Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Mr. Peter Logerfo in Teaneck, New Jersey, on February 16, 2004, with Shaun Illingworth and Danielle Campbell.
Danielle Campbell: Mr. Logerfo, thank you very much for having us here today. To begin can you tell me about his father and his background?
Peter Logerfo: My father? Well, my father came to this country when he was five years old from Sicily. My mother was born here. So, he grew up on the Eastside, and his father was alive at that time, and that's it. When he got older, he was drafted into the Army; he went into the Army in 1914. I mean, I have to jump those years, I don't know what happened in between there. So, he served in World War I and when he came out of the Army, he and his brother started a business. The business was Logerfo Brothers, they were contractors, they made pants, sewed up pants up for manufacturers, their name was Logerfo Brothers. So, they stayed together many years, and I joined the firm when I was fourteen years old, and I was going to school close-by, very conveniently, and after school I went to work there. Anyway the two of them, the brothers, continued until World War II, when my uncle's son went down with a 'Flying Fort' [B-17 bomber] and then was never heard of again, and he quit. So, my father took my brother and me into the business, and the three of us were partners. So, then the three of us were partners before my father got a little older and he couldn't work anymore, so my brother and I remained there until ten years ago, and we were partners; same name, same company, and we took in some other people. We went into another part of the business, we went into the ski business, ski clothing business. My father is out of the picture now, so that's my brother and me. So, we stayed in business a long time until different things happened. We got evicted from the building, so we had to go move in with the contractor that we had, in the Chelsea area, that was doing all our work, coats and things. He had a big place of business, took a nosedive for him, so we went there; we have to move out, but we move in here, so, we made him a principal. He had two people in there that he was subletting to, uniform people, (Ogolnick?) Brothers. So he says, "How about you guys join?" So, we formed a corporation with six principals in 1986. Now, we stayed there, and they stayed there 'til two years ago, because I left because, well, my son died and I didn't want to work anymore. So, the company finally, they paid me off. They were paid to got out of the building, because the Chelsea area, I don't know if you know, is really coming up tremendously, and the building they were in became Chelsea Market downstairs, and a lot of the professionals started to move into this area, instead of what used to be there, and really it got to be a yuppie kind of thing, built up, nightlife, everything. So, they paid us to get out of there a year before the lease was up, about three hundred thousand dollars. I wasn't in at that time. My son took my interest, in between years, that's what I meant to tell you; when I left he took my part of the business. So, they moved uptown to 38th Street, and with the money, they had a nice place there, air conditioned, and all that kind of thing, and they're still there. But the business changed around, and they're using people in China to make things like that, so it's a small amount of people working in there. The stockroom is there. They make high class riding pants, now, a whole catalog, English riding clothes, plus some uniforms; plus some other odds and ends, and they're still there. They're not here. I retired because my son died in 1989 from cancer, and I got fed up with it. There were too many arguments with the people there, so I said, "I'll leave," that's all, and I've been retired ever since, busier than when I was working. I don't know how. So, that's all I can tell you about my father, he stayed with us, wonderful guy, and he used to come into the business even though he couldn't work much, and he'd work on the machines, and when he went and he left, we'd fix up what he didn't do right, and all that, you know, we took care of him pretty well. He lived in Kew Gardens Hills, over in Queens. That's all, and he died in the seventies, eighties, something like that.
SI: Was there any stories behind his family coming to the United States besides …
PL: I don't think so. They came with the immigrants that all came in at the same time, all settled downtown there, all landed down on Mulberry Street, Mott Street, Elizabeth Street; sisters, cousins, all lived in the same buildings. I remember going down there, where his father lived in one of the buildings there, and my father was a real fast moving guy; I mean, he's really good in the company. He used to take me downtown to get clothes, on a Sunday morning, down in the Jewish area, which is open on Sundays. But, that's about it, but nothing unusual, he just came here with all the rest of the people.
SI: Did he ever talk about what he did in the military?
PL: Talk about what?
SI: What he did in the service?
PL: His days in the service?
PL: No, not much, except some comical things, like he says, he was on a motorcycle that the Army trained him on and he ran into a tree, stuff like that. But not really about his experience. He never left the States, though. He remained here, and he was a cook of some kind, although later my mother says, "I don't know how you were a cook in the Army," because he didn't know how to do anything.
SI: What about your mother's family?
PL: My mother was born here. Her father and mother came over, they were immigrants, too. But she was born here with her other two sisters, and they lived downtown also, Prince Street. Well, she was a seamstress before she married my father, and as a matter-of-fact, she was working in that company, the waistcoat blouse company that had this fire, and they're all jumping out the window. [On Lower Broadway, A devastating fire on the 9th floor caused people to jump out since all doors were locked. New labor laws were enacted later.] She worked there 'til a month before that happened, she got a job somewhere else. Well, she became a housewife and brought us up, and so forth, by that time we moved over to Queens, Long Island, Woodside, and I grew up there. We were in a house, I have a sister, she's seven years younger than me, and a brother, that's all, and I don't know how we lived in that little dinky house there, but we did, and I stayed there until I got into the Army. When I came back they had a different house, different place altogether.
SI: What was that neighborhood like in Woodside when you were growing up?
PL: The name of the area?
SI: The neighborhood.
PL: That's what we called Woodside. Sunnyside is on one side, Woodside is here, Corona was over there, Elmhurst, that's the town. As a matter-of-fact, I don't know if you know anything about Queens out there?
SI: Not really.
PL: Well, the train is an elevated structure that goes out to Shea Stadium, passes that there, that's Flushing, that's where the ball fields are, and it was a nice neighborhood. In those days, of course, trolley car, peaceful, and so forth, and quiet, and, well, it got built up. It was really wide-open spaces. I mean, I'm playing in the streets, stickball, hockey, and all that business, no cars around almost in those days. You can't imagine how, like isolated a place would be like that so close to New York City, and on the train, it was a twenty-minute ride, you were in Time's Square, for a nickel. So, I would live there, well, I went to public school there, and graduated when I was fourteen, with junior high, a year of high school already, and then I took the train, and went down to Stuyvesant High School that were on 15th Street and 2nd Avenue. Stuyvesant High School was a dingy one hundred year old building at 15th and 2nd Avenue in New York City, Where I attended. Even so, it was still and still is a prestigious math and science school, formerly all male, now co-ed. A state of the art building was built at the Battery. Near Ground Zero. It is difficult to get into and rates number one in New York City. I spent 1934-1937 there. I don't know if you heard of Stuyvesant High School, but they're down at the Battery Center now, with an ultra, super-duper, technical place. The school was a hundred years old before I got there, and the floors squeaked, and this and that, ancient stuff, but it was the high class school, very tough school to get into, and so forth. I don't know why I picked it, but I did. So, I was there three years. The courses were up from eight to twelve-thirty, second shift came from one to five-thirty, and when we took the exam, the test, I understand that the ones that got the highest marks, got the morning sessions. So, while I was there, I got out at twelve-thirty. Very conveniently, the factory where my father and his brother were working was on 25th Street, so ten blocks away, so after school while all my friends went playing baseball, and so forth, and swimming, I went to work, at fourteen. So, I worked there until I got into the Army, actually, 'til I got out of school. So, that's where I spent my high school days, three years in Stuyvesant High School. After I got out of school, while I was working, I went to CCNY at night, and didn't like that, and, ultimately, I ended up in Fordham, one year before I got drafted. I knew I was going to get into the Army, but they gave me time to finish a year, they didn't want to pull me out in the middle of the year. That was a plus, with the system they were using then. So, I put a year in at Fordham, and at that time, Fordham University was in the Woolworth Building in New York, Fordham, the School of Business, not the one in the Bronx, four floors in the Woolworth Building, and I have to tell you, they was the greatest, happiest, days of my school days in that place. I mean, instructors wore robes, it was a different thing altogether, you can't imagine what a great thing it is. Then, I had to go into the Army, and I left when I was twenty-one, by that time it was 1941 and from there on …
SI: What were you studying at Fordham?
PL: Business, School of Business. They had four floors downtown, because a lot of people worked in the area, and went to school like that. It was just great, four and a half hours, and then I went to work.
SI: Were your parents encouraging you to go to college or was it something you thought of?
PL: I have to tell you, parents these days, my own son and even me, they're in this thing, parents in those days were not in this thing. Didn't know anything about schools, or what to study, well, I mean, maybe some of the wealthier people are into it, but the working people like this, they didn't encourage me to do anything. I did it all on my own. My father didn't know … he almost never went to school himself, ever.
DC: Did your family speak Italian in the household that you grew up in?
PL: We never spoke Italian, even my father and everything, but my grandmother came to live with us also. She lived upstairs with my aunt, this house in Queens was a two-family house, my mother and her sister, she lived upstairs, we lived downstairs, and my grandmother finally lived upstairs with them, and my grandmother spoke only Italian, and I struggled and I spoke to her like that, but my father and mother and us at the table, no Italian. My mother didn't even know much Italian. So, I learned a little bit with my grandmother, and when she died, I don't think I spoke another word, I was fourteen when she died, until I got interested later, but as a language in the family, we spoke English.
SI: Was that a conscious decision because they wanted you to blend in, become more American?
PL: Automatically we just did it. Don't forget, my father came over at five years old, whatever Italian he knew, he always spoke Italian to other people, naturally, he didn't lose it, but from that point on, with the children, we just spoke English. It wasn't organized, or planned, or anything.
DC: Did you grow up in an Italian neighborhood?
PL: The neighborhood? No, that wasn't an Italian neighborhood. That was an ordinary neighborhood, but there were many different kinds of people. I knew a policeman living there, and I knew Irish people, and not many Italians, the Germans were there, too. It was a good mixed neighborhood, two-family houses, like that, you know.
SI: Before you went into the service, what did you know about what was happening overseas in Europe?
