that from Poland?

IDA POLLACK: No. That was from here. Yeah, because his brothers and sisters were never as radical as he was. And he had his father come to the United States, a 82:00very elderly man, and I felt -- I was a little kid at the time -- and I felt that he was abusing his father verbally all the time. Because his father prayed all day, and my father was a heathen. [laughter] So he would ridicule him, and he would offend him, and it must have been bad because I was aware of it, and I was pretty little. I was about ten or less.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, you were worried that somehow they would, they would --

IDA POLLACK: I felt --

JENNIFER EGAN: -- they would question your loyalty?

IDA POLLACK: I felt they would, yeah.

JENNIFER EGAN: Another sort of general area I'm curious to hear about, but I don't want to cut off this union conversation, is just the issue of safety. You mentioned that you had a, a burn.



JENNIFER EGAN: Do you -- how exactly did that happen?

IDA POLLACK: Well, when you welded, you had a rod. A coated rod that underneath -- it was coated over metal, and that was the metal that you fused with what you were welding, with the metal you were welding. But you got down to the end of it, and so you released your torch, you could squeeze it together and drop it in a bucket. But it dropped down my shoe.

JENNIFER EGAN: So that was the bucket you would pick up at the supply shop?


JENNIFER EGAN: It had your rods in it, and then you would put those little stray pieces in there?

IDA POLLACK: Right, right.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, what did you do? It hit your shoe and what happened?

IDA POLLACK: I had to get the shoe off. [laughter] And it wasn't easy. It wasn't fast because it was laced. You had to unlace it. And I don't remember anything about the -- whether they had a sick bay or whether they -- I just don't have a memory of that. But somebody must have taken care of it.


JENNIFER EGAN: What was the wound like?

IDA POLLACK: Well, it almost went down to the bone.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, you had a, like a hole in your foot?


JENNIFER EGAN: Did you have to pull the metal out?

IDA POLLACK: I don't remember --

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you still have a scar?

IDA POLLACK: I think when I took the shoe off, probably the metal came out.

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you still have a scar from that?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. Yeah.

JENNIFER EGAN: Wow. So somehow -- you must have been taken to some kind of infirmary.

IDA POLLACK: I must have been, right. But I don't recall.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Could you walk? Were you, were you out of work for a while?

IDA POLLACK: I don't remember.


IDA POLLACK: I really don't remember.

JENNIFER EGAN: And you mentioned, you mentioned to Daniela that someone fell off a --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. Somebody fell down, um, one of the dry docks.


IDA POLLACK: A woman. Because when they, when the siren, the lunch siren went off, everybody ran down the gangplank, whatever it was, the women and the men. 85:00And she got pushed probably -- not intentionally, of course -- and she fell way down to the bottom and she was killed.

JENNIFER EGAN: Wow. Were you there?


JENNIFER EGAN: Wow, so she was just rushing for her lunch break down the gangplank.



IDA POLLACK: And that was really the only very bad accident that I recall.

JENNIFER EGAN: You mentioned, too, that these flames that you couldn't look at that people did look at.


JENNIFER EGAN: Did you -- were people, did people have eye problems, or did you have any eye problems from that?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, yeah, we did. When you got a flash -- they called it a flash -- you were advised to put potatoes, raw potato slices on your eyes to draw out whatever.

SADY SULLIVAN: With your eyes open or closed with the potatoes?

IDA POLLACK: No, they were open, but they hurt. They felt like they had sand in them. They hurt all the time until, I guess, they healed. It was a burn. It was 86:00an ultraviolet kind of burn.

JENNIFER EGAN: Did they give you potatoes to put on at work, or did you have to do that at home?

IDA POLLACK: No. You did that at home. They advised that.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, if you got a flash, would you continue working?

IDA POLLACK: I think so. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: And then at home --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I think so.

JENNIFER EGAN: Wow. Any other hazards? You mentioned there were flying sparks, things like that.

IDA POLLACK: Well, there was always the possibility of something, some steel falling down or something you were working on falling over. There were lots of things that you had, you should be careful of. You had -- that's why you wore steel-capped shoes, so that if anything fell, it wouldn't take your toes off.


SADY SULLIVAN: I had a question about those. Did they make steel-capped shoes for women or did you have to buy men's?

IDA POLLACK: No, we bought men's shoes. Yeah.

JUDY KAPLAN: Men with little feet.



IDA POLLACK: No! Some of the women had big feet. [laughter] See, I don't think Lucy had to wear leather because she was never exposed to --

JENNIFER EGAN: It seems in those pictures that her outfit was different from yours and Sylvia's. Talk a little bit more about your time on the ship. So, at a certain point, you went on the ship. Did you continue working on ships after that, or was that just a one-time thing?

IDA POLLACK: No, we continued on the ship.

JENNIFER EGAN: So how was that work different from the work you had been doing before?

IDA POLLACK: Well, everything was in place on the ship, so you had to, you had to weld where it was. And sometimes it was a very tight squeeze to get to where you had to put the weld in, and you wanted to do it well. I mean, welding can -- if it's not done well -- can be lumpy. And there are spaces between the lumps, 88:00so you wanted to avoid that. And that was what was checked, by the way, a lot. So, like I said, the guys who drew up the blueprints didn't do the welding, so maybe they didn't realize what tiny spaces they had for us. Now, if you were a big guy, you were in real trouble because if you worked in the inner bottoms, which everybody mostly had to --

JENNIFER EGAN: Work in the inner -- ?IDA POLLACK: They're called inner bottoms. They're the very bottom of the ship, which are sectioned off, right, about eighteen inches by maybe twelve inches, and they served as safety for the ship if it took in water because it didn't flood the whole bottom of the ship at once.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Like a honeycomb, then?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, like a honeycomb. So, they had -- the steel had to be welded 89:00in place, which means then one big guy couldn't fit in an eighteen inch. His feet were in one, his back end was in another, and his hands were in another sometimes. And even with us, with somebody like me who was small, I couldn't fit into one completely.

JENNIFER EGAN: Were some jobs more appropriate for you to do, though, than a man, in a tight space? Was that an advantage for you at all?

IDA POLLACK: Probably, but I don't think anybody gave that any importance. Yeah.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, there as something -- another story you told that I missed when we were walking around, about getting welded into a space?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, you could get welded into what you were working on if it was a box, like. Because you get lost, you know, you just see your arc and you just, you know, pull the steel along. And you don't pay too close attention and you 90:00get locked in.

JENNIFER EGAN: And did that happen more than once?


JENNIFER EGAN: And were you alone when that happened?

IDA POLLACK: No, there were a couple of -- that's maybe why it was all closed up. There was a big thing and we all welded and then we found out we had no way out.


SYLVIA EVERITT: That's a good one.

JENNIFER EGAN: Did you -- what did you do?

IDA POLLACK: Well, we made a lot of noise.


DANIELLA ROMANO: Is that when the burners --

IDA POLLACK: And they had to burn --

DANIELLA ROMANO: A burner came, then.


JENNIFER EGAN: Were you laughing, or were you upset?

IDA POLLACK: No. Maybe we were a little upset.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Probably a little upset. You'd have to be.


JENNIFER EGAN: Because it was a mistake.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. We did do a lot of laughing, though.


IDA POLLACK: Some of the men were very funny, and they told jokes, and they cursed. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: So, there was a, there was an atmosphere of laughter --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- in the workplace?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, there was.

SADY SULLIVAN: Do you feel like you learned things working so closely with men 91:00that women working other jobs not as close as men were not learning?

IDA POLLACK: Probably, you know.



SADY SULLIVAN: What kind of stuff?

IDA POLLACK: What kind of stuff? Well, they were not -- they didn't use that word then, but they didn't always appear the macho kind of personalities.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Some were more even, yeah.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. And after a while, they -- most of them accepted us.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, there was a change in the way you were treated?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, when they realized that we could weld, and that we weren't any particular problem -- and there were rules, I'm sure. Like there was security in the Navy Yard. There were people who saw with, that nothing amiss 92:00took place. They even had security people up in the locker rooms sometimes, and in the -- that's how they found the people sleeping behind the closed doors. [laughter]

SYLVIA EVERITT: That caused quite a hubbub.

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you remember that?


JENNIFER EGAN: So, these were people who should have been at work?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, you know, it's tough.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Actually, there should be some place where people can take a little --



IDA POLLACK: Did we have any such times?


IDA POLLACK: No. There was no break time.

JENNIFER EGAN: No coffee breaks?



JENNIFER EGAN: Just a lunch break.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I've heard some funny stories about, you know -- on the Missouri, actually, I heard one story about a guy who just seemed to always be carrying a hammer but never actually doing any work.


DANIELLA ROMANO: Did you, did you, would you see -- I mean, do you feel like everybody worked as hard as they possibly could, or were there some personalities?


IDA POLLACK: Well, we were aware --

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was hard to do that, too.

DANIELLA ROMANO: To get away with it?

IDA POLLACK: But we were aware that the reason that they checked the welds was because they weren't always solid, so they must have been aware that there were some people who didn't do what they were supposed --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, because that was dangerous. You know, it could come apart.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, sure, it could come apart, in mid-ocean, too.

SADY SULLIVAN: Did you compare seems with each other, like was there some, like pride in --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, sometimes -- but you took a lot of pride in a nice seam.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I'm just going to say, a well-done seam looks beautiful.


SYLVIA EVERITT: It just goes like that, you know, the lines go very smoothly. And it's a difference when somebody is really not doing very well. It doesn't look the same.

IDA POLLACK: Well, and you get lumps here and there, it doesn't look -- and it isn't good, see.

JENNIFER EGAN: And so, was there -- were you aware of which welders were better and which ones were not so good?

IDA POLLACK: I wasn't. [laughter]

SYLVIA EVERITT: I think most of them were quite good.


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I think so. We got praised when we --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yes, there were, yes. Some of the foreman were really very nice men.

JENNIFER EGAN: And what about promotions? You mentioned you both began at this lower level. How high did you get?

IDA POLLACK: I don't -- we got to first class welders, but I don't remember how long in between and based on what.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was based on their -- what they saw, I think.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I guess so.

SYLVIA EVERITT: The foreman or whatever they were that were walking around. They knew who was doing better than others.

JENNIFER EGAN: And Sylvia, even you in your shorter time there made it to first class? That's great. Um, do you remember any, any sort of yard-wide -- oh, should I -- do you want to --

IDA POLLACK: Do you want to --

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you want to get by?


JUDY KAPLAN: He just likes to stand.

SYLVIA EVERITT: He's just standing up.

JENNIFER EGAN: Was there times when the whole Yard was experiencing something together? For example, do you recall any ship launching or other unusual events 95:00that were outside the course of daily life?

IDA POLLACK: There must have been.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Not when I was there.

IDA POLLACK: I know of a ship launch. I don't know whether I was a spectator or whether I heard about it, but it was the Missouri.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, the Missouri, that was a very big deal.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, that was a big deal.

JENNIFER EGAN: But you don't actually recall seeing that?

IDA POLLACK: I think I saw it when I think back. And it was Truman?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Margaret Truman.

IDA POLLACK: Margaret Truman.


SYLVIA EVERITT: It would have been Truman, yeah.

IDA POLLACK: Who hit the ship with her champagne bottle, yeah.

PENNY LATHARS: Did everybody come out to see that?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, there were a lot of people. So, I must have been there.

JENNIFER EGAN: And was that -- were you still there at that point, Sylvia, or had you --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- or had you left? Okay. Jump in.

PENNY LATHARS: And if you heard news about anything that was taking place in the War, was there a reaction in the yards --


PENNY LATHARS: -- to news of what happened there?

IDA POLLACK: I guess so. I'm not too sure how aware I was, except that I always 96:00read the newspaper, so I knew.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. There would be individual reaction, you know, people talking. Maybe from the newspaper, I don't know, you know, talking about what happened.

IDA POLLACK: But I got a telephone call at the end of the War from Jackie.


IDA POLLACK: From Marvin, from Marvin.



SYLVIA EVERITT: At the end of the War.

IDA POLLACK: On the ship.

JENNIFER EGAN: Your husband?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, my husband. When the armistice was declared, he called from Italy. And they gave me the call.

JUDY KAPLAN: On your cellphone?


JENNIFER EGAN: Did you know yet about the armistice or did he, was he the first, did he deliver --

IDA POLLACK: He probably was the first. Or maybe it was already in the news. It must have been in the news.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, it was all over.

JENNIFER EGAN: But you don't recall a kind of swell of reaction in the Yard to some of this stuff?

IDA POLLACK: No. Maybe there was, but I don't --

SYLVIA EVERITT: There must -- I imagine there would have been.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, me too.


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I don't remember.

JENNIFER EGAN: Um, what about -- I guess I'm just wondering, this is a little 97:00bit of a topic change, but what about gossip? Did people talk about each other a lot? It seems like they do in most work places --


JENNIFER EGAN: -- and here you have this situation of not that many women and a lot of men.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't have any recollection of anything like that.

IDA POLLACK: No, no gossip. Except guys making remarks to the women.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well that, yeah. Critical. But that seemed to die out a little, didn't it?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, it did. It slowed down.

JENNIFER EGAN: Now Ida, you were one of the women who was laid off, ultimately. Talk about that a little bit.

IDA POLLACK: I don't remember. I really don't remember how I got laid off. And I don't think it was individually. I think we were all laid off at about the same time.

JENNIFER EGAN: Do you remember when that was?

IDA POLLACK: '40 -- it must have been in '44 or '45.


IDA POLLACK: When was the War over?

DANIELLA ROMANO: So, before the end of the -- '45.

IDA POLLACK: '45, yeah. '45. And I don't know whether we got notified --


SYLVIA EVERITT: '45, yeah.

IDA POLLACK: -- by mail.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was in the spring.

IDA POLLACK: -- or whether we were told.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Because my husband had just been killed. I know when it was.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Really? Right before the end of the War?


IDA POLLACK: In the Battle of the Bulge?


IDA POLLACK: In the Battle of the Bulge was he killed?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, no. Battle of the Bulge was much earlier.


DANIELLA ROMANO: Where was he killed?

SYLVIA EVERITT: In Europe. In Germany. The War was over.


JUDY KAPLAN: It's like that scene from that movie.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Just two people with a couple of guns in the road. They just went out to see where the, if there was any front line left, and he was a driver.

DANIELLA ROMANO: And so, the Germans killed him?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh yeah, it was one of -- it was like two guys just sitting in the -- standing in the -- it's really not part of the --




JENNIFER EGAN: That's really sad.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, well --

SYLVIA EVERITT: The nice part about that is I had --


SYLVIA EVERITT: The nice part about that is the lieutenant was sitting in back, a young lieutenant. My husband was driving. And they met these people of the street -- of course, my husband jumped out right away with the gun. You know? Big shot. And he was sitting in back, the lieutenant. He got out of the car and ran like hell the other way. That's all he did.


JENNIFER EGAN: So, he survived?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, just my husband was killed. There were three in there.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So, they were just civilians?


DANIELLA ROMANO: They were civilian Germans? Or were they German soldiers?

SYLVIA EVERITT: We don't really know, but I don't think they were really soldiers. They were just two guys standing around with some gun.

DANIELLA ROMANO: But they're not going to -- because that's murder.

JENNIFER EGAN: So --- oh, sorry.


PENNY LATHARS: Had the occupation of Germany already taken place?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, it was not -- uh, yes!

IDA POLLACK: Yes, it was.

SYLVIA EVERITT: There were a lot -- oh, absolutely! There were Americans all over the place.

