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Guide to the Voices of Brooklyn oral histories 2008.031

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201
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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: Our neighbors, 2007-

Scope and Contents

This series includes oral histories collected through several projects undertaken by the Brooklyn Historical Society beginning in 2007. The assembled collection took shape in 2008 under the project title "Brooklyn History Makers." The ongoing oral history collection, retitled in 2016, features a diverse range of narrators; all longtime neighborhood residents who describe the changes they have observed in their neighborhoods over decades.

Abumrad, Jad and Karla Murthy, 2010 August 29

Conditions Governing Access and Use

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

Castellano, Madeline, 2009 May 12

Biographical / Historical

Madeline Rotondo Castellano was born in Brooklyn in 1927. She was raised in the Fort Greene, Canarsie, and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Later, she resided in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. In her earliest years, she lived in a home that included three generations of her Italian American family. Castellano's childhood was spent running chores for family, seeing friends in Fort Greene Park, and attending school. While still a young girl, she was permanently injured in a hit-and-run incident. It left her without the full use of her legs. Castellano was one of seven siblings. She married, raised a daughter, and later divorced. After working in jobs at movie theaters and a shop, she became an advocate for improved social services for the physically challenged. In her late fifties, she returned to school at Adelphi University and held a long-term bookkeeping position with Citibank. As of 2009, she was residing at an assisted living facility in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Madeline Rontondo Castellano shares anecdotes that reflect her way of life in the Brooklyn of the Great Depression, Second World War, and postwar eras. She also formulates that society's issues of the 2000s grew out of those earlier periods. The three-generation family unit in which she grew up in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn is illustrated in vignettes about her running errands, taking part in Sunday dinners, and entertaining visiting neighbors. Castellano also discusses her times of taking responsibility for herself as a little girl and teenager, with Fort Greene Park, area social clubs, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard as backdrops. She recalls her family history and Italian heritage. In several segments throughout the interview, Castellano relates the story of her injury by hit-and-run driver at age nine, being hospitalized, then treated differently in school, and later in life becoming an advocate for those with physical disabilities. In the final half-hour, Castellano looks at her adult life as a mother and wife, and how she ended her marriage on her terms. 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

  • Castellano, Madeline

Subject Organizations

  • New York Naval Shipyard

Subject Topics

  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Games -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Great Depression -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • People with disabilities -x Services for -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- 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
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene Park (New York, N.Y.)

Favorito, Vincent, 2011 June 10

Biographical / Historical

Vincent Favorito was born in Brooklyn in 1941. He is of Italian heritage and he grew up in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. He attended school at Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen's (Hicks Street), Delehanty High School and later St. John's University and St. John's School of Law. At the time of this interview, Favorito and his wife had sold the Carroll Gardens brownstone that his father-in-law bought in 1946 and where he and his wife first lived in 1962 when they got married. They returned to live in the brownstone in 2003 after his father-in-law passed away. From 1972 – 2003, they lived in the Marine Park neighborhood of Brooklyn and that is where their three children grew up. Favorito and his wife, having sold their brownstone shortly before this 2011 interview, planned to move to Westchester to be closer to one of their sons and live in a condominium without too many stairs.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Vincent Favorito remembers his childhood in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn and the schools he attended through to his adulthood. He recalls the Italian families in the neighborhood and the bakeries, butchers, and other neighborhood businesses. He talks about adult life in different homes in Carroll Gardens and the Marine Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, with summers on Breezy Point in Queens. Favorito discusses being part of the 1969 effort to get landmark status for Carroll Gardens. He reflects on the importance of "the Place blocks" (First – Fourth Places) built in 1846. He also relates how the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway divided the neighborhood and destroyed the commerce along Union Street. 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

  • Favorito, Vincent

Subject Topics

  • Architecture -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x History -y 19th century
  • Brownstone buildings -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • City planning -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Historic preservation -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Home ownership -x Social aspects -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History
  • Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Carroll Gardens (New York, N.Y.)
  • Clinton Street (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Garcia, Yolande, 2010 September 29

