Minerva Matzkowitz at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Official U.S. Navy Photo, New-York Historical Society.
At the end of WWII & NYC, there is a phone booth labeled “Talk to Us,” where visitors have been leaving their comments, questions, and personal stories of World War II. We’ve featured some of the stories here before, but amazing tales just keep coming! WWII & NYC closes on May 27, so if you haven’t already, check it out and tell us your memories of WWII.
My memories are—I remember so much. The air raids. My dad leaving us in the apartment because he was an air raid warden, and had to patrol the streets. He didn’t serve in the military because he was 36 and had three children. I remember the darkening shades we had in the windows, and how frightened I was. I remember parents getting telegrams about their child’s death and running through the streets crying. I remember the Victory Gardens, and bringing stuff to school for packages to go to soldiers, such as: stockings, cigarettes, and underwear, anything they could use, playing cards. I remember the ration stamps that my mom had to use, and young men in the neighborhood reaching the age of 16, 17 and having to go into the military, and us seeing them off to war.I served with the 84th Infantry division. We arrived in Europe after D day in time to be available for the Bulge. I went through all of that unscathed and it was after that I went to Germany when I was wounded. I remember when i was recuperating I was at the hospital in Utica, New York. I came to New York on a recuperation feral and i used to hang around the Pepsi-Cola cantine which is where the Olive Garden is now. And because I couldn’t really move around too much I was on crutches at the time. And that’s where i met my lovely wife who was in the Navy. She was in WAVES and the two of us appreciated all the services that we received from the USO by getting tickets to various shows and things like that and that was the way we went out. She would come up from Washington, DC meet me and I would come up from Brooklyn and the two of us would really enjoy our weekends together for several months. After she was discharged about a year later we got married.My grandpa was stationed in France, and he was known for always being lost. He would get lost going to his own house. He actually got lost from his platoon, and he was found by nuns, and they took him to their convent, and he was there for quite a long time, and they saved him. His platoon died but he survived because he got lost. My grandpa’s brother was stationed in another platoon. They were playing a movie, but he didn’t want to watch it, so he went to sleep in a foxhole. During this time they were invaded, and he was one of the only ones to survive because he was in the foxhole.I was 7 years old at the end of WWII. When I went to school, I remember, I went to PS87, and because I was of German descent none of the teachers liked me, and the kids used to throw tomatoes at my brother and myself. And we never understood why, because we were too young to understand. I lived on West 80th Street and it was very hard to grow up as a German in NYC after WWII. That’s one of the basic things I remember, but I am so happy we won the war.
What are your memories of New York during WWII? Let us know in the comments!