PL: Well, I was always reading the papers, and I understood that Hitler was on a rampage, and building this whole thing up, but it didn't really mean too much, you know, at that age, sixteen, seventeen years old, I mean, I'm reading about it, and so forth. But, I remember the impact came, I think when I was nineteen years old, we went camping in the Poconos, a bunch of guys in the street there, three, four cars, we all went and slept in tents, and I went to town and I bought the newspaper, and that's the day that Hitler invaded Poland, and then I realized there's a war going on over there, never figuring that I would be in it, you know, you don't think of those things, it's over there, and I'm over here, and I'm having a lot of fun.
SI: Growing up in New York and Queens area, there's a lot of different mixes of the German population, Italian population, people with different views, did you see any of those views play out?
PL: No, absolutely nothing like that at all, that I know of. Whoever German were there, I suppose, they were Americanized by this time, and they were glad to be here, but we never talked about it, or anything like that. There were no groups, like the Germans here, Italians here, Irish here, it was just a big mix-up, and it wasn't a crowded area. There were open lots and, all over the place. The trolley went to Flushing, to Jamaica, it went all the way down to New York City, over the bridge, and down under the subway there, they turn around, and go the other way. I mean, it was a different neighborhood, it was just wide open in those days. You can't imagine how much land that was open. There'd be a building here and there and nothing for five blocks, like that. Well, it got built up, little by little, and the big feature was it was so close to New York City. Now the train, in those days, that line ran from Flushing, went over the Queensboro Bridge, and made a turn on 2nd Avenue, and went all the way down to the Battery. That's what I took to go to school with, and I tell you, three stops and I was at Long Island City, and it just was great. They had a lot of elevated trains in New York City, 3rd Avenue, 2nd Avenue, 9th Avenue, 6th Avenue, all had elevators, that went all the way down, and joined at the Battery. It took down, one at a time, and so forth, … but it would have been good if they would have kept some of those things. It was good transportation, nice and clean, and the neighborhood was all wide open, really. Playing in the street, no worry about cars coming, or anything like that, except on the boulevards, side streets, that's what it was. There were no really organized groups of different ethnics.
SI: Did you go to the World's Fair before the war?
PL: Yes, we did, 1939, went to the World's Fair, quite a bit. Built up the whole place out there. Part of it is still there, some of the pavilions, buildings and all. Yes, I went there, quite a bit of times, 1939.
SI: You know people have said that it was very exciting and it was this view of the future and …
PL: Oh, well, at that time you got to figure, 1939, that's a long time ago and it was very, good vision that was there, for whoever exhibited, and presented, that kind of thing. Here, we test on the phone, you get the phone, and you hear a beep, we never did that before, you know? That's only a small thing, but there was really advanced thinking then, at that time. So, now it sounds corny maybe, if you think about what they did then.
SI: You went to CCNY for a little while, people have written about how it was pretty radical back then, did you see any of that?
PL: Yes, it wasn't organized groups and all, like waving banners, but I didn't like the people there, and I left. I mean, it was a struggle to go there. After work, I went home, and then went to school, at 10:25 I was still in the classroom, a run for the subway, got home eleven o'clock, just in time for Glenn Miller's "Chesterfield Serenade," fifteen minutes of music. But it was a grind, and I didn't like the whole place … that was the reason, not the 10:25 I could have put up with that, that wasn't so terrible. I mean, I could take it in those days, but I didn't like the crowd, I have to tell you.
SI: Were they Communists?
PL: It's hard to put my finger on, it's just something that I didn't like about them. Had to do with politics, I think, their politics, not their individual characters.
SI: You mentioned that you were allowed to stay in Fordham for a year by the Army, when did the draft become a real issue?
PL: Well, it came out in 1940, I think, and I was in school, so I was able to stay a year. I had a bunch of friends of mine, that lived in the neighborhood with us, we played ball together and all, they said, "Let's put our year in and get out." That's what the draft was then, you put in the year and go. So, they all signed up. When the year was over, that's when Pearl Harbor came, therefore they didn't get out, and at that time, I think I was, where was I, 1941? I was in the service by that time, yes, in the training camp, the replacement center somewhere in, Fort Knox … being trained, and … when that happened, that's where I was at that time. So, I took that year in Fordham, finished it up, and I ended up in the service.
SI: Did you consider joining any other branch of service?
PL: Well, I went around before I got drafted, yes. Went to the Coast Guard, and looked at a nice little boat, ship, they call it, on 34th Street Pier dock, and what impressed me was having the brass shine, and everything else, when I walked on it, I said, "This is great." Well, we didn't get along with the salary. I said, "What do you pay?" "Twenty-one dollars a month." That's an old joke, but it was the truth. I said, "Gee, I can't do that. I'm paying for school and all that," so I left it. Then I went to the Air Corps, and I wanted to become a pilot, oh, this camp came later … when I had two years in of school, yes, I had two years. That's all I tried was the Coast Guard, I didn't try the Navy, or anything like that. Well, I counted two years, one at CCNY and the one year in Fordham. So, then I went to the air force, and I said, "I want to be a pilot." So, they gave me physicals, this and that, very stringent, even your front teeth, an eighth of an inch over the bite, the bottom teeth, I mean things like that. I passed the whole thing, until they put a book in front of me there, with a lot of little bubbles and all, for a color test. "What number is here?" "There's no number there," "turn the page." "What number is there?" "It's a five," "turn it over," "there's an eight." Then they go back, "You didn't see a number there, that's a three there. You saw an eight, there shouldn't be anything there." Not that I can't tell colors, but when they mix them up, very cleverly, even somebody with normal eyes would just about see the number. So, that failed me, and that was it. So, then I waited to get drafted. I mean, I don't regret that too much, because, I'm here now, and I don't know where I would have been as a pilot.
SI: When you went in November of '41, did you still think it would be a year or did you …
PL: No, no, by that time we knew. Pearl Harbor came, "Forget about it, forget about the year." They were packing their bags, as a matter-of-fact, ready to come back, they'd go home, canceled all that. Yes, there was no question, "a year in and a year out," forget about that. That wasn't even thought of in those days.
SI: Can you walk us through your initial induction into the Army, getting physicals, getting inside the training, and so forth?
PL: What about it?
SI: Can you tell us about the process?
PL: Well, yes, I went there, it was a place in Long Island, and they put us on a train, and we all went down to Fort Knox, and they'd start right in basics. Classes outside, weaponry, and, of course, that was the tank corps, so they trained us in that, and then from that place, you'd get sent to organized units. So, I got sent to Fort Benning with a bunch of people. Some people went to artillery in Oklahoma, let's say. They flew all over the country. The group I was with, though, they picked, well, I don't know how they did this, because down here was a line up; they picked all these people, "you go here," the next fifty people, "go there." That's probably what they did, they didn't look and see individual skills, or experience, or anything like that, they didn't do that. So, I ended up in Fort Knox, a replacement center, they called that. After that, they sent me to Fort Benning, and that's where the regular division, now, I was in the Second Armored Division … and that's it, and the training was strenuous, maneuvers in Carolina, and all that kind of business, actual wartime conditions. Then, from there, you go fight. But that's where the training took place, Fort Benning. While I was in Fort Benning, they sent me back to Knox for three months, for automotive school. They were sending people to different schools, they had time to do that, and that school over there went twenty-four hours a day. I had a shift from 4:30 AM, until about seven. I mean, 4:30 AM was classrooms, and so forth, seven o'clock, lights out. Then another group took over. So … very, really strenuous training, and I ended up in the tanks, in the tank corps. That's all. After that, time came to go overseas; we went overseas.
SI: Was it challenging to go from civilian live to military life?
PL: I adapted real fast. Don't forget, I really have no responsibilities in civilian life that hurt me if I left them, like I wasn't married, that would have been maybe a problem. Some people had kids. No, it didn't bother me, I got in there, and it's just, forgot civilian life altogether while I was there. They keep you so busy, you just do it. Not anybody really thinking about the war that's over there, and the battles that are coming. You don't think about that. They train you, have a lot of fun.
SI: Was it the first time you really saw much of the country?
PL: Yes, really that's true. I never really traveled. I went all over to Louisiana, two Carolinas, all that, Virginia, yes, that's the only time I really traveled, around there. I mean, at that age, I never had any, really, reason to go anywhere.
SI: What did you think as you were going to each place and the people you met?
PL: We were on maneuvers, that's what I meant. Not too much, you didn't get to, you had some time off, like a day to go to the movies or something, but you, generally, were in the field, most of it is all in the field, sleeping out there and all that, that was the training, that's the purpose of it, and then we'd go back to Benning, and then maybe there'd be another exercise, some weeks later. That's the way it was.
SI: The armored corps was very new. It was a few years old, but it still seemed like they were developing tactics and stuff, was there a lot that on these maneuvers?
PL: They were training officers how to direct actions, that's what the real thing was training in a tank was a simple matter, but I think that was the main reason for the maneuvers. They even had mock battles between one group and another group, to see how they could maneuver units all over the place. Of course, at that time, none of them even had any idea what war was even the officers, the conditions that they were going to meet in actual situations later.
SI: What did you do in the tank?
PL: I was a gunner, tank gunner, put me in the gunner's seat, periscope and all that, the big gun and … the whole time. Overseas and so forth, wherever I went; there was Waters. [John T. Waters]
SI: Were you in the same tank?
PL: No, not the same tank, but he joined my outfit. He came in later, he didn't go to the original training that I went in, during the year. He took the training, but he wasn't in the division when it went overseas, he joined it overseas as a replacement. There was no fighting yet, but that's where he joined our outfit.
SI: Can you tell us about the process of going overseas and preparing to move out?
PL: Well, of course, they were planning for the invasion of Africa, that's what started our engagement in actual warfare here, with this whole business. So, we got down to Benning, and we were told "get rid of all excess baggage and personal stuff, get rid of it now," because we're going go overseas, and, of course, we were going to Africa, which was warm at that time, but we had heavy woolen things on, this was to deceive any enemy ideas, see how they dress and where they're going. That's the way they do it. So, we went down and got on a Liberty ship. The tanks themselves, we didn't have any equipment then, like they had later where landing crafts and, LSTs, the front goes down, and everybody comes out into the water, and up onto the beach. There was no such things like that. So, the first wave to get over there, the troops went with the tanks. I was with a troop ship, and the tanks were on a railroad ship, a ship that takes trains, that's all they had then. So, they put them on there, and that was out there while we're here, going over, and the idea was to get together when you land, "go find your tank." Well that's what it was, we were on the water, and we loaded up on a Liberty ship and we took off, and a whole big armada went across there. I think we were on the water twenty days, zigzagging this way, zigzagging that way, so the enemy wouldn't know, have any idea where we were going, and then, as we approached Africa, here's what happened. There was a tremendous convoy, they divided up into three parts. One part went through the Straits of Gibraltar into Oran, the other ones went there also, to Algiers. I was on the right hand side that went a hundred miles down the coast to a place called Safi, another town, and that's where these guys that went in there. I'm reading a book over here by my neighbor, that gave me the battle of North Africa, and I tell you I learned more with this book, I never knew what went on over there. Unbelievable casualties that we took there, from blunders, and stupidity, and everything. Those are the guys that went into Algeria. The one where I went, they went to a cork forest, that's what Walters says, that's where he joined us, in the corkwoods in Morocco. Now cork grows on a tree as the bark, seven feet high, they cut it off, and strip it and it takes seven years to re-grow. So, this whole forest was a cork forest, all the trees were cork barks. I mean, if you didn't need it, it would just stay like that, but if they're looking for corks, that's where they found it. That's the way it works. So, we were in there in pup tents, and no action after we landed, well, there was a small battle as we landed, and then the railroad ship had to come in and dock. So the point was to get to the docks, so that the cranes can pull out the tanks, one at a time, put them on the ground, and as you put them on the ground, that crew jumped on it and went to an assembly area somewhere, and that's how we got out to the ground, after a while, and then went on to our assignments, whatever we had to do. But, basically, the group I was in didn't have any problems after that. We parked there, we were in reserve, so to speak, or whatever it was they called it, for whatever the reason. But the other guys were fighting furiously there, to beat the French.
SI: Was it the French who caused the battle that you saw as you came in?
PL: Yes, they battled us. Well, at that time, I don't know if you know the history, Hitler took over three-quarters of France, he let some of it stay free, and he warned everybody in other countries like this, in Africa and where they were, "If you resist any invasions, we'll leave you alone, but if you don't, we're taking the rest of France over." So, they fought us for the landing, the French did. After a while, they turned around, and they fought with us. But all those casualties, these guys, were caused by the French. We fought the French getting into that harbor, bombardments and planes landed, and bombed, and so forth. Finally, when it was safe, the big ship came in, and they took the tanks out, one at a time, and they gave them to us, we jumped onto them. They were all fueled, ready to go, ammunition, and everything, and we assembled in some area near Rabat.
SI: I just read a book on North Africa where it sounds like your unloading was pretty smooth, but this author talked about how there were a lot of logistical problems getting supplies?
PL: The ammunition was here, the guns were there, I don't know what book you're talking about, but let me just show you.
SI: Is it An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson?
PL: Yes. The most amazing piece of work ever.
SI: Oh, yes, very well written.
PL: The details, everything. This is where I learned about the whole thing. I'm not really finished with it, I have another twenty pages or so, because I didn't want to start [Mark] Bando's book [ Breakout at Normandy: The Second Armored Division in the Land of the Dead ] about the breakout at St. Lo, that's what his book is, it's on the table over there, so, I wanted to finish this first … that's when the time, and then chronologically goes that direction, see. You've read that book?
PL: Patton wasn't so smart. I didn't know he was an idiot. I'm surprised, the ineptness of everybody, got guys killed for nothing. Although, some of their stupidity, came in later, too, but when they went to Normandy, then they really knew what they were doing, I think. Yes, it took that whole time for them to understand, even the Sicilian thing was crazy.
SI: At the time, were you able to see anything? Could you see that they were still trying to figure things out?
PL: On our level, you don't see these things, you just don't. You go on exercise, you got guards around the place, and all that. Finally, we had a lot of time to go to town, while these guys are getting killed up there. But, so in order to keep the troops, not get too bored, or whatever, however they figure this, so we had trips to town. Went to Rabat … shopping, this and that. Then I left them there.
DC: Did you get to observe what the natives' lives were like in North Africa while you were there?
PL: Yes, I was very interested in it, too. I always was, from there, all the way down to the rest of the war, any time I got into towns and this, and mixed with the people, talk with them.
DC: In North Africa?
PL: Very interested. Well, in that area we were in, of course, there's Arabs mostly, living outside, but we went into town. Rabat was a town that is as modern then, as you'll see towns here now. This is the example I'm going to give you, one of the guys is leaning over the railing as we were ready to move into this place, he sees these buildings out there like that. He's taking architecture in school, when they grabbed him. He said, "This is the best thing that ever happened to me." They had the most modern architecture ever, flat buildings and levels and, like you see in Hollywood, I saw there were French people living there, and when the fighting with the French was over, those people didn't want to fight us, it was only the troops that did that. Oh, I went to town quite a bit there. I have pictures of broad avenues, and all that, and went to restaurants, yes. They were living good lives over there. They really were. Years ago, like for example in Casablanca, inside the walled city, the Europeans used to live there, as protection, with soldiers and all that business. Now it has turned around, that then became the Arab quarters and the Arabs had the Europeans on the outside, during the years that's what happened. But there was a lot of people to talk to and all that. I enjoyed talking to them, some of my French came back to me here from school, yes. I also ate in a lot of restaurants, went shopping a lot, and then 'til that ended there, then I got sent up somewhere else to do some fighting, but, while I was there I enjoyed myself.
SI: When you first came into North Africa, seeing that battle, did that make you realize that this is the real thing, that this is more than just training?
PL: This is it. Like I tell you, my group that got in there, really had an easy time I must say, the other guys no, but nevertheless, there was activity there, too, there was some fighting. I remember one thing here, as we're drifting in, our engines were cut, and all the ships that's coming in I could see the outline in the morning there, just about on the horizon, and they drifted in, very quietly. All of a sudden, a salvo opens up, on a hill, and some shells went screaming over us, the French figured there's somebody coming, so they fired. Behind me, was the battleship on this whole trip, and did you ever see a battleship? You see nice on the side, but if you look at it from the front, it looks like a big bathtub, it goes like this, wallowing up and down. They let go a salvo to answer that, they put it out right away, and I'm telling you the ship I was on, you're not going to believe it, bounced in the water from the blast, a mile away from it. They put them out of action. There were some fighting, small stuff, and then, there wasn't any. I remember sitting on the docks, waiting for the cranes to pull the tanks out. So, I had an easy battle when we there, it wasn't so bad, but I know that this was a war now. Nobody got injured yet, but it didn't take long before some of them got hurt.
SI: What about when you left Rabat?
PL: Well, we were stationed there in reserve. During the night, now the other guys who were getting close to Tunisia, fighting, they were there so long, and they started to run into a lot of trouble. The British Grenadier Guards and the Coldstream Guards were there, in front of a place called Long Stop Hill; did you read that in that book? So, they were in trouble, so, they needed some help. So, they take the second platoon that I'm in, five tanks, and during the night the French got these coal cars that look like empty boxes sort of, with the sides, they cut the sides off, and put five tanks on there. So now we put the tanks on the cars, you had two train engines in the front, one in the back, and we took a one thousand mile trip to get up to the front, ten days. Well, the reason for that is the powerless engines, because they didn't have the fuel. Now if they were sending in blocks of black stuff into the furnace, but that was like powdered dust and it really had, there was no fuel there, so it took a long time, two engines in the front, one in the back, and they took off. Meantime, they also said, "There's one freight car in the middle that has our rations, food, water, and all kinds of canned stuff." Well, first of all he said, "Well, we need two cooks to go on this trip, to take care of the food." A friend of mine said, "I'm a cook," and he also said I was a cook, so we both landed inside that thing, and we rode in there, while the other guys were sitting on the tanks, but they used to come in there while it was safe. By the way, that cat is named after one of the towns we passed, Souka, from the railroad. Anyway, these five tanks took all that time to get up there, and when we got up there, it was in front of Long Stop Hill. The British were entrenched, and it was very quiet, but that was my first real scary things up there, where the eighty-eights were shelling. Then I knew, this was the war, and from there to the end it was like that all the time, and that was it. That Long Stop Hill, it doesn't say it there in the book, but it was like a flat area, almost a mile this way maybe, and five and a half a mile that way, and this forbidding thing was right there, like (a cliff?), and the Germans were up there with eighty-eights. There was a little wiggley town, a wiggley road that went into a small town in the middle, and every once in a while we'd come out of the woods that we're in, drive up that road, reconnoiter, and as soon as the shells come in, turn around, and run for our lives. We stayed there for about two weeks, I think, could not get up that hill. Then the other troops came. The French came one night, torches, singing, lighting up the place, crazy business, wheeling in a seventy-five millimeter cannon from World War I, with wooden wheels and a horse. We're hiding there and all, keeping quiet; they lined it up, start shooting at the hill. Fortunately, they didn't respond. Wind it up, and they left. I mean, it was kind of crazy things like this happening. We're all quiet, and "don't make any noise," you know, and they come in with this stupid exhibition. I understand that the ones that got … them out of there, the First Infantry Division, by the way, with the Big Red One. They had bad casualties going up there, trying to get them up there. The (Gohms?), now the (Gohms?), were tall guys really, everyone of them six-feet-two or three, and they had these striped robes, big mustaches, I think they're Mongolians, I don't know where they came from, they came with their horses. That's where the term "forty and eight" came from. The freight car took forty men or eight horses, so, it was the "forty and eight." But the people who had the horses, they slept with the horses in there, like their right arms. While they left them there, they went up there that night, and I remember, machine gun firing, tracers flying all over the place, mortars going, a big bombardment all night. I guess, these guys got up there, and sneaked up, and put the people out of action. That's what I heard. But there was a lot of them coming back, like the First Infantry, after the raid, they'd come back carrying their wounded, it was a tough place to move out of. Yes, that book mentions it there.
