Legacy Created on: September 2008
Legacy on until: January 2012
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What was it like growing up in your neighborhood?

I got along really well with a group of guys. We were the foreigners.  You get to know the guys that you have things in common with. There were three other guys and myself, and the four of use were like a nucleus.  We were all 11 or 12 years old and lived in the same neighborhood.  We were the four guys; they used to call us the four musketeers.  There was a movie out at the time called the Four Musketeers and I think that is how we got the name, that and the fact that we were always together.  It was survival at its best back then. Everybody was poor and it seemed like everybody had a little business.  One of the guys father was a baker.  So he used to sell and deliver the bread. Everybody had a little something that they would do.  That poverty in a way kept us together, even the families.  Every Saturday evening everybody in the tenant building used to come down, sit on the sidewalks, bring down some chairs and some tables, and everybody would bring some food such as a couple of pieces of bread or a couple of pieces of pizza. It was like one big family. It is hard to describe to people these days, but that is what my life was like back then. 

It was definitely an Italian neighborhood. Two blocks away that was a Pollock neighborhood.  We used to play punch ball and the teams from our neighborhood would go to other neighborhoods to play punch ball. We would go to their neighborhood or they would go to ours and that was how I met my wife, Florence. One day me and the boys were playing punch ball in the Pollock section, which was just two blocks away from my neighborhood across the trolley tracks.  We were playing punch ball and everyone was on the fire escape watching.  There was this girl up there, and I didn’t know who she was.  So I went up and introduced myself.  She and I dated for three years before I went into the Navy. 

Tell me about what you remember about the bombing of Pearl Harbor

 I remember they broke in with a news flash with the reporter saying that they had bombed Pearl Harbor. So many ships were lost and I remember saying, "Oh my God, those poor guys." I remember that I was shocked because it was a sneak attack.  I wanted to join up right then and there. I thought that I needed to do something to help.  I thought about those poor guys that never knew what hit them until those planes showed up out of nowhere. 

How did you end up in the service?

Well my brother Benny was three years older than me.  He was the oldest child. At that time, when the war came they had Michael Yovino a draft.  Benny and I were the only ones that were of age to go into the service. My brother being the oldest was exempt from the draft because he was considered to be a major breadwinner for the family, and the oldest son.  I knew at some point I might be drafted, but at this point they hadn’t touched me. When they bombed Pearl Harbor was a day that I have never been able to forget.  I was listening to the Brooklyn Dodgers on the radio and from that day, December 7, 1941, I nagged my mother every day to let me join the service. After awhile you got these feelings when you see all of those poor guys getting killed.  I looked around and all of my friends were going out to the Navy, the Army, or the Air Force. Then my best friend joined the Coast Guard.  But my mother said she did not want me to go. It took me about a year to convince her. Finally I said to my mother. “Everybody is going, I want to go to, I want to help.”  Finally, on my birthday September 18th, she let me join the Navy.

When I was getting ready to ship out I was sent to Boston. Florence’s father came to me and he said, “Mike, you’ve been going out with my daughter for a few years now. The war is on. If you would like to marry her you have our permission.” I was waiting at that point for the ship to be readied.  I got a special liberty of six days leave. I came home from Boston, went back to Brooklyn to get married, and then took her with me to Boston.  She wanted to come and see me ship out.  

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