Biographical / Historical

Yolande Garcia was born and raised in Haiti in 1930, moving to New York City in 1954 to start a new life. She met her husband in the city and had two children, a boy and a girl, while living in Queens. In 1980, they moved to the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn where they have lived ever since. Highly involved in community activism and global humanitarian work, Garcia had spent thirty years in Fort Greene, helping to improve the neighborhood, and enjoying her retirement with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She visited Haiti every year and has deep roots to the community in both her home country and her adopted country. Garcia's son, Marc, was also interviewed for this collection.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Yolande Garcia discusses immigrating to New York City and moving to the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn later in life. She talks about her role in starting a block association, creating a safe neighborhood, and the changes she has witnessed in Fort Greene throughout the past three decades. She reflects on her family roots in Haiti, her activism in Haiti and in Fort Greene, and on raising a family in the city. She describes her love of music and the arts and the different venues she frequents around Brooklyn. She talks about the benefits she sees in living in a multicultural neighborhood, the sensory experiences of Fort Greene, and her love of the neighborhood she adopted as her own. 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

  • Garcia, Yolande

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x History -y 20th century
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Haitian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Intergenerational relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Older people -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women in charitable work -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Haiti

Glicksman, Hal, 2009 January 14

Biographical / Historical

Born in Brooklyn in 1937, Hal Glicksman grew up in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn at the same location as his father's glass shop. He attended PS 11, PS 64, Boys' High School, and Brooklyn College. While young Glicksman was in his teens his father suffered a heart attack, and the young man assisted with glass installation for the family business. Permanently shuttering the shop in the early 1970s, Glicksman left for Chicago, where he got started in local broadcast television work. He returned to Brooklyn a couple years later and found long term employment with CBS News. In the several years before this 2009 interview, Glicksman had become a Manhattan resident, left CBS after staffing cuts, and had become a tour guide in the city for the Gray Line bus company. After eight years at Gray Line, he was leading a variety of tours for New York City Vacation Packages as of 2017.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Hal Glicksman looks back on his time as a boy and young man in and around the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, as well as shares the knowledge of a tour guide in regard to the Brooklyn of the early twenty-first century. Throughout, he mentions many biographical details and recalls much about the two generations of his family that preceded him. Glicksman recalls his home and how that also served as the base for his father's glass shop. He focuses on notable moments and landmarks of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and shares personal stories of volunteering for the team and meeting Dan Bankhead and Jackie Robinson. Often Glicksman discusses the changes in Brooklyn neighborhoods, contrasting a location of his youth with his adult view of the same place. The landmarks and institutions mentioned include Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, Fort Greene Park, elevated trains, Ebbets Field, Barclay's Center, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Fort Greene Meat Market, and Brooklyn Academy of Music. 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

  • Bankhead, Dan
  • Glicksman, Hal

Subject Organizations

  • Boys' High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
  • Ebbets Field (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York Naval Shipyard

Subject Topics

  • Baseball -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Baseball fields -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Games -x Street -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews, American -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Tourism -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Religious life and customs
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Clinton Hill (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)

Holland, Deborah "DK", 2010 March 1

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1947, Deborah "DK" Holland was a Manhattan resident until 1983. She was teaching a graphic design class at Pratt Institute then, and was wooed to the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn because of the value for housing stock at the time and the welcoming sense of community within the social gatherings of the Society for Clinton Hill. She renovated the home she bought there, but soon found it too large for a single person. She relocated to a home that had been a tack barn on Adelphi Street at Lafayette Avenue. The property also included a corner storefront that, in 2017, housed the restaurant Olea. Holland built on the Society's community values and, in 1984, started a newsletter with neighbors titled The Hill, the Journal of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Wallabout. It had also become a website by 2010, but ceased publication that same year. Holland co-founded the Greene Hill Food Co-op, a long gestating organization that opened its doors in 2011. In 2017, she had co-founded the education-focused non-profit Inquiring Minds. More of her biographical details can be found at dkholland.com

