October 20, 2005

9:19 minutes

Interviewed by Ann Kelsey

Filmed by Michael O’Hagan

For the County College of Morris, Learning Resource Center

Randolph, New Jersey

Rosie the Riveter Project

Transcribed by Jardee Transcription, Tucson, Arizona

Kelsey:  Where were you born and raised?

Doniloski:  Actually, Mine Hill, and raised in Mt. Hope, New Jersey.

Kelsey:  Which is part of Rockaway?

Doniloski:  Rockaway Township.

Kelsey:  When the war started, were you married or single?

Doniloski:  Single.

Kelsey:  Where did you live during the war?

Kelsey:  During the war I lived on Mt. Hope Road, Rockaway.  It used to be called Middletown.

Kelsey:  How did you get into working in the defense industry, and where did you work?

Doniloski:  Carpooled.  We used to live on the—going to the arsenal, I used to get a ride from carpools.

Kelsey:  Okay, so you worked at Picatinny?

Doniloski:  I worked at Picatinny, yes.

Kelsey:  And what did you do there?

Doniloski:  I was working in the loading department.

Kelsey:  And what did that involve, what did you do?

Doniloski:  Well, I worked on various components, on the conveyor belts.  And I worked on some machines on crimping

             and drilling and stuff, and inspection.

Kelsey:  And what were you making, what was the drilling and crimping?

Doniloski:  Ammunition—relays and delays, primers, stuff like that.

Kelsey:  That went into ordnance?

Doniloski:  Yes, fuzes—went into fuzes.

Kelsey:  And when did you start working there?

Doniloski:  July 19, 1941.

Kelsey:  And what had you been doing before that?

Doniloski:  I got out of high school at seventeen, and couldn’t get a job, so I had to wait until I was eighteen.  I was

             eighteen in April, and I went in July to Picatinny.

Kelsey:  And then how long did you work there?

Doniloski:  Until the war was over, and I got laid off during the month of October, 1945.

Kelsey:  And did you do the same type of job the whole time you were there, or did you move to different things?

Doniloski:  In the loading.  Yeah, different buildings, and different jobs.

Kelsey:  And what other kinds of jobs did you do?

Doniloski:  Clerical work also.  Well, mostly inspection and clerical work and working on the line, and testing.

Kelsey:  What things did you test?

Doniloski:  Delays.  And I carried powder from the building to the building for the operation of the project.

Kelsey:  So you carried black powder?

Doniloski:  Yes.

Kelsey:  And how did you carry it, what did you carry it in?

Doniloski:  Safety containers.

Kelsey:  Did you just carry them in your hands?

Doniloski:  In the container.

Kelsey:  But you carried it in your hands, or did you pull it in a….

Doniloski:  No, no.

Kelsey:  So you would carry one at a time?

Doniloski:  Well, the powder would be in containers.

Kelsey:  And one container of powder at a time?

Doniloski:  Well, yeah, samples—just samples.

Kelsey:  How big were the containers?

Doniloski:  Very small.

Kelsey:  Okay, like a canned good?

Doniloski:  Yes.  Yeah, something.

Kelsey:  Did you think that was dangerous?  Did you think about it being dangerous?

Doniloski:  Well, being young, you didn’t really have any fear.

Kelsey:  Did anybody get hurt doing that?

Doniloski:  No.  Well, there were people on the lines that got hurt, but I mean accidents happened all over.  No, there

              was no fear when you were young—there was no fear.

Kelsey:  I know, you’re “immortal”.  So when you were laid off in 1945, then what did you do?

Doniloski:  Had to get another job, and I went into McGregor’s factory, that was right in Dover.

Kelsey:  And what did you do there?

Doniloski:  I was working in the prep department, at clerical work, doing purchasing orders.

Kelsey:  And how long did you work there?

Doniloski:  A couple of months, and then I got called back to the arsenal.

Kelsey:  Oh, you did?!

Doniloski:  Yes, just for six months when the boys were comin’ back.  And then they would get laid off, and I went back

             there again in ’51, and I stayed there a couple of years, and then I was pregnant.  I had a premature baby—

             worked Friday and he was born Sunday.  So that was it, and I was home for ten years, and then I got called

             back again.

Kelsey:  Back to Picatinny?

Doniloski:  Yes.  That was years and years after, but I wound up with thirty years of service.

Kelsey:  I see.

Doniloski:  I retired in 1988

Kelsey:  So you worked at Picatinny for how many….

Doniloski:  Thirty years.

Kelsey:  Thirty continuous years?

Doniloski:  Well, no.

Kelsey:  Or thirty years from 1941…

Doniloski:  Altogether, yes.  Well, continuous was twenty-three.

Kelsey:  What did you do when you went back and then worked the twenty-three years, what did you do there?

Doniloski:  I was working in the machine shop at that time, working on the punch press.  Then I was working, drilling delays and stuff.  And then I got into the clerical work when Frankford Arsenal came up.  And then I went into large caliber and small caliber, and I wound up with internal review.

Kelsey:  So Picatinny kept contacting you to come back to work?

Doniloski:  Yeah.  Well, they didn’t contact me—the board was open and I went back.

Kelsey:  I see.

Doniloski:  They had an opening.

Kelsey:  You went back and reapplied?

Doniloski:  Yes.

Kelsey:  Did a lot of women do that?

Doniloski:  Oh, yes.  They worked for a while, and then they raised their children.  That’s what I did.  I mean, I raised three children—with working and raising the kids.

Kelsey:  That’s very interesting, that you had a career, really, at Picatinny, spaced out over a number of years.  That’s

            actually fascinating.  All right, well, thank you very much.  I think that’s a good first interview.  There’ll be more. 

           (laughs) You’re actually the first woman I’ve talked to, who has mentioned that they were laid off and then went


Doniloski:  Oh, yeah?  Well, I had to.  There’s nothing going to go against me here, is it?

Kelsey:  Oh, no!  I think it’s wonderful.  Absolutely not—I think it’s wonderful!

Doniloski:  I’m scared to even say anything.

Kelsey:  Oh, no, no, no.

O’Hagan:  Not at all.  It’s a fantastic interview, it really was.  For us, I think it’s just something neat to have a chance to see and talk to somebody that has done a different kind of story.  It’s neat to hear everybody’s different experience.  That’s fantastic.  I think it was great, a very good interview.

Doniloski:  I wound up with the auditing department.  Well, that’s that, huh?

Kelsey:  [Yes, thank you.]






The Learning Resource Center at the County College of Morris

214 Center Grove Road, Randolph, New Jersey 07869