Faye Smalley

99 years old; Owned neighborhood grocery store

I'll tell you before the war [World War II], women took whatever jobs they could get, whether it was factory or whatever. But a lot of the girls joined the Worcester Women's Army Corps.  When they came back, they had a little more push, and they were able to get better paying jobs, because the pay years ago wasn't what it is today. Today they’re fighting for a $15 minimum wage [laughs]. I worked for a year in a bake shop, and I earned $12 a week. For a 60-hour week. So it came to about 25 cents an hour. And then I advanced, I did bookkeeping and cashiering in a men's and boy's wear. And I advanced to $16 [laughs]. And by the time I finished, when I got married I had to go in with my husband, it was 1951.  My highest salary was $30 a week. Today you work two hours for $30.

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Faye “Fannie” Kravitz Smalley was born on January 17th, 1917 and has lived in Worcester her entire life.  She lived through a time where men were the ones with the jobs and women were the ones who took care of the household, but she was different than most women her age and seemed to do both of these things.  She worked for her family business at a neighborhood marketplace and she took care of both her parents as well as her husband as they faced serious illnesses. She has gone through multiple personal struggles but handled them very well and with courage.  During her interview, Faye discusses the transition of Worcester over time because she has lived through lots of changes and has noticed many differences in Worcester as well as the American society in general. She gives her input to many modern topics and gives advice to the younger generations that are growing up in today’s society. When asked if she had any advice to women of future generations, she stated, “Women are doing very good and they’re standing up for themselves, and that would be my advice, to stand up for yourself.” [Post-interview note;  Faye Smalley passed away on October 20, 2016 at the age of 99, just a few days after this interview].

Interview Date: 
October 2, 2016
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