Ann Witkes

Hairdresser, Born in 1914

In those days, the woman didn’t have a charge account in their name. But I got it, I got it. They say, “Well, it’s a woman --give me your husband’s name,” and I said, “No I’m not going to give you my husband’s name. The business is mine; the business hairdressing is not my husband’s, it’s mine. I’m the boss so why I can’t have it?” Well, they think about it and I got it. And when I tell my friends, “I got a charge account,” they asked, “How did you do it?” And I said “I just tell them-- it’s not my husband’s, it’s mine. I work, I built it, and why can’t I have a charge account?” My husband said, “You have a charge account?!!” [exclaims] And I said, “Big deal, I said, I’ll pay for it from my own money.”

Ann R. Witkes was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1914 and attended Ash St. Elementary School and Commerce High School in Worcester. Ann spent all her life in Worcester, except for the last 20 years in Florida. She returned to Worcester as a widow, to the Eisenberg Assisted Living Residence a few years ago, to be close to her family. Ann worked as a hairdresser until she retired. She began at her father’s barber shop in Worcester. In this interview, Ann talks about her upbringing and the major influence of a very strong-willed grandmother, who emigrated with her family from Russia to the USA. She also discusses the diversity of her neighborhood and a peaceful co-existence of different nationalities and very inclusive upbringing in her family. Ann emphasizes the importance of being involved in the community and her volunteer involvement in many Jewish-connected organizations in the city. She also underlines her love for poetry and states that to this day she writes in rhymes. She is very proud that she was one of the first women in Worcester to receive a driving license and a charge account independently of her husband.

Interview
Interviewer: 
Interview Date: 
July 11, 2011
Transcript: