Joseph Mutino was born in 1937 in the Bronx, New York City, in an Italian neighborhood. His father emigrated to the United States from Italy in 1932, and his mother followed in 1934. During the war, Joseph participated in rationing, scrap metal drives, and blackouts.
In this interview, Joseph remembers closing the shades during blackouts at home, and hiding under desks during air raids at school. He also recalls collecting scrap metal and tin foil from cigarette cartons. Eight years old when the war ended, Joseph remembers seeing the celebrations in the streets of New York City.
Collecting Scrap Foil
We had Civil Defense. So you had to shut [off] all the lights, pull the shades down. Then we had to save metal on the corner, scrap metal on the corner for the feds, you know, for the government. We used to save the silver from cigarette packs that people would throw out, the cigarettes, and we used to make like balls of it, and then just put it in….It was like silver, you would peel it off the paper. Yeah, and we used to make a big ball out of it to find in the street, you know, and put it on the corner. They had a truck [that] would come around once a week to pick up all the scrap metal for the war drive.
Air Raids at School and Home
In the classroom, you know, the teacher had us lay down, hide underneath the desks. Air raids, we had air raid shelters in the apartment houses. You had to go down to the basement, they had food there, you know k-rations I guess it was then, you know. I just remember the guy with the white helmet standing on the corner just to make sure all the lights were out, they would look up and make sure that you could see all the apartments had their lights off when in the blackout, for air raids. Air raid warden, he was. That’s what he was. I actually had that, it was amazing. It was scary, you’re a kid, you know.