Archive for March, 2009

Work Journal 3/30

This week I started sending emails to potential interviewees, including John Gonzales, Frank Clark, and Laura’s friend Bryan. I only heard back from Frank Clark so far, and he seems excited about doing the interview. But I also heard from Colonial Williamsburg’s PR department regarding said interview, with a plethora of questions about the details of the interview. I wrote back and answered them to the best of my ability, and hopefully this won’t present a huge roadblock for this interview. Honestly, I’m surprised that CW isn’t more familiar with the WDP, but I guess not too many people have interviewed CW staff before.

I also spent some time looking through the Department of Health’s website and their records of health code violations in the taverns. What turned up over the past few years was mostly things being stored at improper temperatures or not being labeled correctly. I’m not sure if I need to go further back into their records (and if so, how much further) to find anything dealing with historically accurate cooking practices being inconsistent with current health codes. I’m hoping that John Gonzales can give me a ballpark range of dates to look for for this.

Swem had some interesting books on colonial Virginia cooking practices that will be useful. I didn’t get a chance to get to the CW-Rockefeller Library this week, but hopefully this Friday I’ll be able to make a trip down there to see what kind of menus and resources they have that will be useful for my project.

Research Journal


Bloom Participant Observations

Today was a warm sunny day with lots of shoppers mainly college students and older white couples. The parking lot was packed and there were lines for every register to the point where the guest services desk had to be opened for increased traffic.

As I pulled up to the side of Bloom where I normally lock up my bike, I noticed three employees in their distinctive lime green shirts. Each was a black male somewhere in their twenties and the appeared to all be on their break. I approached nervously and waited on the outside of their little circle until they realized I was trying to get their attention. Once they noticed me and stopped talking I asked if I could ask them some informal questions about their jobs. They didn’t seem too hostile to my request but honestly I didn’t really wait for a response, instead I just blended my first statement into a question about how they liked working at Bloom and their overall impressions of the job. Laughing and taking a few steps backward one of the older employees with a row of gold teeth replied jokingly that “It is what it is.” Each member of the group echoed those sentiments by saying something about how it was a necessary short term way of making money. They seemed reluctant to make any statements that might be seen as controversial, but I could tell by their laughter that there was some inside joke they were referring to. I asked how they liked the management and how they were treated. They replied with a mixture of “There’s good parts and bad parts, but you just have to deal with it.” They seemed to be in agreement that Bloom was just a temporary job, something they were doing in the meantime. I asked what their plans for the future were and they were unable to say anything but getting out of Bloom. They seemed anxious to get inside and I thanked them for their time.

                I proceeded to move toward the parking lot and I took some pictures of the exterior of Bloom. I approached a woman who was pushing a grocery cart up to the truck of her car. She was a white female probably 55 or 60, well dressed and driving a luxury SUV. I asked her why she chose to shop at Bloom and she replied by saying that the grocery store she normally went to, Ukrops, was closed on Sundays. I asked why she preferred Ukrops and she said that it was more convenient for her. I asked if there were things that she could get there that weren’t available at Bloom. She nodded but when pressed on the issued she couldn’t come up with anything. I asked if maybe the produce was better or fresher but she said there was no difference to her. The entire time she seemed very agitated and she made very little eye contact. Once she had finished packing up all her groceries I thanked her for her time and went inside.

                I made my way to Guest Services were a bizarre transaction was occurring between two Asian men (I can’t say for certain what nationality) and the woman working the desk. There was much deliberation and finally the men handed over an enormous wad of twenties and they were given back 14 dollars. I honestly had no idea what was happening.

                Anyway I talked to the woman behind the counter and she informed me that the man I had been trying to contact, Jeff Shears would be in the store on Monday from 6-4. I asked her if in the meantime I could take some pictures inside the store but she told me that I would need permission for that. This brought up some interesting thoughts about the relationship between public and private space and the control of information. I assume that I have the right to stand outside and take pictures from the parking lot but once I enter the store my agency as an observer is fundamentally altered. Do we have the right to take photographs of what we want(we certainly have the right to look where we want)and what does that say about the freedom in our society? I assume that Bloom has surveillance cameras and that they are constantly recording and watching customers. This regulation of space and perception seems like an interesting, if off topic lead to follow but I think it would be interesting to find out what stores do allow photography inside and what the stipulations are if I can get permission to photograph. I’m glad I made the inquiry so that I can ask Jeff about it tomorrow.

                As I was leaving the store I ran into another employee outside, another black male this time I found out he was 19 and a student at Lafayette high school. At first I simply asked why there were no longer benches outside because I really needed a place to sit and write some notes. He told me that “They got rid of them because too many homeless people were sleeping on them.” I had always thought that it might have been because employees liked to sit on them and that might look bad for the store. The cigarette break itself is an interesting phenomenon and the fact that almost any time you got to Bloom you will find at least one employee loitering out front on break. I don’t seem to recall seeing that at other stores with near as much frequency as Bloom.

                I wrote some notes and then returned to talk to Kendall(I learned from his name tag) the employee who had informed me about the bench. He told me that he had been working at Bloom for a year and a half but that he too was also really looking forward to getting out of this place. Once again his plans were nebulous and defined by little more than a desire to “get the fuck out of this place.” He told me that his job included doing different things like bagging groceries, gathering the shopping carts, and loading and unloading trucks.  I asked him how he got along with the management and he said it was fine, he had no complaints. I asked how he liked his fellow workers and he smiled saying “Oh yeah, those are my boys” pointing through the window at one of the employees I had been talking to earlier. He said he was very friendly with the other employees but when I asked how he knew them and if maybe they went to school together or lived near one another (he told me he lives behind the post office) he said no. He had exclusively met those people through the job.

                After talking with him for a while I went around the corner where I ran into to two middle aged white females, one younger one on a cigarette break and the other one eating lunch in her wheelchair as she fed bits of meatloaf sandwich to her hearing dog. The younger woman smoking was a 12 year, veteran cake decorator who loved her job and had been working the same occupation in delis and bakeries all around Southeastern Virginia (Newport News, Suffolk, Chesapeake, etc.) Both women had been working at Bloom for about two years and they were good friends. The older woman mentioned how much she enjoyed working with the cake decorator and how much fun they had together(somewhat of trend is developing/ comraderie between workers). I asked the cake decorator about how the job paid and whether she was able to live comfortably and she said she was which was confirmed by her enthusiasm about her job. She finished her cigarette and headed inside waving goodbye to both of us.

                The other older woman in the wheelchair worked in guest services and various other administrative positions in the store. She told me that had moved to Williamsburg 31 years in the midst of divorce that she was trying to escape. We talked about how the city used to be so much smaller. She referred to the old Williamsburg as a “bedroom community” where the sidewalks were empty by 6:30 or 7:00. She indicated an affection for that kind of lifestyle and she also mentioned how she couldn’t stand cities and how she would never be able to live in one.  We then talked about her history in the area and she told that she used to work as an emergency dispatch broadcaster in the area until she got a job at Food Lion. She told me how she was working on her second Masters online from Jacksonville State University in spatial management and processes. She also listed off a few of the federal and educational certifications she been awarded over the years. I thanked her for her time and went to find a good place to record my notes. (3 hours)


I contacted the store manager of Bloom this morning and we decided to schedule the interview for next Monday at 9 AM. In the long run this is probably a good thing because it gives me time to really examine the books I have checked out from library and hopefully they can give me some good leads as far as new questions. Today I read through about half of Supermarkets Transformed: Understanding Organizational and Technological Innovations by John P. Walsh. The author was mainly concerned with the way stores have grown literally in size and also the fact that they are so diversified. Most grocery stores now include at least a deli, a bakery, and a butcher station all of which would have been housed under different roofs 30-40 years ago. It occurred to me that in this process of universalization stores are attempting to lose the stigmas attached to serving certain parts of a community instead they are trying to cater to any customer by providing a wide range of services. This got me thinking about the potential of stores as community gathering places and wouldn’t having such a diverse range of food services make stores more lucrative places to gather because they can count on a kind of consistency. But after examining Bloom and walking around for a while I realized how unfriendly the place is. There are no benches and even just wandering through the store with my camera I was shot numerous dirty looks and I literally felt uncomfortable being there. Supermarkets have a stake in making sure the customers come and go quickly maximizing the amount of people they can cycle through which ultimately makes them hostile to community gathering.

                However after examining websites from a few different stores I found the Ukrops store to be significantly more community oriented than any other store. There are numerous community partnerships and sponsored runs and walks and even a Café Night to help raise funds for schools in the communities. I think that studying the websites of different stores will be able to tell me a lot about the role of each store in the community.(4 hours)

Short Assignment #3

I think that Katelyn did a very good job with the general accuracy of the transcript.  She had a few spelling and mis-hearing errors, such as “Psy. D.” to “Side D” and naming Ivor Noel Hume to Albert Hume, but otherwise the transcript is very accurate.  I think her transcribing style differs somewhat from mine in that she did include a few more of my ums, likes, etc. than I included in Jake’s interview; however, I think that’s just a matter of personal preference. 

I think the most striking thing about reading the transcript of my own interview was how much I spoke.  I remember my transcription of Jake’s interview was about nine pages, but mine was approximately fourteen.  They both occurred over about the same amount of time, so I really must have spoken quickly to get that much more information in.  I think my intention in the interview was to fill the allotted time and because of that I feel like it took a lot of time for me to weave some of what I spoke about back to answering the question (for example, when I was speaking about my interaction with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).  I read through Maya’s blog post online last night and she mentions that she was happy to see how clearly and concisely she spoke during the interview, and how similar her speech is to her writing.  With my interview, I think it is the opposite.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m uncomfortable being on the other side of the camera or recording device and I think this comes through during the interview.  Looking back on the transcript, it feels like I am desperate to fill up the time, because I remember being nervous and thinking, “What if I don’t have enough to say to fill up the time?”  It seems odd now that I put the responsibility for filling up the time on myself because, when conducting an interview, I also take on the responsibility of making sure that the interview is rich and lengthy, incorporating as much information as possible.  I like my patterns of speech, rambling though they may be, and I can definitely tell that this is my transcript, based on my some of my back-peddling and general sort of abstract thoughts.  I am generally pleased with the interview and the transcript and it’s interesting to read back over it, because I can experience my thoughts and feelings while I was speaking in a way that probably only makes sense to me.    

Journal 3/23 – 3/29

Mon. March 23

–         Spent time in the Williamsburg Regional Library. Checked out Williamsburg, Virginia: a City Before the State which contains Spears’ article on the Greek community. By looking at her source page in the book, I found which newspaper archives she looked at to get her information. Looked at copies of the Virginia Gazette and the Daily Press on rolls of film (really cool machine where you scroll through months and months of newspaper editions!) and scanned articles pertinent to Greek food. 1 hour 15 min


Articles that I photocopied from the film scanner:

–         “AJ&L gift is largest ever from area business to CW,” Virginia Gazette (11 April 1984)

–         “Greek restaurateurs dominate the town,” Virginia Gazette (26 August 1981)

–         “100 Moments in History: 30 Come Here’s,” Virginia Gazette (17 September 1997)

–         “Growth changes Williamsburg,” Daily Press (28 July 1996) – actually the same day the 1996 Atlanta bombings took place.


–         Tomorrow I need to go to Swem archives and find one more article in the Publick Observer that the regional library didn’t have (“The Greek Influence in Williamsburg,” November 1976).


Tues. March 24

–         Returned Mr. Graff’s phonecall. We’d been playing phone tag for awhile. He will call me on Sunday to set up a meeting time with me next week. He sounded so nice! He said he can give me a run-down of the last 100 years of Greek history and immigration to Virginia…!! 10 min

–         Submitted a request on inter-library loan for a book recommended by Prof. Knight, Geographical Identities of Ethnic America: race, space, and place. It has a section (and hopefully a helpful bibliography) on Greek Americans and should be helpful for background history. 5 min


Wed. March 25

      –    none


Thurs. March 26

–         met with Professor Knight regarding my research thus far. 30 min

 Fri. March 27

–         none

 Sat. March 28

–         visited The Greek Bake Shop at the Farmer’s Market and spoke with the two women in the stall. Their food is provided by the Ladies Philoptochos Society of the Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. They meet on the 2nd Monday of every month at 6:30 at the Comfort Inn – King George (607 Bypass Road). (I think that would be April 13th) Rita, who gave me their card, said I’d be welcome to contact them and even attend one of their meetings. They discuss the church, social events, what they will bake for the Farmer’s Market, etc. Rita knows Pam Koliopoulis which doesn’t surprise me. 30 min

–         contact email is; Elaine Garber can be reached at 757-876-2880.

–         Waiting to hear from Mr. Graff tomorrow about our interview for this week.

–         To do: call Mr. Koliopoulis about an interview time this week.


Mon. March 30

–         Will call Mr. Koliopoulis tonight after his soccer practice ends at 5. I will be interviewing him this week and we need to set up a time. 5 min

–         Sent an email to Elaine Garber regarding the Ladies Philoptochos Society’s meetings. 5 min

–         Mr. Graff didn’t call yesterday like he said he would…so I will wait one or two more days before I contact him again. I’m sure that he’ll give me a call soon as he seemed excited to talk.

–         The book came today through inter-library loan! I’ll pick it up tomorrow at the library.

Work Journal March 23-29, Small Assignment #3

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Today, I met with Prof. Knight and Jenna to discuss my project. Prof. Knight suggested that I get in touch with Kaitlyn about a joint interview with Frank Clark, the food-ways director at CW. He and Jenna also gave me ideas about exploring the nature of the historic chocolate and coffee and why the Coffeehouse is being restored now, specifically. Did the re-immersion of coffee culture in the 1990s and beyond work as a catalyst? They also recommended perhaps speaking with Laura McCann about ideas of coffeehouse culture then and now.
(30 minutes)

I sent an e-mail to Kaitlyn Bailey about scheduling an interview with Frank Clark:

Want to schedule a joint interview with Frank Clark? When are your best free times during the week? We can come up with a few times that are mutually beneficial and then we can send an e-mail his way?
I’m free Monday & Wednesday before 3 and Tuesday & Thursday after 4. I’m free all day Friday.


I also sent an e-mail to Kelly Ladd, Curator at the D.A.R. about potentially scheduling an interview:

Hi Kelly,

First, I wanted to thank you for your helpful response to the first e-mail I sent to you about the reconstruction of the Coffeehouse. For my Williamsburg Documentary Project class, I am trying to compile accounts from different perspectives about the reconstruction and also the history of the Coffeehouse in general. I’ve already spoken to Colin Campbell and Forrest Mars, for example, about their contributions and knowledge about the reconstruction and am also planning on getting in touch with Ed Chappell about the architectural aspects. As I have the financial, bureaucratic, and hopefully architectural bases covered, I was wondering if you would be willing to meet with me and allow me to interview you about your knowledge of and contribution toward the restoration. My main concerns are with the authenticity of the restoration and how CWF is able to complete the project accurately while still complying to modern ideals and regulations. As I know (first hand) that countless artifacts from the Coffeehouse have come through your jurisdiction, I thought you would be the right person to talk to. It would not have to be a long interview and I’d be greatly appreciative for any time you can give me. My schedule is fairly open at the moment, so if you could give me a few options of times and dates that are good for you, I’m sure that we’ll find an option that is mutually convenient.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Amanda Mullens

(30 minutes)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I received a response e-mail from Kaitlyn Bailey about a potential joint interview with Frank Clark, in which she suggested I e-mail Mr. Clark separately, but express an interest in conducting said joint interview. We are also currently trying to find a time in our schedules where we are both free to have the interview.

I further received a response e-mail from Kelly Ladd-Kostro, which read:

Hi Amanda,

I’d be happy to talk with you about the Coffeehouse and given the questions you have regarding authenticity I think it would be helpful to talk with Ed Chappell at the same time as archaeology and architecture are part and parcel in the reconstruction. If you could send me some of the times you have open for next week I’ll coordinate on this end and get back with you about a time and place.

Many thanks,

Basically, with Kelly’s (un-requested!) extra help, I will be able to kill two birds with one stone and conduct an interview simultaneously with an architecture expert and an archaeology expert. While this is hugely convenient, it also might afford me better, more thorough answers to questions, because they can probably work off one another’s responses. I responded to Kelly’s e-mail and gave her all the times I am free next week.

Concerned about this potential joint interview, I sent an e-mail to Jenna Simpson and Professor Knight:

So, as you will see in my journal posting next Monday (or is it Sunday?), I am in the process of scheduling a joint interview with Kelly Ladd and Ed Chappell, since according to Kelly, architecture and archaeology are “part in parcel” as far as the reconstruction is concerned. We’re aiming for sometime next week.

In the meantime, I have two questions for you:

1. I’m having trouble coming up with questions that meld the two disciplines together. Can you help me with that?
2. Because it’ll be me interviewing two pretty knowledgeable scholars, I would feel more comfortable if one of you were there indexing rather than another student. Tell me if this sounds silly, but I want to appear as professional as possible and I think that might help.

(1 hour)

I then went online to find any more articles about the Coffeehouse reconstruction that weren’t from CW publications. After reading through the ones I found, I’ve come up with some good outsider perspectives, perhaps to act as information for my future interview with Barbara Carson.
(1 hour 30 minutes)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I received another e-mail from Kelly Ladd (with Ed Chappell CC’d):


I’ve talked with Ed Chappell and if you are still able, 3:30 on the 2nd of April would be ideal. We were also thinking it would be good to meet out in front of the coffeehouse to help facilitate the discussion.

Do let us know if this will work and I look forward to seeing you again.


To which I responded:


That time and place is perfect for me, but would we be able to move into an enclosed space eventually? I would like to record most – if not all – of the interview so that I may quote you and Mr. Chappell in my research paper and also place the audio file in the Williamsburg Documentary “vault” for posterity. (Obviously, this is contingent upon your and Mr. Chappell’s agreeing to the terms and signing deeds of gift, etc.) If we were to be recording, the ambient sound might muddy the recorded conversation.

Thanks again,

PS. Attached are 2 documents. One is the “Deed of Gift” form and the other is the formal explanation of the Williamsburg Documentary Project.

So, we currently have a tentatively scheduled meeting at 3:30 pm on Thursday, April 2.

Received another e-mail from Ed Chappell:

It sounds as though perhaps we should just meet in the lab for the sake of recording. Shall we do that? I am happy to sign the deed of gift. Ed
(30 minutes)

Friday, March 27, 2009

I read through many of the CW articles in order to try to find some pertinent questions to ask Kelly and Ed next Thursday.
(1 hour 30 minutes)

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Sunday, March 29, 2009

I completed Short Assignment #3, which I’ve pasted below.

Reading through the transcript of my interview with Tommy and Andrew, I found that things were mostly accurate. Many of the inaccuracies were my own fault and some of them were just spelling mistakes. I guess the fact that I said some things that – looking back – may have been hyperbolic or even untrue shows that I was indeed a little nervous about being interviewed. But mostly I think Tommy captured me nicely. Here are a few points I noted:

1. I think it’s interesting the way in which Tommy wrote out my speech as a run-on sentence, because when I’m reading it, I can completely hear my voice saying the words just like they are written on the page. It also concerns me, though, that my responses may have seemed a bit ditzy.

2. When I was discussing the student body of my high school, I was saying that it was 550 students for four classes and then I repeat myself. But in the second time, Tommy wrote it as the preposition rather than the number.

3. I think I may have oversold the point about my parents wanting me to go to boarding school… In the interview it sounds a bit like they were pushing me away but it was completely my decision. The other details were reasons they were ok with my going.

4. I think it’s interesting that the only person in my immediate family who I didn’t name was my brother. I think he’d be offended that I said his wife’s name and not his. Also, my mother spells her name Sara, not Sarah.

5. I want to make it clear that although my dog Lucy is small and one technically could “kick her around,” I don’t harm my dog in any way.

6. I also used some hyperbolic phrasing when discussing my mother’s desire for me to rush a sorority. My mom didn’t “make me agree,” but she kind of pushed it until I finally came over to her side.

7. It’s interesting this pattern in my story-telling: when I talk about going to college or studying abroad, I mention that one of the pros was that I wouldn’t know anyone else there. I’m not sure if others will read/hear this as brave or anti-social.

8. I don’t know how I could’ve messed this up, but my first job – in the bakery/prepared foods store – was in Millerton, NY. It’s right across the border from Connecticut and I was living Connecticut but working in New York. So that was my bad.

9. I’m not sure when talking about the archaeological digs if this was my goof or Tommy’s but the location is Ravenscroft, not Ravensclaw. It could’ve been me mixing words with Harry Potter stuff.

10. My little rant about how I hate working retail makes me sound a little bitchy, for lack of a better term. And I guess that accounts for the pause after I finished. But when I was saying it, it didn’t occur to me that I was saying anything awkward or incendiary.

11. When I’m talking about cooking with my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, there’s a misplaced modifier – which I’m sure made more sense as I was actually saying it – but it looks as if I might be saying that my boyfriend’s father just lost his job, but it was my boyfriend who lost his job. (Which is still lame.)

12. I think it’s interesting that I said that I didn’t think that anyone was looking too far to the past for their WDP project when I was sitting next to Andrew Jungclaus, who’s doing his project on prohibition-era Williamsburg. My bad.
(1 hour)

Journal 23-29 and Small Assignment #3

My journal is a bit lengthy perhaps because these thoughts are for myself as well as this assignment. So apologies for the length. A lot got done this week:

March 23

Thomas wrote me back very willing to have an interview with me and gave me the email addresses and in some cases phone numbers of 5 old staff members he thought would be helpful for my project along with a short biography of each old staff member. He also expressed willingness to help with the project in any further way that he can. I had been feeling down about not hearing back from that first alumnus, so this wealth of information gave me new hope for the project.

Spent some time in Swem trying to find more books on topic. Found very little in Swem and instead just requested a lot of interlibrary loans. Picked up one book on coffee that has a couple chapters on subculture that might be useful. 45 min

March 24

Making an entry every day certainly encourages me to focus on this project everyday instead of throwing it aside until later as I tend to do most things. I’m impressed with myself about how much I’ve gotten accomplished today and how focused I was able to stay throughout the day.

Wrote Thom S. back and we decided to meet on Sunday at the Meridian at 11am for an oral interview. This is his first time in town in over a month I believe so my timing in contacting him was very fortunate. 10 min

Contacted Dan S. about Jim C. as per Thom’s suggestion. Received mailing address but nothing better. Warned he is a bit of a “recluse” and “elusive about intent” so not to expect much. Thom says Jim C. was around near the beginning of the Meridian, and I know that he did almost all the artwork that is currently around the Meridian. I will write him a letter and see what happens. He seems to be a person who might have a very unique perspective. 10 min

Sent email to Meridian listserv after Thom’s tip that some older staff members might be on it. Suggested that the alum contact me via my email. Not sure this will get any responses, but worth a try. 20 min

I have received one response from Josh N. ’04. He simply said that he would help me with my project, gave me his class year, and nothing else. I found him on facebook, and while I cannot currently look at his profile without adding him as a friend, I see that we have two friends in common who I can find some background information from. I will reply to him soon.

Just received a response from Christopher S. ’07 who was the first Meridian historian. He had some interesting things to say about the Meridian:

“As you may already know, the character of the Meridian changes rapidly and rarely reflects changes in the college at large. Charting the progression of Meridian history is further complicated by its informal ties with many other student organizations, and subgroups within the Meridian staff that have their own personal legacies. Off hand, I can say that the Meridian has at least the two simultaneous traditions of activism and artistic experimentation always in process. They cross pollinate, they engage in dialogue, but remain discrete entities despite all this. Of course, the history of Meridian debauchery is more varied and less believable as the events have passed into memory and then legend. This might not interest you as much, but there are a few exemplary tales that articulate the spirit of the Meridian community of the time which you might consider drawing upon as legends rather than facts.”

He is currently in Vegas getting a masters in creative writing and does not seem very interested in an oral interview, but is very willing to answer any questions I have over email. He also referred me to someone I do know somewhat personally, Alex H., who apparently did an anthropological study of the Meridian in Fall 06. Christopher warns that is not very complete, but it may be a good reference point and source of primary information.

I think I need at this point to do a lot more secondary research to make sure I have direction in this project before I start doing interviews. Getting hold of Alex H.’s ethnographic study would be extremely helpful.

Wrote Alex about getting hold of his ethnography work 10 min

March 25

Received and read Alex’s ethnography. It gave me some good ideas about directions to go in when asking about Meridian culture, specifically its many rituals and sometimes clashing cultures. I think what will be most helpful is if he follows through with burning me a cd with the 5 hours of interviews he did with Meridian staff this weekend. 20 min

Met with Professor Knight about research project and getting Sam Sadler’s contact information. Should review WCWM project for good understanding of how to keep research of a subject so close to me academic. 15 min

March 26

I’m generally very busy on Thursdays and as this Thursday did not really have time to focus on this project.

March 27

Read relevant chapters from a book I got out of Swem called The World of Caffeine. It proved to be pretty useless as it focused only on very very ancient coffee culture and the chemistry of caffeine, completely skipped the 1950s coffeehouse movement, and somehow talked very briefly about modern consumption of coffee in coffeehouse. The only interesting idea I really got out of the book was that modern coffeehouse are a response to modern Western culture’s disapproval of other intoxicants, and thus coffeehouses started popping up more as bars and nightclubs shut down. 40 min

Formulated a set of basic interview questions to work from 40 min

March 28

Met with Alex H. and he had not burnt the cd. He said he would get me a digital version of the interviews sometime next week though.

Wrote back the alumni who had responded to me asking them variations of these questions:

1) How long did you work at the Meridian?

2) How did you first get involved? What was your first impression?

3) What kind of food/drink did the Meridian serve? Was alcohol allowed? What were its regular hours?

4) Were there any other organizations that were involved with the Meridian while you were there? (ie, SDS, WCWM)

5) What kind of events did the Meridian host (ie, poetry readings, events for other organizations, shows) during your time there?

6) How did the Meridian affect your college experience?

7) How do you think the rest of William and Mary perceived the Meridian?

I think the ones who are particularly vocal or interesting with their replies I will ask for an oral interview. Went ahead and asked for one with Chris C. who seemed he was itching to tell some stories. 60 min

Ran into Ned at at Meridian show and asked if he was willing to be interviewed. Got his number and said I would call him sometime this week. Ned is the Meridian’s oldest patron, having hung around for almost a decade now and also nearing his 50th birthday. While he won’t be able to understand the Meridian’s context in the school as well as students, he will have valuable understanding of the Meridian’s history.

March 29

Interviewed old general manager Thom S. and it was extremely productive. Will meet with him again next weekend for a followup. Need to review interview beforehand to decide what more needs to be discussed. 90 min

Chris C. wrote me back with answers to my initial questions. He was willing to talk over the phone more in depth about the Meridian and his documentation of Meridian legends, but expressed concern over telling stories about people that may involve underage drinking, sex, and substance abuse. It was silly of me to not think about that and I think I will just not attempt to record the Meridian legends and instead just interview him the way I was planning on interviewing everyone else.

Big news! Jack C. wrote me back and said he was willing to have a phone interview about Zarathustra’s. He also sent me a link to wealth of online pictures, news clippings, and flyers from the Zarathustra’s times and a decently sized essay about Zarathustra’s beginnings. Very good news!

Small Assignment #3

I was impressed by Laura S.’s attention to the the interview in her transcription. Where I left out a lot of fillers such as “like” or “um” for clarity and my own sanity in transcribing, Laura S. made sure to put them in and I felt like my voice really came through in her transcription while in the transcription I did for Katie S., I may have lost her voice in my attempt to make the transcription clear. The only thing I would have done had I been doing the transcription is use ellipses more sparingly, as I felt their use often was not necessary and they sometimes cluttered up the transcription. Also, many proper pronouns I used (such as the name of my high school and the names of some music artists I mentioned) were very misunderstood and typed up very differently than what they were. I’m sure I did this in my transcription as well, so this reminded me the importance of going through after the interview and checking the names of proper pronouns that might be important for research.

Work Journal for March 24-30 and Assignment #3

T 3.24.09 Completed internet research on recent stories on local food in news, especially the cheers and jeers in response to the Obama’s new “kitchen garden” at the White House. In searching, I stumbled across the name of Lisa Reagan, who lives in Toano (potentially on an organic farm that supports a CSA) and runs on organization called Families for Natural Living. She seems like she might be a good potential interview. (1.5 hours)

W 3.25.09: Met with Prof. Knight to discuss project. (0.5 hours)

R 3.26.09: Traveled to Toano law office of Andy Bradshaw with Lindsey and Tazewell to conduct interview with Andy Bradshaw. Discussed his family’s small scale farming/poultry production, his advisory work on three local farmers’ markets, his work with pro-agriculture zoning, the causes of the decline of farming in the area, and the reasons for his mission to help revitalize the local foodscape. (2.5 hours)

F 3.27.09 Read Participant Observation reading in preparation for Saturday. (1 hour)

S 3.28.09 Attended Merchant Square Farmers’ Market. It seemed well attended given the dreary weather. I counted something like 16-17 vendors. Most were selling non-produce items: honey (and other bee products), jams, baked goods, seafood, meat, eggs, cheese, cut flowers (a big bunch of forsythia went for $2), and potted plants (edible and ornamental). Mushrooms were available from Dave and Dee ( and I noticed another vendor with what appeared to be hothouse cucumbers and tomatoes. I missed seeing Libbey Oliver, but think observation was worthwhile and will provide a good point of comparison for the next market on April 11. (3 hours) I then went to an organizational meeting for the Real Food cooperative. A presentation was given by community member, Walter Zadan, a retiree and volunteer environmentalist, who mentioned in passing that he formerly taught at a culinary school. He spoke about the politics of what we consume and how our perceptions of nutrition are controlled by the government and lobbying groups (especially in relation to the dairy and citrus lobbies). The meeting, attended by 12-15 people, covered a general review of the organization’s history, the updated website that will premier this week, the ongoing process of establishing nonprofit status, and possible topics for educational workshops. I made tentative plans for a more formal interview for April 5. (2.5 hours)

S 3.29.09 Completed short transcript review assignment.  

M 3.30.09 Prepared journal for publishing and compiled to do list. (1 hour)


To Do

Finalize interview time with Real Food admins.

Make appointment to meet with Libbie Oliver.

Get Walter Zadan’s contact info from Real Food.

Digitize my index of Bradshaw interview.

Make contact with Lisa Reagan.

Complete more thorough Flat Hat search and follow up on the article Will posted on blog.

Solidify plans (possibly with help from LO or AK) to meet with local restaurateurs.  

Become certified on Media Center recording equipment/editing software to see if idea of audio essay is viable.

Make plans to visit Toano Market this Saturday morning. Anyone else interested?


Small Assignment #3


Reading Andrew’s transcript of our interview was an experience, though I’m not sure my reading for accuracy will be very useful, as I did not have access to the audio as I was proofing. I came across a few typographical errors, but nothing at all major.  Conceptually speaking, I think Andrew captured my intended statements perfectly, without misrepresentation of facts or opinions. One change I might have made, if I were doing the transcribing (and I am more than happy not to have had to listen to myself drone on for hours on end), is to change some of the punctuation to more clearly reflect the flow of my speech. Again, this may be unfounded because I didn’t have the interview to listen to as I read, but in some cases where Andrew chose to bring a sentence to a full stop, I might have used dashes to indicate that a particular clause was an offshoot of a continuing thought that I would later return to. All in all, Andrew’s transcription work was quite good and I feel comfortable with the end result.


Amanda’s index was, if not extremely thorough, totally sufficient and reflected the interview’s significant changes in topic.


Reading my spoken words on the page was a little horrifying, though I am relatively pleased with my performance in the interview. My statements are certainly not ready for print as they stand, but they are readable and I think that for most part, I conveyed what I intended to in a logical manner.

Work Journal and Assignment

23 March 2009

Went to Special Collections today to research a Henry “Doc” Billups. Spent about two hours leafing through old magazine articles and newspaper write-ups on the man who took care of the Wren Building from 1888 well into the 1940s. Billups was known as a Professor of Boozology and was sort of a local legend in the eyes of William and Mary students at the time. Any student who enjoyed drinking “had to enrol in his class,” which meant drinking with Billups and having your name posted on his “grade roll.” Billups posted these grades along with all the other professors’ grades on the message board in Wren.

A lot of how the articles treated Billups was problematic to me. I didn’t realize Billups was black until I saw a picture at the end of the folder. Some of the treatment infantilized him. Students also played “practical jokes” on him, which seemed to be pretty targeted and difficult to clean up (leading a cow into the bell tower of Wren, moving an enormous statue to the front porch of the president’s house, etc.). I plan on finishing up with this folder and moving onto one or two others I still have left.

I also got some pretty cool photocopies made from handbills and advertisements I found in archives. These include political cartoons from around the referendum on prohibition and the official vote count for every city and county in Virginia.

24 March 2009

I don’t like to think that anything could be a complete waste of time, but today I think I completely wasted my time. I convinced myself that the Pulaski Club met on Tuesdays at 4 instead of Thursdays at 4 and went to the Fife and Drum Inn today to meet up with Mr. Scruggs. Between the commute, the time I waited to talk with him, and the time I actually did talk with him (and embarrass myself) it had been about an hour, so no huge loss. But I had rearranged my work schedule to be there, making Thursday an impossibility for me. So I’ll be trying to make it to the meeting next Thursday, when the weather promises to be much nicer.

Again, my fault entirely.

25 March 2009

Met with Mr. Knight and Jenna Simpson. The main breakthrough that came out of our meeting was a possible new direction for my project. After reading so much about Doc Billups, the former Black caretaker of Wren, and the role he played in securing liquor for the white students of William and Mary, I think that race would be an interesting lens through which to examine man’s relationship with alcohol throughout the twentieth century. It seems that Blacks were comfortably kept at arm’s distance; they were used for the liminal space which they occupied to help whites bend the rules, because it was easy for whites to laugh them off, openly show disrespect, and blame them for society’s ills. To further this research, I’ll be looking into contacting Billups’s daughter, which is on file at Special Collections, investigating Mr Knight’s claim that a similar figure existed at Stanford, and hopefully speaking with Wren’s current caretaker.

After this meeting I met with Mr Barnard, also of American Studies, to discuss a previous oral history. He’s promised to get me the contact information for Margaret Spivey, a woman with connections to black moonshiners, Native Americans, and Charles City County residents—all interesting to me. I emailed Mr Barnard a reminder, and this is his public reminder: BARNARD, I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE.

EDIT: Mr. Barnard lucked out and sent me the information right before I published my journal entry. Insinuated threat rescinded.

26 March 2009

Met with Mr. Holmes, Religious Studies, to talk about his knowledge of liquor, liquor production, and prohibition as a young member of the faculty in 1960s. As it turns out, Mr. Holmes used to accompany Mr. McCubbin, another faculty member, to the African American roadhouses out in the county. I believe that Mr. Holmes was also a member of the dinner club attached to the Williamsburg Inn. He expressed some regret about this, as they did not allow Blacks membership, and that type of thing should not have been supported.

Mr. Holmes also knows the current Black caretaker of the Wren Building. He noted that he is the latest in a line of Black caretakers for that building, but that he would “never think of, or need to, behave in the way that [“Doc” Billups] did.” I’m going to approach Mr. Holmes about going on the record with a short interview, just to get some of these facts completely straight and recorded.

27 March 2009

Received an email from Mr Knight, sent to me and Ash. The email pointed the two of us to Bob Jeffrey, a Williamsburg semi-native in his mid-fifties who appears to have a lot of information on the Leafe, the evolution of VA ABC laws, and African American roadhouses, something about which I’ve heard a lot of interesting stories so far. I’ve flagged Bob’s previous WDP interviews for listening and have just started to digest them.

I also read an article that Mr Knight attached on Getting a Drink in Williamsburg from “Williamsburg Reunion 2008: 1968 and Before,” ed. Robert Jeffrey, Jr (Williamsburg, VA: privately printed, 2008). It had a lot of information on the dinner clubs that existed when it was harder to get a drink in Williamsburg, such as the Golden Horseshoe at the Williamsburg Inn.

28 March 2009

Day off.

29 March 2009

Does doing our class assignment count as research? I might think that it does, as it sharpens our oral history skills. That is what I did today.

Small Assignment Three

For the most part, I was really pleased with how both the index and the transcript turned out. The transcript, which I was ready to take some issue with, was almost completely accurate. Almost all of the points I noted for Amanda to correct have to do with punctuation and formatting. Many of the sentences in the transcript run on for lines and lines, and I would separate them more with commas for pauses and periods for changes in subject. I don’t think that I spoke them as long run-ons, but it is entirely within the realm of possibility. And that just goes back to the same debate we’ve been having all semester: accuracy v. readability.

Both Tommy and Amanda spelled the name of my hometown wrong—it’s Moorestown—but since they both did it, I’m wondering if I spelled it wrong for them in the tape. There were also just a few topic notations in the index that I would have collapsed into a single note to save space, but I think that’s just a matter of taste. Tommy’s index is probably more detailed than mine and perhaps I should adopt that style instead of suggesting that he water his down.

But it’s interesting that a few of Tommy’s choices for topic titles rubbed me the wrong way. “Parents divorced,” “disrespect for high school teachers,” and “eats two eggs for lunch every day,” while all entirely accurate, don’t necessarily reflect well upon me, or make me seem as dynamic as I might hope. I think that this refers back to a point that Mr Knight made in class once, about seeing your life reduced to a few bullet points. I mean, if I were writing this index, I probably would have changed around the wording/focus a bit, but I think that’s because it was my interview. I don’t think that I would ask Tommy to rethink any of it.

My own speech was the only thing about the exercise that horrified me. Lucky for me, Amanda included every like, um, uh, and you know… with blinding accuracy. I never felt that these asides, interjections, whatever you might call them were especially noticeable or that they made me sound bad, but reading some of my responses, I would have never thought the pattern of words had come from my own mouth. So I think that this consciousness of speech patterns, and the relative importance of an index, are the two things which I’ll take from this exercise.

Week of 3/23

Monday, March 23:
W&M Choir tour. Did nothing.

Tuesday, March 24:
W&M Choir tour. Did nothing.

Wednesday, March 25:
W&M Choir tour. Did nothing.

Thursday, March 26:
Interview with M. Anderson Bradshaw at 10:30 am in his law office in Toano, Virginia. Tommy and Tazewell accompanied me on the interview. Tommy served as official indexer and both Tommy and Tazewell had some time to question Mr. Bradshaw about their specific areas of interest. Mr. Bradshaw was quite pleased that students are taking an interest in local food in Williamsburg. The interview lasted until 12:00 pm, and I feel that I very thoroughly covered everything that I needed to cover. Mr. Bradshaw still needs to send me his Deed of Gift (I had sent him the D.O.G. in a mailing packet the week before but he had neglected to fill out the family tree information which he does want to provide to the WDP). In the coming weeks Mr. Bradshaw will be following up on my requests for him to ask his elderly parents if they wish to be interviewed for the WDP and my request for materials that could potentially be stored in some form in our archive (egg cartons from family operation?) This interview was overflowing with useful information and I could not have asked for a better first interview.

Follow-up contacts: Mel Bryant (extension agent)
Mr. Bradshaw’s parents (he will make first contact)

Friday, March 27:
Interview with Bert Geddy at 9:00 am in the microform room on the fist floor of Swem Library. I was the only person present at this interview. For various reasons I think it’s best if I index this interview myself. The interview lasted until 10:30 and was yet another interview overflowing with wonderful material. During this interview I gained some extremely useful information about the history of migrant labor in Williamsburg. This information has made me think that it really might be worth collaborating with Allison on an interview with the Medina family, even if they are 90 minutes away from Williamsburg. Mr. Geddy’s D.O.G. has been returned and he did an excellent job filling it out with thorough and interesting information.

Mr. Geddy might possibly be giving me archive materials at the Hickory Neck Easter service. Need to remember to prompt him for them right before Easter.

Need help making first contact with Gospel-Spreading farm. After about 45 minutes of research on their website it became clear to me that I need help finding the appropriate person to interview since most people involved on the farm are more oriented towards church activities and the operation of Camp Lightfoot than the operation of the farm and the accompanying local lore.

Saturday, March 28:
Printed out correspondence from Libbey Oliver and Andy Bradshaw and added it to my files. Rescheduled interview appointment with Ms. Langley to Monday, April 6 at 2 pm at Aroma’s. More research on Elder Solomon Lightfoot Michaux.

Sunday, March 29:
All-day field trip to Lynchburg, Virginia for Professor Holmes’ Religion 346 class. Did nothing except write thank-you cards to Mr. Geddy and Mr. Bradshaw.

I think Chris Pugliese did a good job transcribing the interview that he conducted with me for the WDP. There were almost no places in the transcript where I think that he completely miscomprehended what I was trying to say, and the few misunderstandings that did occur were very minor. The only thing I noticed about his transcription was that he was not very careful with small words. As I read the transcript I discovered that he mistakenly transcribed (or in many cases completely left out) a lot of crucial one-syllable words. These words tended to be things like pronouns, prepositions, and articles. Many times the incorrect word or the omission of the correct word completely changed the thrust of the sentence. When I first started to notice these small mistakes I was willing to blame my less-than-eloquent morning speech patterns. However, after discovering that the transcript was riddled with these tiny mistakes I revisited the audio recording and discovered that in many instances Chris had changed or omitted a tiny word that played a crucial role in the coherence of the sentence. I think that these mistakes occurred mostly from typing errors and the speed with which he transcribed the interview. Although frequent, these mistakes were usually small and easily fixed during my editing read-through. Maya’s index contained a few misinterpretations of what I was saying, but I think this is because the index is very subjective. The index is left to the discretion of the indexer, but the words in the transcript are (or at least should be) pre-determined.

One note about my speech patterns: now that I have read a transcript of my speech I must own up to the fact that I too grossly overuse the word ‘um’. During the interview I fell in the habit of beginning many sentences with the word ‘um’, particularly the ones after Chris would ask me a new question. I will have to work on this. This interview was certainly a learning experience and I will definitely be more aware of making my speech clear and fluid during future interviews.

Work Digest

Monday, March 23

 I received an email from Professor Knight to let me know that he had tried to contact Trihn Murphy, the proprietor of Chez Trihn, but that he was unable to reach her.   Chris and I made plans to meet on Wednesday to discuss our interview questions and general strategy.


Tuesday, March 24

I attempted to call Trihn Murphy; however, no one was home and there was no answering machine message.  I also conducted some research online and reviewed the websites of Peking-Mongolian, Nawab, and searched for articles about Chez Trihn.  I discovered this review of the restaurant:,0,3295059.story


Wednesday, March 25

Today, Chris and I met and discussed both our question-bank questions and our general interview questions.  Based on the in-class interviews we have conducted, it seems like the people who know the most about pan-Asian cuisine in Williamsburg are people who either work-in, manage or own pan-Asian restaurants.   With this in mind, we developed specific questions for the owners or employees of restaurants, incorporating both my focus on the history of the food in Williamsburg and Chris’s focus on the clientele and student relationship to pan-Asian cuisine. 


Thursday, March 26

Today, I met with Professor Knight in the morning and discussed my blog post, as well as our general strategy of making contact with different people at pan-Asian restaurants.  The meeting went well and provided me with a lot to think about in regard to formulating interview questions and a good interview atmosphere.


Friday, March 27

Chris and I planned out our strategy for making contact with people associated with different restaurants and went over our interview questions again.


Saturday, March 28

Took some time off.


Sunday, March 29

I went to Nawab for lunch and got the email address of the current manager.  I spoke with a waiter and discovered that the manager will be out for medical leave until Tuesday, so I will send him an email and then call him and the restaurant on Tuesday.  After I got home from Nawab, I called Peking-Mongolian and spoke with the manager, Bejamin.  He said that he was pretty busy at the moment and that it would be best if I call back before 10 am tomorrow.   After this conversation, I emailed him some information about the WDP and the general structure of our project.

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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