June 29, 2006

59:35 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:  When and where were you born and raised?

Klalo:  I was born in Newark, New Jersey, [February 22, 1925] and spent a good many years there, until I married.

Kelsey:  What were your parents' occupations?

Klalo:  My parents had an interior decorating business, originally in Elizabeth, and then in Denville.  And I guess that’s   

          what brought me to this area.

Kelsey:  Did you have brothers and sisters?

Klalo:  I had two sisters.

Kelsey:  And were they older or younger?

Klalo:  Younger.  I was the oldest.

Kelsey:  Did any other family members live with you?

Klalo:  Oh, yes, my grandmother and my uncle, when I was rather young.

Kelsey:  Was this on your mother’s side or your father’s side?

Klalo:  My mother’s—my mother’s mother and brother.

Kelsey:  Describe your neighborhood, what was your neighborhood like?



Klalo:  When I was growing up, it was, I guess, kind of on the poor side.  We didn’t have much.  It was the years after the

          Depression, and no one had too much, but I don’t think we knew that we were poor.  We had love, and I guess

          that was the important thing.

Kelsey:  What neighborhood in Newark did you live in?

Klalo:  We moved, I guess a few times.  We lived in the Clinton Hill section mainly.

Kelsey:  Describe the schools you went to, your elementary school.

Klalo:  Oh, I went to two different elementary schools—actually, three.  The one in Irvington—we lived in Irvington for two
          years—and that was a beautiful school.  That was really a nice school.

Kelsey:  This is when you were in elementary school?

Klalo:  Yes.  I graduated Bergen Street School in Newark.  It was an old school.  I believe it had four stories, old brick


Kelsey:  So this would have been in the early thirties?

Klalo:  Graduated grammar school in ’39.  And then I went to high school in Newark also, Arts High School, which was

          downtown Newark.  Graduated there in ’43, I was an art major.

Kelsey:  Did you have any plans to go to college?

Klalo:  I did.  Actually, I could have had a scholarship, an art scholarship, but there was a war on, and everyone was very

          patriotic at the time, and I felt I had to work for the war effort, and went to work for General Motors, and worked

          shifts, three shifts, changed every month.  So it wasn’t possible to go to school.

Kelsey:  So you started working as soon as you graduated?



Klalo:  Right after I graduated.

Kelsey:  Did your family belong to any social groups or organizations, a synagogue or….

Klalo:  Yeah, my parents did belong to an organization, and my father was very active in unions.  In fact, he was at one

           time president of the Furriers Union of New York and New Jersey, and he was one of the original founders of the

           laundry workers union in New Jersey.

Kelsey:  And how did this connect to interior decorating?

Klalo:  I don’t know, that’s a good question!  I guess he just decided to change.  The unions then were tough, they were

          the mobs, and if you weren’t on that side, it was always a problem.  And he was one of the “good guys,” so to

          speak.  I guess after a while he just had enough, so he went into business, initially with his brother and then they

          dissolved the partnership and he opened the store in Denville.

Kelsey:  So what year did he have the interior decorating store?  During the war?

Klalo:  No, this was much later.

Kelsey:  So then did he work for the union, or did he work for a company that he helped unionize?

Klalo:  Yeah, he worked for a company that he helped unionize.  As far as I know, he never got any salary from the

           unionUnions were fairly new back then.

Kelsey:  Do you remember what company he worked for?

Klalo:  I remember he worked for some fur company—Hollander Fur?  We’re going back a long way.  And then he worked



          for a laundry.  That’s, I think, why he got involved with the laundry workers union, why he organized that.  I don’t

          remember the name of that.

Kelsey:  How were you and your family affected by the Depression?

Klalo:  I think like most people.  I know my father was out of work a lot.  If there was work, say, in one of the nonunion

          shops, and he was president of the Furriers Union, he couldn’t take the job because he was a union man.  So that

          really didn’t help any.  But I remember we struggled.  I remember my mother crying because she didn’t have any

          money to buy dinner.  She would go to the store every day.

Kelsey:  Did your mother go to work at all?

Klalo:  Not then.  Men couldn’t find jobs.  Well, years later, she worked in the business with my father, six days a week.

Kelsey:  And did your grandmother and your uncle come to live with you because of the Depression ?

Klalo:  I don’t know.  My grandmother, I never remember her not living with us, so I guess I was quite young.  And my

          uncle was still in school, so my father helped him get through school.

Kelsey:  High school?

Klalo:  High school, yeah.

Kelsey:  Looking back on how your family lived at that time in the thirties and forties, you would characterize your

             economic situation as….

Klalo:  Not too good.  It was a struggle.

Kelsey:  Do you feel like it got better?

Klalo:  Oh, yeah, it got much better.



Kelsey:  In the early forties?

Klalo:  No, probably later than that.  Probably later in the forties.

Kelsey:  When World War II started, what grade were you in?

Klalo:  I guess I was about a freshman in high school—that I remember.

Kelsey:  Did you get married after the war?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  During the war, did any of your friends get married?

Klalo:  No, not during the war.

Kelsey:  Not at all, everybody waited until afterwards?

Klalo:  Yeah.  I think we were probably a little too young.

Kelsey:  Do you remember at the plant that you worked at, did they have daycare centers of any kind?

Klalo:  No, not at all.

Kelsey:  Do you know how….  Because some of the women who were working probably did have children….

Klalo:  Most likely, yeah.

Kelsey:  Do you have any idea how the children were cared for while they were working?

Klalo:  No.