IDA POLLACK: And Russians.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Because he, he had gone to school to learn German. The United States Army had done that, they had sent some people to learn various things throughout the country. They thought they would use them in various ways, but then came the big battle, which was the Battle of the Bulge, and they -- all who were in training for something special like that were just catapulted into the, into the Army. In the first rank of the Army. So, in other words, they ended up the opposite of where they were heading.


SYLVIA EVERITT: That's how it goes, though.

JENNIFER EGAN: But Ida, you don't remember -- you don't remember your departure? Or do you?

IDA POLLACK: No, I don't. I think I was notified by the Department of War, I guess.


SYLVIA EVERITT: You don't, you don't remember the day the War ended?


SYLVIA EVERITT: I can remember that.

IDA POLLACK: December something?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, it was summer.

IDA POLLACK: Summer? Yeah.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Spring. Late spring. It was right after, for me, after he was killed. But everybody was -- I remember we stopped someplace. We had gone out to the Island to see my parents. It was the day -- whatever was signed -- the end of the War.

IDA POLLACK: The armistice.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And everybody was out in the streets just whooping and hollering.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, now, I'm confused. Sorry. This is VE Day, not VJ -- I mean, this is when the European War --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yes, the European, yeah.


SYLVIA EVERITT: And so, we stopped just -- what I was doing out there, I don't know, because I was barely alive. So naturally, you have all these thousands of people.



SYLVIA EVERITT: I meet one of his best friends, who had been one of his best friends in the Army -- he says, "So good to see you! How's Sam?"


SYLVIA EVERITT: I had to tell him he was killed.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's so hard when everyone's celebrated and you're, for you, it's --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. And to meet a person like that, out of the thousands of people there. You know, chance is always an amazing thing.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So, did you work through -- I mean, VJ Day, then, was September 1945, when the Japanese surrendered on the Missouri. So, then you were laid off after that?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, I had not been working.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, you had not been.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I was --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Because I had left and gone with him, I was with him down south and various places where he was before he went overseas. But I had just applied to the Red Cross for a job prior to his being killed.

IDA POLLACK: That's where you met Ed.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. I had just applied, and we wrote about it in a letter and 103:00he was very happy about that. So luckily, a month or so afterwards, I got a -- I was called for a job, which was very good, and I was sent to a place where they were --

IDA POLLACK: They had wounded soldiers.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- taking care of blinded --

IDA POLLACK: Blinded soldiers.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Blinded soldiers after their hospital treatment, learning how to live, and so I went there as a social worker.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, I have exhausted most of my questions. Do you have -- anyone else want to jump in with some stray stuff?

SADY SULLIVAN: I have some, I have a few that are --


SADY SULLIVAN: We're going to totally bounce around because they were just little notes that I took. So, if you don't mind --


SADY SULLIVAN: Um, let's see. Oh, we found out where your parents were from. Can you tell me where your family was from?




SYLVIA EVERITT: Romania. At the time, it was Romania. It was sort of both Romania and Russia.

SADY SULLIVAN: And were they born there, or they were born --

SYLVIA EVERITT: They were born there. They were immigrants. My father had come -- as was often the case in Jewish families, the man would take off when he could because he would, they would have, the Army would have grabbed him, the Russian Army. This was very common. And if they got enough money to get away -- he came.

IDA POLLACK: That's probably why my father came.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And he came here in about -- very early. 1912 or something like that. And he started to save. There were four children. I was not -- I was born here later. And they -- he had gotten all the tickets and everything, whatever else you get to bring a family over, when the war broke out. This is 1912 or 105:00'13. And so, my mother and four small children with no means of support at all was there all through that period of the war. It was pretty terrible. And then they -- after the war, he again sent for them, he, you know, redid the whole thing and brought them here. And my brother told me -- Abe, actually -- that he had got, he had never had a pair of shoes. So, he got clothes, you know, a whole set and he carried the shoes all across Europe to go to the boat because he was going to put those on. You know, they looked so pretty. [laughter] He had to take care of them. To give you an idea. It was awful. They were starving, yeah. But then they came here and then a year later, I was born.

JENNIFER EGAN: And so how many kids total were there?


SYLVIA EVERITT: I had four siblings.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay, the older four.

SYLVIA EVERITT: The one closest to me was eleven years older than I.

SADY SULLIVAN: Okay. Oh, wow. So, you were the only child that was born here.


SADY SULLIVAN: And what was your neighborhood like? You both grew up in the same neighborhood in the Bronx, right?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, not when I was born, not when I was little. I lived on the Lower East Side.

IDA POLLACK: I did -- my father did, too. My family did, too.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I lived on the Lower East Side and moved to the Bronx when I was, I don't know, six, seven -- I don't know, four or five years old.

IDA POLLACK: Well, there was one -- I grew up as a kid in the Bronx, but in a development. It was probably one of the first kinds of co-ops.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was, probably -- I think it was the first.

IDA POLLACK: First. It was called, for short, it was called The Coops.

SYLVIA EVERITT: The Cooperative something, I forget what the other word was.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I don't -- but --

SYLVIA EVERITT: A bunch of people got together and did this. It was wonderful.


IDA POLLACK: And it was -- they went bankrupt eventually because they couldn't make it, but it was a radical group of people, see, who --

SYLVIA EVERITT: They were all left wing, yes.

IDA POLLACK: And, uh, if you were an entrepreneur, you weren't accepted as a tenant. You had to be a working man, see. And it was run very well. I had a great time as a kid there. There were --

SYLVIA EVERITT: At that time, it was run beautifully.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, and --

SYLVIA EVERITT: But then they, then they went bankrupt.

IDA POLLACK: Well, they ran into trouble, financial trouble.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, they ran into a lot of -- which was too bad, because they were very good, it was a very good --

IDA POLLACK: We had a science club, we had a sports club, we had a chorus.

SYLVIA EVERITT: There was a library. It had a very nice library.

IDA POLLACK: There was a library, right.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Where I used to go.

JENNIFER EGAN: And did you live there as well?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, I didn't live there but it was not too far away, and I used 108:00it for various things. And I had a lot of friends there.

JENNIFER EGAN: What did your dad do, Sylvia?

SYLVIA EVERITT: He was a furrier. He, um, he was a very gifted man who -- God knows what he would have been. But he worked in -- what he did was finish the coat and cut the linings and embroider it, or do every -- he was very creative.

JENNIFER EGAN: And good with his hands, too.


JENNIFER EGAN: You mentioned you were so good with your hands.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, that's, yeah.

JENNIFER EGAN: I wonder if that came from him.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I'm the one that got it from him. But my brother -- who never got along too well with him, but -- told me shortly before he died that he could see, he could press, put out a fur coat on the table and the sheet for a lining, 109:00look at the coat, and then freehand cut the lining.


SYLVIA EVERITT: He could have been quite a thing. He was, oh, he really had it.

DANIELLA ROMANO: A designer. Couture.

JENNIFER EGAN: Was he successful?



SYLVIA EVERITT: No. No. He worked in a shop, although he did that.

JENNIFER EGAN: So, was his shop in the Lower East Side?

SYLVIA EVERITT: In the -- at the, at the furrier's there was a section that was --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, a section of the city.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- city, that the furriers worked in.

JENNIFER EGAN: And that -- he continued to work there even after you moved to the Bronx?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Ahem. And he taught his children the trade. Ahem. But they did just parts of a coat.

PENNY LATHARS: Do you want more water?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Like a lining, put a lining in the coat or various things. But 110:00they did not have his gift. Interestingly, I came closest.

PENNY LATHARS: You could have welded the coats. Welded the lining.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Got to get some more --

IDA POLLACK: Soft feet, that one.

PENNY LATHARS: I just had a question, too. I just wanted to know what the union benefits were like at that time, both for your parents -- let's say your dad. Or for you.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, you mean union generally.

PENNY LATHARS: Yeah. Did you get sick time? Did you get a vacation? Did you get medical coverage? Was there anything like that --

SYLVIA EVERITT: What are you talking --


PENNY LATHARS: Well, I know, I know that that --

SYLVIA EVERITT: This is the beginning of the labor movement.

PENNY LATHARS: This is the very beginning. So, there was nothing except job security?

IDA POLLACK: It was job security mostly.

PENNY LATHARS: That was the basis, okay.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And a lot of fighting because there was a lot of --

IDA POLLACK: Oh, a lot of fighting.

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- this is when it started. The fight for unions and to get rid of the hooligans that come and beat them up --



SYLVIA EVERITT: -- when they were trying to do something.

PENNY LATHARS: The furrier's union, you told --

SYLVIA EVERITT: The furrier, that's my family.

PENNY LATHARS: You told me a story where they threw them -- they used to throw the union people out the windows.

IDA POLLACK: That's right.

PENNY LATHARS: Just throw them out the window.

SYLVIA EVERITT: The furrier's union was the worst. They had gangsters, and all my siblings were very active in fighting against these people, it was quite a -- my brother spent a lot of time in prison because they would catch him and put him in prison, yeah.

JUDY KAPLAN: That's interesting.


DANIELLA ROMANO: That kind of actually raises a question that I had. If you were -- if the Local 22 was going and Lucy was getting involved and you were getting involved with starting up unions, when the mass layoff came of all the women at the end of the War, was there no, sort of, union outcry about that? Were there any women who wanted to keep working?

IDA POLLACK: Well, the reason the mass layoff came, they told us we had to give up our jobs so the men, so the men coming back --

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, I don't think there was any question.


SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't think there was any question about it. The women went 112:00out, plunk! Like that.


JENNIFER EGAN: And you always knew that that was --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, there was no question.

IDA POLLACK: We knew that that was going to happen.

PENNY LATHARS: Did you feel this was temporary all the time that you worked there?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. Just for the War.

PENNY LATHARS: So, in your mind, this was not a plan for a career?


SYLVIA EVERITT: No. We were helping the War, really.

IDA POLLACK: But one time when I lived up in Troy for a while, there was an ad in the newspaper for a welder. And just for the hell of it, I called. And there was dead silence on the other end.


JENNIFER EGAN: They weren't interested?

IDA POLLACK: Nope. They weren't interested.

JENNIFER EGAN: I actually have one more, another question, which is did you -- you've both mentioned how you've ended up talking so much about these years afterward. When you were there, did it feel like a big deal? Did it feel like an historic thing?

IDA POLLACK: Well, we didn't feel like heroes at all. We just felt it was the thing to do.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Did it feel like a big deal, did she say? Working there?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, I mean it was a big, you know.


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, but we didn't think we were doing anything special.

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, not special. But it was a --

IDA POLLACK: It was special, obviously.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was so unusual, to say the least. To have women working in something like this.

PENNY LATHARS: So, let's say you meet a stranger or something, and they say, "Well, what do you do?" And you say, "Well, I'm a welder at the Navy Yard." Did you watch the reactions?

IDA POLLACK: Oh, sure, you couldn't miss it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, people were shocked.

PENNY LATHARS: So, then you knew it was -- like, when I say I work at Riker's in prison, they say, "You teach in prison?"

SYLVIA EVERITT: Of course, they're saying, "You? You're doing -- what do you do there?" You know?

PENNY LATHARS: Yeah, that's what I mean. So, there is a reaction.



PENNY LATHARS: You know, people do have -- you know you're doing something unusual.

IDA POLLACK: There is a reaction today.


JENNIFER EGAN: Was it a source -- did you feel proud? Did you feel --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I guess we did. We felt like we, there was an accomplishment because we became pretty good at it, like I guess most welders are, see. And we felt it was an accomplishment, see, but after a while, it was a job. And the 114:00political issue was more important, that we were trying to stop Hitler, see. So --

DANIELLA ROMANO: How did you feel about -- well, we were talking about this in the car on the way up. The end of the War with Japan and, I mean, did you know much about the nuclear bomb and Hiroshima?

IDA POLLACK: Except that it was used. And it didn't have to be used, we felt. And there was -- in my mind, there was an element of discrimination there. We didn't like Japan. But I think we stop liking a country when they become competitive. Like China. I mean, China is now in competition with us. They're becoming industrialized at a fast rate, see, and we owe them a lot of money. 115:00We're in debt, a tremendous amount of money which is being spent in Iraq, see. And so, nobody praises any Iraqis at all. They are almost subhuman in the average American's opinion. So -- but at that time, it wasn't unusual because it was accepted that women were doing men's -- they called it men's work. Because the men were out fighting, see. But today, it seems like so unusual. You know, one of the books that I got, it was sent to me. There was a, there was a few people who were interested in the history, and some of them put out books. And I had just received it, I don't know if it was this one, and I had a doctor's 116:00appointment and I showed him the book. I belong to [inaudible]. He walked all over the -- all the rooms in the [inaudible] to show everybody that his patient -- yeah --


IDA POLLACK: -- worked in the shipyard. And not too recently when I saw him, he just made a comment and he said, "I just can't picture you a welder." [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: That is funny.


JUDY KAPLAN: Were you able to have any political conversations openly in the Yard?

IDA POLLACK: We never did except with the union people.

JUDY KAPLAN: Was it because you were afraid?

IDA POLLACK: Well, maybe. When was the McCarthy period? What year?


IDA POLLACK: The '50s, no, this was long before.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It was later, yeah. I think we just associated with people that --

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, that were like us, like Lucy.


SYLVIA EVERITT: -- who felt -- huh?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, like-thinking people.


SADY SULLIVAN: I wonder -- I recently met someone who, um, was active -- was born in 1920 and was active in left movements in Brooklyn, and she was saying that the left then had a far earlier awareness of Hitler, um, through their newsletters and things like that, so that she was spreading the word about what was going on in Europe before most of the people that she was hanging out with knew. Did you experience that in terms of?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. Because we got literature and the everyday press didn't pick it up until later, but we got literature from a left source that talked about what was happening --


IDA POLLACK: -- in Germany and in Europe. And to the Jews, see.


PENNY LATHARS: When did you first find out what was happening to the Jews? Do you remember when you first found out what they were doing?

IDA POLLACK: I don't remember, hon. It was when the war started, or before. Before the War started.

SYLVIA EVERITT: What are you talking about?

IDA POLLACK: When the concentration camps were settled for the Jews.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh. It took a while for us to know.

PENNY LATHARS: It took a while, I think, right?


IDA POLLACK: I don't think people believed that so many people were killed.

PENNY LATHARS: Or the manner in which it was done.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, it was very hard to, you know --


IDA POLLACK: And to justify it in any way. I don't care who the people are, see.

JUDY KAPLAN: Were you afraid if you spoke open politically that you would lose the job?

IDA POLLACK: Well, perhaps because I had to sign the Loyalty Oath to get the job. So -- which said that "I was not now and never was --"

SYLVIA EVERITT: What job are we talking about? What job?

IDA POLLACK: The shipyard job.



SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't remember that.

IDA POLLACK: I had to sign a Loyalty Oath -- "that would advocate the overthrow 119:00of the American government." Nobody I knew advocated it.


IDA POLLACK: Just change it.


DANIELLA ROMANO: Did you buy war bonds?



PENNY LATHARS: Now physically, when you were dressed in this garb that was very male, not feminine in any way, and you must have developed some strength in your arms --


PENNY LATHARS: Or -- did you feel like physically different because you were doing this kind of work than somebody who's maybe working in a salon or something like that?

IDA POLLACK: I don't think so.

PENNY LATHARS: Did you feel different?

IDA POLLACK: I don't think so.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I never thought of it, I don't think.

IDA POLLACK: I don't think so. No. And actually, welding doesn't take that much --

SYLVIA EVERITT: It doesn't, really, you're --

IDA POLLACK: It's a light torch.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, you're holding a torch and you're --

IDA POLLACK: You just have to be able to twist yourself a lot to get into places.


SYLVIA EVERITT: And it's more artistic, too. I mean, you're -- it's a very skilled.

IDA POLLACK: Practice makes perfect in welding.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So, there's no -- it's not like soldering, then.