Scope and Contents

In this interview, "DK" Holland focuses mainly on her life in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. She chronicles her experiences with homes there; her neighbors' as well as her own. Holland discusses her involvement with the Board of the Society for Clinton Hill, and the efforts between her, Abigail Golde, and Rogen Brown in getting a newsletter into circulation for Clinton Hill, and the nearby Fort Greene and Wallabout neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Holland surveys the changes in her area; from a crime-ridden era to more recent times when fine dining and a food co-op are becoming staples. In her eyes, it's neighborliness and home restoration that have strengthened the community. Other tools that Holland emphasizes are organizing sustainably and patronizing businesses. Interview conducted by Alexis Taines Coe.

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

  • Brown, Rogen S.
  • Golde, Abigail
  • Holland, DK

Document Type

  • Newsletters

Subject Organizations

  • Greene Hill Food Coop (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Hill (Newsletter)
  • Olea (Restaurant)
  • Pratt Institute
  • Society for Clinton Hill

Subject Topics

  • Architecture -- Conservation and restoration
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Markets -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Restaurants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women in community development -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Clinton Hill (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • Wallabout (New York, N.Y.)

Moran, Ed, 2008 November 12

Biographical / Historical

Edward "Ed" Moran was born in 1947 and raised in a small town of Pennsylvania. At age twenty in 1968, he sailed to Europe for a four-month tour of the continent. Moving to New York City later that year, he lived in Manhattan until 1974. After moving to Brooklyn, he joined a theatrical company that performed at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. In 1976, he formally became a member of the church. He became an Elder with the Session of the church a year later and after less involvement in the church for much of the 1980s, he joined the Session again from 1989 to 1991. Writing for a living, Moran is recognized as the unofficial historian of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church; knowledgeable about the church's mid-nineteenth century origin and subsequent decades, and equipped with first-hand observations of the 1970s through the 2000s.

Scope and Contents

In this first of three interviews, Edward "Ed" Moran begins with his initial contact with the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church and Reverend George Knight due to his interest in the theatre group that performed there. He looks at the special nature of the church services in that they didn't conform to type. Moran reflects on his own journey in the tumultuous late-1960s that led him to New York City, then Brooklyn, and his rapid rise in the church's hierarchy. He speaks to the social justice mission of the church, its use of history for perspective and learning, and its forward-thinking legacy. Moran spends much of the middle of the interview dissecting whether the church played a role in abolition or the Underground Railroad in Brooklyn. He shares a few short anecdotes of some of the most memorable congregants and occasions. Moran then looks back at the 1970s and 1980s when the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn was struggling and the church was actively reaching out to the community. In closing, he considers Reverend Knight's attachment to the church and that it may have been pathological. Interview conducted by Hillel Arnold.

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

  • Knight, George Litch
  • Lincoln, Abraham
  • Moran, Edward

Subject Organizations

  • Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Abolitionists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Amateur theater -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Churches -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Presbyterian Church -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Presbyterian Church -- New York (State) -- New York -x Clergy
  • Presbyterians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Religious institutions -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x History
  • Slavery -- United States -x History
  • Social justice -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

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

Moran, Ed, 2008 November 26

Biographical / Historical

Edward "Ed" Moran was born in 1947 and raised in a small town of Pennsylvania. At age twenty in 1968, he sailed to Europe for a four-month tour of the continent. Moving to New York City later that year, he lived in Manhattan until 1974. After moving to Brooklyn, he joined a theatrical company that performed at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. In 1976, he formally became a member of the church. He became an Elder with the Session of the church a year later and, after less involvement in the church for much of the 1980s, he joined the Session again from 1989 to 1991. Writing for a living, Moran is recognized as the unofficial historian of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church; knowledgeable about the church's mid-nineteenth century origin and subsequent decades, and equipped with first-hand observations of the 1970s through the 2000s.