SI: Did your unit take a lot of casualties?
PL: A couple of guys got killed, not too many at that point yet. Don't forget, we only had five tanks up there, one platoon, and, really, I think one of the guys, (Grogin?), was under the tank, and a barrage came in, and he got hit with a piece that flew across. Got some pictures here even. Well, that's it. So, we stayed up there, and then finally joined the rest of the division that came up, and we moved up towards, Pass Kasserine, after Kasserine, we've advanced into the mountains of Tunisia. That's this last big battle there that the book is describing. I didn't know it was so ferocious as all that, I mean, I guess it was terrible.
SI: Yes, the Germans took more land than in the Battle of the Bulge.
PL: Yes. That's a major battle, but you don't hear about it. Nobody talks about the thing in Africa, that's why this guy wrote this book. … I enjoyed reading it because I learned things I never knew before, but it was played down all the time. I think it's probably played down because of the mistakes we were making, maybe, and the casualties we took, but it really opened up the whole thing. So, then after that was over there, we start preparing to go to Sicily.
SI: Was the Second Armor involved in Kasserine Pass at all?
PL: The First Armored was, not the Second, they kept some units, maybe, like mine, I don't know, maybe they sent some artillery up there to help, too, or something like that, but as a division, it didn't move out. In warfare, divisions don't move in one, all out there, I mean, it's a lot of little conflicts here, little incident there, a group over here, that's what it's all about. Of course, if you get to, like back to war in … Iraq, that was different, nice flat thing, you could see tanks for miles around, or even in Egypt there, with the British, that was tank country, but we didn't meet that. After the war was ended in Tunisia, then we started to prepare to go to Sicily. I was there for a while, went to town, and all that, it wasn't so bad. So, this friend of mine, who was with me on this whole thing, Pete Rallis, I have a picture of him here, we were going to church, to mass, at the Cathedral of Carthage, that was right outside up there, you could see it, built in 200 BC, something like that. That's the place where they put salt all over, and nothing could grow anymore in biblical days. So, we decided to go to church. So, we're on a LST, ready to go, with tanks and everything, and this is downstairs, so, if you have a chance to go, so we went down the ropes into the landing craft that was bouncing up and down, that one, you see when people are coming down ropes from a distance, you don't see that thing is going ten feet up, ten feet down, so this guy jumped in and he broke his ankle. I was right with him. So, they took everybody off that, put them into another landing craft, and the medic came down the ropes, gave me some syringes, "stick it into his ankle," which I did, unfortunately, morphine, maybe, or something like that, and he stayed in Africa, while we all went to Sicily. So, I lost Chuck, but we went to the mass up there at the church and all that business, and then the word came, and we went to Sicily. They were accumulating the whole armada in the Bay of Tunis, and then we went, that's all. Now, we were on an LST, which was a, I don't know how much that distance was, hundred miles maybe across to there (?). It started to go real close to the shore, never really got that close, so they brought up another small one, by that time, there's firing on them, and infantry is landing, and so forth. The thing I was on was … a little later, because, tanks at the first part of the battle are useless. They're coming up the beach, they're not going to do anything. So, they wait 'til like the next day, or later in the afternoon, and they got the Germans out of there. One incident took place, my LST was coming in and couldn't …
SI: Please continue.
PL: While we were doing this, a German plane comes in, drops a bomb, right at the water's edge, nobody got hurt that I could think of but, anyway, we got onto this …
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PL: … These five guys came up, cursed us; the tank was lost, so they pushed it over. Well, after that we went inland. I remember getting to the airport, shooting up planes up in there, the Italians ran like anything, they were no problem, and the Germans weren't in this area. They were over near the Messina end of it, where the British were, Catania, they had more trouble over there. We didn't have that much fighting there, but, I mean, I remember the night of that invasion, paratroopers were coming down, and you read this in the book, too? I saw that there; guys shooting at our own people, didn't know that they were our people, can't blame them, and the guy that was in charge of the drop didn't notify the people on the ground that there's going be a drop, a thousand dropped that night. Some of them landed fifty miles away, and didn't warn anybody, or tell anybody. Then his explanation was, "Well, in war these things happen." That's what he says. I tell you I could have, I got furious when I read that part of the book, what his answer was. "These things happen, you know, you got to accept it." They should have court-martialed that idiot. Well, that was it, the battle in Sicily didn't last too long as far as we were concerned. … The Germans escaped, and all those landing crafts that they had ready, at one time, to go to England, that's what they used, and they got across the Straits of Messina, and they went into Italy, which, in my opinion, was one of the worst places to have a fight in Italy. We should have never made a battleground out of that, but, anyway, that's different. Our outfit stayed in Sicily for five months after the fighting was over. I had the time of my life there, I have to tell you, going to town, then I started talking Italian a little bit, but I have to tell you, the Sicilian language is not like the Italian language. The dialect, you can't even put it in writing.
DC: Did you try to look up any family history while you were there?
PL: Oh, yes, I did.
DC: You did?
PL: When it was peaceful now, then I told our lieutenant, "I'm not far from the town called Marineo, my father's town, he came from that right outside of Palermo." I take a half-track, "Take two guys with you." I took some provisions, I figured they'd be impoverished, which wasn't true, excuse me, I got this backward, they were impoverished. I brought a bunch of things with me and another family was (?), so we took a ride over there, and they didn't know who we were, but I announced my name and, "Santo Logerfo," "Oh, yeah, I remember he was the kid, he left over here," and they remembered my father, some of the older guys there, and I stayed with them for a day, came back. Then I had another family, well, my grandmother and my grandfather came from Sciacca. So, I said, "I got to go to Sciacca to see the people over there." Excuse me, I'm getting ahead of myself, erase that part of it. There's a town called Caltinisetta inside the island, not along the coast, so they never saw any of the battle. Never saw any Americans, so, they didn't know. I said, "I got to go to that town." So, he said, "All right, take a half-track, take two guys and go with you," a lot of food, and everything else. This is the ones I thought were impoverished, but as I approached the town, the smell of coffee being ground, I remember the in the valley there and all that, that's what it was. As we get up to the town, every town in Sicily, or in Italy even, is on top of a mountain or a hill, for protection purposes in the old days, that was their defense, so, every one of them is at the top. I get up to the town, everybody is looking at us, kind of fearful. I didn't know where the house was, but I had the name, Emmanuel, didn't tell me the address, this is my uncle upstairs in that two family house, was my mother's sister's husband. So, I tried to find his people. So, we took a ride up there, in and out of the town, stopped. I start asking people, they shied away, and they didn't know. So, I saw this little kid, with religious hat on, the garb that they wear, with the white collar and all that, I remember this is very funny, so in my best Italian, I want to know, "Well, do you know anything about Emmanuel family?" He said, "I'm an Emmanuel. I just come from school." I said, "Get in." We put him in the half track, "Show me where the house is" and we got there, a nice, small, little street, of course, they're all narrow streets, we'd pull up, and the mother and everybody else come out looking, they figured, "What are they doing with my son?" and they're worried. I started to talk as fast as I could, "We came to visit you, I knew your brother he lives upstairs to me." "Ohhhhhhhhhh!" End of story. So, we got to be friends. Two guys stayed outside there with the half-track, kids climbing all over the place, giving them candy and all, hell of a good time, and I came in, and I sat there, and the whole town came in on one doorway, shook my hand, and went out the other doorway. "Stay here a couple of weeks, we got room for you." I said, "Hey!" That was that visit, yes, that's the only two places I went there then. The one in Sciacca, I visited three years ago when I went back there, with a friend of mine, but during wartime, those were the two places I went. We had played ball there. We had a good time. So, we stayed there for five months, I think, we left in the end of November of '43. Then, half of our outfit all depart, the non-combatant part was still in Africa some of the record people, quartermaster, stuff like that, as we came from Tunisia to Sicily, they stayed in Africa because they weren't fighting units, and my friend with the broken ankle stayed there. So, we got on the Liberty ships, again, and started to go to England. Meantime, as these convoy pulled out, you could see the convoy from Africa joining us so the whole division was on the water at the same time, all going to England. I think, we stopped at Scotland, if I'm not mistaken, anyway we ended up in the Tidworth barracks; we call it Tidworth barracks, that the British used to use, and my friend appeared there then, with a bundle of money, he'd been gambling constantly over there, he was a good card player. So, as we arrived there, we all took our places in these barracks, and we're going to stay there and prepare for D-Day, that was the idea. Pete Rallis, had all this money, so then they said, "Okay, we're going send two people on pass to London, each time for three days, and the next two will follow them, and so forth, and so forth while we're here." We didn't get paid for a year, or anything, you know, so, "We have no money." So, Pete Rallis pops up, "I have money!" Pete and I go first. So, we went on a trip, went to London, had a good time there, came back in three days, and all that. The whole company went around, and then we got our second trip, until, finally, they said, "No more trips." They're getting serious now, so, we're going get ready for D-Day. So, that's what we started to do there. The first thing we had to do was to impregnate the tanks with, strange word, but, with a certain kind of waterproof oil, grease of some kind,
PL: Yes, even more than that, something thick, all the seams of the tank were closed in, because it was going to go into the water now, and go up onto the beach. So, we prepared, practice runs, and all that, and then they had this strange looking thing on the back, so the air would get into the engine, without any water, which, when you're in there, you pull a wire and it falls off, which we had to make that, or put it up there, get it set, practice and practice and practice, until finally, we went across. … I lost track of when we got there, but Waters seems to think that we got there on, D +4, according to his, what he told me, I think, or D +3. Again, tanks are no good, cliffs in front of you, machine gunners all over the place, what are you going do with a tank? So, finally we got on there, got in there. By the way, that tank in Sicily that was in the water, after a three day (flurry?) out there we got back to the beach for more ammunition and stuff, it was on the beach. They pulled it out, covered with barnacles, seaweed, like it was underneath there for ten years. They allowed us to strip off anything we needed, that we didn't have on our own tanks. They called that "cannibalizing," which is against the rule in the Army, you can't get stuff from another tank, but this, they said, "Take what you want." So, I took a cleaning rod, a long thing that comes in two pieces, you shove it in the barrel, with a mop on the end to clean it, I didn't have one, anyway, that's what happened to that tank there. All right, now we're in France over there, I mean, ready for the invasion, and that's it. So, went in there, and the place was a mess, there. What else?
