Terms of Use

Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.

Every oral history relies on the memories, views, and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.

The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. Where provided, transcripts created prior to 2008 or commissioned by a third party other than BHS, serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. More recent transcripts commissioned by BHS are nearly verbatim copies of the recorded interview, and as such may contain the natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, and repetitions that are common in conversation. The decision for their inclusion was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator’s speech while editing the material for the standards of print.

All citations must be attributed to Brooklyn Historical Society:

[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.

These interviews are made available for research purposes only. For more information about other kinds of usage and permissions, see BHS’s rights and reproductions policy.

Agree to terms of use

Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan

July 08, 2008

Call number: 2010.003.024

Search This Index
Search Clear

0:00 - Driving to Navy Yard talking about directions and changes in the Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

4:02 - Narrator was a chipper and caulker who worked on the ships in the dry docks

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

4:48 - Dry docks operational now, and new buildings in the Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

6:31 - How he got to work, train and trolley

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

7:22 - Use of dry docks now, and the size of the Navy Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

12:02 - Debate over whether they launched ships from dry docks or craneways

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

12:43 - Factories and businesses in the Navy Yard now

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

13:25 - President Truman and the USS Missouri

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

14:00 - Driving directions and discussion of interview project

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

14:44 - Bringing women in killed the Navy Yard, men and women fooled around on the ships

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

16:32 - Left the Yard when World War II ended, and Robert Kennedy came to visit

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

17:20 - Returns to topic of women and men working together and fooling around

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

20:09 - What happened to the Philadelphia yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

20:47 - Worked in the dry docks on the Missouri, which was so heavy it couldn’t move

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

22:41 - Continues talking about women coming in and fooling around in the Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

24:03 - Directions and planning for interview

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

24:51 - Missouri built and launched on the shipbuilding ways, and he worked on it

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

25:35 - Directions,navigating traffic, and businesses in the Yard now

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

28:27 - Going on Hammerhead Crane and climbing the highest steeple in the Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

29:16 - Driving navigation and what the dry docks are used for now

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

30:13 - Discussing waterfalls in the East River

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

31:52 - Discussing camera at Fulton Ferry landing

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

32:10 - Driving navigation

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

33:06 - Navy Yard's role in keeping jobs in Brooklyn

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

35:41 - Narrator describes his job working on the USS Missouri again

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

36:28 - Old-timers still working in the Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

36:53 - Discussion of buildings as they approach perimeter of Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

37:27 - “Industrial park,” private sector coming in as narrator was leaving

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

38:08 - Navigation and discussion of driving

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

39:09 - Talk about relationships with other Brooklyn archives

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

40:31 - Purpose of visit to Navy Yard and interview

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

41:33 - Introduce topic of Irish and Dutchmen coming over to work in the Navy Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

42:01 - Discussion about modern use of the Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

43:55 - Everybody holding their breath during ship launchings

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

44:32 - Daniella returns with release forms, talking about Yard layout and hammerhead crane being taken down

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

47:54 - Discussion about trolley commute and gate security

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

49:20 - Talking about Yard layout, what buildings were and their tenants now

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

58:13 - Getting out of car and logistics

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

60:30 - Dry Dock 1, Daniella Romano talks about its history and how dry docks work

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

64:33 - View of bridges from Yard while working on ships

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

65:05 - Continued discussion about current tenants

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

66:54 - Walking back to car, audio faint and warbled

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

68:04 - Continued discussion of current Yard and tenants, navigation around Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

77:15 - Walking around dry docks 5 and 6, where Narrator worked on the USS Missouri

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

79:30 - Story about Narrator becoming a marathon runner after the age of eighty

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

82:15 - Where family lived when Narrator worked at the Yard, on Carroll Street and then Empire Blvd

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

82:39 - Abe remembers working on dry docks 5 and 6, and notes how the area has changed

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

84:37 - Inaudible audio and large blocks of silence

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

88:00 - Jobs going from generation to generation, like crane operators

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

88:56 - Continued discussion of the Navy Yard now, and history of Yard development

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

100:33 - Formal interview set up and introductions

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

103:03 - Discussion of their tour of the Yard, it’s not the same, feels empty to him

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

103:43 - Describes work of chipper and caulker on the USS Missouri

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

112:53 - Introduction and entrance of COO of Navy Yard, Elliot Matz

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

114:08 - Continued discussion of riveting, caulking, and the other people working