Scope and Contents

In this second of three interviews, Edward "Ed" Moran begins with his recollections of Reverend George Knight and the creativity and sense of community that Moran enjoyed at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. He looks at the the social justice mission of the church through the lens of the More Light Presbyterians coalition that began at the church in 1979 with little difficulty. He examines how More Light was reaffirmed in the early 1990s with some challenges by those affected by a Religious Right ideology. Moran cites this same period as a time of upheaval in the church's functionality because of the Reverend Knight's personal troubles, his swift resignation, and an ensuing chaotic three-year period of four interim pastors. The details of that period were expected to be part of the follow-up oral history. While recording, Moran requested that some thoughts on Rev. Fred Davie be redacted. Two minutes late in the first hour have been cut. Interview conducted by Hillel Arnold.

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

  • Dyson, David W.
  • Knight, George Litch
  • Moran, Edward

Subject Organizations

  • Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • More Light Presbyterians

Subject Topics

  • Amateur theater -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Church controversies -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Church management -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Churches -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gay rights
  • Presbyterian Church -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Presbyterian Church -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Clergy
  • Presbyterians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Religious institutions -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x History
  • Social justice -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Religious life and customs
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)

Moran, Ed, 2009 January 29

Biographical / Historical

Edward "Ed" Moran was born in 1947 and raised in a small town of Pennsylvania. At age twenty in 1968, he sailed to Europe for a four-month tour of the continent. Moving to New York City later that year, he lived in Manhattan until 1974. After moving to Brooklyn, he joined a theatrical company that performed at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. In 1976, he formally became a member of the church. He became an Elder with the Session of the church a year later and, after less involvement in the church for much of the 1980s, he joined the Session again from 1989 to 1991. Writing for a living, Moran is recognized as the unofficial historian of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church; knowledgeable about the church's mid-nineteenth century origin and subsequent decades, and equipped with first-hand observations of the 1970s through the 2000s.

Scope and Contents

In this third of three interviews, Edward "Ed" Moran delves into the challenges of a three-and-a-half year period between permanent pastors at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1989 to 1992. He goes into detail about some of the interim pastors, Reverend Davie's role as associate pastor, and the institutional chaos in the wake of Reverend George Knight's tumultuous final days as pastor. He describes the procedures of the Session and their role in reaffirming the More Light position of the church; an open-door policy to welcome members to be of any sexual preference, as well as electing Reverend David Dyson as permanent pastor. Both efforts were challenged by a few members and by the lingering disarray of Rev. Knight's management. Moran looks at this period as a reflection of larger movements happening in 1990s America. He hypothesizes about the church's future and church attendance in general, then breaks down what appeals to him and others about attending services. Moran closes with visceral memories of old Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church sights and sounds. While recording, Moran expressed that he was making a personal aside that was not for the record. One minute near the one hour mark was cut. Interview conducted by Hillel Arnold.

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

  • Crumb, Susan
  • Davie, Fred
  • Dyson, David W.
  • Knight, George Litch
  • Moran, Edward

Subject Organizations

  • Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • More Light Presbyterians

Subject Topics

  • Church controversies -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Church management -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Churches -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gay rights
  • Identity politics
  • Politics and culture -- United States
  • Presbyterian Church -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Presbyterian Church -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Clergy
  • Sexuality & culture
  • Social justice -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Religious life and customs
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)

Santos, Frank, 2008 September 5

Biographical / Historical

One of six children, Frank Santos was born in 1927 and raised on Hicks Street in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. His parents had emigrated from the Canary Islands in the early 1920s. He and several siblings followed their father into the woodworking trades. As a child, Santos attended the parochial Assumption School in the Heights. A father and grandfather, he was also a Florida resident as of 2017.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Frank Santos shares many of his and his family's biographical details. He tells of the disruption to the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood caused by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, as well as his family's relocation to a new Hicks Street home. Santos vividly recalls many features of 1930s and 1940s Downtown Brooklyn and Heights neighborhoods. He speaks of his schooling at the Assumption School, and then quickly moves into an overview of the careers of his children and grandchildren. Focusing on one daughter's challenges in a couple marriages to police officers, Santos expresses his criticism of the police in general and the New York Police Department specifically; citing encounters he experienced in 1959, the 1970s, and 2007. The interview ends abruptly due to an issue with the recording equipment. Santos was interviewed again, weeks later, and that interview is also within this series. 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