SI: We'll ask you a few questions about your time in England. You mentioned that you went to London, what was that like, wartime London?
PL: Well, they didn't have too many, too much food in all the restaurants at all, but the English, well, they're very smart. When the war started, they knew this was going to happen, where people wouldn't have enough food, so, they decided to have a staple, which they called some kind of sausage, that they've created, which had all the vitamins you needed, all to help you, even though you may get tired of the taste, but it maintained the whole population. So that's what we had, we used to eat that, fish and chips, went to some movies, Red Cross clubs had various clubs there, the SOS, servicemen clubs, and it was better than sitting in camp over there. Of course, there were air raids once in a while. I remember a V-2 landed, oh, Jesus, about four, five blocks away, I was in the Red Cross in bed, and I got knocked out of the bed from the blast, that caused a lot of casualties and all. I don't know how the British withstood what was going on. I just got to hand it to them, just terrible. Well, anyway, that's what we did in London there, visited some places.
SI: Did you go on the local towns around your barracks?
PL: Yes, yes. Went to Stratford visiting, Birmingham, yes, took the busses, terrific bus system there, go sailing along in double-deckers, from town to town, and also a railroad system. A rail system, it's just tremendous, people take the train there to go short distances, not like over here, that's just great. You get on the train, it goes from one town to the other, you get off and, you know, very good system, and a nice bus system there, and we went visiting places, that's all.
SI: Did the Army give you instructions on how to act when you're in England, or what not to do?
PL: I think they did. They did, I think they mentioned some things, different, slightly different customs, and don't, I don't remember, but they did mention some things there. I paid no attention, that's why I don't remember.
SI: Now, you probably had some casualties from the first two campaigns and had to bring people in, what was it like bringing in replacements and integrating them?
PL: That was the worst part of the whole thing, I have to tell you, I hardened myself to this. I almost didn't want to get, maybe it doesn't sound right, too friendly with too many people, because I realize what was going happen, and there were a lot of nice guys. I got pictures here, Tommy Gentile, laughing, funny guy, he got killed, the guy Grogan got killed, oh, Jesus. So, I didn't want to get, I was friendly with everybody, yes, I have to tell you that. It's not just something, I just can't explain it. You just feel like maybe it didn't happen, you don't want to think about it, you see another guy sitting in somebody's seat that was there in the tank, previously, even Waters, he got hit there, too. He got hit with an armor piercing he said, and it cut the driver's leg off, and the other guy got covered with shrapnel, and all, he got it in the leg. But there's a lot of people, see, this whole thing is the people that started this thing, landed at the beginning, they don't last 'til the end. New people come, and you keep going, and the ones that were all around at the end of the war, didn't start the war, almost none of them, even if they didn't get hurt, they took them out, moved them around, and so forth. That's what happened to me, too. I didn't get to the end. Well, I got this guy, Pete Rallis, he started from Fort Benning, and he landed in Germany, all the way, Battle of the Bulge, the Ardennes, that forest business, and all that in Holland and Germany. Some guys lasted all the way. I had a sergeant name Guliane, and I have a picture here of him, too, he was a great guy. I understand, Waters told me, he got the Silver Star, and the Bronze Star, he went all the way, it's just great. But you lose people everyday as you're going along, even from sicknesses. I mean, I didn't get wounded, but I got, something happened to my foot here, my heel, and it started to rot away, from infections and all, so I got yanked out. I didn't get hit, no Purple Heart or anything, it's just one of those things. A lot of people get sick, a lot of accidents, driving trucks and all, off a bridge, things like that, like's happening right now, over there. [referring to the second Iraq conflict] Lot of those casualties are caused by stupidity, driving, running into each other. Yes, I remember once seeing there, I was riding a tank on a dirt road there, and there's a small wooden bridge, foliage all around, and there's the jeep turned over, and two GIs are laying on their faces with a pool of blood on each one of them. They hit that thing about fifty miles an hour, just two casualties, they didn't get, the enemy didn't do it. That happens all the time, but that happens in civilian life. You get two hundred thousand people, there's going be accidents, this, that, fights among themselves, the same way, just like civilians, sicknesses.
SI: When you're serving in a tank, did you always get the same crew? Did a bond form between the members of one tank?
PL: Well, we had the same crew, until somebody gets hurt, then they replace somebody; somebody would have to come in. Once in a while, they switched over, not because of illnesses or anything, but somebody got, they made him a sergeant, so now you have to be in that tank, instead of this tank, things like that. But we're always close together there though, every time there's a break, I had some guy in the, I forget what artillery was, the 78th Field Artillery, friends of mine that came from the States here with me, every once in a while, they drive up with a jeep, and see us, and we'd have coffee together, then he'd go back to his unit, even right out there where the fighting was. He'd find us when there was a little lull, or something like that, and we'd get together. But it's true, you see people dropping out along the way, and new faces all the time. Well, I didn't last too much in that part of it, so I really can't go much farther than that. They sent me back to England, and they kept me there, changed my designation, put me into the MPs, a prisoner of war camp, and the rest of my days were there in England.
SI: When I talk to people who were involved in D-Day, or any operations right after, they talked a lot about the secrecy leading up to the actual invasion, and all the rumors that were flying around. Do you remember any of that?
PL: Not really. Don't forget, you're in a tank, you're not in the infantry, who is on the ground, and talking to people, even when we took a town, let's say, and chased the Germans out of it, we have to ride through, and keep going. The infantry comes in, and seals the thing, establishes a point. They're the ones that talk to the people, and all that, pick up souvenirs, that's the way it goes. Right away, as soon as … something was like taken, continue to the next one, some people stay behind. So, in the tanks, you don't get a chance to mingle … too much until you have a place where you get out and talk to people like that, and that's not so often, you stay in the tank a lot of times, yes.
SI: What about before the invasion, in the week or so before the invasion,
PL: In England?
SI: Yes, were you confined to the camp?
PL: Well, yes, they cut us down, maybe about, I'd say two to three weeks before, no more passes, and no more going anywhere. Just kept training.
SI: You probably realized at the time that it was going be the continental invasion
PL: Oh, yes, we knew that, we didn't know where, that was secret yet, but, of course, we knew we were going over there, that was it. That was no secret, I mean, everybody knew it, especially when it came time for waterproofing everything, we figured that was it. We had no idea what was going to be over there though, to tell you the truth. You don't know these things, it's hard to just figure what's going happen, but you can't tell. Some places were just, not as bad as other places. A couple of people landed in the wrong place, and there were no fighting there. So, they went inland as far as they could, but nothing on the beach, and I'll tell you, the beach they took, Omaha Beach there, was the worst place they could have landed anybody, with these high cliffs there. I mean, it was just stupidity. It was a nice piece of work to land in the place where the Germans didn't know, they faked them out, they had the SS panzers going somewhere else. They thought they were going come across in the Calais, we built that up, so that's where all their divisions were, and we were somewhere else, when we landed. Of course, as soon as we did, they start chasing these guys over there, but it worked, I mean, that was it, but things happen, mistakes happen, I tell you. You can't help it. There's confusion, everything is all over the place. Sometimes, in the movies, they make an easy deal out of it, you know, but it's just a mix-up. You don't know what's going on, that's the whole thing. Just picture yourself with a tank there, you're looking through the periscope, and you don't know what's going on. You expect to meet the enemy somewhere, that's about it.
SI: Where was your first experience in action after landing in Normandy? Were you in the hedgerows?
PL: Yes. Let's see what happened here. First of all, when we landed, we went in there, we got lost. My tank was riding around half the night, past burning buildings, no one even shooting at us; we didn't know where we were. Ultimately, we found our way back to the beach. … That's when we stayed there until the St. Lo breakthrough. Otherwise, everybody was just at the beach, building up supplies, and everything coming in there, more people coming in; it was getting crowded as anything there, and then, finally, they decided that they had to break out. That's that book I got over here, the breakout from Normandy, everybody had a different mission, and not like I said, you look out and you see two hundred tanks, all moving at once, nothing like that. They take the second platoon, like mine, you have a mission, "get that crossroads," and that's what this guy here was, I'm going show you a picture of it, secure that thing for three days, because at the end of that time, the Third Infantry Division is going to come riding by, and the fighting should be over by that time, and they did come by. It took five hours for them to come by, but that's it, we had the mission, five tanks, "Second platoon, go take that thing." Now, I'm going show you something, I have a picture here. But that crossroads is a crucial crossroads, we had to stay there three days, that was my first experience. On that trip, I was the lead tank, fortunately, I didn't run into any Tiger tanks, or anything. But trucks, everything that came up the road, just destroyed them. Kept riding with the five tanks to the hedgerows. Now we got to the crossroads, and I was sitting on the tank, and I took this picture, unfortunately, it was ripped off the bottom. So, I sent it to Bando and he scanned it, and he went there six years ago and took this picture, and he tells me, he took this from the exact same position that I took mine, coincidence. We had a big laugh about that.
SI: When you're given a mission like that, what's difficult about it and what's …
PL: What's what?
