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. Some remember what it was like to serve, others what it was like to hide under their desks at school during air raids, but each stories gives an important glimpse into what life was like in the city during the war.
Where I lived in Brooklyn on the corner of 65th Street and 18th Avenue we had an empty lot, and my downstairs neighbor, Mrs. Goldstein, created a victory garden which we all helped grow vegetables in. One of the people in the neighborhood was in charge of civilian defense and I remember one evening we had a civil defense drill and they actually threw dummies off the roof of the apartment building next door and proceeded to do medical treatment of the bodies. My father, who had a family, did not go into the service. But he went to work for Norden bombsight and I was very proud of the fact that he earned an E button or medal for helping the war effort. –Ralph CasadoMy memory is of December 7, 1941, when I was 9 years old and living in the Bronx on Sheridan Avenue and 171st Street. It was a Sunday morning, a beautiful day, and I was out in front of the building with my father and a lot of neighbors were there and they were all talking about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I was somewhat concerned. My father was a dentist and was known as doctor so of course had some prestige in the neighborhood, and he said, “Don’t worry about it. The Japanese live in paper houses. One bomb and the whole country will burn down.” And I didn’t worry about it, and in 1945 when the Japanese surrendered I was on a bus, and I remember, suddenly, someone burst into the bus and yelled out, “The Japanese surrendered! The war is over!” And I suddenly felt this relief, and I realized that I had been worried all this time about being bombed. How do you like that? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. –Edward AdlerI was five years old when the war began. By then I do remember my nametag, I still have it. I remember the siren every Saturday at noon, reminding us what to do in case there was an air raid. I remember collecting newspapers and bringing them to school for the war effort, though Idon’t know what they did with them. We collected tin and the wires that came around bottles of milk for the war effort, and I remember the flags in people’s windows, with the stars. Some blue, some gold. I remember after the war there were block parties, every block had a party. People putting out tables, providing drinks and food and celebrations. I remember a war hero came home and he looked so orange. I didn’t know why. It seems he was being celebrated, and he was a prisoner of war and he had malaria. –Rita FriedmanI was 14 years old when the war started, and I remember taking my mother’s silver plates to Yankee Stadium to get into a ballgame free of charge. –Stanley KorsonI was born on January 25th, 1943 and my father designed my birth announcement to look like a ration book and this is what the poem was on the little ration book: “Six and three quarter pounds sugar sent from heaven. We didn’t need a book, presenting Banita Louise Levan, come over and take a look!” That’s my memory of World War II. –Banita Black
Do you remember what New York was like during World War II? Did you or your family members serve? Let us know your memories in the comments!