  • Esposito, Diana
  • Santos, Frank

Subject Organizations

  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Bergen Cabinet (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.). Police Department

Subject Topics

  • Catholic schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community gardens -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Elections -x Corrupt practices -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police-community relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School children -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Downtown Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Florida

Santos, Frank with Gaffney, Elizabeth, 2008 October 27

Biographical / Historical

One of six children, Frank Santos was born in 1927 and raised on Hicks Street in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. His parents had emigrated from the Canary Islands in the early 1920s. He and several siblings followed their father into the woodworking trades. As a child, Santos attended the parochial Assumption School in the Heights. A father and grandfather, he was also a Florida resident as of 2017.

As stated on her website, Elizabeth Gaffney is also "a native Brooklynite. She graduated with honors from Vassar College and holds a master's degree in fiction from Brooklyn College; she also studied philosophy and German at Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the neurologist Alex Boro, and their daughters. Her second novel, When the World Was Young, was published by Random House in 2014." The story is set in Brooklyn Heights in the period of the Second World War.*

*Source: http://www.elizabethgaffney.net/author.html

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Frank Santos begins with some of his family's biographical details, then describes local doctors in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of his youth. He recalls many elements of his childhood throughout the interview; such as building wagons and scooters to race with friends, the neighborhood before the disruption of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, and personal hygiene in a cold water flat. Santos vividly recalls amenities and features of the 1930s and 1940s Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights neighborhoods. He speaks of his respect for Jewish neighbors and their philanthropy. Aspects of life during World War II like working on oil barges for the Army, rationing, blackouts, air raid warnings, and soldiers on duty in Cadman Plaza. Elizabeth Gaffney shares a few details about her history with the Heights and she and Santos make comparisons about real estate and investment in the area. Prior to this oral history, Santos was interviewed weeks earlier, and that interview is also within this series. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, with Elizabeth Gaffney contributing interview questions as part of her writing preparation.

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

  • Gaffney, Elizabeth
  • Santos, Frank

Subject Organizations

  • United States. Army

Subject Topics

  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police-community relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Waterfronts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Downtown Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Williams, Fenton, 2013 August 9

Biographical / Historical

Fenton Williams was born in Suffolk, Virginia in 1931 and raised in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. He attended the area's public elementary schools and a Manhattan vocational high school. Shortly after beginning in the city's community college and passing a test for a coveted position within the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Williams was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. After his service, he returned to school and to a job in the Yard as a shipwright. He married and raised a family in a house bought in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1958. After the close of the Yard, Williams went to work for the city as a building inspector and carpenter in the late 1960s. He then became a plant mechanic at Greenpoint Hospital, and followed that with higher superintendent and foreman positions at Cumberland and Woodhull Hospitals. Williams and his wife moved to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1984. He was a grandfather and widower by 2013.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Fenton Williams tells the broad history of his family origins; a legacy that included slavery and former slaves and field hands in the South. He describes his many siblings; several of whom were lost to tuberculosis, and life in Brooklyn's cold water flats. Williams shares vivid details about childhood play in the Fort Greene neighborhood and surrounding areas of Brooklyn. He recalls the interaction between African American and Italian American people in Fort Greene; it was largely neighborly in the 1930s and 1940s, but racially-motivated fighting did occur. Williams outlines his education from public elementary schools to a technical high school to community college. The middle of the interview is largely about his work as a shipwright in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Williams runs through his many jobs after the Yard closed and goes into detail on his wife's dress-making and careers of their three children. He ends with a description of home ownership in the Park Slope and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods, from the 1950s to 1980s. Interview conducted by Rebecca Jacobs.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

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Subject Names

  • Williams, Fenton

Subject Organizations

  • New York Naval Shipyard

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Games -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Shipbuilding -- 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
  • Downtown Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • Park Slope (New York, N.Y.)

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