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Interview with Ray Crescenzo - Part 2

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0:09:34

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SPEAKER 1: Did you have Italians under you?
CRESCENZO: Yeah, I had three.
SPEAKER 1: You had just three Italians?
CRESCENZO: Three Italians.
SPEAKER 1: How about the non-Italians working under you, was there ever any resentment?
CRESCENZO: No.
SPEAKER 1: No resentment.
CRESCENZO: No, but [unintelligible - 00:00:27] understood as soon as we – I represented them before I became supervisor, chairman of the committee, the women’s committee for years. And they were all Norwegians, Germans, and… well, there were nine Norwegians and nine Swiss and [unintelligible - 00:00:44]. They’re evenly divided. That’s one, believe it or not. And they were all favorably identifiable.
SPEAKER 1: Okay.
CRESCENZO: All but one or two.
SPEAKER 1: So you had agreed in this committee that you were not organized formally from [unintelligible - 00:00:59] union?
CRESCENZO: Yeah, we were. We were, oh, yeah. Yeah, they organized in 1937, I think, or 38, [unintelligible - 00:01:12] union.
SPEAKER 1: So you had been active in union before you came to the [unintelligible - 00:01:16].
CRESCENZO: Yes, I represented them at the State Assembly, as a delegate.
SPEAKER 1: And these were not used against you in any way.
CRESCENZO: No.
SPEAKER 1: Were there any strikes [unintelligible - 00:01:27] in which you worked for the union?
CRESCENZO: No. We were close to a strike but I was able to prevent it.
SPEAKER 1: You did?
CRESCENZO: Mm-hmm.
SPEAKER 1: Did the company come across [unintelligible - 00:01:39]?
CRESCENZO: No. The state especially the state…
SPEAKER 1: State, yeah.
CRESCENZO: We went a lot of [unintelligible - 00:01:43] strike anyway, but they went and decided in Minneapolis and of course the local union was to go and [unintelligible - 00:01:51] I spoke to them. And they [unintelligible - 00:01:55] civilized through the economic union; they wouldn’t kick me out of the union because it was too high. So you can see that I was quite [unintelligible - 00:02:05]. But I’m not [unintelligible - 00:02:07]. There’s only with one or two, you know, that [unintelligible - 00:02:10] and I was hoping to get the job in south, and I was number two in the whole state in the examination. Number one was an attorney [unintelligible - 00:02:22] and worked for the state in Minneapolis and that’s the reason for my being—I’m not bragging--in number two was longevity, seniority and then the [unintelligible - 00:02:38] veterans, you see, gave me 10 points. So I’d say seniority has – it took me up to number two.
SPEAKER 1: Let’s talk about that a little bit. Did you ever work for Interlink Iron in Duluth?
CRESCENZO: No.
SPEAKER 1: You never did [unintelligible - 00:02:53]?
CRESCENZO: No. I worked there at the estate various times. In fact we had the – somebody raising up a quarterly and they had to [unintelligible - 00:03:07] and there was [unintelligible - 00:03:11] Interlink Iron.
SPEAKER 1: Were you aware of a strike there which occurred at one time in which Italians were asked to take the place of striking workers [unintelligible - 00:03:23] they were asked as staff?
CRESCENZO: I was here then. I don’t think. Not since 1917 there has been a new strike. In fact, when the [same plant] had a strike, then the union strike, for the benefit from the race [unintelligible - 00:03:41] but they benefit from the [unintelligible - 00:03:54]
SPEAKER 1: Okay. Now, you did tell me at one time that you had to intercede on behalf of a couple of your Italian friends while working at Stanford, while you were [unintelligible - 00:04:09].
CRESCENZO: Well, I [unintelligible - 00:04:10] seen it through one, like one I’m with the [unintelligible - 00:04:14] and of course he was a brother of my secretary [unintelligible - 00:04:21] estimation. And I had to lay him off because you can’t become [unintelligible - 00:04:30] because of your life and the life of others. And for one, they want to disqualify him. A quarter to six months was up; you have a probationary period of six months in simple terms. And of course I interceded for him and I kept buying [unintelligible - 00:04:55] he got told [bad smart], couldn’t get along with the others [00:05:00]. I couldn’t keep him anymore. But I interceded for him.
SPEAKER 1: So this was not specifically a case of discrimination.
CRESCENZO: No.
SPEAKER 1: National wise?
CRESCENZO: No, no.
SPEAKER 1: In both cases.
CRESCENZO: Yeah, in both cases.
SPEAKER 1: So it was written?
CRESCENZO: It was written.
SPEAKER 1: But [unintelligible - 00:05:15].
CRESCENZO: But I interceded for him anyway. I want to keep him. But [unintelligible - 00:05:20] I couldn’t. He died while he was on the job and that’s all [unintelligible - 00:05:24].
SPEAKER 1: Now, when did you retire from the [unintelligible - 00:05:29]?
CRESCENZO: November… oh, no, really December 16. I had to take my vacation –1957.
SPEAKER 1: 1957. And at that time you resumed your accounting career or you really had been doing it all along?
CRESCENZO: Oh, yeah, I was moonlighting.
SPEAKER 1: You were moonlighting all along. And at this time you’ve been a fulltime accountant?
CRESCENZO: Well, no. I had quite a few but I let some of them go and I got my service secured. In fact, I gave your dad about seven [unintelligible - 00:06:01].
SPEAKER 1: So you’ve continued that work until very recently, haven’t you, or are you still doing it?
CRESCENZO: Yeah.
SPEAKER 1: In this era, in this day and age, are you aware of any discrimination at all locally [unintelligible - 00:06:18] Italian that you – indeed you have a trace of your Italian [unintelligible - 00:06:24] since birth?
CRESCENZO: No. I have never been discriminated.
SPEAKER 1: Not discriminated?
CRESCENZO: In fact I got several Swiss and Norwegians that asked for my advice financially, even though they had kept books for. They sell the company [unintelligible - 00:06:45] and they had generally at the end of the year they’ve been [unintelligible - 00:06:52].
SPEAKER 1: And now you said that when you first came to America, you found it was not quite the land of promise; it’s not quite what you expected.
SPEAKER: 2: That’s right.
SPEAKER 1: In the long run, has America been good to you?
CRESCENZO: Oh, yes. Oh yes, yes, and especially after [unintelligible - 00:07:10] two times. Although Italy is different today with all the inflation that they had and all the stuff that they had is really different from what I remember at the age of 16. I went to school [unintelligible - 00:07:23] till I was 60, eight days before I left. I left [unintelligible - 00:07:27] and I quit school on my birthday. My father was very, very poor. But he sacrificed and sent us to school. And, of course, I had the advantage of being the only one that succeeded in seniority, for the extent of my age. In other words, I couldn’t go to university but I picked up fast. I loved school.
SPEAKER 1: Oh, I think they can see that. It’s very evident in your knowledge of [unintelligible - 00:08:11].
CRESCENZO: My knowledge at my age is [unintelligible - 00:08:19].
SPEAKER 1: Pretty good.
CRESCENZO: Yeah.
SPEAKER 1: Okay, let me ask you this one last question: America has been good to the immigrants, what did the immigrants do for America in your opinion, especially the immigrants now [unintelligible - 00:08:30]?
CRESCENZO: In my opinion, they built America, they built America. All the construction, you should see where there is a nucleus of the region of the Italian immigrants. They built America, totally, especially the medicine, construction, railroads and the – in California especially, there are some very successful Italians and they worked hard.
SPEAKER 1: So the presence of the Italians is physically evident in the…
CRESCENZO: Evident, very evident, very evident, yeah.
SPEAKER 1: Mr. [Sander], thank you very much for your informative and interesting [unintelligible - 00:09:15].
CRESCENZO: Oh okay. But it’s not too informative. My memory, you know, confuses me sometimes.
SPEAKER 1: I can just [read] it.
CRESCENZO: Yeah, thank you.