DANIELLA ROMANO: It's -- you're using a gun that's got the rod, the rod is heated, and you're like icing a cake.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And you were moving it --

IDA POLLACK: Yes, and so you'd adjust your touch.


SYLVIA EVERITT: You're moving it the way it should go so that it will really fill the whole area that needed --

IDA POLLACK: See, now in some jobs which were big, that required a long line of welding, either vertical or -- you had to weld sections because otherwise the heat could cause the metal to warp. So, you had to weld, let's say this much here, and then leave a space and weld --

JENNIFER EGAN: And let it cool --


IDA POLLACK: Let it cool.

JENNIFER EGAN: -- before you went back there.


DANIELLA ROMANO: And then go back.

PENNY LATHARS: And how did you indicate where the spaces were, so you'd know where to go back?

IDA POLLACK: You did, you made it yourself. It didn't matter.

PENNY LATHARS: Okay, because that could get tricky.

IDA POLLACK: You just knew not to keep it up because the heat builds up. And that's -- a little bit of that heat kept us a little bit warm in the winter.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Maybe. It got real cold, buddy.


SYLVIA EVERITT: The one day was so cold we couldn't strike an arc.

IDA POLLACK: I don't remember that.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Couldn't get it going.

JENNIFER EGAN: Did you enjoy it? Did you enjoy the welding?

IDA POLLACK: I think so.



SYLVIA EVERITT: Because it's skill, and it's, it's satis -- very satisfying to think you can do it well.

IDA POLLACK: I didn't really mind going to work. Except that I used to look at the men on the subway. That's the only time I looked feminine, I thought.


PENNY LATHARS: That's what I mean, right.

SADY SULLIVAN: I wonder, did you do your hair and makeup and things, and then --




IDA POLLACK: Didn't we wear makeup?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I mean, what? I'd put lipstick on.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I don't remember.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Maybe a little lipstick and powder. Nothing.

DANIELLA ROMANO: How did you meet Sam?

PENNY LATHARS: At a union.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Through the union.

DANIELLA ROMANO: At a meeting?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah. He would come have lunch with us, as I said.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, they used to come and have lunch with us.

SYLVIA EVERITT: After we got to know some of the people in the union.

JENNIFER EGAN: Did you go to lunch with them too, Alfred?

ALFRED KOLKIN: I didn't hear you?

JENNIFER EGAN: Did you come and have lunch with them as well?

IDA POLLACK: No, I never knew he worked --


IDA POLLACK: -- in the shipyard until --

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't think she was there, either, was she?


SYLVIA EVERITT: With the lunch, yeah?

IDA POLLACK: No. For the lunch? I don't remember.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't think so.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, so you didn't have lunch breaks at the same time? Because some of those pictures were taken at lunch, during lunch, it said.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, that's right.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's what made me think that maybe you hung out at lunch.

SYLVIA EVERITT: There wasn't much of that.

IDA POLLACK: Everybody had lunch, I think. I think the shipyard had lunch.


SYLVIA EVERITT: I mean with going out. It was unusual, you know, that day. We said, "Let's go out and take some pictures." It wasn't as if we -- you know what I mean?


SYLVIA EVERITT: But they're some nice pictures.

JENNIFER EGAN: You got a lot of mileage out of those pictures.


IDA POLLACK: Oh boy, let me tell you.


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, we really didn't think it was such a great event, I don't think so.


IDA POLLACK: That it was such a great event --


IDA POLLACK: -- that we worked there.


IDA POLLACK: We really didn't.

SYLVIA EVERITT: We're doing something we thought we should do.


SYLVIA EVERITT: And it was a job.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, and it paid -- at that time --

SYLVIA EVERITT: And it paid money.

IDA POLLACK: It paid well.

JENNIFER EGAN: But having had that experience, was it frustrating to find that even with your expertise, you were not able to get such a job after? You mentioned looking in Boston.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, yeah, it was a riot in Boston, I'll tell you.


SYLVIA EVERITT: He, he -- but I mean, they really looked at me like I had just come out of a lunatic asylum.


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, we knew.

JENNIFER EGAN: Did they let you try?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Are you kidding? Of course not.

IDA POLLACK: They just wrote it off.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I mean, they were saying, you know, their reaction was like, "That's ridiculous." You know?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Women don't do that kind of thing.

IDA POLLACK: Today, the reaction is the same way.

SYLVIA EVERITT: But I got a job, eventually, as an inspector in some places, you know. But that, women could do that. And it was, you know, they weren't building ships, I'll tell you, whatever they were making. [laughter] But that's how I got a job there.


DANIELLA ROMANO: I asked before that, if you guys, if you went to the theater. I was actually thinking more in terms of there was a theater troupe that used to get their plays reviewed all the time in the New York Times and on the Rialto Reviews. And it was Elia Kazan's Theatre Troupe. And they were early, I can't remember --

SYLVIA EVERITT: I think it's later than us. I think it's later than us.


IDA POLLACK: Yeah, I think so.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I thought they were '30s. Okay. You think that was later. Because then that was then the whole McCarthyism because they had been Communists years earlier.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh sure, of course.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So that's when everybody got the blacklist and the whole Hollywood flare-up.



SYLVIA EVERITT: But we didn't have any strength to go to the theater, I'll tell you that, when we were working. Or even the money.

IDA POLLACK: That's right. We didn't have the --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Who went to the theater then?

IDA POLLACK: What did you do with your money? Did you give it to the family?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't remember. I must have. I must have done with some of it.

IDA POLLACK: I must -- I gave it to my family.

SADY SULLIVAN: Yeah, to your parents.

JENNIFER EGAN: To your dad.


IDA POLLACK: To my family, yeah.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, you mentioned earlier that you, when you working in the Navy Yard, you made more money than your father was making. Did he know that?

IDA POLLACK: No, I don't think he knew that.

SADY SULLIVAN: Does he know -- I mean, what would he have responded to that?

SYLVIA EVERITT: She needs you. Darling, she needs you.

IDA POLLACK: Money, money, money. No, I paid. But I've got to give him a tip.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Excuse me. Oh, I'm sorry.

PENNY LATHARS: It was paid?

IDA POLLACK: It was paid, yeah, but I want to give you a tip.

[Interview interrupted.]



JENNIFER EGAN: Thank you very much. We got it, Ida.

SYLVIA EVERITT: You got her. And I'm just sitting here. I wasn't alert enough to do anything. I didn't know I what was happening.


PENNY LATHARS: How much did you give?

JENNIFER EGAN: He's got a good tip.


SYLVIA EVERITT: "Oh, you can't scare me. I'm sticking to the union. Sticking to the union. I'm sticking to the union. Oh, you can't scare me, listen to the union. I'm sticking to the union till the day I die."

DANIELLA ROMANO: No, no, no, no.

IDA POLLACK: It's on me.

DANIELLA ROMANO: It is on you, so let me cover the tip. Thank you.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't know where that came from. You know, it's so funny. Something comes into your head.

JUDY KAPLAN: My mother used to sing that.


DANIELLA ROMANO: What is it? What are the words?

SYLVIA EVERITT: "Oh, you can't" -- it's nothing. It's one sentence.


SYLVIA EVERITT: "Oh, you can't scare me. I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union. Oh, you can't scare me. I'm sticking to 127:00the union. I'm sticking to the union till the day I die."

IDA POLLACK: "Till the day I die." Yeah.

JUDY KAPLAN: It was -- I mean, they make it sound simple, but it was very courageous to be involved in the union.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Of course. Oh, well I'll tell you about my family.

JUDY KAPLAN: There was threatening, too, a lot.

SYLVIA EVERITT: When they were trying to build that fur union, and they were sending all those hoodlums to kill them.


JUDY KAPLAN: I don't think it was that easy for you. I don't think you started out with a union there.


JUDY KAPLAN: You were working there for a quite a while before you --


IDA POLLACK: That's right.

JUDY KAPLAN: -- before one the unions was there, Local 22.

