Witt, Ben

This interview is with Ben Witt and covers the following themes:

1) Stories about Ben’s father, George Martin Witt, who was born in 1889. The stories specifically relate to:

  • Mining and quarrying in Arizona.
  • The Bisbee Deportation.
  • Prohibition-era moonshine in Tucson.
  • Demolition of St. Joseph’s Orphans Home, railroad bridges, and timber collection.
  • George’s life and travels as an imposter chiropractor, courting Ben’s mother Eileen Vola in rural Arkansas.
  • George Witt’s injury from a pneumatic truck tire explosion.

2) Ben's own oral history, including:

  • Ben’s childhood in the Ft. Lowell & Stone area in the 1940s, household and neighborhood description. Presence of cotton agriculture and many families from Oklahoma and Arkansas.
  • Childhood games, the arrival of running water and electricity to Ben’s house, and their first swamp cooler.
  • Monsoons and neighborhood flooding.
  • Development in the Catalina Foothills.
  • Elementary school at the new Amphitheater School District.
  • Reflections upon growing up in poverty.

Part 1 of 3 was recorded at the base of Tumamoc Hill in Tucson, Arizona on August 15th, 2017.

This interview covers the following themes:

  • High school at Amphitheater in the mid-late 1950s. Ben's social and work lives.
  • Further details about the demolition of St. Joseph’s Orphans Home.
  • The beginning of residential air conditioning in Tucson.
  • The beginning of Ben's career in plumbing. Comments on local unions, union culture, and the construction industry in early 1960s Tucson.
  • Further descriptions of the Ft. Lowell/Stone area, which Ben refers to as “Okietown.” Celebrations, dances, music, demographics.
  • Racing and car culture in 1950s Tucson.
  • Childhood play in the 40s and 50s, including the Wetmore pool, bicycles, games in desert with WWII surplus gear.
  • Ben meeting his wife Connie in the early 1960s.
  • Opening a bait and tackle shop in 1966.
  • Details about Ben’s parents later years.

Part 2 of 3 and was recorded at the base of Tumamoc Hill in Tucson, Arizona on August 18th, 2017.

This interview covers the following themes:

Development of the Stone/Ft. Lowell area from the 1940s onward: commercial changes, Amphitheater School District, neighborhood demographics, alcohol and drugs.

Ben's career trajectory from plumber to pipefitter to foreman.

Changes in plumbing craft; the introduction of plastics.

First steps into retirement in the late 1990s.

Part 3 of 3 was recorded at the base of Tumamoc Hill in Tucson, Arizona on August 30th, 2017.