The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz Office Manager : Tamarra Jenkins Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix 241 Pugh Hall PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 Phone 352 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accoun ts of economic, social, political, religious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by res earch scholars, students, journalists, and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOH P recommends that researchers refer to both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interv iew transcripts available on the UF Digital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the original oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim document of it. The transcript is w ritten with careful attention to reflect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; subjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and f ormat I nterviewees can also provide their own spelling corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit http://oral.history.ufl.edu or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013
PCM 001 Interviewee: Leo Krziza Interviewer: Paul Ortiz Date of Interview: November 3, 2009 O: So we are here today with Mr. Leo J. Krziza who is currently living in Ocala. My name is Paul Ortiz, the University of Florida. First of all Mr. Krziza, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today. K: O : I know. [laughter] I can tell by the walls. Well Mr. Krziza, I wonder if you could tell me about your early life before the Panama Canal, where you were from, a little bit about your parents, your background. K: an at fifteen. My mother was killed in an auto accident with a drunk driver she was not driving of course and I just had an New York to Detroit where they were made, and come over our house, and I thought, by golly, get into an airplane one of these days. But, I says, it is going to cost me some money and I have to get an education, and so I was thinking about that. So I was fifteen y ears old. And well, I got the time, I got to get educated and I see how much money I had saved up, and went and checked in my little piggy bank and I had fifteen cents. And so that was how much money I had, see? O: One cent for every year, right?
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 3 K: going and going. I was an orphan. There was five other kids in my family were all left. Dad went to Detroit to catch more money, mother was gone, couple sisters were in college, so it was up to Leo to do it. And so I remembered that you have a goal or you have something that you really want to do, go for it, because nobody else is gonna help you except you. So eventually I thought I studied geography and kept going on it and going on it and then two of my sisters had gotten jobs with Panama Canal. So when I got almost finished with college, I went to Notre Dame and then Wayne Universi ty in Detroit, University of Wisconsin, and then the down. So I got a deferment; they woul visit my sisters, and play golf for a year and have some fun. And so I got down to Panama on the United Troopboat, and the next day I went for some interviews to see if I could find a job of some sort there to help support myself. And then twelve hours later, I just kept on working and thirty two years later I retired. O: K: simple as that. [laughter]
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 3 O: Mr. Krziza, your sisters precede d you in Panama, do you know how they got their K: No. [laughter] That was funny. The oldest sister, she was a teacher, and she was teaching at [inaudible 04:28] Detroit and this boyfriend that she was supposed to have a date with stood her up. He called her up, oh wah wah wah wah and he went on ice was one there so she thought, that sounds good. So she sent in an application that uses teachers, she had her degree from Wayne University, and by golly, they said, y down to Panama. Well she gets down to Panama and holy smokes, this place is great. This is a lot better than [inaudible 05:20] Michigan where it snows. [laughter] So you awful well, not awful, but it was bad. Boy, she gets there, gets the other sister: hey this s are cheap You get paid every month. No deferments on the payment, you get it. So boy, come on down. So she gets that sister down. Well, they got two of them down
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 4 the Krziza family down there, see? So it was great. So hell we had a good time Paychecks coming in all the time. O: Now you had tried to ge t into the military, Mr. Krziza, and were your other friends trying to get in at the same time? K: to get in, yes. I was trying to get in because if you had two years colleg e you could get hear what the other guy was saying. You might do the wrong th ing, make the wrong turn in your P 40 and so they kept pushing me off, pushing me off. Well, of course, by that time I was working for Panama Canal anyway, and I had money coming in my pocket for the first time in my life, and so I just kept on and on un til eventually they got to the bottom of the barrel evidently and says, hell, hey buster you have to come and join the army. The war had started by then. And so I had to get in but the Pan Canal says, well, ferred me for a long time. Finally they let me go, and I went and spent about four years in the army. Well, the ironic thing on this thing is that just a ship went through the canal and went out of Cristbal there, and it went out there. It was a little Un ited Troopboat and had the U.S. mail on it going to New Orleans. Well they go out there, and in there is a German sub sitting out there. Now that German sub is in Honduras O: Belize, right, they had a yeah.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 5 K: They had a base. T he United States knew all about it because Germany had that base, and everybody kept quiet. But that base had deciphered the German code that our little office down there in the bushes in Honduras was taking all of their codes and deciphering them, and giving it to all the ships out on the Atlantic Ocean. And so that boat. Well, he takes his torpedo and he torpedoes that boat. Bang! The boat goes down army, payrolls from the army, all of that stuff was down at the bottom of the ocean. Now how are you going to justify twenty five million dollar expenditure when all the papers are down there? O: [laughter] Right. K: l, what are you going to do? The only thing you can do is replace them. The finance office knew which offices had their payrolls done at Corozl office, so they started. They needed typists. Where are you going to find enough typists to replace all of it? five million dollars we have to account for. We know where it is so we had to replace those things. So they did. So they found all the people not found, they checked the 201 files and found out who co uld type. Just happened they come along
