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Guide to the Voices of Brooklyn oral histories 2008.031

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201
718-222-4111
library@brooklynhistory.org


Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on November 10, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Sports and leisure, 2008-

Scope and Contents

This series includes oral histories collected through several projects undertaken by Brooklyn Historical Society beginning in 2008. The assembled collection took shape in 2008 under the project title "Brooklyn History Makers." The ongoing oral history collection, retitled in 2016, features a range of narrators: Amateur athletes, sports players, and Coney Island performers recall personal moments and the changes they have observed in their neighborhoods over decades.

Arrocha, Edward, 2009 April 29

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

King, Albert, 2009 November 4

Biographical / Historical

Albert King was born in 1959 and raised along with four brothers and one sister on Myrtle Avenue in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. Attending public school, he began playing basketball at age ten. He played on the teams at Sands Junior High School and Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn. Attaining a basketball scholarship, King played for the University of Maryland Terrapins beginning in 1977. Drafted by the New Jersey Nets in 1981, he played professional ball for nine seasons, until 1991. Within a few years, he was looking into running a Wendy's restaurant and was a co-investor in one in 1995. In 1998, he became a sole Wendy's franchisee, expanding to ownership of three restaurants. As recently as 2015, King was giving tips to kids playing ball in NBA (National Basketball Association) Cares clinics.

Scope and Contents

Beginning his interview, Albert King recalls his journey from childhood to his teens in school and on the basketball courts of Brooklyn. He talks about his older brother Bernard King as a street ball player and later as a New York Knick. He fondly remembers his own youth; playing ball, emulating star players of the '70s, building a reputation, and training under the legendary coach Gil Reynolds. He discusses his time in his high school team within the surroundings of the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn and meeting the demands of his parents at home in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. He speaks about experiencing blatant or subtle racism during his time as a kid. King shares some details on his parents and how basketball flourished in the family. He describes his time as a college player at the University of Maryland, who his teammates were, and how they coalesced into a good team. King reminisces more about being a kid in Fort Greene. He describes the rush of playing as a professional and his ability to transition to running a business. Interview conducted via telephone by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • King, Albert
  • King, Bernard
  • Reynolds, Gil

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Nets (Basketball team)‏
  • University of Maryland

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Basketball -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Basketball players -- United States
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Games -x Street -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School sports -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Sports for children -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bay Ridge (New York, N.Y)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey

Kramer, Allan, 2008 September 4

Biographical / Historical

Allan F. Kramer II was born, raised, and resides in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. He attended St. Savior School and Brooklyn Preparatory School. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1972 and from Pratt Institute in 1979, attaining a graduate degree in Information Science. He worked in publishing and took an interest in many Brooklyn organizations; including as a volunteer and committee member at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden since 1978; Board of Directors of CAMBA; Past Board member and President of the private Montauk Club in Park Slope; a member of the Municipal Club of the City; Board member of the Prospect Park YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association); Executive Board Member and the Treasurer of Reel Works: Teen Filmmaking; Board member and President of the New York Memory Center; and a Life Member of the Society of Old Brooklynites.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, while onsite at the Montauk Club during an event, Allan F. Kramer II begins by talking about his family's long residence in Brooklyn. He recalls his early years of living in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn and visits to Prospect Park. Kramer recounts where he attended school. He speaks about the Montauk Club via his family's membership. Kramer's adulthood didn't initially include much time at the club because of his career, he says, but he made up for it by later becoming a Board member and President. He describes the changing nature of the club; historically and structurally. Kramer shares some history of the neighborhood, as well. In closing, he gives a short tour and points out visually impressive features. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kramer, Allan

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Brooklyn Preparatory School
  • Montauk Club of Brooklyn

Subject Topics

  • Historic buildings -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Historic preservation -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Private clubs -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Societies -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Voluntarism -- New York (State) - Kings County -x Societies, etc.

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Buildings, structures, etc.
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Park Slope (New York, N.Y.)

Nisselson, Alan, 2009 March 26

Biographical / Historical

Alan Nisselson was born in 1947 and raised in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn. While the family was living above a delicatessen in Coney Island, they opened a custard stand near Steeplechase Park and put Nisselson to work when he was a young boy. Later in his youth, the family moved north to a Kings Highway address. Work at the custard stand ended in 1965 and young Nisselson went on to work for the City Parks Department in Brooklyn for a few summers. He attained an undergraduate degree from American University in 1968 and a doctoral degree from Brooklyn Law in 1976. With a master's degree in business administration from New York University as well, he became an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. He also worked with creditors' rights firms. As of 2017, Nisselson resided in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, was a partner at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, and served as a trustee in U.S. Bankruptcy Courts and elaborate Chapter 11 cases. He is on the Board of Trustees at Brooklyn Historical Society.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Alan Nisselson speaks in detail about the origins of his family's seaside custard stand business in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn. He recalls the stand's offerings, the layout, and the operation. Nisselson also remembers the surroundings of his home, school, and work life within Coney Island. He recollects his swimming routine at Steeplechase Park and enjoying and mastering many of the attractions at that amusement park. He adds details about the sideshow performers, the family that lived on the Thunderbolt roller coaster property, the parachute jump, and custard stand competitors. He then shares some of what his parents told him about older venues; such as Luna Park, Feltman's and the bathhouses. Some less pleasant memories for Nisselson were the demands of summer work when friends were vacationing, segregation of private swimming pools, his mother's workplace accident, and the prevalence of rats. In closing, he reflects on his unique childhood and observes the changes to Surf Avenue and the seaside in 2009. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Nisselson, Alan

Subject Organizations

  • Nathan's Famous, Inc
  • Steeplechase Park (New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Amusement parks -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x History
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Child labor -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Desserts
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Buildings, structures, etc.
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Coney Island (New York, N.Y.)

