Luis Marrero, Puerto Rican, talks about his WaterStories, 1974

Luis Marrero talks about his experience working on ships in Brooklyn and some of the racial tensions with Italians.

His job on the boat.
“A couple of friends and I were hired to paint ships because there wasn’t any money and a person had to work.”

How long did you work on ships?
“I worked there nine years with the rest of the group. What we did was clean the boilers of ships that would dock there. Ships like ”El Guamo,” “I am Lorenzo,” and so forth. They would pay us on Wednesday and we would earn about $150.00 and up to working $180.00 working overtime.”

“The company’s name was Atlantic Cleaning. Mostly Puerto Ricans would do this job.”

Interactions with other ethnic groups.
“The Puerto Ricans didn’t get along well with the Italians. A Puerto Rican couldn’t cross to Columbia and an Italian couldn’t cross from Columbia. Sometimes fights would break out and rocks would go flying into the air. Later on was when peace was found.”


Jun. 24, 1974


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