Category Archives: THE POST-WAR YEARS

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 5, 1946 – 1952 THE POSTWAR YEARS PART 2

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 5,    1946 1952 THE POSTWAR YEARS PART 2

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

On March 31, 1951, our second child, Bonnie Lynn Sefekar was born at 9:31 PM. She weighed 5 lbs. 11 oz. was delivered by Dr. Enselbery with a length of 19” and a Rh positive. This was quite an improvement from our first go around with William who weighed only 3 lbs. 14 oz. and was a preemie, see Attachment 5D

Gift to the United Jewish Appeal honor of Bonnie Lynn Sefekar’s Birth.

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Attachment 5D Bonnie Lynn’s Birth, March 31,1951

Born: March 31,1951

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Figures 5E& 5F Bonnie’s first year, smiling as she always does. Looking like either an angel or a princess.
Figures 5E& 5F Bonnie’s first year, smiling as she always does. Looking like either an angel
or a princess.

It was so wonderful finally we’d have our full complement for our family.

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In keeping with my lifelong obsession of writing letters to the press, too friends and myself. There was a regular feature in the New York Sunday News: Ask Anybody! So my Question, addressed to: Jim Thorpe, world’s greatest all-around athlete. “What, in your opinion, was your greatest athletic feat?” It netted me 25 cool ones a nice tidy sum in those days and a far cry from 15 years ago. In 1935 on my first submissions into the wacky world of “newspaper letters” when I received $1 or $2 for each entry.

New York Daily News

 

 

 

 

 


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It was a great going away party and a lot of camaraderie showed through. This would be the first of many Thank You’s and Godspeed as I moved up the ladder with Thelma. From the VA I received a number of accolades and a large leather piece of luggage. Considering I was headed to the Maritime administration the idea of us taking an ocean cruise seemed like a distinct possibility. Actually this wouldn’t happen for another 30 years.

 

My work with the Veterans Administration, Brooklyn regional office resulted in the promotion to the Maritime Administration, (MA) on March 7, 1952 there was a going away party for me with some very catchy phrases. Like VA calling the Maritime and all the ships at sea! Sweepers! Man Your brooms! Clean Sweep Fore & Aft!

The OnGuard! That and Down your hatches, men of the Maritime, Eagle eye Joe reports to the Maritime Bridge 10th of March 1952…. Anchors away and bon voyage!!!! (See attached**)

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The picture on the left is of Thelma and me planning to head out for the Prom when I graduated from Long Island University (LIU) with my undergraduate Degree.

The picture taken in June of 1950 could actually be mistaken for a high school prom picture; boy, did we look younger then.

 

 

One of the most memorable and important assignments took place under the Maritime administration. During this period between 1951 in 1952 I was involved with preparations for the building and commission of the S.S. United States, ha ha. This magnificent ship which would become the Flagship for the SS Ocean Liners was completed on June 19, 1952. It was a great day of celebration and I was so fortunate and my wife and children attend the “christening” of the SS United States. It was a few years later that an advertisement appeared in the playbill Thelma and I attended for my fair Lady that showed the advertisement for the USS United States cruise liner. It was an exceptional assignment and part of this, the fastest cruise ship of its time. And completely air-conditioned no less.


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My son was especially enthralled as he tried to get a complete rendering of the largest ship of its time. It fared better than the Titanic, which coincidentally Billy learned the words to, “They built a ship Titanic and when it was through…” One of his first attempts at “professional” entertainment.

 

Remembering all the nice little things that came with being a father for the first time. Little Billy was a handful, he was so energetic and got into trouble all the time it took the two of us, Thelma and me to keep him under control. I can only imagine what it must be like to raise children with a single parent particularly a single mom. I really give them all the credit in the world. But back to my little tyke. He was constantly running and falling and getting sick. At least when he was five and had his tonsils out he started a normal routine not sickly and put on weight.

One of the instances of many that I recall with endearment was when Billy would watch me get up every morning as I shaved, got dressed and made breakfast. He would watch intently as I prepared my coffee and breakfast cereal. As he watched he grabbed a cup to join me. Because he was only four or five at the time, it wasn’t good idea to give him coffee with the caffeine. He was wild enough without that. What I did was I left a little coffee at the bottom of the cup and added a third of a cup of milk. Ironically my son never required a taste for coffee when he became an adult but stayed with hot chocolate and tea until he was much older and realized the need for the caffeine.

Another lesson that was passed down during this early time was that I wore a tie to work as part of my regular attire. In keeping with his attentiveness I would show him the art of making a single and double Windsor knots. This put him in good stead his whole adult life and as it turned out 60 years later turnaround is fair play and he helps me make my tie knots look very nice.

Figure 5N Billy Upstate New York, 1951
Figure 5N Billy Upstate New York, 1951

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Figure 5O Billy’s 1st Day at School, Sept. 1951
Figure 5O Billy’s 1st Day at School, Sept. 1951

These were many memorable moments with my son Bill and then 5 years later my wife was pregnant again with our second child Bonnie Lynn.

 

During this time, we thought of adding another baby to our family however little Billy being such a handful was de-tracking from this idea. We were told by family and friends alike that the chances of another tyke like him were one in 14 million which good odds were for us. So as it turned out on March 31, 1951 our second

 

bundle of joy was delivered uneventful. Bonnie Lynn came into the world and a shining example of what a little Princess should be. Very cute and adorable and could do nothing wrong. We did find out later on the number of occasions that we administered disciplinary measures to the wrong party as my son always looked like the culprit while my daughter Bonnie sat with a smile very innocently while she kicked him again under the table.

Have so many precious memories during this time as part of life cycle, it is so endearing to newly married couples when they embark on a life together and starting a family.

My wife Thelma although completely consumed with raising our two children still found a little time to do some things not just with her family and newfound friends but things that she enjoyed throughout her life. She loved to sing along with the latest hits on the radio that she used to follow. We had a whole collection of hit Paraders and Song Hits and sheet music from the early 50s. I have always kept track of songs, artists and wrote down many of the hit songs and words that I grew up with and so did Thelma.

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Figure 9: some of the Hit Parader’s and Song Hits that Thelma collected

Looking back there were plenty of these songs we reminisce about and are still considered classics even today. Such favorites we’d hum along with the tune were: Unforgettable; Kisses Sweeter Than Wine; Because of You, Come On-A House, The Nearness of You, Silver Bells; Be My Love; Blue Velvet; It’s All in the Game and many, many more.

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As I mentioned early on I was always enamored with words, songs and song writers and had an opportunity to meet Mr. Miller who wrote Dreamer’s Holiday. It is a fitting time in our lives and still being idealistic, just starting out and very happy with our lot in life.

It was at this time the opportunity presented itself for a life-changing decision to leave the confines of Queens, New York and move to the outskirts of civilization; Hicksville, New York. Hicksville would become indigenous to Syosset, Long Island which is how we presented our residence. It seemed to present more of a favorable ring as opposed to being from “Hicksville”. In considering the move to the ‘burbs we looked to our friends again Irv and Lee Bagatelle. The Bagatelle’s had a ready cut the umbilical cord and moved to this new concept in the suburbs; Levittown. We liked what we saw and Thelma began the financial preparation to secure a loan from her mother Bessie Abrahamson. The development that we settled on was called Country Village. It seemed like we drove forever on Northern State Parkway to exit 42 S. Oyster Bay Road hardly any landmarks were there for us. This was one of the first developments to be built in this part of Nassau County on Long Island. It’s amazing in just a few short years what sprung up shopping centers, schools even our place of prayer, Midway Jewish Center.

Copyright © 2015 by William Sefekar

 

NB ** denotes Material that will be in the book published at a later date.

THE POST-WAR YEARS * 1946 – 1952

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 5,    1946 1952 THE POSTWAR YEARS PART 1

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

October 18, 1945    Discharged from Service.  Return to Duty!!

One of the biggest traumatic part of this was whether the first Army is going to be sent to the Pacific campaign to defeat the Japanese. Gen. Eisenhower and George Marshall felt that in order for the Japanese to know that we were resolute in their complete defeat, we would retool the first Army prepare for war against the Japanese islands (See top secret letter from GCM and DDE).

While Thelma and I and our dear friends Irv and Lee Bagatelle were situated in Camp Lejeune in South Carolina, we were wondering what the next plans would be for this military operation. Married life at Camp Lejeune with Thelma getting domesticated was a real trip, “learning how to cook started with boiling a pot of water.”

Evidently there are other plans in the works to bring the war to a quick and finite conclusion. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 6 and August 9, 1945. As a small footnote, our little Billy just happened to be born prematurely eight months after the end of World War II; April 7, 1946.

Back to the story. This put off any speculation that they would be a land invasion the islands comprising Japan; estimated 1 million US troops either dead or wounded. Now that my civilian life was thrust upon me, I quickly regrouped and looked at where my services would be needed and made a list of departments and agencies where I would fit in.

During this time period a lot of significant changes took place in my life and the life of my family. Adjusting to the war being over meant that I would be competing for jobs with thousands of returning veterans from both wars. The war in Europe and the war in the Pacific. I was one of the fortunate ones because I had previously been working for the government and this made my easing into the workforce that much less difficult.

 

Listing of jobs and personnel decisions.

Between October 18, 1945 and July 2, 1946, I was reinstated to prior position with Jersey City, Quartermaster Department at a salary of $ 1,902 per annum.  Final Clerk Steno. $2,394. I struggled like a fish on a baited book.  After military service I was gung-ho to get into the bubbling main stream.  I went back to college at night, at Long Island University and studied accounting (LIU material).  I signed up as a clerk in Macy’s Liquor store for Thursday evenings and Saturdays.  The $ 5 per hour did not permit me to over-indulge, as I was never driven to anything other than social drinking.  Another part-time job was devoted to proctoring Civil Service Examinations for applicants aspiring to qualify for Civil Service Positions.

 

I spent some time with a colleague who was designated as being indispensable in his position with the New York General Depot and during my time in service, he had been promoted to a GS-8 (my job was classified as G-3).  He and I explored and surveyed the frozen food field.  Instead of looking for wholesale outlets, we concentrated on retail frozen food sales. We scoured the city for a suitable location to launch our commercial enterprise. While our enthusiasm was great, we were not energized to take the plunge. This was the wrong approach, so we lost out on the burgeoning frozen food industry.  Anyway, we couldn’t muster up the capital. I didn’t know where his career took him but I was finally able to make contacts through my efforts in “networking”.

 

1946 – My civil service career was at a standstill – records retirement was not a field that sounded “Gong Ho”. No holds barred included calling on any individual whose influential status in a situation was in a positive position to achieve a favorable response.

During my job – searching in 1945 and in 1946, I decided to write Gen. Omar N. Bradley, the Commander of the First U.S. Army overseas, and subsequently Deputy Assistant to Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. In Washington, D.C. Gen. Bradley was named Administrator of the Veterans Administration in 1946. He was assigned the tremendous task organizing one of the major government agencies responsible for meshing the returning veterans into a burgeoning American economy.

Army General Omar Bradley was head of the VA for assignment to Brooklyn Regional Office being activated in Brooklyn. The VA GS five branch office lower Broadway in Manhattan. I wrote General Omar Bradley, requesting consideration for the position with the Brooklyn Regional Office at Ryerson St., Brooklyn. It was previously used for a printing company, built completely of glass, and suitable for a regional office.

My letter was concise, listing my qualifications, and using my assignment to the first Army headquarters, in Bristol, England and Europe as a point of contact. I was fortunate that Gen. Bradley selected my letter and approved my request. My letter was forwarded to the manager, VA, 7th Ave., New York City, who in turn assigned me to the Brooklyn regional office, which at that time was being organized as regional office to service US veterans in Brooklyn and adjunct areas. This was a cadre position.

In a short time, the promotions started to come along. The CAF Military Schedule (Clerical, Administrative and Fiscal) had been changed to reflect a new Civil Service rating.

Civil Service grades went from GS “General Services” – 2 to 18. Effective October 7, 1946, a Personnel Action was issued upping my grade from GS – 4 to GS – 5, salary change from $2,394 annum to $2,644, annum, for Position Organization and Methods Examiner. The GS – 5 would later afford me a car, a house and other essentials, not with the job but from squirreling away savings.

The position I was recommended for was organization and methods examiner in the manager’s office. His name was A. B. Kelly, the Assistant Manager was Charles W. MacEllwin, Joseph L Krieger, Chief Coordination Management Planning, Benjamin, Budget and Joe Sefekar, Methods, (See pictures).

A DEFINING TIME AND WORD

In 1946 I fell in love with the word – Latitudinarian. I hadn’t developed any particular political philosophy but I initially drifted to liberalism. Being a liberalist entitled me to accept such principles as – everyone deserves a chance; anyone can believe what he wants and everyone should work with his fellow man. This word came up one day while working as a clerk with the New York branch of the Veterans Administration, at lunch. I had ordered ravioli and was served a plate of lasagna. I began eating my lasagna and my friend said, “Didn’t you order ravioli?” I said, but this lasagna is great”. He couldn’t understand how I could accept anything that I didn’t order. I had looked up the word, as was my wont and discovered what I was. A liberal! I read the definition of “latitudinarian”. It meant, a “liberal” view of religious thinking. Which is not really what I had in mind with any religious overtones. It was More along the lines of social and political change in order to achieve progress maybe standing for protection of political and civil liberties but probably open to new behavior or opinions. Don’t know if I was willing to discard traditional values but possibly more along the lines of broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience rather than with technical or professional training. It seemed to me that it came into conflict with the fact that I liked to do take advantage of training and program improvement keep up with the technical jargon of the day.

THE POSTWAR YEARS AND FAMILY

Upon my discharge from the Army, Thelma and I found an apartment on the Thames Street in Brooklyn, New York which was close to where my wife’s mother Bessie lived. It was so nice to be back home with my family loved ones and friends. There was a lot of changes as I got my first job working for the VA and subsequently with the Maritime administration.

After the war ended and then return to civilian life we were expecting the birth of our first born who would be my son William Charles. My wife’s pregnancy was a little bumpy at times and we were dealing with premature birth. With all the excitement and preparation Billy wanted to get a head start on things which is his trademark throughout his life. He was born four weeks early which ironically was a reverse of his being late for everything else the rest of his life.

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As a testament to motherly understanding in Billy’s birth book, Thelma’s entry (“Mother’s Message”) was, “We’re so glad you joined us son.” This was in complete Spartan patriarchal fashion my comment for Father’s Message; “Welcome son! Dad”. Needless to say I had a field day writing milestones and memories of Billy’s first this and that. One of the initial pages pertain to his “First Smile.”

 

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It was a good thing that I could help take care of this bundle of joy, let’s say energy. Right from the get-go we were 24–7 keeping an eye on him from self-destructing. That meant covering the crib so he couldn’t jump off and keeping windows close on the fifth floor apartment so he couldn’t jump out.

As a few of the entries indicated we were all able to get through this period relatively unscathed. His First birthday was a hoot.

I had it easy because I was at work while Thelma had to make sure that Bill hadn’t cut himself falling off playground equipment or out of a tree and had to be rushed to the doctors. Thelma carrying him bleeding to the doctor’s office. There was one time living at Woodside in our fifth floor apartment, with an open window Billy was able to almost climb to the window; we caught him in time.

 

On July 3, 1946, the Brooklyn Regional Office Veterans Administration, Branch offices were moved from 299 Broadway, NYC to 35 Ryerson Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.  The office I was assigned to would be the Coordination and Planning Division, headed by Joseph L. Krieger, and egghead with a PHD in Mgt. and a professor at Fordham University.  Our Division had 5 employees – Mr. Krieger, Nat Benjamin Budget, and Joseph Sefekar, Organization and Methods, and Grace Griffin, Secy. Off and on we would have management assigned but they never stayed for long.

New Management and Budget Techniques were being developed and implemented.  After the War particularly more responsibility was being delegated from Washington to offices and branches in the field.  Whereas, the number of authorized personnel and related costs was exercised from Washington, the new procedures called for funds being allocated to a facility like the Brooklyn Regional Office. The Manager would hire the appropriately qualified personnel as long as they remained within the authorized funds and accomplished their mission.  The Washington establishment was very supportive, allowed necessary leeway in administering funds and set up and educational and training network that tried to cover every facet of government operations.  Therefore, it was only natural to enfold the Coordination and Planning Division into the Managers Office.  Thus the Manager and Assistant manager (A.B. Kelly and Charles W.  MacEllven respectively) were in a position to oversee the activities of management personnel.  They directed, advised us, supported us, and were the epitome of an office family – who did their work and were happy at it.

Nat Benjamin and I were great friends.  Our promotions kept pace with each other.  There was no competition.  He was a math major a whiz with numbers, and ran the budget with a tight rein and efficiently.  I was involved with Work 12.

 

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One of my work-related assignments was Business Manager for VA Regional Office publication Glasshouse Review, (see Figure 5D above).