Shuba, George, 2008 July 23

Biographical / Historical

George Thomas "Shotgun" Shuba was born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1924. He played in Little League ball clubs and high school baseball as a boy. After a try-out to be a professional baseball player in 1943, the Dodgers club signed him in 1944. In 1946, he was playing as a left fielder for the Dodgers' farm team, the Montreal Royals, when he met teammate Jackie Robinson. His on-deck greeting upon Robinson's crossing home plate at a Jersey City season opener was a publicly notable effort at racial tolerance. Shuba spent time in an Alabama minor-league team for the Dodgers before he was ordered up to Brooklyn's Ebbets Field in 1948. Called upon infrequently by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949 and 1950, the left-handed pinch hitter stepped up his appearances in 1951 and subsequently in three World Series, including their winning season in 1955. He was a frequent resident of the Bossert Hotel in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood for much of his career. After playing for Montreal again in 1956, he went on to become a postal clerk in Youngstown. Married since age thirty-three, Shuba was a father of three. As of his death in 2014, he had eight grandchildren.

Scope and Contents

Beginning his interview, George Thomas "Shotgun" Shuba mentions a few factors that led to his time in Brooklyn as one of the Dodgers. He then recalls details and stories about teammates, plays at Ebbets Field, team President Walter O'Malley, living in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, and messages from local fans. He contrasts Brooklyn baseball with other major league New York teams of the late-1940s to mid-1950s. He turns back to some personal details; including the source of his nickname, his ambidextrous ability on the field, and his overactive thyroid. He compares the business of baseball of then with the twenty-first century. In the middle of the interview, Shuba recalls Jackie Robinson in terms of character and in plays. He returns to his own background; his post-Dodgers years and family life, as well as the lives of his parents, and his earliest times playing ball. He closes with memories of a 1985 Dodgers reunion and a salute to the Brooklyn fans. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • O'Malley, Walter F. (Walter Francis)
  • Robinson, Jackie
  • Shuba, George Thomas "Shotgun"

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
  • Ebbets Field (New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Baseball -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Baseball fans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Baseball fields -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Baseball players -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bay Ridge (New York, N.Y)
  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Florida
  • New York (N.Y.)

Sobers, Mary DeSaussure, 2009 January 21

Biographical / Historical

Mary DeSaussure Sobers, a track runner from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, became the first African American female to run in a sanctioned track meet when she participated in the Olympic Carnival, sponsored by the New York City Department of Parks, in 1945. Sobers won gold medal for the forty-yard dash. She and her twin sister Martha were born in Utahville, South Carolina in 1931. They attended Girls' High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant and helped form the Trailblazers, the first girls track team under the auspices of the Police Athletic League (PAL) in Brooklyn. Both DeSaussure sisters went to the Olympic tryouts in 1948. Sobers went on to become a coach and adviser to the Queens Trailblazers Track Club. She worked as a secretary at a shoe-polish plant as well as a manufacturer of vacuum-cleaners, but her long term workplace was Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens. She retired in 1997. She married Lowell Sobers in 1958. The couple resided in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood of Queens when the interview took place in 2009.

Scope and Contents

In her lengthy interview, Mary DeSaussure Sobers recalls her life by way of many of her memories, press clippings, photographs and the people she's known. She tells about recently receiving an honorary award, and then shares biographical details about herself, twin sister Martha, and their parents. She connects the politics of the 2008 presidential elections to disrespectful children of the era. Sobers begins to tell the tale of her first track meet experience late in the interview's first hour, and comes back to that and an all-borough meet in hours two and three, with many offshoot topics along the way. The initial track meet experience was a personal success, but was blunted by racism in the awarding of medals. She also discusses sexism in sports as well as in her personal upbringing. She looks back at the historic arc of civil rights. Sobers shares details on people dear to her, like her sister Martha, and friend Inge Auerbacher. Sobers also speaks of her genealogy research on her family. Throughout, she is mindful of instilling children with a positive outlook and goals, using her experience as lessons for them. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Auerbacher, Inge
  • DeSaussure, Martha
  • Sobers, Mary DeSaussure

Subject Organizations

  • Girls' High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.). Dept. of Parks

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -y 20th century
  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Discrimination in sports -- United States
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Genealogy
  • Girls -x Education (Secondary) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School sports -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Sports -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sports for children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women runners -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century

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