SI: What's difficult about that kind of mission like having to hold …
PL: Well, first of all, the thing is you don't know what you're going meet, that's all, and use your heads, you're free and clear, go and do what you have to do, that's the thing. Fortunately, this wasn't that bad thing, I'd shot up a lot of things on the way. It took time to get there, and Bando is asking me, "draw me a map and show me where your tank was," which I did. So anyway, we got in there. On the way, the first problem I had, a small car was coming up the road, and it stopped at the top of the hill, a long incline, mind you, hedgerows on both sides, you can't see the sides, except you get out to the, an opening, and then you can see the other streets, or paths, whatever. So, we stopped there looking around, you have to go, little by little, and a small car came up the road, stopped five hundred yards away, saw this up there, a camouflaged little car started to make a U-turn, I fired at him with a seventy-five, and it looked like it blew up in the street behind, over the top. A guy jumps up with a rifle, before we could do anything, and jumped into the bushes. Well, when I got down there, we see there was a hole like this right behind the driver's seat. Unfortunately, my loader put in on delayed action, so delayed action means that it will explode one eleventh of a second after it hit something, and the reason for that is they want them into buildings, the fuse will hit the outside wall, and will blow up inside, otherwise, some of these buildings can take a lot of hits … from the outside. So actually, I hit the car, almost hit the driver, and it blew up because it was delayed action. Anyway, pushed the car aside, and went. Not too much action happened on that trip until we got there, and then, each tank faced a different direction against the hedgerow, even the ones, two of them in the direction we came, because like we were a pocket out there, and we don't know where the enemy was and they don't know where we were, and the answer to that, "they didn't know where we were," showed up in the destruction that we caused there, in fighting, the three days there, anything that come up the road, [makes whoosh noise]. They had a Piper Cub flying around, with somebody on the ground with a phone, and he was directing us, he'll say, "Well, the west road, there's a column of people coming up there," we'd get ready for them. There was some action at that crossroads. I took this prisoner here, I see that he's sitting in the jeep there, and he was very impressed by that picture, I can't believe it. So, anyway that's what happened. After those five days, or three days and nights, there were some skirmishes with the infantry, but little tank work there, and then finally, this convoy comes through. It's just on time, the Third Infantry Division. So, it relieved us, and that part of the area was now safe, and this mission is like that, take this one, now you advance to that point, keep going as much as you can, but first take a mission, an objective, and then pass it if you can, but at least get the objective, so they have a way of planning this whole thing. This unit should be here by that time, this one should be here by that time, this one over there by that time, make sure that they [don't] outrun the gasoline and the supplies, things like that. That's what you needed it to run a war. Well, that was it, so after that, I forgot what happened after that.
SI: During that operation, did you see the big bombers, the B-17s?
PL: Yes. Before we set off on this, that's what happened there. They bombed the place, before we moved out. Well, I'm telling you, that's one of the most impressive sights I ever saw in my life, thousands of planes coming over, hours and hours of it. Unfortunately, they didn't do all the damage they should have done. The Germans got wind of it, too, whatever, and they vacated, whatever they did, but I saw that scene, that was something, boy, and then we advanced after this, this excursion over here. It was the wide-open country now, the hedgerows weren't there so much, forests, and this and that, but you could see some distance. All of a sudden, I see the whole American Army moving at once. This was a scene I tell you, unbelievable. Tanks were on the road, Long Toms, hundred and fifty-five millimeter rifles, that was the best gun we had then, they were on the side over there, being pulled by prime movers, trucks are pulling them. Bulldozers were on this side here, punching holes to anything that was in the way, and the whole thing started to move ahead, infantry on trucks, and all. No shooting, nothing like that. Beautiful day, so I was sitting on the outside of the tank while we're riding. This is unbelievable, looked around, this is the great American Army, it's great, until the Long Toms peeled off, and then other guys peeled off. It didn't take long for us to be the only ones there, but that's the way it's done, and I really don't remember too much more after this, where we went there. I think, when I got to Paris, is when I left them again. They sent me to the hospital with this thing over here. My heel had a stench there, even I couldn't stand it myself, it was rotting flesh. It got infected because we had some rain, and no change in the socks, and whatever happened there. It got infected there and the medics were busy with other more important things you might say, I didn't want to bother them, but it got worse and worse, and when I went to the hospital, they cut some of it off and bandaged it up, and all that, and they let me stay there. Now some of the action there, this guy Joe Ruffini, I have his pictures over here, he got hit with a tank, and he was involved with a fire. His face got burned up, and the medics came, they wrapped him up, however they prepare for these things, they know what they're doing, and soaked him with some kind of liquid so it stays wet, doesn't dry, because the burned flesh will fall off if it dries up, so they kept it wet, and I thought he got killed, that's the last I saw him. So, I'm in a hospital in England now, with this thing over here. They flew me back. I never went back to the outfit anymore, so I was on limited service now. Limited service means well, you're not going to fight, you do other things, you work in the post office, or this or that, so they sent me to the prisoner of war camp. So, while over there in this hospital, coming back from lunch, I was what you call a 'walking wounded,' you go out and eat yourself, you know, you don't get served or anything. So, they were Quonset huts, and as I come to the Quonset hut, … I take a look, and I think I'm in the wrong place. There's this guy sitting on my bed down there, and he looks like the "Invisible Man," bandaged up, he yells my name out, Joe Ruffini, that was him. So, he saw my name on recent arrivals, they used to do that, put everybody so they could find each other. So, he must have seen my name and found it, and he told me what happened to him, and while he was there, I think about four days later, they peeled off the bandage, and he had a skin so beautifully done that if you wanted that you had to go to Brazil and pay thirty thousand dollars, where they burn it off, and you come back with a perfect skin. We joked about that, not a mark on him. All fresh, new skin grew, amazing. That was an incident, I remember that, very funny. After I left there, my days with the Second Armored were over.
SI: I just want to ask some general questions. When you were in action, how exactly did you work with the infantry? Was it close support, or were they following like you said?
PL: Well, that was their job to, you know, I didn't have to worry about where they were, heavy fighting and all, they're back up a little bit, they're not out in the middle with the tanks. They'll jump on a tank, and go somewhere, that's it. We finally learned how to do that from the Germans. But I never was worried about the infantry too much about that, I mean, they're not supposed to be there, in a place like that, when there's, you're fighting, you took some other tanks or something like that. See, they knocked out so many of our tanks it wasn't even funny. We had an inferior tank. History Channel program shows a lot of this stuff on there, which I learned, too, that I didn't know before, and one of the programs was titled, Suicide Missions, like the Navy Seals and all that. … This was dedicated to the Sherman tanks, Suicide Missions, inferior gun, terrible. There was one fight we had, this was in Sicily, a counter-attack with a Tiger tank in the front, and a lot of small junk, small vehicles with guns on them, a column of maybe ten, twelve, vehicles like that. I was up on the top of the hill, looking down at the airport, three tanks over there, two tanks here, five tanks. Now we watch this thing come, and then we open fire. We hit the Tiger tank fifty times, until it started to burn up. Meantime, he was swinging that eighty-eight around, bang, shooting into the hills, they were all confused, they didn't know what they were doing, and we shot up the whole, the whole other thing there. Now, that was an easy thing, because he didn't see us. The enemy tanks were just great, they did a lot of damage, but we, you see the numbers that we ended up with in Tunisia? Fourteen hundred tanks and they had twenty-five left. That's how we won the war, they learned a lot of things about it, but … the infantry and us, they would come up to us when they knew it was necessary, like this crossroad. I didn't know any infantry were there, I didn't see any of them there, after we were there, all of a sudden, they were all over the place. That's what I mean. We're not looking around, "where are these guys?" "Help us," you know, to stand guard and what, you don't worry about that. But it's planned correctly, once you get to a point, and you're still, then you need infantry around you, because anybody can creep up on the tank and disable it, you know, if you're the enemy.
SI: Could you describe what it is like to be in a tank when you're in combat?
PL: You don't know anything, unless you see something in front of you. A tank commander will tell you there's a tank on the right side, or vehicle over there, and you swing it around, and you'll see it, but you don't see any, until you're told which way to go, which way to turn. That's why he's up there, with his head sticking out a little bit. I want to show you something that a friend of mine made me, authentic in every detail, and this is not a toy, even to the street sign. See the axe, a handle, Jerry cans, everything, the cable? He does these things. As a matter-of-fact, he's got battleships and aircraft carriers in the library.
SI: For the tape, we're looking at a model of the Sherman tank.
PL: Yes. This one is a diesel tank. Of course, we had air-cooled first, the big propeller behind me, fan. This is a .50-caliber machine gun. Now, he would duck in there, and just his head would stick out, look around. I think he has a periscope, too, if he has to use it, and he's the one to direct you, "fire on to right side, there's troops coming there," "throw some shells over there," that kind of thing, but if you're in there buttoned up …
SI: Did you ever have to worry about other problems besides combat, such as environmental, or mechanical problems?
PL: Don't worry about anything, nothing at all. You worry about getting bombed by your own people. Twenty-five percent of all casualties were caused by friendly fire. They don't tell you that too much but that's true. There's the example of the paratroopers coming down, that's clear thing in the open, but sometimes you don't know that. You fire in some areas and there are troops over there, or a bomb drops in the wrong place. Well, he did this job, I thanked him for it, took him the last six months. I tell you though, sometimes the tank was a heavenly thing with small fire, small arms fire pouncing, you could hear the thing pinging on the side, that's great, and the infantry is in trouble there, you know, dug in and so forth. But you turn around the other way, when the artillery is there, you wish you could hide this tank and get it out of the way, make a big hole and put it in the hole. It's hard to tell, unless somebody experiences that, I tell you, the feelings and so forth, they pass away. But this was a very important crossroad; they didn't know it was so crucial. I don't know if you've already read, my name is in this thing over here.
DC: Is that off the Internet?
PL: No. They call me a Sicilian-American here, I don't know why he said that. I never tell him. I'm an American American.
SI: As you were going through, did you ever have trouble with more harassment type attacks, such as mines, or snipers, or booby traps?
