Recalling Annie Nathan Meyer

Hughes Reiss

Between my third and fourth years at Barnard, I lived in Woods Hole, MA taking care of the children of a doctor's family, the Reznikoffs, who were spending the summer there. We lived around the corner from the Alfred Meyers and saw them frequently, and Mrs. Meyer enjoyed talking to me, a current student of the college she founded.

She had a reputation for being very outspoken so I don't think it would be unseemly for me to relate now, over 7 decades later, one incident that I remember well. Towards the end of the summer of 1940, the Reznikoffs had a big party, inviting many of htat big medical community who summered there. Mrs. Reznikoff asked me to help serve and she had purchased a maid's uniform for me to wear. She said that it would make it easier for guests to know that I could help them. I didn't mind since it made sense and also I was very fond of the Reznikoff family. However, Annie Nathan Meyer was outraged, and she told me that she was embarrassed to see me put in such a position. A college woman shouldn't be asked to wear a maid's uiform.

Well, Mrs. Meyer wisely didn't voice her opinion to everyone and the Reznikoffs wee used to her outspoken ways. Dr. Meyer, a very gentle man, was somewhat deaf but heard enough of the conversation to say, "Now Annie, now Annie," as he did whenever she embarked on a tirade. The Reznikoffs became lifelong friends of mine.