IDA POLLACK: We didn't even know there was a union there when we first started. Do you know, I had one job --SYLVIA EVERITT: "There was a union maid, who never was afraid of ghouls and kings and company finks and the deputy sheriff who made the rate. You went to Union Hall. When a meeting it was called." See, I don't even know that I remember all these.

SADY SULLIVAN: That's great stuff.


IDA POLLACK: Well, I worked in Kimball's for a while as a sales girl, and they had no union, and you're working six days a week, and other places had already won a five day a week, see, with an increase. So, we were -- a union came in, I don't remember which union, and organized us and we picketed on -- between 32nd and 33rd street, I think it is. And there were cops on horses who came right 129:00into the line, see, until we realized that we were turning around, so instead we just started to about face and walk back and forth. But we were told, "Go back in the store and don't touch a thing, and don't touch a person, see. But you're going to be thrown out. So, whoever throws you out, wrap your legs and arms around them and have them carry you out." And that's what we did. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: It was probably easier in your case than for some of the bigger ones.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, right. But a lot of men -- most of the -- most, I think, of the sales girls were girls. But a lot of men joined us outside from different unions.

JENNIFER EGAN: And this was after the Navy Yard?

IDA POLLACK: Yes. Oh yeah, much after the Navy Yard.

JUDY KAPLAN: Well, your husband was a union organizer.



JUDY KAPLAN: Wasn't he a union organizer?

IDA POLLACK: In Kimball's?

JUDY KAPLAN: No, in Troy.

IDA POLLACK: Oh! Oh, well, at Troy was something else. [laughter]

JENNIFER EGAN: So, Sylvia, do you now remember the whole song? Can you sing it?


JENNIFER EGAN: The one you were just singing. Or were those two different songs?


SYLVIA EVERITT: No, no, I -- well, "You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union," that's all I know, "I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union. Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union. I'm sticking to the union till the day I die." I think that's the song of that. But the other one, I'm not sure. What was I doing?

JENNIFER EGAN: Something about the sheriff. Or the department. It was going to the meetings. You were just singing it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: "I went to the Union Hall, when a meeting it was called -- "


SYLVIA EVERITT: Something about goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriff who made the raid. I don't know.



SYLVIA EVERITT: That one I don't remember that clearly. You got it all now?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Did your mom talk a lot about the unions?

IDA POLLACK: Well, that --

JUDY KAPLAN: Yeah, she didn't talk that much about it.

[Interview interrupted.]

SYLVIA EVERITT: Guys, you're supposed to help yourself, I think, right?


JUDY KAPLAN: But I knew that, um, they were important to her.


SYLVIA EVERITT: You going to help yourself?

IDA POLLACK: I can't hear.


DANIELLA ROMANO: We read so much about you in her letters.

IDA POLLACK: Judy, what did you say? I didn't hear, hon.

JUDY KAPLAN: The unions were important to my mother, I knew that.


JUDY KAPLAN: But, um, but I think, you know, you play it down. But I think there was a lot of scariness in your lives, even at the Navy Yard, around the union.



IDA POLLACK: No, not at the Navy Yard.

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, there was no scariness at that.

JUDY KAPLAN: Not there?

IDA POLLACK: No, not there, because we --

SYLVIA EVERITT: It wasn't that kind of, um --

IDA POLLACK: Except maybe those who didn't --

SYLVIA EVERITT: -- environment.

IDA POLLACK: -- direct negotiations.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, but not --


SYLVIA EVERITT: Because I know what went on, like for instances in the furriers' 132:00union, because my family was involved. That, that was a horror.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, that was tough.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Had all the gangsters in, you know, killing the people that were, uh, picketing. People sent to prison. It was awful.

IDA POLLACK: And they were drowning people. They were throwing them into the water. They were killing. That's why --

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, listen, what -- here, Al, you get up.


IDA POLLACK: They're cut.

SYLVIA EVERITT: They're cut, they're cut.

PENNY LATHARS: What do you need?




JENNIFER EGAN: What was this a photograph of?



IDA POLLACK: Never heard of it again.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I wonder, never --- okay. Because I'm going to try and find out.

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, try and find out.

JUDY KAPLAN: So, then you think because the Navy Yard was already unionized, 133:00that it wasn't --


JUDY KAPLAN: -- frightening?

SYLVIA EVERITT: And it was later.

ALFRED KOLKIN: They were, they were crafty.

JUDY KAPLAN: They were a crafty union.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, and it was also later. We're talking, we're talking about a later period.

IDA POLLACK: Al, were you in the union in the Navy Yard?

ALFRED KOLKIN: The International Association of Machinists.

IDA POLLACK: Of Machinists.

JUDY KAPLAN: What union were you in? What was Local 22?

IDA POLLACK: I think it was -- I wonder, was it a Civil Service Union? I don't remember.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't remember. I don't know.


IDA POLLACK: Al, want some pizza?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, I'm going to get it.

ALFRED KOLKIN: Okay. Just one piece.


IDA POLLACK: Regular or with stuff on top?


JUDY KAPLAN: Regular, please.

IDA POLLACK: And there's soda.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Thank you so much.

JENNIFER EGAN: This is awfully sweet of you.


JENNIFER EGAN: That's so sweet of you.

SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, it's wonderful.

[Interview interrupted.]

SYLVIA EVERITT: You fed us. We feed you.



DANIELLA ROMANO: I'm a librarian, and I run the archive at the Navy Yard. So, Jenny came to us three years ago. Back in '04, it's four years ago.

SYLVIA EVERITT: What are you?

JENNIFER EGAN: I'm a writer. So, I write for the New York Times and also, I do -- I write fiction. So, I've written four books, and I'm interested in using some Navy Yard --

SYLVIA EVERITT: My son's a writer.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, really, what does he write?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Various things. But he just wrote one about [inaudible]. There's really about me and mine. And the Army, and Sam, and the whole thing.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, wonderful.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It's a, it's a good book, I think. And the title will be "Sam 136:00Remembered." I think that's right.

PENNY LATHARS: But, is he Sam's son? Did you --

SYLVIA EVERITT: No, no. I didn't -- unfortunately, we didn't have time.

JENNIFER EGAN: What is your son's name?

SYLVIA EVERITT: David. David Everett.

JENNIFER EGAN: David Everett? Okay.

[Interview interrupted.]

DANIELLA ROMANO: And Sady is the Oral Historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society. So, we're all working on this project together. It is wonderful, and this is amazing, just to sit down with the two of you. And I mean, we're really getting to -- we've done a few interviews so far, but we haven't really had a chance to talk with any women who were doing --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Who were really involved?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, I'm sure it's hard.


IDA POLLACK: Syl, did you bring that picture?


SYLVIA EVERITT: It was quite an experience. What?

IDA POLLACK: Did you bring that picture?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Which picture?

IDA POLLACK: Of your family and me?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, well I'll tell you, I was also afraid to carry it because I don't have a frame yet, you know?


SYLVIA EVERITT: But I have to show it to you. It really is great.

JUDY KAPLAN: I want to see those things you brought, Sylvia. Can I look through your envelope?

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, you have a lot of stuff over there.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh. Where is it?

PENNY LATHARS: I'll get it.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, a lot of it is -- there are some duplicates in there, but just make sure they all get back because it's very important to me.

JUDY KAPLAN: Oh, yeah.

SYLVIA EVERITT: What do you -- what's on this one, Pee? I guess it will be all right.


SYLVIA EVERITT: What are you looking for?

JUDY KAPLAN: This is all women, right? Unless this is -- is that I man at this 138:00union meeting?

SYLVIA EVERITT: It looks to me like it's women. That's me.


JUDY KAPLAN: Yeah, what was your maiden name?


JUDY KAPLAN: Oh, Honigman is your maiden name. And how long were you married to Sam?

SYLVIA EVERITT: In total it was -- I think close to two years.

JUDY KAPLAN: And did he go --

SYLVIA EVERITT: About two years.