PL: We always worried about mines, the advance was so, movement … they didn't plant too many mines, they were running and this. When the battle is on the move, you don't worry about mines. It's only when you're standing still here, stagnant, they lay mines out there, and they got time to do it, like they have over here, these guys here, they got all the time in the world to put mines in the road, different thing altogether. Just moving, constant moving, as soon as you take a territory, an area, you move on. The infantry holds it, that's what they do. Then you wait for counter-attacks sometimes. I wasn't in that Battle of the Bulge, but that was a bad thing there.
SI: Did you have any concept of which type of troops you were facing, whether they were regular infantry or some sort of SS units?
PL: We know who we were facing from the African campaign, they were the best troops you ever saw. I mean, these guys were trained, the morale was high, they'd love their leaders, that's the worst kind of enemy to have to fight. They were really good. They started to be less quality as time went by, being that Hitler was starting to use anybody he could then, he took a lot of beatings. But that St. Lo thing encircled 200,000 Germans right away, first class Panzers, from the swing that went around to Caen, in Belgium. That whole thing, they call that the Falaise Gap; that was a smart piece of work on our part, 200,000 got out of the way, right away, with first class equipment. That was good, they (?) to move in there, and they went further; Patton, after that, started to go as far as he could and he got stopped because he was going too fast, that's what they say, supplies couldn't keep up with him.
SI: Did you ever have any problems keeping supplied?
PL: No. Not really. There were many times we have to refuel by hand. The quartermaster would come up with some trucks, when it was safe to do that, these Jerry cans, and we'd pick up two of those, loaded with liquid, and walk up a hill, not funny, and we'd dump it into the tank. Now the tank can take two hundred, a hundred gallons on each side, of gas and you'd need a lot of Jerry cans, five gallons each, to keep putting them in there. Of course, when you're in a tank area, like in Kentucky or something there, you got a gas station and you put a nozzle in, and you fill it. But in the field, you used cans, and after a time, especially the air-cooled engines, it was susceptible to go up into flames, as you're pouring the gas into the tank. So, you never could do it unless someone had a, one of the guys had a extinguisher pointing right at the place where the gas was going in, anything lit, you'd blow it right away. They did that a lot of times, they went up, and they started to burn. I don't think the diesels were that delicate, with that oil it is not so flammable, with what we had. Then, I went back to England, and that PW camp, and there were Quonset huts all over, with the person, lug, knew how to speak German, but I wasn't up in the towers or anything, I was in the supply. We would get to go to London for blankets and uniforms marked PW, and all that, supplies for these guys. I sent the trucks all over to pick that stuff up and there were no problems from the Germans, a lot of them there, but they didn't fight. As a matter-of-fact, it was strawberry season, time to pick the strawberries, so, I don't know who arranged this, a guy comes up with a wagon with a kid and an open wagon, and we took some prisoners, and they went out there, picked all the strawberries and brought them in, one GI with a Garand sitting there, looking at them. They weren't going to go anywhere. They did a lot of work for us like that. I remember that thing about the strawberries. The thing about that was, they charged us for each basket of strawberries that we picked and gave to them, they charged us. I don't know if you ever heard the word, Lend Lease? Well, this was reverse Lend Lease, they call that, because everything we ever gave the British before the war, destroyers and so forth, there was a loan, or leasing it on a loan, that was just so you wouldn't say, "What did you do with all our money, giving it to these guys?" So, they had to give us something back, so they charged us for these strawberries, and all the little things they could. But I stayed in England in this PW camp, and all of a sudden, we got orders to go to Luxemburg, because in Luxemburg, in a small hotel covered with a camouflage net, were all the war criminals, Goebels, all those guys, Hess, von Runstedt, ready to go to trial. So I, we were to go over to process them. So, (?) says, "Look, I'm ready to go home, the war is over now. I'm ready to go home." They lost my records, so you have to go with them. So, we got on here, we got a LST, went over to France, drove all the way to Luxemburg, into this hotel area, and as we arrived there, there's a convoy of vehicles leaving. The guys that were supposed to be there. Just the usual Army SNAFU. So, we got there with nothing to do. There were baths there, actually health places. I got mud baths, mineral water coming out of the ground, I was laying in hot mud, we took advantage of it. We stayed there a while. Then I got the call to go home, and I go all the way back on a train, back to Southampton, or something, and finally came home, went home in November, in 1945. So, I was in the service, the whole four years. Well, I was fortunate, a lot of guys were less fortunate, and that's it. Things have changed completely from these things, you know, these kind of wars, technical stuff, you know. The bombing is the main thing that's different. Those planes that come over like that, they're going go have an objective, to bomb a factory, they would have four hundred bombs, one might hit the target. That was a poor record that the Air Force had, Flying Forts. Today, a guy can put it in a window of a building he wants and not disturb the other buildings around it, big difference. Yes, they weren't, they just wrecked everything.
SI: Did you correspond with your family a lot while you were in the service?
PL: … I got a thing downstairs, I think three hundred letters. Unfortunately, the letters of my then girlfriend, who was now my, was my wife when I came back, we had to destroy them, because if you ever get captured with one those things on you, I shouldn't have paid attention to them. I lost all the letters that she sent me. I had saved a lot of them, but not all the ones I, she saved, those I sent back. So, I took the letters and I put them in chronological order, such as where I was, and what date, and I start reading them again, and by reading them I started to remember some of the things that she wrote back, that were referred to in the letters. I was going throw them out sometimes, she didn't want me to throw them out. By the way, I wrote a lot of letters. I could write letters, twelve pages, with no trouble at all. Some of these guys from down South, looking at me, "What are you doing here?" Writing, the print that was small, half the thing. Well, I was always a good writer. I look at the handwriting there, that I had then, it's just tremendous. I said, "Did I write that?" Yes, so I wrote a lot of letters home.
SI: Overall was morale always high?
SI: Yours and your units.
PL: The guys' morale is pretty high. I mean, you're never really like disgruntled and complaining about the situation. Sometimes, the worst situations, we'd try to make it a humorous thing. Morale, I think was pretty high. I mean, there was a cause there. Everybody knew they had to do this. Today you got a different story over here, you got guys right in the Army, working for the enemy.
DC: Could you describe what it was like to travel …
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PL: You're going ask him. He didn't say that, he said, "It would be a two hour interview, I'd ask you some questions," and that's all. I said, "Sure," but where is this all going to anyway?
DC: This is going go in the Rutgers Oral History Archives. Could you just describe what it was like to travel under General Patton?
PL: I first met him, I think, in Fort Benning. He had the whole division there, before we were ready to come overseas, and he's up there, just like in that movie, if you saw him walking up and down, cursing and swearing, he was up there like that. "Guys, make sure you wear your dog tags, because if your heads get blown off," I know his words, "they'd drop down in there, and we'll know where to send the body." Eighteen year old, nineteen year old, listening to this, we didn't know what war was about, at that point. He was a tough act. Then, the next time we met him, yes, … it was in Sicily. I didn't see him in Africa, but in Sicily. They had pulled him out of Africa, to get ready for the Sicilian invasion. That's according to the book I read there, also the book you read, they pulled him out of there. So, he really didn't have too much to do with the strategy in Africa, they were mainly a British organization there, he didn't get along with any of them. That's it, but when we got to Sicily, he was in charge of this whole thing. Now, there's one trip there, the island is like a triangle, it's about a hundred miles across there really like that, down this way, bigger than you think it would be. Now we landed in Gela, at the bottom, and there was a road that went up to Palermo, through the mountains, tough, fifty miles of that. So, we were on our way there, this is what I'm coming to, tanks were having a terrible job with the hills, and all that, so they took a lot of breaks. So I get out of the tank with a little Coleman stove, start to make some coffee. He drives up, stops right in front of me, looks down at me, I just stopped, he says to his driver, "Go ahead." Well, I didn't do anything wrong, but maybe he figured, "What are you, making coffee here?" you know, but he didn't say anything. … He was a tough guy. He was like, an idealist with war, "Here's the way war should be. You got to get killed, so what, people get killed, but you get the objective," and all this, that's the way he was. The guys figured he was, he didn't care about us, that's what there was, as long as he got what he wanted, he didn't care how many guys got killed. That's what that famous saying, "his guts and our blood," something like that. I saw him, on and off like this, but the rest of the stuff, history was when I wasn't there. He went up to advance all the way, you know. I guess, he was great with the tanks after that, but he learned a lot. As you read, in Africa, he was no bargain, either. But that's what it was, he was a tough guy, idealist. I think the movie showed him pretty good, when he was looking over the battlefield, and he was thinking of the wars that took place in the pre-biblical days. He studied all that stuff to become a terrific general, I suppose.
SI: What did you think of the officers who were above you?
PL: All I have was the low-level officers, company commanders, greatest guys ever, yes. I got a couple of pictures here, you want to see them?
DC: I wanted to ask you if you ever had any concerns or fears about being taken prisoner.
PL: Not really, but concerns about being killed. That young lady over there, I'll tell you, I don't want to brag about it, but if I got killed and didn't come back, she would have been devastated. She was eighteen years old when I met her, and I left, and I come back, we got married.
DC: Did you know her at Fordham?
PL: Well, I knew here about a year before. While I was in the service, I went back and forth before I went overseas, and I visited her. She lives in Ridgefield Park, and we became very, very close, and then I left. When I came back, she was waiting, a lot of letters back and forth. I tell you, it's surprising to me that people can like get so devoted to each other just by writing letters, and saying things in letters, instead of being there, next to each other. It worked out that way. I had a good life with her. She died six years ago. So, that was my only concern. I didn't want to get killed because she'd feel bad, really.
DC: Do you recall your first experience, when you got shot at, in actual combat?