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 6 with mine. I was in training to be a paratrooper in the Bushmaster group. I was going to be in the Bushmasters. O: To the Philippines. K: ning me for that. So they come along and I get my training in the Bushmaster, trying all of that stuff there because I was a good shot. I was physically all right, and I could speak Spanish, and in the Philippines they speak Spanish because that was the pr otectorate from the Spanish from the Inquisition way, way back. They look at my special abilities, Leo Krziza, typing, fifty words a minute. And I could type fify words a minute. I learned to type before I went to Wisconsin to school, so I could do that. I had a portable typewriter, so bang! They grabbed me, put me in the truck, they run me around to do. They put me in there and hauled me from Amador over to Corozal finance office, in an old French building; it was brought in when the French had it. They brought it and put it together and we had that. And so I ended up instead of running a tank, being trained for a tank, I was running a Ro my time in the army driving a Royal Typewriter. O: K: d do something. [inaudible 12:45] The colonel said, no no.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 7 O: He needed you. K: Eventually I and about four other guys got all that stuff typed, abou t two or three years typing, but we got it all done. Got him out of the hole for twenty five million dollars. You gonna to let me go? O: Heck no. One of my favorite quotes is from General Pershing. He was the commander of the American Allied Expedition, ye ah. At the end of World War I he was asked, how did the Allies win? He said two words: service and supply. He said, every the key to winning a war, so that was what you were doing. K: O: One of the questions I was going to ask you, Mr. Krziza, you were in the Canal Zone of the Panama Canal during Pearl Harbor. K: I was there. O: Ame ricans about Pearl Harbor and the impact it had most of that testimony is from people who were in the States. You were in Panama. Do you remember how people reacted?
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 8 K: Absolutely. My two sisters, we all three, Esther, Ethel. Poor you her picture up there. She had an interesting thing. We all three were in Panama on the seventh of December when that thing blew, boy. So we were there from the start of the World War until the end. We were there when Truman fin ally signed off on the wording on the Missouri that the war was over. We were there; we did it. We know what happened from the beginning to the end. And yes, we were caught with our pants down also, but the thing that saved our hide: where we are. [Laught er] If you know talking about. We were there, in Panama, and we were a hell of a long ways from Pearl How are you going to get an a eroplane plane O: No. K: ur military down there understood that up to a point. could get some rockets, if we can get to Honolulu. If we could get that we could show them some rockets of some sort the sophisticated stuff but we could take some rockets and give them a bad time shooting over there and disable the Panama Canal. We knew it, and so we had blackouts there for a long time. They shut off al l the electricity. Well that shuts off all the
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 9 refrigeration and every damn thing and all the operating room stuff at Gorgas Hospital go thr O: So the war had an immediate impact. K: That had an impact on the thing. We worked on twelve hour basis up to a point, find us. We w ould hide for this was a period probably for a couple years. Little by little, exposure to the world. We did have a scare on that thing for a couple years. Of course our food on up and stop in Panama to get out, get some fuel and some fresh water before they wen t on up to New Orleans. We would say okay, we want so much butter, we want so much hamburger, we want so much steaks. We got our food before the people in the thing r uns. It could come from Argentina, Swift and Company, and these guys, oh yeah, know where Aruba is? Down there. O: Yeah.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 10 K: Oh yeah, that comes up. We had a little tugboat. They were always in a little tanker. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, all the time that little tugboat was anywhere. You ca and at that time, there was no road across the Panama Canal at that time. O: K: sake, they gave us four gallons a week just to put it in the paper that we were giving it, and we were cooperating with the other poor people in the United States. Now, we could go a whole month on four gallon. O: [Laughter] Yeah, beca K: There was no place where we could go, except Fort Davis. O: have the trans isthmian highway. K: O: Well, how did you get around before that highway was K:
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 11 O: K: oing to walk fifty miles to go deer hunting. O: K: You stay on your side there, if you got enough place to deer hunt on your side. We had sincere people You know the people down there in Panama are sincere people of one anothe O: But surely though after Pearl Harbor, Mr. Krziza, there was a fear that something could happen. I mean, if you were eating things from Australia, Australia had been pretty hard hit. So maybe rumors. K: There was rumors. We realiz ed that, aw hell, we were so damn far. Nobody in O: After the war broke out though, were there people in the Panama Canal, say U.S. citizens who maybe left to go back to the U.S?
