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Allison Hershey oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
Allison Hershey oral history interview
Series Title:
LGBT oral history project
Physical Description:
1 transcript (12 p.) : ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Hershey, Allison, 1938-
Merrick, Jessica
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Sexual minorities -- History -- Interviews -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Lesbians -- Interviews -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Gays -- Social life and customs -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Retirement communities -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Community life -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract:
This is a transcript of an oral history interview with a lesbian who lives in a gay/lesbian retirement community in Florida, the first such community in the United States. She discusses how she learned of the community and describes the process of purchasing a home and moving in. Most of the interview focuses on life in the community: relationships with neighbors, social activities, etc. This interviewee hosts a monthly event called the Lesbian Spirituality Circle Potluck, which attracts women from within the community and from nearby cities.
Venue:
Interview conducted March 2, 2009.
General Note:
Interviewee name is a pseudonym, used by request of the interviewer.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Jessica Merrick.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 002037978
oclc - 459953460
usfldc doi - L34-00004
usfldc handle - l34.4
Classification:
System ID:
SFS0000040:00001


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Full Text

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 2009, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.

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! LGBT Oral History Project Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier: L34 00004 In terviewees: Allison Hershey ( AH ) Interview by: Jessica Merrick ( JM ) Interview date: March 2, 2009 Interview location: Undisclosed Transcribed by: Jessica Merrick Transcription date: March 13, 2009 Audit Edit by: Kimberly Nordon Audit Edit date: April 23, 2009 Interview Change s by: Christine Toth Interview Change s d ate: July 9, 2009 Final Edit by: Mary Beth Isaacson Final Edit date: July 20, 2009 [Transcriber's note: The following changes have been made at the request of the Interviewer: pseudonyms are used throughout the Interview, the use of ellipses indicates that material has been removed, names of persons not directly connected with the Interview have been replaced with pseudonyms, some identifying geographical details have been removed.] [ Note: There is no formal start to this interview. ] Allison Hershey : It was January the seventh and there was thirty two inches of snow. Jessica Merrick : Okay AH: So my daughter said, "I hope you call people and cancel the party." I said, No, I live back a lane half a mile up a hill and e veryone knows where I live. I f they want to come visit me in this weather, they're certainly welcome." Fortunately it was a potluck. The next year I came to St. Pete B each, Florida for a lesbian celebration called Silver Threads 1 And it was sixty eight degrees in January. January the fifteenth, it was sixty eight degrees The sun was shining, I could swim, and I could sit in the sun. It was just beautiful. And I thought, "Oh, I really like this w eather." Then I came to visit two gals that I had met in Provincetown [Massachusetts] at Golden Threads 2 T hey lived in F lorida a nd we'd been talking through the years, a couple times a year. And I had called the year previous to visit with them and one of them was going to school and didn't have time. My thought was, as I'm in Florida on St. Pete Beach I should give them a call b ut I didn't bring an address book with me for phone numbers !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !#$%! &'()%*!#$*%+,-!.%(%/*+0'12!'-!+2!+223+( !%)%20!0+*4%0%,!+0!1(,%*!(%-/'+2-5 6 71(,%2!#$*%+,-!'-! +2!'20%*2+0'12+(!2%081*9!:1*!1(,%*!(%-/'+2-5

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! 6 The next morning I got on the elevator and ( ) and ( ) were there. JM: Hmm, lucky. AH: And I said, "Oh! I was going to call you and come visit you!" And we talked about it. So nine days later I stopped in to visit them here at [ the community] on my way to [nearby location] JM: Do they still live here? AH: No. They lived at the end home down there They relocated simply because of the busines s. She finished school and was able to purchase a business somewhere else. JM: Okay. AH: So that's how I learned [about the community] I came to visit them. I was here an hour, and ( ) was putting blinds up in their house. He took me around on a golf cart and showed me the community. And so I thought, "Gee this is really nice." I went home to the bank to see if I could borrow money. I owned a home in New Jersey and I though t, It would be nice to have a place here in Florida and t hey [the bank] said I could borrow money so I sent a deposit down for a villa At that time a ll of the properties had been purchased here, all the ground and when I sent the deposit down I wrote a note to ( ) asking him that if for some reason the gal who owned this last piece of ground that hadn't been built on if she decided not to build, would they let me know? And I got a phone call telling me that he was sorry but someone else, you know was he had several people wanting to buy this piece of ground i f she decided not to So, he couldn't do that and I said "Well that's fine J ust put my name at the bottom of the list. So I was on a waiting list for the villas. And t hey hadn't started to build them yet I had no idea what they would look like There were supposedly four units and it was a quad ; when they finally built them, they built triplexes S o I'm very happy that I got a phone call telling me that I could have the ground here to build a home if I wanted. It was the last house in Phase I that was built. JM: Great. AH: I drove down to Florida, be cause I didn't look at this piece of ground when I was here. And in order to spend all that money on a piece of ground JM: You wanted to make sure. AH: I needed to make sure it was a place that, you know, was fine. And so I decided it would be okay, and was able to change some of the plans of the house to make it mor e

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! ; JM: What you needed. AH: W hat I wanted. I also have a spiritual teacher from India, and so I've learned that there's feng shui 3 and there's vastu [ shastra ] 4 a nd vastu is the Indian version of feng shui So I wanted th ings laid out in the right JM: I noticed you have some Hindu pictures up. AH: Yeah, I went to I've been to India a couple of times S o that you know, that's what I tried to do. So I made changes and I think when I met ( ) he was putting blinds up in ( ) and ( ) 's house and that was kind of nice. "Gee wouldn't it be nice to have a neighbor do things for you like that?" So tha t's part of community, I think, which you need. You k now? You ask and someone helps. That's how I found [ the community] b y visiting w ith them and here I am So I've been here eight years and I absolutely love it. Now I told you I have three children and seven grandchildren. I was born in Chester, Penn sylvania w hich is a little city about a half hour from Philadelphia. And we moved to Eddystone [Pennsylvania] when I was little and Eddystone was a small town. And the high school the school had kindergarten through high school and a swimming pool, so that I was able to learn to swim there. My grandfather was a very important person in my life and he had a cabin in Delaware and a tent. And we would go there every weekend in the summer and so I carried wate r in a bucket from the farm probably half a mile A nd w e had an outhouse and no electricity, so it was really a different way of life. And you know I'm in the city in one aspect, but in the country in another. So I went through nurses' training in Phil adelphia Pennsylvania Hospital T he high school that I graduated from had 532 in the graduating class and a classmate and I went up to Pennsylvania Hospital to apply you know we had to take a test to get in and so forth and so on. So that's how I got t o do that. She was going up we were going up to get a scholarship f or nursing and so we too k the test and all. What else can I tell you about? JM: Were there any major turning points in your life? AH: Major turning points in my life? JM: That you wa nt to talk about. You don't have to if you don't want to. AH: (laughs) It doesn't matter M y mother died when I was fifteen so when I said to you my grandfather was an important person in my life, he came over and took over my mother's apartment. My gran dmot her and he had been separated b ut they were still friendly. So my !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ; !"#$%&'() !'-!+2!+2<'%20!.$'2%-%!-=-0%>!1:!,%-'42!+2,!?$'(1-1?$=@!<12<%*2%,!!8'0$!0$%!*%(+0'12-$'?-!/%08%%2! 2+03*%!+2,!$3>+2'0=5 A *+&,(%&'+&,-+ !'-!+!0*+,'0'12+(!B'2,3!-=-0%>!1:!,%-'42!/+-%,!12!,'*%<0'12+(!+('42>%20-5

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! A grandmother lived across the foyer in one apartment, and my grandfather and I lived in another with my sister, () who's four years younger than I. And the doors were kind of open. When I went through nurses training my classmate was getting married and I was asked to be a bridesmaid. So I was a bridesmaid, and met my husband at her wedding. He was the usher that I walked with. I was married for twenty three years or so. And I went to a nurses' reunion Pennsylvania Hospital reunion and there was either a social worker or psychologist talking and she gave us five by eight card s and we numbered them one to ten or one to twelve And she would make a statement and we were supposed to write who our support person was next to that My classmate from nurses training who had lived in New Jersey, ( ) was sitting next to me ; s he had flown up from Florida A nd o n her car d, when it was all done, her husband's name was from one t o ten And on my card my husband's name never appeared. It was mostly my friends. So that was kind of a red flag o r a shoc k, I mean to actually see that. I guess I felt it b ut I didn't really have something concrete. Then I took a course called Psychology of Human Relations And in doing the work for that course the same information came out, that my relationship with my husband was not supportive. And that was it. I had a friend, (), and her daughter and my daughter were close friends. We did things togeth er. She invited me she asked if she could take the girls to see their 4 H 5 leader who had moved from New Jersey to Maryland and I said yes the girls could go And she wanted to know if I wanted to go with her and I said s ure. And that was the first tim e I guess we really got to spend some time together. We'd seen each other at ball games with the kids soccer games and so forth So ( ) and I were friends for about three years and then we became more than friends. And it was interesting because we had gone out to dinner with two friends S he asked me if I would go with her friends from college and that they were homosexual. And I really didn't know what that meant at that time. I mean, I just didn't pay attention to all of that. And o ne time I called and invited () to go to an evening there was this speaker and they were going to talk on homosexuality And I figured since I taught h ealth I really should know more about it and did she want to go with me? Well I think that was probabl y funny for her because she already had been a lesbian but I didn't know that at that time JM: Okay. AH: So we went to the meeting and I learned whatever. And initially it was hard for me, because my thought was t his wa s against what I had been taugh t through church or God or whatever. And so we didn't get into a relationship immediately. I mean it took me some time to decide was this something I want ed to do. My thought was I would never have any friends other than (). I didn't know of anyone el se other than her two friends that were gay. And it was !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! C !A D B!'-!+!=130$!1*4+2'E+0'12!0$+0!:1<3-%-!12!<' 0'E%2-$'?@!$%+(0$=!(')'24@!-<'%2<%@!+4*'<3(03*%@!%24'2%%*'24@!+2,! 0%<$21(14=!?*14*+>-5

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! C surprising to me to learn that there's a lot of us out there It was r eally a nd I was working at a college at the time. So after a while I was able to identify many professors that were also gay. JM: Do you have a word that you prefer when you talk about yourself? AH: Do I have what? JM: A word that you prefer to say when you talk about yourself? Do you prefer AH: As a lesbian? JM: M m hm. AH: A lesbian. JM: Okay. Some people s ay gay, some people say lesbian ; some people don't like the word lesbian ." I wondered if you had a preference. AH: Well, I think with all the words you know, until you get used to them, they're a little strange. But if you use them the same with dyke It was no t a word that I was comfortable with initially but it's fine now. JM: So it becomes about familiarity maybe? AH: I think so. JM: Okay. AH: So I have something called a Lesbian Spirituality Circle Potluck once a month And so it's a word that I use and have used. I probably use all of them, but that's I believe, the main one. JM: How would you describe the neighborhood as a whole the kind of people who live here? AH: Probably just like anywhere else. They're different. When I say different ," I mean personality wise they're different And the majority of them are caring, kind, int eresting, intelligent, friendly. A nd if I was out walking a dog or bicycling or whatever, I would see more of my neighbors tha n I do. I don't get out a lot, a lthough I do scooter out some I think when ( ) started the community, he tried to identify the characteristics of the people so that they would be what he wanted. That was initially a really im portant thing. I think he fouled up in a couple of areas, but that's okay. My neighbor next door is very quiet. You don't see him. You migh t wave to him or say hi to him, b ut not often. If things are not to his liking, I could get a phone call telling m e that somebody's parked in front of his house and they need to move.

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! F JM: I pulled into your driveway, so that should be okay. (laughs) AH: (laughs) That's good. Or my air conditioner is making a terrible noise and I need to do something about it! JM: O h, jeez. AH: I'm thinking, "Well, my air conditioner is not on. The heat is not on. I don't know why it's making a noise, but that's something I'll investigate." That was my phone call today. JM: Oh, no. AH: My other neighbors on the other side you kn ow it's surprising I lived on three acres of ground in New Jersey, so I didn't have close neighbors and I wasn't sure that I could live so close to someone JM: Where you had to worry about your air conditioner and stuff like that. AH: Well, no, becau se I just figured they would be in my face all the time I guess or I would be in the i rs or whatever. And m y neighbors on the other side are there but I don't see them very often. I mean, I guess I see them at least once a week a nd probably somewhat more. We share newspapers or they share newspapers with me and they deliver some of th e papers I f you want to pick up a W atermark note 6 it gets delivered somewhere, and they'll pick one up for me and bring it to me and they do that If I need help gett ing up I can just call them. I needed a can opener one day cause mine broke and they brought it over So they're very nice. Yet it's just like I'm still living on three acres. It's not intrusion O kay? They don't intrude. But they're there and they're friendly. A nd the whole community there's two Phases, which makes it less I'm going to say accessible for me. I don't get to see Phase I residents as often as maybe I see no Phase I I residents as often as I see Phase I residents because they live right here and i f I scootered up that way or walked a dog, then I would see them more often, probably. But we have different community events; there are social activities and b oth groups are together which makes it nice. So there's P hase I has a social committee Phase II has a social committee and sometimes we do it together, so it makes it nice. And each of the functions both maybe not all of them but many of them, you know both Phase I and Phase II are invited to them. There's activities ; d ifferent people plan things. Rebecca [Heart] has movie night once a week, and we go to movie night so I get to see some of the gals in Phase I at that w hich is nice. JM: Is it all women at that? AH: Mm hm. JM: Are there many events wher e it s mostly men or mostly women, sort of separated? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! F .+,"-/+-0 !'-!+2!G7H# D 1*'%20%,!?3/('<+0'12!'2!I(1*',+5

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! J AH: I would say it depends on whose home it's in and the reason for it. The fellas get together for dinner at different times and y ou know that because they verbalize that they're going out to dinner with each other or they go to each other's homes for dinner, and y ou can see them walking. And the women do the same. And yet there are other times that we do it both male and female together. JM: Do you like it being co ed here? Do you like that there 's men and women? AH: Mm hm. Very much. JM: So w hat about if you had the opportunity to live somewhere that was all lesbian s ? Would you rather live in a place like that? AH: Probably not. JM: No? AH: There is already a n all lesbian community s outh of here. The environment's not the same. I think I'm not uncomfortable with males and I'm not uncomfortable with gay males. And I have a son, and I have grandchildren. So why would I put myself in a lesbian only community that is a separatist place s o th at males are not welcome, or maybe welcome in the swimming poo l for an hour at a time ? I mean I don't need any of those kind s of restrictions on my life. I have many close friends and they're male. JM: Okay. How do you think that the community has chang ed since you moved in? AH: It's changed considerably because of the difference in home ownership. Al l right, there were probably m mm, hard to say I was going to tell you there were more women originally, but that may not be true. I t may be that they wer e closer to me a nd that they lived at the house on the street rather th a n the other T he fact that there are empty homes right now and there wasn't such a thing when I moved in. You know all of the homes were occupied A nd I don't know specifically what I would say to you JM: Okay. AH: How it's different i t's nice that there's Phase II now so that there's more women. I think there's more women in Phase II than there are in Phase I. So we're able to do thing s you know, together, which makes it nice When you're doing both male and female, it's more of an equal number. JM: Yeah. AH: But it depends ; different parties have different people. JM: What do you think are the really important things about living here, for you?

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! K AH: It s community ; it's family. As a single female, I'm not really alone here. I'm really independent but there are times when I do need help. And all I need to do is pick up a ph one or mention it, you know when I'm somewhere and someon e comes and helps or volunteers to do that. JM: What do you think it is about the people who live here that makes them like that be like a family in some ways? Do you think I guess what I'm asking is some people might say W ell, you know I'm at a time in my life everybody's at a time in their lives now where we're not working so we have more time to do that and it s probably mostly about age ," and other people might say something like "W ell no I think it's something different and I think it has to do with the fact that we're all gay and lesbian a nd so maybe there's more community because of that So I was wondering maybe if you though t one way or the other or maybe something different ? I didn't know how you felt about it AH: I think it s personality. JM: Really? AH: I think it depends on the person. Because there are there is someone here that I know is not that way, okay? It's just his personality, probably. Some people are still working. Not a lot, but some. So tha t I'm not sure that it has to do with not working because we're retired. I had a thought and I lost it! JM: It's okay. If it comes back just interrupt me. AH: That's what you call a s enior moment (laughs) JM: Are there any negatives to living he re ? I s there anything that if you could change it you would? AH: Well I wanted to hang my cloth e s outside. I wanted a cloth es line a nd that was something that I couldn't have. However, I live in an area where I just hang them right out there on the lan a i. JM: Okay. AH: So I was able to JM: Sort of adapt. AH: (laughs) That's right. Okay I can't think of anything that I would change. JM: Did you look at any other gay and lesbian communities before you moved here?