PL: Yes, it was in front of Long Stop Hill. We went out foraying around, looking around, very quiet day, beautiful summer day, so we got out of the tanks, I tell you, because the British gave us a bottle of ale each, and after we drank it, we had to get out of the tanks, and I had a dog by that time, bulldog named Souky. This girl was named Souka, he was Souky. I was running around, playing with him, and all of a sudden, some .88s start opening up on us. So, a big bracket goes over, you know, three at a time, boom, boom, boom, like that, and they blow up, and then three, too short, and I had a sergeant that didn't know that now is the time to get out of this place, because if they split the difference, you know what's going happen, and I was running around, the dog didn't want to come to me, so I grabbed him by the tail, ran in, upside down into the tank, and the guy was running the engine by that time, backing it up, trying to turn. They were landing over here, lucky they weren't, you know, right on the ball; shooting all around us. As soon as we made it into the woods, they stopped shooting. That's strange, because you figured they could have sent a barrage in there, but they didn't want to waste ammunition, they want to hit something. So, that was a real scary thing. I mean, it must have been about three-quarters of a mile, or something, as we were riding in and they were breaking on both sides of us, two tanks ran for cover. That's the time, the first time. I don't think there were many more times after that, that it was so serious with me, as that one.
SI: It sounds like artillery was the thing you feared most, or was the biggest threat.
PL: In the number of deaths in a war, most are caused by artillery, the infantry, too, very effective.
DC: When you came back after the war, what were your first few days of civilian life like?
PL: My first what?
DC: Your first few days of coming back.
PL: Try to get acquainted with the different life altogether. So, I came back, my mother lived in, father lived in Queens, in the Kew Garden Hills, different house, and, of course, I went to see my girlfriend a lot of times. I didn't go to work right away, after a while, I went back to the factory, but it took time to get used to what everything was over here. But I have to tell you, that I got used to it real quick, like the war was over, and it was out of my life, and I was looking forward to it. Maybe she was one of the reasons, of course, that kept me very happy and everything, and very good, perfect person.
SI: How quickly did you go back to school? How soon did you go back to Fordham?
PL: Oh, I went back to Fordham after I got married. I was married when I got back to Fordham, I had a child. This guy over here was born then, 1948. So, that's when I went to school then, for three more years, and I finished in 1950, and I know plenty of nights, after work, carrying him in my arms, giving my wife a break, a bottle in his mouth, and I got a book in my hand, walking around, and studying. Well, the GI Bill did that, otherwise I wouldn't be able to go. I figured, let me take advantage of it. So, in three years I finished, and I really didn't go into the professions, but it helped me in the business. I graduated with a BBA, accounting major, and I liked it. Then there was money left for the GI Bill, so I went to NYU and I got an MBA, easy thing. I think I went there once a week, or twice a week, or something like that, for one class. I come home from work, get that little car I had, to shoot downtown. They were also down near Chambers Street, near the Wall Street, the school of business. It was easier for me to do that than to go up there.
DC: When did you move to Teaneck, New Jersey?
PL: When did I what?
DC: When did you move here, to Teaneck, New Jersey?
PL: After I got back and we got married, I had to live with, my mother's place, my brothers got evicted from the bedroom, he went down to the finished basement, and we stayed there like that, I think until '52, or '53 or something like that. So, while we were there, I was going back and forth and Florence lived there, too. Just one day I was there at dinner and I took the phone book of New Jersey, and I saw Alexander Summer Real Estate in Teaneck, I didn't even know where Teaneck was then, and I called them up. Here, we got a four-room apartment, four and a half room apartment, here. So, I came over, those things right on the street over there, I see the land, you notice them when you go by on the right side, garden apartments, stayed there four years, then came here. So we lived here about '51, or '52, or '53, not in this house. While I was living over there, I was looking for a house everywhere, and, of course, when I came back from the Army, at that time there were no houses anywhere, no apartments, nothing for the GIs, that's why I went in with my mother and father there, I had to stay there like that. Oh, then one year we spent, we evicted the guy that, where I used to live in Woodside, where my aunt lived upstairs, and we got those people there, they left, and we moved back into those rooms, my wife and me, and the baby, forgot about that. Recently, I went back with a friend of mine, driving around, looking at the neighborhood, these dinky houses, I used to live over here. Well, then I came over here, from those apartments over there, garden apartments, I studied around, looking around, and then finally got this house here. I mean, and who thought that two blocks away I was going to find a house, looking all over the place, and this became, I had to fix it up a little bit, here and all those places. This house is about seventy-two years old and it was comfortable here. Came here with two children, he was five and the other guy was one. As a matter-of-fact, I came to Teaneck before we moved here. The other one, the present now, the son I have left there, when he was a one year old, he couldn't hold the food or milk or what, so there's a doctor over here on Cedar Lane, Dr. White, a great baby doctor they told me, so we finally come over and he took care of him, and all that, and he helped out. Looking at those apartments, you think I noticed them, that that's where I'm going go live? Coincidence, right on the same street. Town's been all right. What else?
DC: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
PL: I don't know. I made a trip back to Sicily, with a friend of mine. There's five islands out of Sicily, north of Sicily, they're about twenty miles out maybe, you can see the volcano thing, you can see them in the water. He grew up there, and during the war he was drafted in the Italian Navy, and finally he went to Australia, and finally he came to here, and I met him here in our club. So, he has a house there he had to sell. So, one day we were talking down at the club, he says, "I have to go to Sicily. No matter what, I got to get rid of that house over there." So, I said, "I'll go with you," I don't know what made me say that, but I was glad I said that. This was after my wife died. So, we went over there. So we went over without tours, just pick up buses and, this and that, trains. We went to his island first, those five islands out there, one of them is Stromboli. You ever hear that name, Stromboli? Ingrid Bergman was there with the director, while they were making a movie. That's one of the islands, a very primitive thing, even when we went now, no change for fifty years, there wasn't in that many years. You had to walk up hills. It was a great, simple life there, and I enjoyed it. So, we stayed there about three weeks, but I mainly wanted to go to Sciacca, and Sicily, that's right next to where we invaded down there, Gela, to see some of my mother's relatives, and when I got over there, we took the bus, the same trip that we went up to that mountains, mind you, from Palermo down south, now the bus went up that way, straight coming down. So, we went to Palermo with the train, took the bus all the way down to almost the landing place of where we landed. Sciacca was a small seaport there, some apartment houses now around the place, a little different. So, we went to the town, we get into the hotel, stayed overnight. Now the only thing to do is to go and find out, from a phone book, or so, who these people, where they are, their name was Dimino was the name, my grandfather's name. So, we went to one of these places that has phone books, and lottery tickets, like you have over here, with more postcards. So, I looked up the phone book, and I look up Dimino, a hundred and forty Diminos, maybe some of them are related and all. I said to my friend, "Let's forget about this," but we had a good time down there, traveling around Sicily. I got a picture there with goats around me, chickens. That island was all right, so, I spent some time there. But, anyway, we went around, and that satisfied me, that I couldn't find any of the family down there. Look, you never know where people are at this time. This name, Logerfo, I put it up on a machine, on the computer, and I see guys, a doctor, a head of a hospital, I have people I don't know, with the same name, all over the place. They must be the more affluent people to put their names on there. There's a bunch of others that are maybe paupers, with the same name, I don't know, but it's hard to find somebody. But they did tell me, "If you tell me the names of the two people, husband and wife, and about when they lived here, in three days, we'll let you know what happened to them." That was a Sunday, we had to get out of there, couldn't wait. Maybe today they can punch up on a computer and find out right away, but they had no way of doing that then, even over there in that island. So, I never really found out about what, where they were, but I saw the town, and I know right away it was the same fishing village, right on the water, seven churches in a little dinky town, and the churches are like cathedrals, not little storefronts. That's the way they lived there. My grandfather was a fisherman, they used to leave their houses and take these boats, three or four boats, other friends and all, and go out, towards Africa, and they do, pick up a catch, and bring it in, and when the catch came in, there's money there now for kids to get shoes, and for them to buy clothes, and that's what they depended on. They were good fishermen, and he used to bring the catch in. Now, you may have heard the word, marinara sauce, right, on spaghetti, now this is where it originated from. Now, the kids on the beach see these guys coming in, they go run tell their mothers and fathers, "They've come back!" Now they'd immediately start to make some sauce for them, in a frying pan even, in the skillet, simple, with no meat balls or anything, tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, no cans of tomatoes, and that sauce, plain sauce, became marinara sauce, marine, that's it, and, believe it or not, that's a true story. That's what happened. So, that's what they used to do, in all those years and all. Of course, I wasn't there then, but then they came to the States here, and they immigrated, like everybody else, in 1902, or something like that. I think that ten years, millions of people came here. There was a great immigration, from every country, come along. There was the right way to do it, not like now. They came from everywhere, walk in. Well, I don't know, I'm not a good speaker. I could speak to, you know, actually …
SI: It's been great.
PL: But, this is the way it seemed to me there, that's all. In my last days, working in that prisoner of war camp, I had a good time there, too, going to town, going to Stratford, watching shows and all that.
SI: Were you there on V-E Day?
PL: Yes, I was. That's right, and we went to the town, had a hell of a good time. That's right. We stayed there three days, I got a pass, that's right. It was a nice place there, but I wanted to go home, the time was, the war was over, and so forth. I had more points than most any guys around me, they were all going home already, so, of course they lost my record. But the unit had to go to Luxemburg to do that job, with those high class prisoners over there, and they stayed there two weeks before they finally found my records, or something, and sent me home. That's all. Then, I remember what camp I came to. I took the train and got into Penn Station. My family was waiting there, and that was it. I picked it up with her, great person. I mean, she didn't have to wait for me for four years, I mean, after all, I think she could have done better. Well, that's my feelings, all right. So, you people got a lot of work to do with this thing.
SI: Yes, oh, yes.
PL: How do you edit this thing, you cut out parts of it, and so forth?
SI: No, no. Let me close, and I'll explain. This concludes our interview with Peter Logerfo.
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Reviewed by Nicholas Molnar 8/2/04
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 8/13/04
Edited by Peter Logerfo 9/21/04