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 12 K: They wanted to. We had okay, bang! Okay, it was Sunday night, you know that. he afternoon on Sunday, the notice got into our area. So the MPs were picking up all the eft over from digging the Panama Canal. So they had all the Chinamen picked up and put them in the concentration dozen Japanese and they had probably two hundred Chinamen. Well, the Chinamen came; they hel ped build the Panama Canal, and they stayed there. So they looked any Japanese. There and we took care of things the best we could. But they were so informal that we just said, be careful is what we did and there was not any sabotage. We had a few Germans and of course. O: Honduras. K: Yeah. You had that German thing and we knew that and we kept quiet about that and. O:
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 13 K: an a thousand paratroopers. When they use up their ammunition, what are they gonna do? No more ammunition. O: No more supply. K: e you can eat bananas there for a long, geography of the thing, isolated us fro m a lot of the activities that would be otherwise in the normal war you would have. We took care of it and we had just a small cadre of American. The Panama Canal took care of us very well because they always wanted to have a cadre of pale faced Americans that they could trust. And we were that. So we got several benefits that the people in Washington D.C. did not get. One of them was a twenty five percent differential. We had that for a long, long time because the people get down to Panama, oh hell, geez, twenty This is a good job. Better than Washington D.C. So we had some of those things, but
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 14 they kept a cadre of goods like your military. They kept some good guys. They kept you down there. O: How did the war change the canal? At the end of the war, 1945, did the wa r change things there for you? K: these, but there is an agreement between the United States and Panama and those agreements always stay down there. You there when they had commissary books and the Panama Canal was using Panama Canal money? Were you there when they had changed that? O: They had changed that because we used cash to my recollection. K: O: Oh, ok. K: We co use the commissary books. And scrip is really what it amounted to, and we would use that. So we ha d buy everything in the company store, and the company store had got selling business. [laughter] T hey were putting ships through the canal, but all we had to do was go across
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 15 Fourth of July Avenue right there in Panama City and buy a bottle of booze for about there, and they could buy it for you, anything. So you had certain things and a few of the people that had gone like myself I was in the army from Panama from 1943 to 46 practically. Three years more actually in there training and running my typewriter have a great big change on that. There was the third locks had started. Now that was on the Pacific side They were starting to get ships bigger because some of the aircraft carriers, they had a hell of a time getting them through the Panama Canal. They were built to go through the Panama Canal, the width and this and that, but when they put those machine gun turrets on the side of the aircraft carrier, it knocked every damn light post down. O: [laughter] Because there were lights right there. K: Yeah the lights were right there. From there here comes this big aircraft carrier and got all those gun turrets on the outside hanging out there, knocked them all down. They replaced them year s later. They put them back in another spot because they get bent. There was adjustments that we had, but we were so remote that. O: Mr. Krziza I was going to ask you about family life. Now I assume your sisters stayed with you. K: Well, both of us were on the Pacific side, luckily, Esther was a teacher there at
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 16 side. And I worked for Panama Canal. They moved me mostly. During the wars I was in the construction business there. I was an accountant, finance man. So I was taking care of whatever was going on around there. And I could speak Spanish so I was a good help. I would run well, not run errands, but I would do field work because we had people from all over the world had come to work, to help build the Panama Canal. They O: Yeah. K: Hindus to see something here. O: Do you want to take a quick break? [Break in interview] K: O: The brass seal from this. K: Yeah. O: I have no idea.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 17 K: They mailed that to India to the Hindus. Now how could you make that? Send that over to the Hindu. You saw the Hindus in Panama. We had contact with them. O: So they crafted the. Is that bro nze? K: Brass. O: Brass. K: Brass, right. O: K: How would you do that? O: Well first of all, my question would be, where would you get that much brass? K: Well, that could be the first thing. [Laughter] Where woul d you get the piece of O: Maybe from. I know the Navy was disposing of a lot of equipment at the end of the war? K: No this was all done over in India, or Hong Kong. Wherever it was. O: stumped.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 18 K: h ad. So we took it down down to a Hindu down on Central Avenue, you know where that is. O: In Panama City? K: Yeah in Panama City. And he sent it over to some people over in India. They got O: o be up on a building? K: No. O: That was always your. K: Just like that. O: Okay. So after the war, Mr. Krziza, were you still doing the same kind of work? K: Oh, yeah. I went back. The Panama Canal wanted me back. When they discharged me I had a paper that said the Panama Canal was responsible for Leo Krziza and the commanding general at Corey Heights said, he goes right back to Panama Canal. They had it all written had a job. So I was a college gradua te. They kept me because they could depend upon me; I was honest.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 19 O: You were doing accounting work? K: Doing accounting work. I had one interesting job I got. Accounting work you get was paper. O: So you were processing tolls as ships would come through. K: then I was running the motor pool. We had six hundred cars in our thing because we had the fire trucks, we had the garbage trucks, we got th e police detail we had the had to send in certain reports to the general accounting office. I had a lot of paperwork. This is getting into another area of Panama Canal. Af ter the war got settled and this and that, they wanted to get these third locks going again. They had a run at Cocl. They well, f they could go and do it someplace else. So was down there, and so we were going to see about that. Or we were going to go into Nicaragua. Nicaragua:
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 21 0 So they knock off Nicaragua. We get up beyond where you were at El Salvador. You went up to El Salvador? O: Mm mm. K: Yes. Well, we went up as far as there and looked to see if we could find a cut to go through. We wanted a new place to get in there. We had difficulty finding that. I was luckily a finance man. The Corps of Engineers was going to do the work. Panama Canal was going to help them. The Corps of Engineers was going to make the survey. You know the Corps of Engineers? O: Yeah. K: Ok ay, they can do it. The Corps of Engineers said, we need a lot of people to O: [Laughter] Leo gets the job. K: finance man. He knows all about the finances. He can take care stuff. So I get some other people to help me. I got hel millions of dollars from the United States to the Corps of Engineers. Corps of Engineers would give millions of
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 22 1 dollars to the Panama Canal. Okay, Leo would take care of it going into Panama Canal, but Leo was also working for Corps of Engineers. So I had two hats that I would wear all the time. For Panama Canal, working f or them, and Corps of Engineers. So I had a man, with Bogot, Columbia. Now you have an idea of where Bogot, Columbia is. O: Yeah. K: I would go to. Now I had some work that I did, was all paperwork. My headquarters with the Corps of Engineers just happened to be a town up here in Florida, Gainesvil le or something. O: [Laughter] Okay. You went all the way up. .wow K: O: K: O: Were you working wi th contractors? K: Well, we had a few contractors but not too many of them. The Corps was doing it. It was scientific but it was the Corps drilling. We had some of it. We had people doing ers. Hell no. We let that thing on out.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 23 2 O: Contracted it out. K: Yeah, contracted it out. So that was that. To give you an idea of the rest of this: I d dollars to do our work down in the Isthmus of Panama and wherever we were working. So we would run that, and that was my job of taking care of th at. I had what we called a petty cash fund because the people on the routes, the foremen, were running the lines. g their money as required and needed. So that was my job. I had to put a petty cash fund. O: It must have been a substantial petty cash fund. K: Yeah I had to take it on the route so they could hire somebody to haul this or do that. They had a lot of lab orers, and they were chopping machetes and cleaning the Jacksonville. No, no. O: You had to pay them now. K: five thousand petty cash. O: That was a lot of money back then.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 24 3 K: O: K: Well, one of the auditors of the Panama Canal was auditing me. O: So they kept an eye on you. K: They kept an eye out for me. So he was making a report of some stuff like this for the G.A.O., the General Accounting Office, and he says, Leo, this item here you put down there, petty cash, is thirty fi O: Contingency fund, or K: there, or go down to Bogot or someplace like that where our foremen would have some money. The U.S. Weather Bureau had a lot of people checking the clouds and all of that stuff. All of that stuff you could check to see whether you want to build a canal. O: What a huge operation. I cannot even imagine it. Do you remember when you went up to Gain esville, who you were working with? K: I worked with the top guy in the finance of Corps of Engineers
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 25 4 O: OK so it was Corps of Engineers in Gainesville. K: Corps of Engineers, yes, I was reporting to the m. Really, even though I was working on the Panama Canal, Panama Canal had assigned me to Gainesville or to Corps of Engineers. I had my Panama Canal house, and all that stuff still the same, but instead of going to work for Panama Canal, really, I went to work with my boss as a colonel in the Corps. I worked for Colonel Sutton; he was my boss. Another guy in Gainesville, he was my boss, too. It was a very complicated situation but very well organized. It lasted over four years I want to say five years. O: K: but they said they would hold off on the thing. We were going to do it nuclear. Our surveys was, what are we gonna do nuclear? [Laughter] How are we going to do that? O: Yeah, if the water table is too high. K: countries were afraid of the carryover or the medical things that would happen with having nuclear operations in their territory. know whether that would be healthful or not. But this was after the war, so some of the
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 25 have a re had already. In years or a thousand years if we have all this nuclear activity taking place. So they kind of got scared out of it and then t hey get probably the money that far. That wa doing the work down in the O: Once that project ended, Mr. Krziza, did you continue in accounting? K: Oh, they just told me to go back to Panama Canal. They had my job left over for me. Th years before I retired. So hell, five years old. So hell, the Panama Canal was glad to get me back. I got fifty five and I thought well, boy, I better pick u p the chips and run. O: What year was that? Around what time? K: The Panama Canal? O: When you hit fifty five.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 27 6 K: With retirement. I could get full retirement. I could get full civil service retiremen t there. Got a good retirement: this is federal civil service. Thirty two years is what I had benefits that are all to me there. Yeah, I thought, shoot, am I going to say no? Hell no. I had thirty two years working and that was enough. O: In all those years, Mr. Krziza, in the canal did you notice any changes between the time you started there and the time you retired? Had life began to change? K: Yes. There were the trea ties. They made the treaty the first time, 1904. They the treaty to put this canal through. So, Goethals and old big wheel, they got together and said, okay, we can do that. We can build that canal, but how are you going to do it? never had any plans. W all those guys, they looked the area over. Did they have any aeroplanes going over and surveying it? O: No.
PCM 001; K z rizia; Page 28 7 K: No, they had nothing. Now what the hell are you going to do? You go over and you look it all over and say, well, this is all you have to do to this. This part is all right. How about those big hills? What are you going to do about those? Well, you go to move You take a bucket and put some sand in it. t have it done. Well ten years later they had it done. They got up in the hills, they got Bucyrus Erie Lorain was another one: great big steam shovels. They could probably pick up four or five ton at a time. So they built a little railroad. lroad that ran across from Coln to Balboa. They built a railroad fifty years before the Panama Canal. Those guys in New York, they bought that because of gold. They were bringing the gold old mines. Bringing it on up, crossing that little isthmus we have there and broadening it and sending it to New York. If they can do it, okay, we can too. We got going and just kept on the [inaudible 55:38].
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 29 8 O: ten or fifteen minutes? K: O: How are you fee ling? K: one years old. O: K: O: You get excite d. K: three trips down. She knows more about the Panama Canal now. She wrote a dissertation on it. Get him one of those letters. I caught all of those fish. Go over and O: Mr. Krziza it says that you would deep sea fish, you caught a marlin. What was the biggest one you ever caught and how did you catch it? K: Well 552 was the biggest one. I got one 590, that one was the biggest one. That s up there. O:
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 30 9 K: O: About how long would you say, about? K: feet. O: Fourteen feet long. How on earth did you catch a fish that big? K: pound test line, was all I had on that thing. On a couple of the other ones, I had a 132 pound test line. Then, w O: Yeah, I always wondered about that because I grew up near Seattle. We would catch salmon, maybe twenty pounds, and our lines would break all the time. K: Yeah. The drag on them. O: I cannot even imagine catching a fish that big with and eighty pound fish line. Do you just let it go? K: See the reel there? The reel is sitting around here somewhere. 3 rd K: 4 th person: So this is your sister, Ruth?
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 30 K: pounder. She left me for another guy. 3 rd person: I guess they usually do! [Laughter] K: reel? O: Oh yeah. K: pound test line right there. We had very sophisticated equipment. I had the best ; got it from Miami all the time. O: I never used a test this big. K: O: Wow a black marlin. Sixteen feet, 540 pounds, thirty five minutes. K: s eye or his ear or something like that. [inaudible 01:00:00] see? So you have to wear him out, or the line wears out, before you wear out, before up on a marlin. I gave up on a shark. I had a shark that probably weighed maybe eight hundred or a thousand pounds. I had that thing on my line for probably about four guy. We were out here
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 31 catching fish, and all I was trying to do is lift up a great big hunk of meat from the bottom of the ocean. [Laughter] (elapsed time: 1:00:45) O: a big hook. K: kind of hook you use. 3 rd something like that. O: What do you put on that hook? K: Live attracts the b ig fish. They come up and get him, and then you have your troubles. You of Decem when we did our big fishing. 3 rd person: Honey, he knew about the shoes. K: Yeah. Here, I saw you looking at this. I will see whether your history is all right. Did you ever hear, London bridges falling down, London bridges. O: Yeah.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 32 K: s are called emblems. Those two emblems, you know what happened to the London Bridge about ten, fifteen years ago? A wealthy landowner bought it because they were He was going to tear it down, and this one developer, who lived in Fort Worth in Texas, he remembered that because he was a kid and they used to sing, London bridge falling down falling down falling down London Bridge falling down my fair lady. He remembered tha t and he found out they were going to destroy the bridge, he said, oh dismantled it. Nice load of boxes. They were all coded. They shipped it over. They put it over in Arizona and they reconstructed it over the California River. So London Bridge is now in the United States. Long story short, I saw them before they were unloading it from the boxes there, because I was living in California at that time. This was right on the border between California and Texas. What happened is the boxes were there and 3 rd person: Ca lifornia? O: Louisiana?
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 33 K: left over, and they just threw them on the trash. When I was going through one day to a swap meet. 3 rd Person: In Calif ornia. K: In California. I saw all these things in a swap meet, some big emblems. They so I bought them from the guy. He happened to live near me in California, and so I was talking, and he said, you remember one day that you bought those emblems? I says emblems on the bridge, this way, and then there was one at that end of the bridge. T hey were. And they got to the end of putting the bridge all together, and they looked so cruddy, and so lousy. 3 rd Person: It was all rusted. K: They did, they put them in the trash. O: K: He got them out of the trash, and he had th em. Well, I bought them from this guy this swap meet as we all them, and I buy them.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 34 they were. I knew that I was going to have a nice emblem on my house. Then I find this other guy that told me what they were. I got them, gave them to one of these fellows that rebuilds cars up for you. He takes his sandblaster, and he sandblasts them all, cleans them all up. I take them to another guy to get them painted. Those are where they are. [Laughter] So those ar e from London Bridge. O: K: O: Wow. This thing here K: know what they would do. Kill a kid. 3 rd Person: Did you see his plaque? We got that on the ship. O: This one? 3 rd Person: [inaudible 1:08:43 ] of recognition. No, and the Roosevelt Medal for outstanding work. K: Yeah, for the work I was doing there. O: The inner Roosevelt circle.
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 35 3 rd person: This was taken. look how young he is. In 06, that was about the last of his graduation class. We went back to Michigan. Then they got the school torn down. He got the plates made up and gave each one. He paid for the whole thing. 4 th person: Of all the crew he was the youngest one. 3 rd Person: Yeah, he was even younger. At a restaurant, we ate downtown in Michigan and I said, he looks like an owner. They all had gray hair, they all wore e restaurant. Hell look at that. O: K: 3 rd Person: [inaudible 1:09:36]. K: Sixtieth year. Boy you look back: sixty y ears ago you graduated from high school. Holy smokes. 3 rd Person: exercise. K: Okay. [Break in interview]
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 36 K: Actually the Panamanians have done a ver y good job of realigning the activities of the Panama Canal Zone. We were limited by the treaty of expanding. We had to do it Panama has much more freedom and much more kn ow how. Like people like you guys. not go out and make public statements and pri nting and that kind of stuff. You can do the company store; we could go into Panama, but the company store was about half of what this outfit would charge us. O: Do you miss Panama? K: medical attention that you get her e, especially at this stop and up in your area too, is -living down here than it is u p in New York, and maybe a little cheaper too. They can do O: Do you keep in contact with other Americans who served in the canal?
PCM 001; Kr z izia; Page 37 K: 3 rd Person: Cruise lines. K: e, like Joe Wood and those guys. Hell, Joe was this big when I saw him the first time, or no well he was probably about this big the first time I saw him. But I knew his father, I worked with his father. His father was an auditor. O: of people who worked in the Canal Zone. K: requirements were the same so we treated everybody decently. If you ever been on one of our Panama trips? O: e to though. That would be fun. K: They ought to give you guys. You fellas get a trip to see how --or see some good for you fellas to give you a trip out of it to see what Panama atmosphere is like. apprehension of what Leo is compared to what y
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 38 [inaudible 1:14:36]. 4 th Person: one another in the reunion. 3 rd perso n: They let me into their lives, too. K: two years I was down with them and most of these people were down th ere. My ex wife, she was thirty seven years. She had to work five more years than I did because she was five years younger. So when we said goodbye, okay, I got out of there when they were passing ve got to get mine before somebody else does. But she had to wait until she was fifty five. Now she had thirty seven years. Now you can figure thirty seven years federal civil service. O: K: You better believe it. O: Good retirement. K:
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 39 4 th Person: Do you guys have any children? K: there. Esther. This is an interesting little bit of thing, how things can happen in you r life. She was there, war broke out. We were all down there. She was a school teacher. What happened is, of course we were all working for the federal government right there, so ecause all been repatriated and sent back to the United States. So the schools kind of closed ollege graduate so they U.S. Navy now. She was working on the Navy, censoring all the mail. Well, come to find out later on that well, Navy boys are not sending any ma they said, okay, the air force over here, Albrook Field. Do you know where Albrook Field is? O: Yeah.
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 40 K: Well, they send her to Albook Field. Panama Air Depot, P.A.D. Oh yeah, plenty ir force. The war the U.S. Army Air Force. Now how many women in World War II had discharges from two war departments? O: Not many. K: None of them. Nobody would. She h ad that. She had a discharge from both of them. [Laughter] The navy somehow lost her papers in the transfer from the navy to the air force someplace along in there. Well the navy was carrying her as A.W.O.L. for ten or fifteen years. [Laughter] They couldn her. They checked everything, and the navy had this lady, Esther Condry probably she was Krziza then lost. They did every darn thing. Checked every source and they vy, or military, this one writer wrote the case lost her. This gal got lost. The navy w as amazed that they could lose a person and never find them. Well, this writer of a little newspaper or something knew Esther a little navy. He takes that paper over a nd is sitting there in the coffee shop, and he says, you kind of fit that description here. She read it, she said, you better believe it. I fit that description because that is me. It went up to this point and then dropped off. She says,
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 41 absolutely because they transferred me from the fifteenth naval district to the P.A.D. lose h er? They could never figure it out. It came on out that they had found this, so they sent it into the Navy Department. By God, the Navy Department gave her a discharge from departments of the army. O: K: Yeah. [Laughter] She was great. So she got a free ride down to Peru down at Machu Picchu. Of course, she worked for the Army Air For ce and they had a plane, the missions they called them. So they took some of the girls from P.A.D., Panama Air Depot, and put them on the plane. It was going to be down there for about a week. The girls just got on there, they were military girls. They did They went down there, and then the plane comes back, the girls come back. They were on duty. She got a kick out of that. As a result of that trip I went down after. I caught a ride down on a missions plane and went down. I was down in Lima, Peru when the crewmen signed the papers terminating the war the fifteenth of August, 1945. O: The town that I grew up in was Bremerton, Washington, shipyard town. For about three decades or so, the U.S.S. Missouri was mothballed in our hometown. As kids, it was the only field trip we had. We would go every year, two or three times a year, to the
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 42 U.S.S. Missouri Then when the Missouri left, it was re commissioned. They sent it to the Gulf, shelled Lebanon, came back. The town tried to ge t it back because it was the best thing going for that town. The only reason you ever would have come to Bremerton is to see the Missouri. We never got it back though. Instead we ended up getting the U.S.S. Turner Joy which was one of the ships, remember the North Vietnamese had supposedly fired on? K: Oh yeah. O: The Gulf of Tonkin incident. Yeah. And then it turned out to be a big. K: Yeah. O: So anyway. We always joke in my town how we lost this magnificent battleship and instead we got this l ittle knickknack ship instead. [Laughter] K: Yeah. My brother, he got in the navy. He had to lie about three or four things to get in. But he was too young and everything, but he got in the navy. He ended up at Farragut, Idaho. He said that was an awful p lace. He just hated that thing. Then they got river or wherever it was and by God, he caught some salmon. He was bringing those back and probably give them to the cook or some
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 43 you so much money for them. The civilian there, boy, he got some money on him gave it to my ot transferred. When they found out he had a the submarines anymore because he hurt his knee one time on the football field. They transferred him down to San Diego. He go t down to San Diego: oh boy this is nice. He make a career of it. O: In San Diego, yeah. K: Yeah, he was glad. We got his letter in the mail eventually. He was complaining about Farragut, Idaho, how bad it was. The snow and slush. O: Id K: O: Yeah my dad was in the naval reserves and every summer, his ship went down to San Diego and we always called it his vacation. Two weeks, what more could you ask for?
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 44 K: Oh yeah. It was fantastic. He loved it. O: Mr. Krziza, I know we have taken up a lot of your time, but were there any final things you wanted to say? 3 rd person: Thirty two years o f vacation. O: Thirty two years of vacation. You went on a thirty two year vacation. 3 rd O: In Panama. [Laughter] K: Oh, I know what she said. Well, one of the things I put in some of my communication, you d two year O: K: O: Yeah but I was in the army. They sen t us out in the jungles of South America. K: Well I was in the jungle. I used to deer hunt in jungles down there. O: K: Bushmaste rs group to the Philippines. Because I was a good shot, and I knew the
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 45 jungles and I spoke Spanish. My characteristic thing you can put that on there that to me, my tour of duty in Panama was a thirty two year vacation with pay. 3 rd Person: Say something in Spanish and then say what you just said in English. Say something in Spanish. K: Yo habla Espaol. [inaudible, Spanish, 1:31:05] was a student, I was a scholar. What I did, I studied Spanish before I went down there. I was at University of Wisconsin, studied, and Wayne University of Detroit. I had studied p eople. The fellows were from Salvador, they were from Ecuador, they were from Nicaragua, all the lands. Naturally, it starts coming back to you, so I got my Spanish back in a hurry. Then I thought, well, I am going to go on vacation. One thing Panama Canal did, was you have sick leave and then you have vacation leave. You have two things, two vacations. You had sick leave, you take that off, and the other one you get peopl fixes for leave, so you have vacation leave. va below the Tropic of Cancer or above the Tropic of Cancer you get an extra five da
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 46 vacation. If you take the Panama travel days. So you add that thing on up. What you did, you worked for ten m onths, and O: K: did, it brought the people to work. Nobody would take a day off and throw it away as far as th uh. They saved all their vacation. The first big trip that I took well, I took some trips to New York down Then I got that in the bank. This next year, I got two years, I have to take this one here. I I can build this up again. to be going around the world. How the hell do I know ? So just hold the paychecks. I went clear around the world. Started down in Mexico City -airplane ticket -and I went around the world with my wife. Up to New York and then we
PCM 001 ; Kr z izia; Page 47 got on our company ship and rode back here. One hund red and one days. When I got back I had a stack of paychecks that big and she had a stack of paychecks that big. O: K: Paid it all, the Panama Canal. Why would I want to give up a job like that? [End of Interview] Audit edited by; Jes sica Taylor, January 1, 2014
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