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[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
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Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan
January 16, 2009
Call number: 2008.031.2.007
Oral History Interview with Robert "Bob" Windt
Robert "Bob" Windt was born in Manhattan, but moved with his family at the age of four to the upper-middle class Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. Windt's father, a first-generation American of Austro-Hungarian Jewish heritage, gave up his half-partner position in a large manufacturing concern to spend more time with his children before founding the successful Fisk jewelry business. The elder Windt died in 1932, when his son was just twelve years old; the death had a lasting impact on the young Windt. Windt attended P.S. 180, Montauk Junior High School, and graduated from New Utrecht High School in 1938. In anticipation of the United States' entry to World War II, in 1940 Windt joined the Army, where he specialized in carburation and was a B-29 Bomber instructor; he was saved from deployment by the dropping of the atomic bomb. After the War's conclusion, Windt embarked on a successful career in show-business publicity, working with and for Dumont Laboratories, CBS, Pepsi Cola, and Rheingold Brewing Company before launching his own firm, whose major contract was with Fairchild Publications. Robert Windt passed away in October of 2014.
In this wide-ranging interview, Robert "Bob" Windt shares his life's history, starting with his family's ancestral history and ending with his retirement. He describes his Austro-Hungarian Jewish heritage and his family's capture of the American dream; and racial relations in the Jewish-Italian Borough Park neighborhood of his youth. He discusses his sadness at his father's early passing; and his early experiences with the Jewish religion. Windt describes his young adulthood, including two years spent "piddling around," which led to his decision to preemptively join the Army as a flight engineer. He describes his experiences in Army training, including Officer's training at the Boca Raton Club, his commission as a lieutenant, and his disappointment over not being deployed. Windt details his start in publicity for the show business industry, selling radios and television sets for CBS-Columbia, and frequently references screen stars of the 1940s and 1950s, including Sammy Kaye, Perry Como, Joan Crawford, Arthur Godfrey, and others. Windt tells of subsequent years spent at Pepsi Cola and Rheingold Beer, including tales of insider business drama, proxy wars, ego battles, and bitter competition. He discusses the launch of his own firm, where his major contract was with Fairchild Publications. At the interview's conclusion, Windt discusses his love of baseball and his passionate distaste for the abuse of eminent domain, even when invoked for the construction of sports arenas. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.
The Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Business and industry series features a dynamic range of narrators. Some are well-known in their communities and others are well-known in their field. This ongoing series focuses on Brooklyn workplaces and the experiences of these narrators, as well as documents local, national, and international history. The narrators often discuss their positions as owners or operators of businesses. The oldest narrator in this series was born in 1920.
CitationWindt, Robert, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, January 16, 2009, Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Business and industry, 2008.031.2.007; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
- PepsiCo, Inc.
- Windt, Robert
- Business enterprises
- Public relations
- World War, 1939-1945
- Borough Park (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidVoices of Brooklyn oral histories: Business and industry