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

115:35 - How he felt working on the USS Missouri

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

116:01 - All workers had their own rivet guns, which stayed in the Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

116:40 - Opinion that USS Missouri was the best ship ever built

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

116:58 - Used to climb the Navy Yard steeple and caulk, wearing a safety garment for heights

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

118:45 - Launch of the USS Missouri

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

119:30 - Return to description of caulking and chipping

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

120:01 - Return to discussion of being used to heights

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

120:21 - Return to discussion of USS Missouri launch

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

121:35 - Didn’t think about connection between work and war effort, just did the work

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

123:20 - Discussion about ships viability when being launched, didn’t worry about it

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

123:54 - Return to discussion of women workers fooling around with the men

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

124:31 - Women couldn't hold rivet guns but they were good welders

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

126:54 - Returns to describing caulking rivets on the Navy Yard steeple

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

127:19 - Lunch breaks, workers could eat anywhere on the ship

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

127:42 - Opinion that the Navy Yard did a good job

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

128:05 - Effect rivet gun weight had on physique, and noise of the rivet gun

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

129:08 - Explanation of job title “chipper and caulker” – both tasks involve rivets

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

129:30 - Before the Navy Yard he did similar work

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

130:10 - Wasn’t too tired at end of the workday, but it was hard work

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

130:46 - Years he worked at the Navy Yard, including brief post-War return

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

133:39 - Passing the Post Office test

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

133:50 - Importance of caulking, what caulking means in shipwork

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

135:12 - Love of the Navy Yard chipping and caulking job

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

135:54 - Relationships with coworkers, didn’t go out after work, didn’t trust anyone

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

136:51 - Ages of children when Narrator worked at the Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

137:14 - Opinion that they should have made a plaque for riveters

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

137:46 - Return to women playing around in compartments

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

138:10 - European workers brought in to do the inner bottoms and teach people how to use rivet guns

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

144:17 - No women on the bottom of the ship, resumes discussion of women fooling around on ships

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

145:04 - Working in Yard when he heard that war was over

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

145:33 - Discovery of a plate that a bomb couldn’t go through towards the end of the War

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

146:52 - Where he worked on USS Missouri – inner bottoms and sides

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

147:22 - Narrator wasn't drafted

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

148:03 - Born on Pitkin Avenue, brief background of his parents and family

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

150:21 - Opinion that the U.S. needed World War II

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

151:07 - Returns to talking about the work women did and didn’t do in the Navy Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

151:31 - Accidents in the Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

152:50 - Wasn’t smart enough for school, made sure his kids graduated college

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

153:31 - Commentary on construction of World Trade Center

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

155:17 - Running a marathon at eighty and setting records

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

157:30 - Return to talking about schooling, and his kids' doctorates

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

158:32 - More running races coming up, now he runs with escorts

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

161:52 - Retells story of son being told he’s not college material and now having doctorate

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

162:18 - His age, life coming to its end, pacemaker

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

163:08 - Feelings about working in the Navy Yard, getting muscles

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

163:28 - Returns to talking about women workers in the Yard being a mistake

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

164:25 - Thinks they should do something for the Yard, has idea to hold races there

Play segment

Partial Transcript:

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords:

Subjects:

Interview Description

Oral History Interview with Abraham Weintraub

Abraham Weintraub (1910-2010) lived in Brooklyn for his whole life. In addition to working at the Navy Yard, Weintraub worked for his brother-in-law who manufactured education toys and handler for the US Post Office. He also participated in several marathons and races after retiring from the Post Office.

During his interview, Abraham Weintraub (1910-2010), explains his work as a chipper and caulker at the Navy Yard, where he made sure rivets were watertight. Along with his daughter and son (Florence and Irwin Weintraub), Weintraub talks about working on the USS Missouri, the other workers at the Navy Yard and competing in marathons and other races in New York and Massachusetts. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

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

Citation

Weintraub, Abraham, 1910-2010, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, July 08, 2008, Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection, 2010.003.024; Brooklyn Historical Society.

People

  • New York Naval Shipyard
  • Weintraub, Abraham, 1910-2010

Topics

  • Family
  • Missouri (Battleship : BB 63)
  • Sex role
  • Shipbuilding
  • Shipfitting
  • Work environment
  • World War, 1939-1945

Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Finding Aid

Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection