In memory of
When Ann Disman died at 102 on Sept. 20 she was the matriarch of a large extended family. Aunt Ann was the last of the children of her parents' generation of Jewish immigrants who arrived in New York from Eastern Europe (Ukraine in her case) in the early 20th Century. That family-now surnamed Wasserman, Disman and Press--survives her and honors her life. Ann was 7 when her father died and 17 when she lost her mother in 1934. During the Depression she lived in Brooklyn with her elder brother, Harry. Together they raised their younger sister until Helen married Samuel Wasserman and moved to Washington. During World War II Ann and Harry lived in Miami. Later, Harry settled in Washington and Ann returned to New York. She never left. For the last 55 years she lived on 19th St near Union Square, a devout New Yorker, a reader of the Daily News and the Times. She never learned to drive, took the bus, loved the nightlife and smoked cigarettes until well into her 60s. She attributed her long life to "sex and vodka." She thought the rest of the world, while pleasant to visit on occasion, was pretty much a pale imitation of her hometown. As she would say of her trips outside the City: "It was a horror." Ann spent most of her working life in restaurants and night clubs, a waitress for 25 years, a bartender, later a hat check girl. From 1968 til 1971 she owned a bar called The Posh Place on 2nd Avenue, near her apartment on 19th Street. In the 1970s and 80s she worked at Cleo's, a celebrated black-owned restaurant near Lincoln Center. Hired for the check room she was promoted to bartender. She became friends with the singer Mabel Mercer, and used to tell a story of meeting Frank Sinatra, a fan of Mabel's, who gave Ann a $50 tip for getting him a pack of cigarettes. She worked well into her 80s. She did travel widely, especially with her sister Helen, visiting Israel, Spain and Italy. Though she never married, family mattered to her, and she kept in touch with nephews and nieces, cousins and grandchildren. She seldom missed weddings, bar mitzvahs or graduations. While never a doting aunt, Ann advised the younger generation to speak up for themselves, as she did. Beloved of family and neighbors, one recalls telling her, "I like your smile, and I like your style."
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