Archive for March, 2012

Journal #2

This week I:

Created a model on the reservation wage, the amount of money required to induce someone to work, for people reaching the retirement age. Professor McHenry is looking at it.

I have yet to receive an email back from my potential interviewee since her first response. I plan on calling her today.

I am using a map to create a proper sample of Williamsburg housing. I have highlighted retirement communities and am choosing houses around these areas. Hopefully this will give a fairly unbiased judgement on the effect of retirement communities on housing prices.

I am still working on questions to ask interviewees. I am having trouble excluding the word “class” (I think it will offend people). A sample question so far: What sort of amenities do you expect from retirement/ expect for retirement?

As always I am still researching.


Research is moving quickly at this point – just had my first oral history interview this morning with Mr. Chuck Buell which lasted a little over an hour and was hugely productive. I feel more confident in my thesis now, which revolves around being an independent person as a retiree within the Williamsburg community at large. Mr. Buell was an excellent interviewee and will continue to be an influence in my writing.

I plan to interview Mrs. Carol Talbot, of Williamsburg Landing at some point this week, as well as Mr. Don Hess and Mr. Henry F. Meyers this week or next week. Working with scheduling complications has proven to be a bit of a task, but I’m working on it.

Research outside of interviews has been going quite well, especially with what’s going on politically in the country, as the Supreme Court hears the case for President Obama’s health care plan.  Looking closely at independent living communities maintains as a large part of my research, but I have started to look also at defining “independence” merely as an elder member of society. In my oral history interview today of Mr. Buell, it was particularly interesting to hear his perspective on the change in independence in his lifetime. I find that Mr. Buell’s interview is extremely pertinent to my research and feel that the transcription of this interview will be necessary for my final paper.

This sums up my work for the last week or so, looking forward to moving on with oral histories and outside research.

– Megan Berke

Journal #2


This week consisted of reaching out to faculty members whose work or lives seem relevant to the topic.  I contacted seven professors and hope to hear back from them soon.  I already heard back from Professor Meyer and have an interview set up with her this Wednesday.  Professor Meyer is so knowledgeable and passionate about LGBT issues that I plan to conduct an oral history interview with her.  If all goes well, the interview has the potential to be the one I transcribe.  I received some helpful feedback on a draft of interview questions from Professor Glosson and plan to use the questions as a template for other interviews with faculty members.  I’m hoping Professor Meyer and other faculty members can introduce me to LGBT individuals currently in retirement in Williamsburg.  Without this sampling of people my research will be more theoretical and perhaps unrepresentative of the current retirement community atmosphere. This concern will hopefully be addressed in the next week as I begin formal interviews and meetings with Professors.  Wish me luck!

Journal 2 – 3/26

Last week was extremely busy with research and presentations for another class so my time with WDP focused primarily on interview preparations for Thursday.  I formulated questions and conducted two interviews which went well.  I have a follow-up interview with Mr. and Mrs. Zadan set for this coming Thursday.

The interviews were great and I thank Heather and Laura M. for assisting me as indexers.  My first interview on Thursday was with the Zadans and I realized that interviewing a couple requires more than an hour and some sensitivity toward “balancing” an interview to allow each person to have input.  I have scheduled an additonal interview for this coming Thursday, March 29th to complete my questions with them.  Later that day I interviewed Ms. Crowell which went very well.  I learned not only about her situation as a retiree, but some important information about working opportunities and conditions for women in the 1970s and 1980s.  Very interesting stuff!

On Sunday March 25th, I received a welcomed phone call from Mr. Juraschek.  I was beginning to wonder if he had received my email from March 14th and had about given up when he telephoned.  We had a lengthy chat about his retirement experience and his work in establishing a senior network at Ford’s Colony.  He also provided me valuable leads to help with my research and confirmed some of my information on local contacts.  During our conversation he directed me in real time to the Ford’s Colony website and shared how to navigate the site.  I saw how the website is lain out and includes information tailored to seniors in the community.  It is quite impressive and has a list of “validated” services from the Peninsula Aging and Disability Resource Network (PADRN) which is updated annually.  The PADRN is useful to any Peninsula resident, of course, but what makes it wonderful here is that the Ford’s Colony Homeowner’s Association has integrated the information into their website making it a particularly user friendly resource for its residents.  The breakdown of my week follows:

Monday, March 19th – Formulated interview questions; sent interview confirmation emails.

Tuesday, March 20th – Finalized questions.

Wednesday, March 21st – Sent interview questions to Professor Glosson for review.

Thursday, March 22nd – Interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Zadan and Ms. Crowell in two separate interviews.

Friday, March 23rd – Scheduled follow-up interview with the Zadans for March 29th at 11:15 am at College Apartments.

Saturday, March 24th – Read and printed out article from March 23rd Washington Post on aging Americans forwarded by Ms. Crowell and pulled October 2011 Boomers Survey conducted by Knowledge Networks.

Sunday, March 25th – Phone conversation with Mr. Juraschek

Looking forward to talking with senior support services agencies and my follow-up interview with Mr. and Mrs. Zadan.  Will send additional emails to new contacts from Mr. Juraschek requesting information or interview.

Journal 2

I was really swamped with work and meetings this past week, so I did not get a whole lot of research done. I did get a couple of things accomplished to serve as comparisons for the two local fraternal organizations that I’m studying. I spent about an hour looking at newsletters from the past year at the Knights of Columbus here in Williamsburg. It’s interesting how different this national organization is from the two smaller organizations. It’s very focused on increasing its membership and has multiple events per year to attract new members. This desire for membership is completely different from the Pulaski Club and the Middle Plantation Club, which both have membership caps of 31 and 70 members respectively. I also noticed that Knights of Columbus is much more focused on charity work than the other two groups. One of the newsletters gave a long list of charities that they help throughout the year and each newsletter had an article or two about the organizations that they had helped during the past month. Again, this is completely different from the other two organizations which are completely focused on social events.

