Work Journal #6

Monday, April 19th

I received an e-mail from Mr. Jim Coomer, who I had interviewed earlier.  Apparently, my e-mail ended up in his junk e-mail box, but he was still able to provide me with my list of contacts I requested.  I e-mailed three of the contacts, Mr. Lafiandra, Mrs. Kane, and Professor Edwards.  I am not sure I will have the time or necessity to talk to them all.  I mostly would like to speak with Professor Edwards, whom I had already e-mailed and had not heard back from.  He is a Professor Emeritus at William and Mary.  He taught government here for a number of years, and we also read an article in class that he wrote on change and growth in Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia: A City Before the State.  He has been on the James City County Board of Supervisors, and really engaged in population growth and knows a lot about subdivision growth in Williamsburg.  Mr. Coomer was able to provide me with an alternate e-mail address from Professor Edwards, so I hope I get a response!

(On a second note, e-mails take such a long time for me to draft!  I probably have spend more time drafting e-mails than in an interview or two. This preliminary step is often the most labor intensive, and you might not even get a response!)

Tuesday, April 20

n/a

Wednesday, April 21st

I had my 2nd interview, this time it was with Mrs. Nancy Hess at her home in Williamsburg around 3:30 pm.  The interview went well, but ran longer than expected (about 2 hours).  We talked about her decision to move to Williamsburg, and the close community that surrounds her.  We also chatted a bit after the interview.  

I have discovered that most of the people I have interviewed have come here from up north.  They also have come in the early to late 1990s.  Her mother lived in Chambrel (a retirement community here), and I was able to get Mrs. Hess’ opinion on Chambrel, of which she had positive opinions.  I indexed for Steve later that afternoon.  He interviewed Danny Michels, a student at William and Mary who has his own radio show on WCWM, which is a student radio station.  It was interesting to index for someone who had a project very unrelated to mine; in fact, I learned some interesting things from this interview because I didn’t know William and Mary had it’s own student radio station.  I also was kind of intrigued by the types of music Danny Michels was talking about- some of it I had never heard of before. 

Thursday, April 22nd

I received an e-mail from Professor Jack Edwards, a Professor Emeritus at William and Mary. I’m very interested to talk with him.  I e-mailed him back with times that would work for me, and hope to find a mutual time to meet next week.  Uploaded first interview to my computer, but have not started to transcribe yet.

Friday, April 23rd

n/a

Saturday, April 24th

Interview at 9 am with Mr. Donald Beck and Mrs. Susie Beck.  Grace helped index, and asked a few questions at the end about her project.  They are a couple that Grace and I know, and have gone to dinner at their house.  Mr. Beck is a William and Mary alum (’62) and Mrs. Beck is an honorary alum.  Mr. Beck is still very active in the W&M community, and has been retired for some 20 years.  Mrs. Beck still works in real estate, in fact, she had to show a house that day, so we could only talk with her for a few minutes.  The interview was very nostalgic, and Mr. Beck talked a great deal about what life was like at W&M for him, especially Greek life.

Went shopping at the Williamsburg Pottery, mostly in search of some houseplants.  I decided to explore it a little more because I’ve been interested in learning more about the Pottery, which was established in 1938.  I used to go there when I was little with my parents, and I remember it was really popular, back in the early 90s.  Now, it’s basically a ghost town!  I saw lots of parking lots that are overgrown, and buildings that have been shut down.  They still have a few shops that I guess people go to; I went to the plant shop, a linen store (which had a closed down cafeteria in the back), and a kitchen store.  It’s a really interesting place.  I tried to connect what I remembered from my childhood to what I saw on Saturday.  I am planning to go back with my mom soon to do some shopping and reminisce.  

I received the e-mail from Professor Edwards, and we have decided to meet at 3:30 pm on Monday in Miller Hall. 

Sunday, April 25th

I copied a lot of documents at the Williamsburg Regional Library two weeks ago, and also have a good amount of secondary sources that I have started to read through attempting to make connections of each.  I am starting to write up little summaries of each article I have, and hopefully I will be able to make connections from each of these summaries.

 I also developed questions for the Professor Edwards interview:

Personal Background Information:

– What is your age?

–  How long have you lived in Williamsburg?

– Are you a native of Williamsburg, and if not, where did you live before Williamsburg?

– What did you do before you retired? Jobs? Education? Any children?

– I read you were on city council for a while, what encouraged you to get involved with the local government here?

– Can you describe your relationship with William and Mary?

Williamsburg and Change:

– How has Williamsburg changed economically, socially, and politically?

– How has the development of the interstate highway system affected growth seen in Williamsburg?

– How have subdivisions affected the growth of Williamsburg? Are you familiar with the amount of retired individuals who move into subdivisions?

Williamsburg and Retirement:

– What were some of your experiences like in Williamsburg pre-retirement?

– What influenced your decision to retire in Williamsburg and not somewhere else?

– What are some of the things you enjoy doing in Williamsburg today? What are some of the activities you participate in that are specific to the retirement lifestyle/scene?

– What amenities do you personally believe the area has for retired individuals?  Can you name some things that you think attract people to retire in Williamsburg?

– In what ways have you seen ‘Williamsburg as a retirement community’ evolve?  Do you think it will always attract retirement age individuals?

– What are your opinions on William and Mary’s interaction with retirement age individuals in Williamsburg?

– I have looked over some of the past annual commission reports, and in the 1980s, the 65+age group spiked. How did the local government at the time react? Did they see this as an advantage?

– This question is not specific to Williamsburg, but do you think the concept of  ‘active retirement’ is a new idea in America? 

– I looked in a few old Williamsburg phone books from the 1970s and there is no mention of even a nursing home in the Williamsburg area.  Where did the 65+ crowd in Williamsburg go? Was the concept of ‘retirement’ different pre 1980?

– Are you familiar with the advertising techniques that retirement communities have used? Do you believe these are effective at drawing people into Williamsburg?

Your Experience with Williamsburg Landing:

– I heard that you recently moved to Williamsburg Landing. Where did you live before that?

– What were some of the things that drew you to move to Williamsburg Landing?

– Can you describe the type of ‘lifestyle’ the Landing has to offer?

– How did you feel about the development of Williamsburg Landing in 1985?

To Do:

– Interview with Professor Edwards Monday

– Return Kit/Get recorded interviews by end Monday, get recorded interviews by end of the day Tuesday

– Transcribe interview by Friday (not sure which one I want to do yet, because I believe the Jack Edwards interview will be useful so I need to see how that goes)

– Type up the Danny Michels index I did for Steve, submit to blackboard by Friday

– Listen to older WDP interviews on Dspace that might be helpful for my project

– Possibly organize archive materials in a binder

– Start drawing conclusions from my multiple sources

1 Response to “Work Journal #6”


  1. 1 iaknig April 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Great work, Paula. Prof. Edwards received a commendation of the VA General Assembly that answers some of your basic questions–I’m bring it to the interview. See you in a few minutes.

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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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