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! L AH: No N ever crossed my mind that I would be moving into a gay and lesbian community, or that I was looking for that. The universe provided it for me b y my meeting m y friends at Silver Threads and them living here and my visiting here. It was just it's a beautiful environment ; it's p eaceful environment. It's as social as you want it to be. If you want to do things more often you just plan them. JM: Can you tell me a little about the night that you planned, the lesbian spirituality night ? AH: I h ave w hen I lived in New Jersey, I wen t to something called CCL, which is Conference of Catholic Lesbians. And I'm not Catholic but it was (inaudible) and the i r friends so I got to do that. I lived in a large home in New Jersey and I had an outdoor swimming pool so that I was able to use my home for some of their meeting s o r volunteered my home for some of their meetings. And I found i t a very positive group the women you know that were there ; it was a nice way of meeting people and a nice way of s pending ti me. So, w hen I moved to Florida I left that up in New Jersey and at one of the Silver Thread s m eetings I guess the second year I was here I invited a gal who had started CCL in New Jersey to visit with me and we had our first meeting at Silver Threads And it really i t's a potluck so that there's a social time, you know where you're eating and then after that there's a I'm kind of not sure what the right word is at all ; a sharing, a meeting. Each month different things are planned. It's probably more metaphysical than it is religious. JM: Do you do readings before you come or is it more about AH: No. JM: Do you sit? Do you pray together or what kind of things? AH: There's probably an initial prayer that I probably do. And th ere are times we pray together and that I've given them a copy of a nother prayer or a prayer that goes together with whatever we talk about This last month we did something out of Fresh Brea d which is a book by Joyce Ru pp ; she was probably a Catholic n un A nd for March it was related to L ent, a nd it was called Hi dden Treasures S o the prayer at the end of that book was appropriate for all of us to say together and we use d that We also have a period of meditation that everyone participates in, in quiet JM: So it sounds like you can be any religion and come to the spirituality night. AH: Very d efinitely. Very definitely. And they are and t he women come from a variety of places, p rob ably an hour an hour and fifteen minutes away to right here. JM: Oh I thought it was just people in the neighborhood but it's all around. Okay. AH: So i t's on something called ProSuzy. Do you know about ProSuzy 8 ? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! K M*1 & 3E= '-! +!(%-/'+2 D 1*'%20%,!8%/-'0%!+2,!>+'('24!('-05

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! "N JM: PerSuzy? AH: ProSuzy. JM: Yeah, that's like a is it like a y ellow p ages [ telep hone directory] for lesbians or something? Yeah okay. AH: Yeah, so that there's announcements on ProSuzy about the meeting here. And t here was a gal from [nearby location] this time The month befo re there was someone from [nearby location], and the month before was February so we dealt with the heart and friendship So it s ometimes it's in other people's homes depending if they if they voluntee r, o r if I'm not going to be here and JM: But you're sort of the main organizer? AH: Yeah. I started it with Marge [Kirchner] okay t o replace what I was missing in my life. It's a nice way for other women other lesbians to meet other lesbians whether they're couples or single, and we have both that come Someone came from [nearby location] someone comes up from [nearby location] so it s, you know JM: That's fun. AH: interesting. Marge has a Bible a women's Bible and she used that one, chose something from that. So i t's a variety of things. JM: Okay. How do you keep this neighborhood a gay and lesbian neighborhood e specially considering you can't make a law that says you know "Nobody else is allowed to live here." And h ow do you feel about if other people li v e her e and the y' re not ? AH: They have, and they do right now. There was a couple that lived four houses over. They had a gay son, but they were straight. They were you know, it's fine. I think the way you do it is if someone's uncomfortable in this environment, they're not going to move h ere. When there's houses for sale, the first thing that the realtor needs to do is to tell them that they would be moving into a gay and lesbian community. So if they're comfortable with it, it's fine. If not JM: And you're comfortable with it it sound s like ? AH: Well, i t's life I mean I don't I've been to t here i s a straight couple that presently lives in Phase II. And they've been I've been up to some of their social things and they both have been there or one of them and i t's fine. Yeah, I don' t have any I'm not a separa tist o r I'm not someone that's a s long as I'm living here and I can be comfortable here, is the most important thing. And I think if I was a couple, I would still do the same things I would do normally anywhere. I think that wa s one of the nicest things about going to Provincetown is that you could be yourself. You could hold hands sit together with arms around each other whatever. And you can do that here because it's a gay and lesbian community.

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! "" JM: So you were already in a place where you felt comfortable being out. So, not w as it not t o o big of a transition then moving here in terms of how you felt comfortable being ? AH: I guess it wasn't a big difference. My three children are not comfortable with me being so out so vocal, whatever. But I'm thrilled I tell everybody, "I live in the first gay and lesbian retirement community! It is just wonderful!" [ My daughter ] say s Mom, d o yo u have to tell everybody?" Just quietl y. And s o you know i t's not I 'm not uncomfort able was never uncomfortable here. When I first moved here I came down with a card table and a couple of folding chairs and a few things like a pot or pan or something a dish or two. JM: Now you've got five tables. (laughs) AH: The ho u se wasn't built yet, okay? JM: Okay. AH: T hey were in the process of building it. And () and () invited me to stay in their home while they went on a cruise s o I stayed there for a couple of weeks. And then I sta yed in ( ) and ( ) 's trailer for a few days. But what I learned was t hat it was important for me to be here because there's all kinds of questions T here are all kinds of decisions to be made about building the house. And so it was good that I was here. JM: What kinds of qu estions did you have? AH: Well what I learned was that I didn't have questions as much as maybe the fellas but I learned that if you're going to have a fan and a light in the same unit it's important to have two switches o ne switch for the fan and one switch for the light A nd i f I hadn't been here JM: You wouldn't have thought of it. AH: the electrician would not have told me, you know? But he says "You know while you are going out to buy these switches you might want to get yourself a double s witch s o that it turns off the fan or turns off the light ," w hich was nice. JM: This is a nice (inaudible) a good preview to how the neighbors acted to see if you know, they were nice all the time or just sometimes ; that kind of thing right? AH: I never thought about that. JM: Oh okay. AH: Okay I believe that you get back out of life what you give to it, and if I'm nice to you, you'll be nice to me. And if you choose not to be that's your choice. It's okay. But I believe I don't have any hesitation about going places or doing things. I just believe it 'l l all work out. I believe that

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! "6 JM: You're just a positive sp i rit I t's nice. AH: Well, yeah. I said something to someone last night on the phone something about "I nteresting ," and his c omment was, "N o one else would call what we we're going through interesting. ( both laugh ) Well how about interesting and challenging? As you get older things change. So it makes it more interesting JM: If this place didn't exist, where might you be living instead? AH: In New Jersey where it's cold. (laughs) JM: So you're happy I bet ? (laughs) AH: I'm very happy here. I don't think I would have moved here. The reason that I was able to leave my family was because it was community ; i t was a place They were going to have an assisted living facility and a swimming pool. So I could leave the swimming pool in New Jersey that was in my backyard and come here. When I was here for maybe four months, ( ) wanted to know when I was moving down permanently and I said, "When you build a swimming pool." Okay, and I've been here eight years so obviously that was not true. That was maybe how I felt at the time but what I've learned is there's lots of heated swimming p ools around. And now we joined [a nearby country club] and go there and it s only I don't know [a short distance] away if that, [a short distance] away I'm not sure how ma n y but not far. JM: What are your plans for the future? Do you think you'll stay here or do you think might move somewhere else? AH: No. This is it. This my last move. (laughs) I enjoy it here. There's no reason to move. JM: Well we buzzed through because I didn't want to take up your whole afternoon after coming late b ut i s there anything I haven't asked o r mentioned that you want to talk about? AH: One of the things I wanted to tell you is when I moved here I told you the little bit of things I brought with me T hen a friend brought a truck down with things in it from my house ; it was more And the fella s they were like probably like seven fellas that lived in this neighborhood came over and unloaded the truck and put everything in for me. And then the next time I had a moving company bring the rest of the things down But you know, I think that's part of community that e verybody pitches in and helps everyone else We had a coffee on Tuesday at ( ) and ( ) 's home and they had so much food, but different people bring different things. That's part of the way we've done it. You know, I had a coffee her e last year and ( ) had one in his place b ut if everyone pitches in, it makes it a lot less work for the person doing it and it's much more interesting food wise. JM: Oh yeah. Do you have any questions for me? AH: Good luck. (laughs)

PAGE 14

! "; JM: Thanks. All right, (inaudible). Pause in recording AH: I got my doctorate from Nova [Southeastern] University here in Florida JM: Oh, okay. Yeah. AH: and I had no idea that I would move to Florida because F or t Lauderdale was an area that we had spent some t ime in. One of my I had a week that we had to spend here and it was over in F or t Lauderdale And it's a city. And I didn't want to live in the city! JM: It's very different. AH: I married a South Jersey farmer so that I was used to being in the country with acres of ground. And so at this community it's just perfect because it's rural yet it's not far from wherever. I can drive to [ several cities in the Tampa Bay area ] whatever. It makes it really nice. So I wish you lots of luck. JM: Thank you. end of interview


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This is a transcript of an oral history interview with a lesbian who lives in a gay/lesbian retirement community in Florida, the first such community in the United States. She discusses how she learned of the community and describes the process of purchasing a home and moving in. Most of the interview focuses on life in the community: relationships with neighbors, social activities, etc. This interviewee hosts a monthly event called the Lesbian Spirituality Circle Potluck, which attracts women from within the community and from nearby cities.
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