Kelsey:  So you were still living in Newark (Klalo: Yes.) when you went to work in….

Klalo:  Linden, uh-huh.

Kelsey:  And you said it was patriotism (Klalo:  Definitely.) that really caused you to decide not to go to

             college, to give up a scholarship.



Klalo:  Definitely.  In fact, when I was in high school, I was going to art school four nights a week, plus going to high

          school, and that was college credits.  But after I graduated and started to work, there was no way I could continue

          going to school.

Kelsey:  And you really made that conscious decision, that it was more important to help the war effort?

Klalo:  Oh, yeah, it really took no thought at all.

Kelsey:  Do you remember seeing advertising slogans or newsreels of advertisements that encouraged women to go to

             work in the factories?

Klalo:  Yes, absolutely.

Kelsey:  Do you think that influenced your decision to do that?

Klalo:  No, I don’t think so.  I think I just knew when I was in high school that I was going to work, help the defense.

Kelsey:  Did most of your friends feel that way?

Klalo:  They did, but I think I was the only one that went to work in the factory.  They worked for the government, doing

           various positions.  But I believe, of my friends, I was the only one that went to work in the factory.

Kelsey:  Do you remember hearing or seeing references to Rosie the Riveter then?

Klalo:  Oh, yes, definitely.  Definitely.

Kelsey:  Before you started working?

Klalo:  Maybe not, I don’t remember.  Maybe not.

Kelsey:  Did you think of yourself as a Rosie then?

Klalo:  No, not really.  Actually, I was not a riveter, but I did work with the riveters—packed rivets.



           I did many things there, but one of the things I did was pack rivets.  And contrary to what most people believe,

           the rivets that go in an airplane, you see in ships they’re heated, in an airplane they’re frozen.  So they had to be

           delivered quickly before they defrosted.  And they used to deliver them like in little Good Humor [ice cream]

           carts.  And they were used while they were frozen.  I guess that’s because once they defrost, they expand.  And

           for some reason, in the airplane that’s the way they wanted it.

Kelsey:  Why didn’t you think of yourself as a Rosie?

Klalo:  I don’t know.  I don’t know that that was a big thing then.  I don’t know if that came after, Rosie the Riveter, I’m not

          sure.  I just worked making airplanes, and that was it.

Kelsey:  Did any of your family go to work in the factories?

Klalo:  No.

Kelsey:  So you were the only one of your family and friends (Klalo: Yes.) who actually went in an industry?

Klalo:  I had one friend that did come to work in the factory later.  She worked where I did.

Kelsey:  And how did you select this particular plant?  How did you decide to apply for a job at that particular plant?

Klalo:  I don’t know, I really don’t remember.  I guess I’d heard about it.  I’d heard about Eastern Aircraft, and I heard

         about Picatinny Arsenal.  I had no idea where it was, or what they did, other than make munitions, and for some

         reason I decided to go there.  And when I applied for the job, I got it, so I went no further.

Kelsey:  So you decided to go to Eastern.  How did you get to work?



Klalo:  Car pool.  I used to have—someone picked me up.  His name was Dick.  He picked up a few people, and we paid

          him, I think, if I remember, it was a dollar and a quarter [$1.25] a week.  That took care of his expenses.

Kelsey:  Did his shifts correspond with yours?

Klalo:  Yes. 

Kelsey: So every time your shift changed, he did too.

Klalo:  Yeah.  They had a list in the factory, so that you could get rides back and forth.  The other transportation would 

          have been two buses, and would have been really impossible.

Kelsey:  What kind of training did you get when you first started to work?

Klalo:  I don’t remember getting any training at all.  They just told you what to do, and do it.

Kelsey:  Did you have a job title?

Klalo:  No.  Not that I remember, no.

Kelsey:  And you mentioned you did different jobs—the same place, but you had different jobs.  What was the first job 

             that you did?  Describe the first job.

Klalo:  The first job I did was filing.  And when I say filing, I don’t mean in a file cabinet.  You had a workbench and a vise,

           and you put a piece of metal in the vise that was scribed, and you had to file it down to the scribe line, eight

           hours a day.  Not easy work.

Kelsey:  Filing with a file?

Klalo:  With a file, yes—big files.

Kelsey:  And so someone showed you how to do that?



Klalo:  Yeah, well, it didn’t take much to learn how to do that.

Kelsey:  And then what did you do after that?

Klalo:  I worked with the welders.  I used to stamp numbers on the parts.  I worked with the rivets, packing frozen rivets. 

          Worked in the stockroom.

Kelsey:  When you were packing the frozen rivets, did you wear gloves or something?

Klalo:  No.  And you had to pack, depending on the size, small ones were like thirty in a box, the large ones were maybe

          ten in a box, and you didn’t have time to count them.  You had to kind of judge how many rivets were thirty or ten

          or twenty.

Kelsey:  So if they were frozen, weren’t they cold to touch?

Klalo:  Yeah.  But actually, we were not allowed to wear gloves there, because it was dangerous around the machines. 

          Oh, I worked on a drill press too.  And you were not allowed to wear gloves, ever, that I can remember.

Kelsey:  Do you know what you were drilling, what parts you were drilling?

Klalo:  Yeah, they were small parts.  There was one part, it was 1060-1 and –2, two left and right.  And there were

           numbers on all the parts.  That’s when I stamped the numbers on parts.

Kelsey:  Did they teach you how to use the drill press?

Klalo:  No, not really.

Kelsey:  Or did they just show you and say “do it?”

Klalo:  What they showed you was you had to wear a cap and have all your hair covered.  And what they did show us

          was every once in a while they would pass around a big batch of hair that was pulled out of someone’s head.  That

          was the training, “Don’t do this!  Keep your head covered.”



Kelsey:  Did you wear any other kind of special clothing, other than….

Klalo:  Yeah, they gave us kind of a jumpsuit kind of thing.  It was sort of a gray plaid.  And a cap.

Kelsey:  Did you wear these over your street clothes, or did you change your clothes?

Klalo:  No, we didn’t have time to change our clothes.  You barely had time for lunch.  We had twenty minutes for lunch,

          because we worked three shifts.

Kelsey:  And how many hours was each shift?

Klalo:  Eight hours.

Kelsey:  So you would just pull these coveralls on over your regular clothes?

Klalo:  Or put them on at home.

Kelsey:  So you wore them back and forth (Klalo: Oh yeah.), you didn’t leave them there?

Klalo:  No.  Also, we were supposed to wear shoes with steel toes.  Very few people did, I think, but you wore a closed


Kelsey:  Did you wear steel toes?

Klalo:  No, but I wore a closed shoe.

Kelsey:  Do you think that working in the factory paid better than other jobs you might have….

Klalo:  Oh, it paid well; there was no question about it.  And when you worked nights, there was a 10% bonus.  I think I

          started with $1.09 an hour.  They paid, they were one of the best-paying factories, I think, on the Eastern

          Seaboard.  But you worked hard, and they did not have coffee breaks for women, you worked straight through.



Kelsey:  They didn’t have coffee breaks for women?

Klalo:  No.

Kelsey:  Did they have coffee breaks for men?

Klalo:  No.  Oh, and I also worked on a conveyor belt for a while.

Kelsey:  What did you do on the conveyor?

Klalo:  I don’t remember, just passing parts down.  That was short lived.

Kelsey:  And how long were you there?  From 1943 ’til….

Klalo:  [Until] ’45, I guess.  The day the war was over, we were told the war was over, go home.  Middle of the day.

Kelsey:  Did you feel like your job was important, that what you were doing….

Klalo:  Yeah, I did.  I really felt I was working to help the war effort, making fighter planes.  And I believe one out of every 

           ten planes we made for England.  They used to fly them over.  Actually, they had the English insignia on the

           plane, and they used to cover it over with the American insignia, so when the plane got there, they just ripped the

           one off, and they were all set to go.

Kelsey:  So it was the RAF [Royal Air Force] insignia underneath?

Klalo:  Right.

Kelsey:  Were you ever promoted or given a raise?

Klalo:  You got raises automatically.  I think I went up to $1.49 an hour.  That was an automatic raise.

Kelsey:  And so everybody got a raise?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  Was it all women working there?  Were there some men there?



Klalo:  No, there were some men.  There was a number of men, yeah.

Kelsey:  Were any women supervisors or managers, or were [unclear].

Klalo:  Not that I know of.  There might have been, but not to my knowledge.

Kelsey:  But everybody that you worked for was a man?

Klalo:  Was a man, right.

Kelsey:  Did they have an exemption for….  There was a reason why they weren’t in the military?

Klalo:  I would imagine, yeah.

Kelsey:  What you were doing—before the war, only men would have been doing the work that you were doing, is that


Klalo:  Yes.  I don’t think they had any women employed there.  I doubt it.

Kelsey:  Did you think about that?  How did you feel about doing a job that before only men were allowed to do?

Klalo:  I don’t think I gave it any thought, really.  I just felt it was something that I had to do.  I didn’t like working there,

          and it was hard work, but it was something that I just felt I had to do, and that was it.

Kelsey:  Did you ever think about going to another—like applying at Picatinny, if you weren’t that happy with….

Klalo:  Well, actually, you couldn’t just leave your job.  If you left, you had to get a release, for whatever reason, and they

          were not easy to come by.  So if you wanted to transfer elsewhere, they had to release you first.

Kelsey:  I see.  Even if you were going to another …

Klalo:  Yes.  I never tried.



Kelsey:  … business that was directly related to war work (Klalo:  Right.), you still had to be released (Kelsey:  Exactly.)

                 from there.  Do you know anybody who did get a release?

Klalo:  You’ll laugh when I tell you.  My driver, who died.  After he died, a release came through.  (chuckles)

Kelsey:  He had asked for a release?

Klalo:  No, I don’t know that he asked for it.  I think that was just the way of saying he was no longer employed there. 

          think that was it.

Kelsey:  This was Dick, the driver?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  Then what happened to his riders after he died?

Klalo:  Oh, we got someone else.  There was always someone you could get a ride with.

Kelsey:  Did you or other women that you worked with ever encounter what we would call now sexual harassment?

Klalo:  I don’t think so.  But there was a lot going on there, though.

Kelsey:  There was?

Klalo:  Oh, yeah.

Kelsey:  Like?

Klalo:  Used to hear rumors.  Married women whose husbands were away, some of the men that were there.  We used

           to hear rumors about that.

Kelsey:  How old were the men?

Klalo:  There were some that were fairly young, but mostly maybe middle-aged, so possibly too old for service, probably.



Kelsey:  So, too old…over the draft age.

Klalo:  Yeah, but there were some young ones.

Kelsey:  Was there a union there?

Klalo:  Yes!  AFL, Automobile Workers Union of America.

Kelsey:  Given your family background, with your father being part of the union infrastructure, did you join the union?

Klalo:  I don’t think you had a choice.  Or if you didn’t, they would make it pretty miserable for you.  I did join.  In fact, I

          brought in my old union cards.

Kelsey:  So you say they would make it pretty miserable for you?

Klalo:  I don’t know of anyone that didn’t join the union.

Kelsey:  So all of you felt that it was something you had to do?

Klalo:  Yeah.  And they did protect the workers.

Kelsey:  So even though you mentioned before that there was a lot of mob infiltration into the unions….

Klalo:  Well, that was in my father’s day.  That was a little earlier.

Kelsey:  Did you feel that the union was a good thing?

Klalo:  Yeah, I’m sure, because I was raised knowing about unions, because of my father’s activity.

Kelsey:  How many people worked in that plant?

Klalo:  I believe there were 10,000.

Kelsey:  And they were split into three shifts?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  So there were a little over 3,000 working a single shift.



Klalo:  Exactly.

Kelsey:  That must have been—I mean, the footprint of the plant must have been huge!

Klalo:  Yes, it was a large plant.

Kelsey:  Were there all different ethnic groups, races, that kind of thing, there?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  So there were blacks and whites?  And did they all work together?

Klalo:  I don’t remember many blacks, to be honest with you.  In fact—I’m not sure I should say this—but I understood I

          was their token Jew.  I don’t know if you want to cut that.

Kelsey:  No, I don’t think so.

Klalo:  And I don’t remember any blacks working there.

Kelsey:  But there were different ethnic groups?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  Italians?

Klalo:  Yes, definitely.

Kelsey:  Eastern Europeans?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  From the neighborhoods in Newark, probably?

Klalo:  Yeah, I think all the surrounding towns.  I think we even had some people from New York that I remember, that

          worked there.

Kelsey:  They commuted over from New York City?

Klalo:  Uh-huh.

Kelsey:  As far as you know, did men and women get paid the same?



Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  They did, there was no difference?

Klalo:  No.

Kelsey:  If you were doing the same job, you were paid the same?

Klalo:  You got paid the same.

Kelsey:  Did you make new friends on the job?

Klalo:  Yes, I did.

Kelsey:  Tell me something about them.

Klalo:  I became very friendly with two of the women that worked there.  They were both married.  One, her husband was

          in service.  The other one, her husband was not in service.  But I became quite friendly with both of them.

Kelsey:  Were they approximately your age, or were they older?

Klalo:  A little bit older.

Kelsey:  Did they have children?

Klalo:  No, neither one had any children.

Kelsey:  What kinds of things did you do?  Did you socialize outside work?

Klalo:  At times, at times.  I remember the one whose husband was in service, we went to Atlantic City, New Jersey 

          once for a weekend.  And with the one that was married, I would just visit at her home.  We would sometimes go

          out with her whole family.

Kelsey:  Where did they live?

Klalo:  They lived in Newark.

Kelsey:  In your neighborhood or near your neighborhood?

Klalo:  Not too far.



Kelsey:  What did you like most about your work?

Klalo:  That’s a tough question.  General Motors was not an easy company to work for.  In fact, in the restrooms they

          had beautiful furniture in the restrooms, and you were not allowed to sit down on the furniture.  So that if you went

          up to use the restroom, they had—we used to call them prison matrons—would come around and check to see if

          anyone was sitting down.  So that the girls would close themselves up in the stalls, just to get off their feet.  It

          was difficult even trying to get into one of the stalls.  Not an easy company to work for.

Kelsey:  Okay, so I guess you told me what you liked least.

Klalo:  Did not like working there, to be honest with you.  Really, not at all.  I don’t know if it had one redeeming feature.

Kelsey:  Except that it contributed to the war.

Klalo:  It contributed to the war, absolutely.

Kelsey:  Did you live with your family the whole time that you were working at the plant?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  So you were in the same environment that you had been when you were going to school.

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  How did the war change your routines or your activities, things that you had done before that you couldn’t do


Klalo:  Well, of course I didn’t see my old friends, friends I went to school with, because when I worked nights, they were

          all working days.  So I really got to see very little of anyone. 



         Sometimes I didn’t see my father for a month.  When you worked shifts, it made it a little difficult to get to see


Kelsey:  How did the shifts work?

Klalo:  We worked 7-3, 3-11, 11-7.

Kelsey:  How often did you switch shifts?

Klalo:  Once a month.

Kelsey:  So you were on one shift for a full month?

Klalo:  Right.

Kelsey:  And then you would shift to the next.

Klalo:  And you worked six days a week.

Kelsey:  Monday through Saturday?

(no audible response)

Klalo:  No overtime.  That was a normal work week.

Kelsey:  And you worked eight hours?

Klalo:  Yes, because the other shift was coming on, and they were supposed to be at the work station, I think ten

          minutes before the shift started, in order to get their equipment ready.

Kelsey:  Yeah, that would be….

Klalo:  We’re going back a long way.

Kelsey:  Did they have any kind of social or recreational activities at the plant at all?

Klalo:  I remember once or twice we did have something.  We had some speakers and music and a little entertainment,

          but that was only once or twice.  Must have been for a special occasion that I really can’t recall at this point.



Kelsey:  Did you ever go to USO dances?

Klalo:  Yes.  Actually, it was part of a group that was not part of the USO, but we did go to Newark Airport where they

           had soldiers stationed.  In fact, they used to pick the girls up in a two-and-a-half-ton truck.  (chuckles)  And we’d

           bring doughnuts.  Actually, they liked us better than the USO, because we used to bring snacks.  We’d bring

           candy, cake, and….  It was fun.

Kelsey:  And this was just a group of people [unclear].

Klalo:  Someone got together this group.  Must have been about twenty women, and we would go down and just dance

          with the boys.  I remember there used to be a guard at the door.  Once you were in, you couldn’t walk out, no

          hanky panky.

Kelsey:  And this was at Newark Airport?

Klalo:  At Newark Airport.

Kelsey:  The old Newark …where the North terminal is now.

Klalo:  The old Newark Airport, with the mosquitoes.

Kelsey:  And the soldiers would send a two-and-a-half-ton truck into Newark to pick you up?

Klalo:  Yeah.  For some reason, they were allowed to do that.

Kelsey:  And you would just jump in the back of the truck?

Klalo:  Well, they had to help us up.  (laughs)

O’Hagan:  [2 or 3 words, unclear]

Kelsey:  [unclear], yes.  What did you do when you were by yourself?

Klalo:  Actually, it didn’t seem like I had that much free time.  I had a younger sister at home - much younger, seventeen

          years younger - so I’d play with her when I was at home.  And write letters.  Took up a lot of time.  I had a quota, I

          would write three letters a day to servicemen.



Kelsey:  And were these guys that you knew personally from high school?

Klalo:  Well, one I wrote to—the man I eventually married—I wrote to him every day.  And then I

           would write to friends, a couple of servicemen that I didn’t even know, never met, but I guess weren’t getting much


Kelsey:  And how did you find out about them?

Klalo:  Through other servicemen.  [They’d] say, “How about writing to my friend?  He doesn’t get a lot of mail.”  So I

          wrote on the average of three letters a day.

Kelsey:  So you had met your husband….

Klalo:  Before he went into service.

Kelsey:  Before the war.

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  Did you meet him in school?

Klalo:  No, we were neighbors, actually.

Kelsey:  So had you dated before he went into the service?

Klalo:  Yeah, a little bit.

Kelsey:  What year did he go in?

Klalo:  Oh!  I don’t know.

Kelsey:  Right after Pearl Harbor?

Klalo:  No, it was a little bit later than that.  He went in probably about ’41.  Yeah.

Kelsey:  So Pearl Harbor was in December ’41, so….

Klalo:  No, then he went in ’42.



Kelsey:  So you had a sister who was a lot younger than you were, and then you had a sister in the middle?

Klalo:  In between, uh-huh.

Kelsey:  Was she in high school during the war?

Klalo:  No, she was in grammar school actually.

Kelsey:  So the two younger ones were closer together?

Klalo:  Eleven years apart.

Kelsey:  Eleven years between the youngest one and the middle one?

Klalo:  Yes.  And then, well, the middle one, she probably—I guess she was just about going into high school then.

Kelsey:  How did you feel about the war?

Klalo:  How did I feel about the war?  You know, when you’re young, you just don’t look at things the same way.  It

          doesn’t hit home like it does when you’re older.  I mean, I knew we were in a war.  I think I knew every airplane

          that flew overhead—I could identify them.  But of course I felt that I was working towards an end.  But I don’t think

          when you’re young you feel it the same as you do when you’re older.  I think this is a lot why they like young men

          and women in the service.

Kelsey:  Did anybody you knew die or get wounded?

Klalo:  The one friend that I had that worked in the Eastern Aircraft, she had five brothers and four of them came back

          either—well, I mean two were killed and two wounded—and I knew her family.



Kelsey:  When that happened, did that make you feel more, understand more, the consequences?

Klalo:  Oh, absolutely, sure.

Kelsey:  Than you might have before?

Klalo:  It was very tragic.

Kelsey:  Did you feel that you were treated any differently at work because you were female, or because you were Jewish?  Did you feel that there was any….

Klalo:  I think a little bit because I was female—by the foreman.  I think a little bit there.

Kelsey:  And was that just you, or was that kind of just a general thing?  Because most of the people working there were


Klalo:  Yes.  I think it was probably women.

Kelsey:  Had these men worked at the plant before the war?

Klalo:  I believe so.  I think they did.

Kelsey:  So this was a big, massive change for them, instead of being in a factory working with all men, all of a sudden

             they are in the minority.

Klalo:  Exactly.

Kelsey:  Do you remember what kinds of things, interactions that occurred that made you feel like this foreman was not

            particularly happy to have women?

Klalo:  He would always critique your work and say, “That’s not acceptable,” and things like that.  And I think because I 

          had an artistic background, there was one particular piece that I used to work on, that should have been done by

          the machine shop, but it wasn’t.  And no one else—I shouldn’t say “no one”—it seemed that they weren’t getting

          it right, and when he gave it to me to do, I was able to do the piece to the satisfaction of the men. 



          But he would complain that it would take me too long, I spent too much time on it.  Well, maybe that’s why I did it

          correctly.  So he complained about that a lot until I finally said to him, “That’s fine, give it to someone else.  I won’t

          do it anymore.”  And that stopped it.  But yeah, he would criticize me a lot.  But I think that was just his way,

          because I knew I was doing a decent job of what I was supposed to be doing.

Kelsey:  Did you ever worry that the Allies might not win the war?

Klalo:  No.  No, I don’t think that ever occurred to me.

Kelsey:  What did patriotism mean to you?

Klalo:  It was just a feeling that you had.  People no longer have that.  I remember in ’76, when we had the tall ships, and

          that feeling came back, that feeling of patriotism.  I’d forgotten what it felt like.  It was something special, and you

          just don’t always have it.  I mean, you may feel patriotic.  I know I’m 100% patriotic, but it’s not quite the same.  I

         mean, people were willing to die for our country.  I don’t think most people feel that way anymore, unfortunately.

Kelsey:  What was your most memorable wartime experience?

Klalo:  Well, I don’t think it was just one thing.  I think it was working for General Motors, writing letters, being lonesome. 

          I was young, I felt cheated, there were no men around.  In fact, when I graduated high school, we never even had a

          prom, because we had blackouts and brownouts and gas rationing, and most of the nightclubs and places that

          you would normally attend, were closed.  So I felt kind of cheated.

Kelsey:  And that was true probably for the duration of the war.



Klalo:  Yes, definitely.

Kelsey:  How did you cope with wartime shortages?

Klalo:  You just coped with it.  I think you were allowed two pair of shoes a year, and one of them went for my work

          shoes.  Had to stand in line for butter or sugar—a lot of things.  I guess my mother did a lot of that.  Cigarettes—

          and so many people smoked then—were hard to get.  Silk stockings.  But you coped.

Kelsey:  I guess a good portion of free time was spent standing on line.

Klalo:  I guess my mother did a lot, for the food.  I remember standing in line for cigarettes and stockings.  That was


Kelsey:  What was the ration for stockings?

Klalo:  You just couldn’t get them.  I think the silk was going into parachutes.  So you couldn’t get them.

Kelsey:  So what was the substitute?

Klalo:  They had, I think, the Lisle hose.  We painted our legs.  (chuckles)  So that was one substitute.  So when the

           weather was decent, you painted your legs, because the stockings that you could get were not real attractive.

Kelsey:  So you used like makeup on your legs?

Klalo:  Right.  Yeah, there was leg makeup.  And if you were creative, you even put a seam up the back of your leg,

          because they did wear stockings with seams then.

Kelsey:  That’s right.

Klalo:  I think that’s probably when stockings without seams came in.  But if you were creative, you made a seam, and

          hoped it was straight.

Kelsey:  Did you have a victory garden?



Klalo:  No, not at the time.

Kelsey:  Did you live in a house in Newark, or in an apartment?

Klalo:  In an apartment.

Kelsey:  And there were, what, six of you?

Klalo:  Yeah.  (counts)  Seven, for a while.

Kelsey:  There were seven?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  Three sisters, your grandmother and….

Klalo:  Yeah.

Kelsey:  And how many rooms did you have?

Klalo:  The one place we lived in, I think we had three bedrooms.

Kelsey:  Oh, so a good-sized apartment.

Klalo:  And my uncle slept on a cot in the foyer.  I remember that.

Kelsey:  Did your uncle eventually go into the service?

Klalo:  Yes, he did.

Kelsey:  And where was he stationed?

Klalo:  He went to the Pacific.

Kelsey:  What branch of service was he in?

Klalo:  He was in the army.

Kelsey:  And I guess he came back?

Klalo:  He came back.  And he was married with one child when he went in.

Kelsey:  You mentioned earlier, when we were walking in, about scrubbing to get all the junk off your skin after you

             worked a shift.



Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  You kind of described what that was like.

Klalo:  Actually, I worked on a sander also—I don’t know if I mentioned that—a belt sander.  It’s a machine with this big

          belt that goes around and around, that’s like sandpaper.  And it has a little table, and you have a piece of metal

          that’s scribed, and you have to get the metal down to the scribe line, so you push it up against this sanding belt,

          the sandpaper.  And every once in a while, the piece of metal would slip down inside the slot that was there, and

          you go “zoop!” and no knuckles.  That happened every now and then.  And actually, on that machine, there was

          always a white milky liquid that came out of it.  That was so that the metal wouldn’t heat over, it would get too hot.

Kelsey:  It wouldn’t get too hot.

Klalo:  Right.  So the metal from the sanding—you’re sanding metal—or when I was filing, was little particles of dust,

          metal.  They would get into the pores of my legs, my thighs.  I actually had to scrub my thighs with a brush when

          I got home.

Kelsey:  And this was through the coveralls?

Klalo:  Through an apron.  We wore aprons.

Kelsey:  And you were wearing long pants?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  So this metal just actually pushed right through the material, two layers of material.

Klalo:  And we never thought of what we were breathing in.  We never thought what was happening to our lungs.  It just

          never occurred to anyone.



Kelsey:  Was there a lot of noise?

Klalo:  Very noisy.  Very, very noisy.  Extremely noisy.

Kelsey:  And no one wore ear plugs, I’m sure.

Klalo:  No.  And there was no such thing as—the ventilation was not good, we didn’t wear masks, nothing like that.

Kelsey:  So in the years after that, was there any attention paid at all to health issues arising out of that, or even in the

             case of the men who went back to work in that factory doing the same thing after the war, did the unions or

             anybody raise any issues about health?

Klalo:  I don’t know.  They probably were just not conscious of it.  Probably no one gave it a thought.  I never did.  I think

          about it now.

Kelsey:  How did you feel when the war ended?

Klalo:  Everyone was elated!  We went berserk.  We really did.  It was just such wonderful news.

Kelsey:  Your husband was in Europe?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  How did you feel on V-E Day?

Klalo:  It was just wonderful.  People were screaming and carrying on, celebrating.

Kelsey:  Did he come home before V-J Day?

Klalo:  No.  He came home, oh, about six months or so after the war ended.

Kelsey:  Do you remember when you heard that the war had ended on V-E Day, when you heard the war had ended in

             Europe, where were you?  Were you working?

Klalo:  At work.



Kelsey:  What time of day was it?

Klalo:  I believe it was in the afternoon when they said, “The war is over.  Everybody go home!”

Kelsey:  How did you find out?

Klalo:  They announced it over the loudspeakers.

Kelsey:  They told you to go home on V-E Day?  Or V-J Day?  Because there was a few months’ time difference there.

Klalo:  Yeah.  I don’t remember.  1945….

Kelsey:  V-J Day was the end of the summer.  I don’t remember the exact day, it was like late August.

Klalo:  I think it was V-E Day, I think.

Kelsey:  So when they dropped the atomic bomb, you had already stopped working?

Klalo:  I’m not sure.  You’re asking me hard questions!  (laughter)  It was a long time ago.

Kelsey:  Okay, but at some point, one of those announcements, when the war was over, they just told you to drop what

             you were doing and leave?

Klalo:  Go home, right.  “You’re fired, that’s it.”

Kelsey:  Did you get a paycheck for the time you’d worked up to that point?

Klalo:  Yes.  Absolutely.  Yeah, we did.  They didn’t owe me anything.

Kelsey:  So they laid off the entire….  Did they lay off the men as well?

Klalo:  I think probably until they changed over again.  I guess everyone was laid off.

Kelsey:  Did they shut the plant down?



Klalo:  I would imagine so, I’m not sure.  In all probability.  Because they were no longer manufacturing airplanes.

Kelsey:  What had this factory manufactured before the war?

Klalo:  Automobiles.

Kelsey:  And then did it go back to doing automobiles?

Klalo:  Yes, I think they’re still doing that.

Kelsey:  It’s the Linden General Motors plant?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  After you were laid off, did you look for another job right away?

Klalo:  Not right away, I think.  At the time, I don’t think there were too many jobs to be had, so everyone collected

          unemployment.  And the line would go all the way around the block.

Kelsey:  All of these people were laid off from war industries.  And were they mostly women?

Klalo:  Yeah, mostly women.

Kelsey:  And how long did it take you to get another job?

Klalo:  I think it was close to a year.  But of course I was living at home, so it wasn’t anything drastic.

Kelsey:  And when you did get a job, what were you doing?

Klalo:  I went into sales, selling women’s sportswear, in Newark.

Kelsey:  At a department store?

Klalo:  No, it was in a small store.

Kelsey:  How did your salary compare with what you had been making in the factory?



Klalo:  Oh, it was less.  It was less.  But I didn’t work as hard, so it was okay.

Kelsey:  How many hours a week did you work?

Klalo:  I guess I worked forty-eight hours.

Kelsey:  So you worked five days a week, instead of six?

Klalo:  Right, exactly.

Kelsey:  Then at what point did you and your husband get married?

Klalo:  We got married in 1947.  I guess it was a little while after he got home, a couple of years after he came home.

Kelsey:  And did he have a job waiting for him when he came back?

Klalo:  No, he did not.

Kelsey:  Had he worked before the war?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  So he hadn’t gone into the service directly out of high school?

Klalo:  No.

Kelsey:  And what did he do before he went into the service?

Klalo:  You know, I’m not quite sure.  I think he was working in a machine shop.

Kelsey:  Was he discharged right after he came back?

Klalo:  Yes.

Kelsey:  When did he come back?

Klalo:  I believe it was in ’45, the end of the year.

Kelsey:  And how long did it take him to get a job after he was discharged?

Klalo:  I don’t think it was too long.

Kelsey:  What was he doing?



Klalo:  He got a job then working for a glass company, and he stayed with that for a while.

Kelsey:  Did he get home before Hanukkah?

Klalo:  Well, I remember Christmas at his parents’ home.  He was one of five boys, and he had a sister, and it seemed

          that everyone was there with their friends, and all my first Christmas home in four years, my first in three years or

          whatever, was a joyous occasion.

Kelsey:  I’m sure it was.  He wasn’t Jewish?

Klalo:  No.  And his one brother was in Pearl Harbor when they were bombed.  He was called for conscription.  Actually,

           then they were only to serve for one year, and was shipped home.  His year was up in January, and of course

           December 7 was Pearl Harbor, so he didn’t get home for four years.

Kelsey:  Was he in the navy?

Klalo:  No, he was in the army.

Kelsey:  You got married in 1947.  Did you keep working after you got married?

Klalo:  Yes, for a little while.

Kelsey:  Did your husband take

Klalo:  Somewhat, yes he did.

Kelsey:  Did he go to school?

Klalo:  Actually, he went on-the-job training, so he did that for a couple of years, I guess.

Kelsey:  When did you have your first child?

Klalo:  In 1951.

Kelsey:  That’s your daughter who’s five years younger than me.



Klalo:  Exactly.

Kelsey:  Did you have any more children?

Klalo:  No.

Kelsey:  How did the war change your life?  Looking back now, how do you think it changed your life?

Klalo:  Well, I went an entirely different direction.  I might have continued on in the art field.  I was studying costume

          design and illustration, and I probably would have continued on with that.

Kelsey:  Did you think at all about going back and trying to do that after the war was over?

Klalo:  No, I didn’t.

Kelsey:  Do you remember why you didn’t?

Klalo:  Probably financial reasons.  I think when I was in high school I could have gotten a scholarship, but then I was out

          of school.  That was probably part of it.  But no regrets.  I made a decision, and that was it.

Kelsey:  After the war, you lived with your family until you and your husband got married?

Klalo:  Even after that.

Kelsey:  So he moved in?

Klalo:  Yes, because apartments were not available.  And we lived with my parents about three years.

Kelsey:  And was this the same apartment where you all were living during the war?

Klalo:  Yes, it was.



Kelsey:  The one where your uncle was sleeping on the cot [in the foyer]?

Klalo:  Well, my uncle at that point was married and gone, and my grandmother had passed away.

Kelsey:  And how long did you live with your family?

Klalo:  About three years, a little over.

Kelsey:  So until just before your daughter was born?

Klalo:  Yeah, it was before my daughter was born.

Kelsey:  And then when you moved, where did you move to?

Klalo:  We got an apartment in Newark.  Apartments were very hard to come by.  And we had to pay the super $350 to

          get the apartment.  It was a lot of money at the time.  Our rent was $42.50 a month.  So that was a lot of money,

          but it was a nice apartment.

Kelsey:  Where was it, what neighborhood?

Klalo:  I don’t know whether the neighborhood had a—I guess Clinton Hill area.

Kelsey:  Still that same area you lived in?

Klalo:  Yeah.  A little further away.

Kelsey:  How long did you stay in Newark?

Klalo:  Until my daughter was ready for school, and I said, “It’s time to move.”  So we bought a house in Rockaway


Kelsey:  So late fifties, then?

Klalo:  ’56.

Kelsey:  And then you’ve lived in Rockaway….

Klalo:  Ever since.



Kelsey:  Same house?

Klalo:  No, I moved two and a half years ago, but otherwise, it was in the same house.

Kelsey:  Did the work that you did during the war change your feelings about the nature of women’s work, and what

             women could or should do outside the home?

Klalo:  I don’t think so.  I think it’s up to the individual.

Kelsey:  And you felt like that even then?

Klalo:  Yeah.

Kelsey:  And you never had any thoughts that you couldn’t do that job?

Klalo:  No.  No, I didn’t.

Kelsey:  What is your daughter’s viewpoint?  Does your daughter know what you did during the war?

Klalo:  Yeah, she does.  I don’t know that she has had much to say about it, but she knows, and she knows her dad was

           in service.  As I think I mentioned, she made this lovely collage for him, with some medals and ribbons and

           different things—pictures.

Kelsey:  Have you and your daughter ever talked, or do you think your daughter realizes that what you were doing then

             was something that was out of the ordinary?

Klalo:  I think she knows that.

Kelsey:  It wasn’t just the normal thing for women to do.

Klalo:  Yes, I think she knows that.  She does.

Kelsey:  Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wartime experiences?

Klalo:  Nothing I can think of offhand.  I think you’ve covered everything quite well.

Kelsey:  Okay, so nothing else you’d like to add?



Klalo:  That’s when women started wearing slacks.  We never wore slacks before that.  We wore dresses all the time.  In

          fact, even after that, when I worked, I never wore slacks.  You just wore dresses, suits.

Kelsey:  Into the fifties?

Klalo:  Oh, yeah, even later.  But that’s when slacks became popular, I guess.

Kelsey:  Couldn’t run a drill press in a dress.

Klalo:  No.  Not at all.  (laughter)

Kelsey:  Okay, thank you very much.

Klalo:  Oh, thank you, it was a pleasure.

Kelsey:  Is there anything you would like future generations to know about what women did during World War II, and how

             important it was, from your perspective?

Klalo:  Well, I think people realized then that women were not just homemakers, that we could do other things.  And we

          worked, and I think we made a big difference.  And I certainly do think women do make a big difference today.

Kelsey:  Probably because of what women did in the forties.

Klalo:  Exactly, exactly.  They took over the jobs that men were doing, and did it well.  And I think that made a big


Kelsey:  I agree.





Arts High School.................................... 2

Atlantic City, New Jersey........................16

Automobile Workers Union of America..... See Unions

Bergen Street School.............................. 2

Clinton Hill............................................. 2, 33

Denville, New Jersey............................... 1

Depression............................................ 2, 4

Eastern Aircraft...................................... 7, 21

Elizabeth, New Jersey............................ 1

England................................................ 11

Ethnic Groups........................................15

Family..................................................  7

     Daughter.......................................... 31, 34

     Grandmother.................................... 1, 4, 33

     Husband.......................................... 20, 30, 31

     Parents............................................ 1, 32

     Sisters............................................. 1, 19, 21

     Uncle............................................... 1, 4, 25, 33

Friends.................................................. 6, 7, 16, 17, 21

Furriers Union........................................ See Unions

G.I. Bill.................................................. 31

General Motors....................................... 2, 17, 23, 29

Health Issues......................................... 27

Laundry Workers Union.......................... See Unions

Linden, New Jersey................................. 5

New York City....................................... 15

Newark Airport....................................... 19

Newark, New Jersey .............................. 1, 2, 5, 15, 16, 19, 25, 29, 33

Patriotism.............................................. 5, 23

Pearl Harbor.......................................... 20, 31

Picatinny Arsenal................................... 7, 12

Rationing............................................... 24

Rivets, Frozen........................................ 6, 9

Rockaway Township............................... 33

Rosie the Riveter.................................... 1, 6, 7

Royal Air Force...................................... 11


     Car Pool........................................... 8

Unions.................................................. 3, 4, 14

USO.................................................... 19

V-E Day............................................... 27, 28

V-J Day................................................ 27, 28





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