JUDY KAPLAN: And he went into the Army after you were married?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No. He, uh, he was drafted while he was in the Navy Yard. I can still see myself sitting in that pipe where I was working that day, and he came in the middle of the day to tell me he had, he'd just been drafted. It was 139:00pretty difficult day.

JUDY KAPLAN: Yeah. I know my dad enlisted before he was drafted.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And I remember the day he went in. [inaudible] all of those young men going off like that. Many of them were crying. It's not easy. It's a terrible thing to go off to war. No matter what the war is.

JUDY KAPLAN: Yeah, were you, uh --

IDA POLLACK: I'm wondering.

JUDY KAPLAN: -- but you were married for how long before he went?

IDA POLLACK: I'm wondering if my husband was impressed.

SYLVIA EVERITT: He wasn't. We weren't.

JUDY KAPLAN: Oh, you weren't.

SYLVIA EVERITT: We were very involved with each other, but we weren't married.

IDA POLLACK: If my husband was impressed. I have no idea.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And then we, you know, got married and uh [inaudible]

DANIELLA ROMANO: Never talked about it? Well, your husband also worked in the Yard, right?


DANIELLA ROMANO: Oh, what did your husband -- right, and he was in the service.

IDA POLLACK: He was in the service.

DANIELLA ROMANO: What did he do after?

IDA POLLACK: He worked for a newspaper.



IDA POLLACK: Must have been, but it was a --


IDA POLLACK: He was the only one in his family who was that way [inaudible]. I mean, he [inaudible], I don't remember.

DANIELLA ROMANO: So maybe that was your -- oh, so you don't know if that was your bond, or if that was how you felt of your relationship?

IDA POLLACK: Well, that's how I met him, so he must have been there before me. But his family wasn't -- they were [inaudible], and they weren't too happy. [inaudible]


IDA POLLACK: Because -- [inaudible]


DANIELLA ROMANO: Because you were a radical.

IDA POLLACK: I think so.

DANIELLA ROMANO: They thought you were going to put him in danger?

IDA POLLACK: No, they never saide that. I mean, they have just disagreed with me. But they got over it and I got over it, and we eventually became friends.

DANIELLA ROMANO: And where did you live? In the Bronx?

IDA POLLACK: The [inaudible].

DANIELLA ROMANO: And so, when you and he were married, you just lived -- everybody lived in the Bronx, even while you were married?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah. No, no. After the War, I didn't stay with my -- he stayed with me with my parents for a while but then we moved to Brooklyn.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Where in Brooklyn?

IDA POLLACK: Flatbush Avenue and --



SYLVIA EVERITT: Can he get through there?


JUDY KAPLAN: Yeah, he'll figure it out.

DANIELLA ROMANO: All that, careful, there's still traffic.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Difficult. Anyway --

DANIELLA ROMANO: Is there any more garbage over there?

[Interview interrupted.] [inaudible]

SYLVIA EVERITT: It's so interesting. You think you're doing something so easy, and suddenly you're in the middle of hell.


SYLVIA EVERITT: But that's how war goes.

JUDY KAPLAN: I know. My son is in the Army.


JUDY KAPLAN: He was sent to Iraq twice.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh God. That's what you need.


[Interview interrupted.] [inaudible]

IDA POLLACK: Um, Shirley and Bessie, who we used to meet on the subway.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh yeah, yeah.


IDA POLLACK: Where did they work? They didn't work in the Yard, did they?


IDA POLLACK: But they were two funny women, and we used to laugh all the way. And one of them married my brother.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh really, was that what happened?

IDA POLLACK: Bessie. Well, we all lived in the same development.

JENNIFER EGAN: And did -- so you knew her for a long time then.


JENNIFER EGAN: So, Bessie became your sister-in-law?

IDA POLLACK: Yeah, my sister-in-law.


JUDY KAPLAN: Is that how you met your husband?

IDA POLLACK: Where? In the Bronx.


IDA POLLACK: In the Young Communists League.



SYLVIA EVERITT: So, the three of you got together for this?



SYLVIA EVERITT: How much have you been doing -- how long have you been doing this?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, it's been four years now.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, I feel like we haven't really did much until Giovanna, 144:00which was 2005.


JENNIFER EGAN: So yeah, I mean I've been here and there. I went to a book festival in Miami and I interviewed a couple of women, ladies there who had worked at the Yard. In a mold loft.


JENNIFER EGAN: They were friends, similar to you guys. One of them told me about the other, and it was fantastic. They still live near each other.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And where is this?



JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah. And you know, so I've interviewed people here and there. Do you know of anyone else who's alive who worked in the Yard? If you know anyone, we'll go talk to them. So --

SYLVIA EVERITT: This stuff is great.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, it's really, it's fantastic to hear these stories, and you know, each time, you learn a little bit more.

SYLVIA EVERITT: And it fills in all --

JENNIFER EGAN: Yeah, exactly. But this was great because you remember so much about the actual work, which is -- I feel like I could, I could, if I could have you guys weld anything today.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I know, I'd love to see it.


JENNIFER EGAN: I know it would be done right.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I was a good welder, I'll tell you that.

JENNIFER EGAN: I have no doubt about that. I think they were crazy not to hire you in Boston.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, my father's hands --

JENNIFER EGAN: Exactly. Did you get to work with your hands more?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, I, I did before.

JENNIFER EGAN: And what about after?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, I -- I went through a period where I made all my clothes.

JENNIFER EGAN: Wow. And how many kids do you have?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I'm trying to stop and count. Two.

JENNIFER EGAN: You have two kids?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, and I have one stepchild. My second husband had been married, too.

JENNIFER EGAN: Okay, and so did you make clothes for them and things like that?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, for my daughter. My daughter. A lot of dresses for my daughter.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's so nice.

SYLVIA EVERITT: That's why I say I was very much like my father. I could, you know, pick up something and get the [inaudible] and do it. It's interesting how 146:00something like that is inherited.

JENNIFER EGAN: Yup. It's so interesting.


SYLVIA EVERITT: Only one of them had that. My brother was talented, but he'd use it in different ways. He could do anything, he could build anything, he could fix things, you know? My father could do anything. Anything. I mean, he was a furrier from the hinterland and --

JENNIFER EGAN: Did he recognize your skill?

SYLVIA EVERITT: He knew. Because I could tell him, I could tell, because he'd say, "You're going to use a thimble." He started me off and showed me how to do a couple of things.

IDA POLLACK: Syl? How do we know Edith Towsner [phonetic]? What was -- who was she?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I can't even remember who it is.

PENNY LATHARS: Didn't she write books?

DANIELLA ROMANO: She was from the Local 22 Xerox.


PENNY LATHARS: But didn't she write books?

JENNIFER EGAN: Edith Towsner?

IDA POLLACK: It's so familiar to me.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I don't know.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, here, let me show you. Because her, her -- may I?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Wait. This is not it -- where's my -- don't lose my thing!

JUDY KAPLAN: I have it, I have it, I have it.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Where's your -- oh, you do? Okay.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, boy, that scared me.

IDA POLLACK: Aren't you glad you came?


IDA POLLACK: Aren't you glad you came?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Of course! I wanted to come, but I was so --

DANIELLA ROMANO: Can I -- how can I photocopy these?

JUDY KAPLAN: Would you allow these to be taken and photocopy?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Oh, I wouldn't -- I mean, I would gladly -- I will put these in a FedEx to you this afternoon. They'll be back at your house tomorrow morning.


DANIELLA ROMANO: I know, I know, I understand.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I really treasure these things.

DANIELLA ROMANO: I understand. That's -- but maybe --

SYLVIA EVERITT: I'm also, that, it doesn't, you wouldn't want, even. But, I mean, the things that I treasure --

DANIELLA ROMANO: Well, I'm looking, the Siemens' Institute -- um --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I have a lot of stuff that you have.



UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I have a lot of stuff that you have.

