May 17, 2011
Interview 1 With Douglas Nereo Brombal
Douglas Nereo Brombal was born in Windsor, Ontario in 1930. His father Nereo Brombal was born in 1896 in Treviso, Italy. Doug recounts his father’s early life working in Northern Ontario, where he met his future wife. The couple married and moved to Windsor, Ontario where they built their family home and raised their two children. Doug’s mother was an accomplished seamstress, while his father joined the Windsor Police Department. It was at some point after Italy declared war on Britain and France that the Brombal family felt the effects of the war. Nereo Brombal was dismissed from the police force. Despite the fact that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found no evidence that Nereo was a threat to Canada, he was no longer able to work for the police. Doug recounts that it was very difficult for his father and he took a number of odd jobs to support the family. Doug and his cousin also faced discrimination during the war. Both children often fought their way through school and avoided many of the children due to the bullying they faced. Despite these hardships, the family was able to make ends meet with the help of their Italian neighbours. Although Doug and his father understood the measures that the Canadian government took during World War II, Nereo never went back to the police force and refused to return to Italy. The family was given an apology by the police commission, where they were presented with a plaque honouring Nereo. The Windsor Police Commission also began a camp for underprivileged children, which they named Camp Brombal in honour of Nereo.
In this opening clip Doug Brombal introduces himself and speaks of his family and childhood home in Windsor.
Doug Brombal’s mother emigrated from Germany and his father emigrated from Italy. Both lived in Northern Ontario where they met and were married. Doug mentions that his parents moved to Windsor after their marriage and he also speaks of his extended family.
Doug Brombal discusses the discrimination he and his family faced after June 10, 1940. While Doug’s father was not interned or declared an enemy alien, he was let go from the police force. Doug also discusses how he faced discrimination from children at school.
In this clip Doug Brombal discusses the difficulties his family faced during World War II. His father had difficulty finding work and took a number of odd jobs, while Doug also assisted by selling fruits and vegetables from their garden. Doug eventually quit school and instead went to night school so that he could work in a factory in Detroit.
Doug Brombal speaks about a local Italian grocery store he worked at growing up. Even going as far back as the Depression, the store owners would assist the local Italians by providing them with groceries and allowing them to pay at a later date.
Doug Brombal briefly describes the reasons why his father Nereo Brombal migrated to Canada alone in the early 19th century.
Doug Brombal mentions that his father was not part of any Italian organizations in Windsor. He also mentions that after Canada declared war on Italy the RCMP visited their home looking for any evidence linking his father to Italy or any organization but could not find any evidence. He believes this is why his father was never interned.
In this clip Doug Brombal discusses when his father became a naturalized citizen and his work with the Windsor police force.
Doug Brombal mentions that his father’s good friend was interned at Camp Petawawa during World War II. He also mentions that after the war declaration the families of the interned distanced themselves from the larger community.
Doug Brombal discusses his father’s dismissal from the police force. He believes that the reason for his dismissal is that his father was born in Italy. Doug also discusses how his colleagues treated him after he was let go and how his father had difficulty finding work afterwards.
In this clip Doug Brombal mentions that his mother was a seamstress and his sister was a stenographer. Both women worked during the war years to assist the family after his father was dismissed.
In this clip Doug Brombal speaks about the discrimination him and his cousin faced at school during the war years.
Doug Brombal recalls how his father felt for the first year after he was dismissed from the Windsor Police Department.
Doug Brombal remembers that after war was declared there were changes in the neighbourhood as men were either interned or losing their jobs. However, he says that this did not last and that the only problem that existed after the war was that veterans were returning to their previous jobs and the men had to look for work once again.
Doug Brombal mentions that his father never had any desire to return to the police force due to the way he was treated and instead continued to work at the factory and then as a night watchman after the war was over.
In this clip Doug Brombal discusses his father’s feelings regarding what happened to him during the war years. He also speaks of the apology his father received from the Windsor police commission and what it meant for his family. While Doug and his family have no interest in receiving money they were happy to receive an apology.
Doug Brombal speaks about the youth camp, Camp Brombal, that was started by the Windsor Police Department around 2000 in honour of his father.
Doug Brombal reads from the letter his father received related to his dismissal from the police force.
Doug Brombal speaks about the local Italian grocery store he worked at growing up and how the men who ran the store assisted the community members.
August 17, 2011
Interview 2 With Douglas Nereo Brombal
In this second interview Doug Brombal talks about the plaque that he received from the City of Windsor Police Department in 1990. This plaque is meant to recognize his father Nereo Brombal’s many years of service with the Windsor Police Department. It also symbolizes an apology on behalf of the City of Windsor Police Department for their wrongful dismissal of Nereo in the 1940s due to his Italian heritage.
Doug Brombal discusses the plaque that he received from the City of Windsor Police Department in 1990.