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Guide to the Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection ARC.003

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn 11201
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Amy Lau, Mary Mann, Aliki Caloyeras, and Margaret Fraser

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on  , September 3, 2020
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Oral History Interview with Jack Grossman, May 4, 2010

Biographical / Historical

Jack Grossman (1923- ) was born in New York on the Lower East Side near the Williamsburg Bridge. His father emigrated from Austria and was known as the Pickle Man because he made and sold pickles. His mother passed away when he was four years old and he is the youngest of four children. In 1939 or 1940, Grossman was hired at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a Trainee - he was only 17 years old so they had to give him a special title and paid him only 58 cents per hour. He later became a shipbuilder and attended classes three days a week to learn how to tack weld and read ship blueprints.

Scope and Contents

In his interview, Jack Grossman (1923- ) talks about growing up in Brooklyn in a Jewish family and his experience working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He describes in detail the Mold Loft at the Navy Yard, where balsawood models were made from the blueprints and then steel was heated in large ovens and shaped to match the models, forming the curved pieces that would become part of the hull of the ships. He says that ships are known as "she" because of their womanly curves. Grossman explains that the master shipfitters were Irish and had learned the skills in the United Kingdom. Grossman worked on the USS Missouri and was one of four "kids" on a platform for the christening and launch. In addition, Grossman talks about his father's interactions with the Mafia while selling pickles, the founding of Las Vegas, and other jobs he has had including driving a taxi cab in New York and running a catering truck in California. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Subject Organizations

  • New York Naval Shipyard
  • Missouri (Battleship : BB 63)

Subject Topics

  • Blueprints
  • Taxicab drivers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Food
  • Ship models
  • Warships
  • Organized crime
  • Religion and culture -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Shipbuilding -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Shipyards -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Street vendors -- New York (State) -- New York
  • World War, 1939-1945

Subject Places

  • California
  • Lower East Side (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)