JUDY KAPLAN: The same stuff?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Just all of the information, just a fantastic file, I mean --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, there's a lot of stuff in there, and there are copies of other articles that were written. You don't want that. I don't want you to take that.


SLYVIA EVERITT: I don't want you to take that.

IDA POLLACK: The Printing Shop.

JUDY KAPLAN: Where is that?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Where are all the pictures? What happened to all the pictures?

DANIELLA ROMANO: I don't know, I'm looking.


DANIELLA ROMANO: They're here.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Well, there's one.

JUDY KAPLAN: There's a shop nearby.


IDA POLLACK: Down the street.

DANIELLA ROMANO: We can just --

IDA POLLACK: But I have a copier. What am I talking about?

DANIELLA ROMANO: Do you have a copier?


JENNIFER EGAN: Do you really?



DANIELLA ROMANO: Okay, great, let's do it. Do you mind? Can we copy them right now?

SYLVIA EVERITT: No! But I would like it, prefer it, because I would like to take it home.

DANIELLA ROMANO: Yes. That's fine, that's fine.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I really feel that way about it. You understand. I've had those 149:00for so many years.

JENNIFER EGAN: Once something is out of your hands, you don't know if you'll ever get it back.

SYLVIA EVERITT: I can't take that chance.

JENNIFER EGAN: Even Federal Express messes up.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It's a very important thing to me.

JENNIFER EGAN: I totally understand that.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Did you notice that picture up there of three women? Oh, come on. Come with me.

PENNY LATHARS: They started out with one template that showed them how to go about the [inaudible], and then they improvised on it.


SYLVIA EVERITT: This is Ida. This is me. And this is -- three other friends of ours, and we were very young. Maybe fifteen, sixteen.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh my gosh.

SYLVIA EVERITT: It's a great picture, isn't it?

JUDY KAPLAN: Yeah, I saw that before, and I didn't know who that was.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Great picture.


SYLVIA EVERITT: This was my friend Sarah, with whom I was very close. 150:00Unfortunately, she's gone.


SYLVIA EVERITT: She's gone. She's still alive, but she might as well not be. Look, there's another --

PENNY LATHARS: Who's still alive? Who'd you say was still alive and she may as well not be? Why?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Oh, her mind is gone. She's been in a nursing home. She's, um, she's always been a little strange. She's someone who was always terrified of death.


SYLVIA EVERITT: So, she just climbed in somewhere, and she doesn't, didn't care. She's been living in this place that is not -- to me, it's a living hell, you know? All she does is -- her daughter brings movies every single day, and she watches movies every single day. That's her life.

PENNY LATHARS: I could go out like that.


PENNY LATHARS: If I was going out, you know?

SYLVIA EVERITT: This is a horrific business. Her mind is gone. But, to each his own.


JENNIFER EGAN: Are there other siblings either than you and your sister?

PENNY LATHARS: Yeah, my sister. And my brother, who's in Albany.

JENNIFER EGAN: Oh, okay, is he -- was his picture here somewhere?

PENNY LATHARS: There must be a picture of Barry. He's a geologist.


PENNY LATHARS: She must have a picture of Barry.

SYLVIA EVERITT: That's right.

JUDY KAPLAN: You know, I was looking before. I didn't notice.

PENNY LATHARS: You didn't see anything?

SYLVIA EVERITT: Is this him?

PENNY LATHARS: That's Barry. There's my brother. That's when he was married, but that's like fifteen years ago.

JENNIFER EGAN: He's not married anymore?

PENNY LATHARS: No, they are! But that was like fifteen years ago. He doesn't look like that --

SYLVIA EVERITT: Where's your sister? Is there a picture of your sister?

JUDY KAPLAN: There must be.

PENNY LATHARS: There's Barry. There's my brother up there, that's a more recent one.


PENNY LATHARS: That's Rita, that's my sister, and that's about twenty-five years ago.

SYLVIA EVERITT: That's your sister.

PENNY LATHARS: So, here is a more recent picture of her family.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Yeah, now I found -- this, I could recognize her.

PENNY LATHARS: So, this is my husband right here, and this is my, that's my 152:00daughter. That's my husband, and there's my husband and I and my daughter, also.


JENNIFER EGAN: That was your daughter that I met the other day?


ALFRED KOLKIN: Can I see some of this?

SYLVIA EVERITT: I'm still sticking to the union. It's a catchy tune. Doesn't go away. I sing it all the time.

ALFRED KOLKIN: Sylvia? Can I look at some of the clippings that you were showing?

JUDY KAPLAN: Yeah, they're -- they're in another room right now. They're photocopying them.


SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, they're making copies here?


SADY SULLIVAN: Oh, that's great.

JENNIFER EGAN: I'm so impressed she has a copy machine.


JENNIFER EGAN: I don't have one!

SYLVIA EVERITT: Did you see that? We had a Tenants' Association for twenty-five years and we bought copiers. I have one, too, because we had leases to copy and legal papers, because they do so much for the community --

PENNY LATHARS: You had to run out and do that all the time.

JENNIFER EGAN: That's so funny.

SYLVIA EVERITT: That's the only reason.

JENNIFER EGAN: You're still organizing.

PENNY LATHARS: Uh-huh. I'm going to a meeting tonight. In Sunnyside, for, uh, to 153:00stop [inaudible] control. We're meeting with legislators to see if they will turn back some of the legislation.

SYLVIA EVERITT: Where are they copying? I've got to tell them, certain things should not be -- where are you guys?


SYLVIA EVERITT: Where? Where's here?




JUDY KAPLAN: What do you mean, if they can get in?

PENNY LATHARS: If I leave my apartment and the landlord can come in and say, "Well, I put in a vanity, and I put in this and I put in that," self-certifying -- he doesn't even have to prove it, and so he can raise the rent to 2,000 and it's --

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Interview Description

Oral History Interview with Ida Pollack and Sylvia Everitt

Ida Pollack (1922-2016) grew up in the "Coops" or the United Workers Cooperative Colony, a predominantly Jewish and communist leaning housing cooperative built during the 1920s. She briefly attended Brooklyn College, but left to begin working, initially for a greeting card factory, then for Gimbels department store and eventually as a welder at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Pollack was very active in political groups through her life, including the Young Communist League and the Local 22 of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America (IUMSWA).

Sylvia Honigman Everitt (1921-2010) was born on the Lower East Side but grew up in the Bronx in a Jewish family. Her father was a furrier. Everitt began working at the Navy Yard in 1942 after she graduated from Brooklyn College. She met her husband while working at the Navy Yard. Shortly after, he was drafted into the army and died in Germany just after the War ended.

During their interview, Ida Pollack (1922-2016) and Sylvia Honigman Everitt (1921-2010) share stories about growing up in the Bronx and working together as welders at the Navy Yard. The two women discuss their long commute, socializing on Sands Street, union involvement and antagonism towards union organizers, uniforms, wages and working conditions. Pollack mentions getting a foot injury when a coated rod used for fusing metal accidentally dropped onto her shoe. She also discusses having to sign a loyalty oath, which was likely due to her involvement in radical political organizations. Both women discuss what it felt like to be a woman working at the Navy Yard and having to leave at the end of WWII. Also present at the time of the interview were Al Kolkin, Judy Kaplan (the daughter of Al Kolkin and Everitt and Honigman's good friend Lucy Kolkin) and Penny Lathars (Ida Pollack's daughter). Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, Jennifer Egan and Daniella Romano.

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


Pollack, Ida and Sylvia Honigman Everitt, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, Jennifer Egan, and Daniella Romano, April 24, 2008, Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection, 2010.003.019; Brooklyn Historical Society.


  • Everitt, Sylvia Honigman, 1921-2010
  • New York Naval Shipyard
  • Pollack, Ida, 1922-2016


  • Communism
  • Communists
  • Families
  • Family life
  • Jewish Americans
  • Labor unions
  • Shipbuilding
  • Shipyards
  • Women
  • Women--Employment
  • World War, 1939-1945


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


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Finding Aid

Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection