Kelsey: Where were you born, Mary?
Lesniewski: In Newark, New Jersey.
And did you live there while you were growing up?
Where did you live when World War II started?
Lesniewski: I lived in Newark.
Were you married, or single?
Lesniewski: No, I was single.
When did you go to work in a defense plant?
Lesniewski: I believe it was in 1940, at RCA in
Harrison, New Jersey.
What did you do there?
Lesniewski: I was a tube tester. We used to have
the miniature tubes at that time, and I was a tube
What were the tubes used for?
Lesniewski: Communication. They didn’t have
computers then, so you communicated with radios.
and all that, you needed the tubes.
How long did you work at RCA?
Lesniewski: Around five to six years.
When did you leave?
Lesniewski: I believe it was 1946.
Did you resign, or were you laid off?
Lesniewski: I left because I was pregnant. I was
married then. I got married in ’46, the beginning
When did you meet your husband?
Lesniewski: I met him before the war, but we broke
up, and then we communicated while he was away. And
he came back, that’s when we got married.
After you left RCA, did you go back to work again?
Lesniewski: No, I was a stay-at-home mom.
Did you stay in Newark?
Lesniewski: Well, we were in Newark, and then we
lived at Elizabeth for a while. Then we came back
to Newark. Later
on we came up to Morris County, to Parsippany.
So working at RCA was the only work outside the home
that you did? Or did you work later on?
Lesniewski: No. I did work a few times down at the
Hall of Records in Newark. It was very
interesting. But I quit that,
too, because all the offices that closed at four
o’clock, at five o’clock there was hardly anybody
left in Newark.
It was pretty dangerous then.
Why did you decide to go to work at RCA?
Lesniewski: Well, at that time we were all
patriotic. We all wanted to do our duty. Everybody
wanted to do war work.
Did you enjoy the job? Did you like working?
Lesniewski: Well, I did like working, but the main
reason [was] everyone wanted to be patriotic, and
looking for a wage, because before that, [it was]
very hard times. It was hard to get a job—you had
education, and you couldn’t get a job.
Do you think that working there had any effect on
your life after that?
Lesniewski: Well, it just showed you that if you
work hard, that’s the only way you’ll earn a
living. If you don’t work hard,
you’re not going to have anything.
What were some of the other ways that people—or
women, especially—that were interested in, because
were patriotic and they wanted to do something—what
other things did women do?
Lesniewski: Well, they volunteered at hospitals and
different places where they needed volunteers. But
of course when
you’re so busy working—and then too, my mother had
passed away, so I had a lot of work to do at home,
couldn’t be involved with a lot of different things.
How many hours a week did you work?
Lesniewski: Well, we worked ten hours a day, five
days a week, and then about five or six hours on
considered a half a day.
And did you do shift work?
Lesniewski: Maybe once or twice, but I didn’t want
it, because you would get out after twelve, and my
last bus going
home was 12:30, so I said, “I can’t do that.” I was
taking a cab. I said, “I don’t go to work to ride
So you worked mostly day shift?
Lesniewski: Yeah. They were saying they were going
to put on a third shift, and I said, “Forget about
it! You’ll have to
let me go.” Because Newark was buzzin’ with work,
you heard noise all over, drills going, hammers
everything. You know, these big machines. Everyone
was working. After the war, everything died down.
men came home, they could hardly find jobs. While
the war was on, they spent the government’s money.
(laughs) After that, it dried up.
That’s an interesting….
Lesniewski: Oh, they put on plays, we had parties
Was this at RCA?
Lesniewski: Yeah. We had our own gym building, we
had a pool, and we had a girl that was a life
was girls. And upstairs they were putting on
plays. And then they were charging people money to
buy a ticket,
and they would put the show on. Years ago it was
called the Monson [phonetic]. I think it’s the
Foundation, or something. So money was being spent
then, the government’s money.
That’s a very interesting comment. Nobody’s
mentioned recreation before.
Lesniewski: Yeah, we had that, it was very nice.
We had to have a ticket to get in. At that time,
you’ve heard of the two
guys that had the store—two guys, they held it up.
Well, they started off in a little diner in
Harrison, two guys
from Harrison. And they came in to deliver
sandwiches to the people that were working on the
show, and I
wouldn’t let them in because I said, “You don’t
belong here, you don’t have a badge.” And years
ago, when they
went prosperous, I went to buy a washing machine,
when I was married, and he’s walking around in a
suit to let
me see, “Look who I am!”
(laughs) That’s pretty funny. Okay, well, thank
you very much, Mary. I really enjoyed talking with
Lesniewski: Thank you, me too.
[END OF INTERVIEW]