I also read through some of the top retirement towns in The New Retirement. At the end of the list, they listed an “honor roll” of the top cities in which to retire. I went through council search websites to see how many Masonic Lodges, Moose Lodges, and Knights of Columbus chapters each city had and how it compared to Williamsburg. As it turns out, the size of the city matters more than the number of people retiring in it. Williamsburg had the same number of chapters has smaller retirement cities such as Prescott, Arizona or San Luis Obispo, California. I also searched mens social clubs in Sun City and Seal Beach, California (where Leisure World is located), and it turns out that most of their advertised mens social clubs are more for playing cards than social life. Maybe the mens fraternal organizations don’t have websites, but that’s very interesting to see.

In terms of interviews, I have a couple of sources that I would like to contact. One is William Molineux, who is in both the Pulaski Club and the Middle Plantation Club and has served as an officer in both organizations. He’s been interviewed for WDP before, so hopefully he will be willing to be interviewed again. The other is Bob Hinger who is the Grand Knight, or president, of the Knights of Columbus chapter in Williamsburg. I need to get back into Special Collections to get contact information, which I hope to do this week.

Journal, Week 2

I spent several hours in Swem this past week reading through the books in my bibliography. I found some interesting background info about retirement in the US (and abroad). Elderburbia gave a good background on retirement in the USA, including a list of things needed for a retirement community (in a loose sense of the term) which included some popular amenities. These amenities lined up with what is traditionally offered in college towns. The Trolander article we watched in class mentioned similar things.

What turned out to be even more useful was a book published on the UK called Contexts of Ageing. It turned out to have some interesting studies referenced in footnotes on retirement migration in the United States. Swem doesn’t have them but I’m requesting them through ILL. Also, while it had information about retirement in a global sense, it mentioned several times how changes in retirement occurred first in the USA. That is, changes with regard to planned communities, migration within retirement, and a retirement industry occurred mostly within the United States to start. This linked back to our discussion in class about how unique American retirement is, and if the American tendency for migration is unique.

On the interview front I have one preliminary meeting set up for this Wednesday. I also indexed for Collin and asked the interviewee about her decision to come to Williamsburg. She had chosen to retire in a college town, is from Virginia, and had considered Charlottesville and Fredericksburg as well. When I asked her to elaborate on her decision to come to Williamsburg as opposed to the other towns, she cited cost of living (lower than Charlottesville) and a sense of community. Williamsburg seemed like a defined, small-town community. When Collin asked her about her activities in the community, she mentioned being able to working with ESL programs and the presence of a Unitarian Church as important things she looked for in coming to Williamsburg. Things to keep in mind as I prepare for my own interviews…

Journal 2

I helped Colin with an interview this last week. It went very well, while also helping me prepare for my own interviews.  I also set up my first interview for this coming Wednesday, March 29th.  He is a Vietnam veteran who chose to live independently in Williamsburg with his wife when he retired.  He also knows quite a few people who live in the Patriots Colony and promised to put me in contact with them. Collin was nice enough to assist me, so I’m excited to get things rolling…

Journal 1

During this week, I agreed to help Collin with an interview and created a list of potential contacts for my project. I also talked briefly with a prospective interviewee who is approaching retirement from the Army.  He is a Lt. Colonel who may or may not be promoted to Colonel. He said he would be happy to do the interview.
My basic goal at this point is to find a veteran who chose to retire in Williamsburg and live independently, a couple more veterans who chose to retire in the Patriots Colony, at least one administrator from the Patriots Colony, an current military officer who is approaching retirement.  I think this would give me a fairly broad sense of the retirement choices and opportunities for veterans in the Williamsburg area.

Journal 1

I spent the past week doing a lot of work for other classes but have done a few things for WDP.

I discussed how best to determine the effect of retirees on the cost of living in Williamsburg with Professor McHenry. He told me the most telling part of a local economy’s cost of living is the housing price. The problem with this is the amount of data required to make a statistically significant sample; it would take years to compile. He suggested I make a small sample just to prove my point. The data would not hold in an extremely scrutinized environment but with my time constraints it is my best option. I have been looking at housing prices for 10 homes since the 50’s in Williamsburg.

I have continued doing research on the book Sarah provided for me (Thank you).

I have emailed a resident of Williamsburg about doing an interview. She is working during the week and we have not found a meeting time that suits both of us.

I am working on creating questions that guide interviewees to discuss money without feeling self-conscious or interrogated.

Journal #1

Professor Glosson made the suggestion for me to base my overall research question on institutional support.  A question from my initial proposal that will be important to think about and to ask interviewees is: What are the supportive institutions such as local churches, cultural outlets and the College and how do they respond to LGBT issues within the retirement communities? Thinking about the broad institutional impact on LGBTQ retirees and how Williamsburg addresses discrimination and intolerant attitudes through these institutions.

Over the weekend, I began to think about interview questions for a formal interview with Leisa Meyer.  I also spoke to some friends about other potential contacts from W&M, including Sue Peterson and Maureen Fitzgerald.  I plan to conduct my first interview with Professor Meyer since she’s so knowledgeable about LGBT issues.  I have no doubt that she will provide me with invaluable advice and direction as this project takes shape. Tomorrow I will be confirming a time with her.

I will continue to read the scholarly sources in my bibliography and keep up to date on news articles pertaining to the issue of LGBT retirement.

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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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