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Abigail Carr oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
Abigail Carr oral history interview
Series Title:
LGBT oral history project
Physical Description:
1 transcript (33 p.) : ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Carr, Abilgail, 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 briefly describes her childhood, education, and life before retiring. Most of the interview focuses on life in the community: how she and her partner discovered it, relationships with neighbors, etc. There is also a substantial tangent about academia.
Venue:
Interview conducted March 11, 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 - 002037982
oclc - 460102933
usfldc doi - L34-00007
usfldc handle - l34.7
Classification:
System ID:
SFS0000043:00001


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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 00007 Interviewees: Abigail Carr (AC) Interview by: Jessica Merrick ( JM ) Interview date: March 11, 2009 Interview location: Undisclosed Transcribed by: Jessica Merrick Mary Beth Isaacson Transcription date: April 29, 2009 May 12 2009 Audit Edit by: Kimberly Nordon Audit Edit date: May 27, 2009 to June 2, 2009 Final Edit by: Mary Beth Isaacson Final Edit date: August 10, 2009 [Transcriber's note: The following changes have been made at the request of the Interviewees Pseudonyms are used throughout the Interview. The use of ellipses indicates that material has been removed. Names of persons not directly connected to the Interview have also been replaced with ellipses. Some identifying geographical details have been removed.] Jessica Merrick : Okay t alking with Abigail Carr. And I guess I'll just let you continue before I interrupted about you were talking about how things have changed since you've grown up. Abigail Carr : Well let me talk about first of all how I felt about coming to this type of a community to t his type of a retirement community. W hen one thin k s of retirement communities one thinks of mobile homes (laughs) particularly in Florida a mobile home park and you kn ow, a bunch of old folks around N ot very active n ot doing very much. (laughs) Riding bicycles and playing shuffleboard. I mean that's stereotypical but nonetheless that's what in my mind that's what automatically pops up in my head when I think of a r etirement community. And the very fact that someone had the wherewithal to establish to come right out and say, "We are going to establish a retirement community for gays and lesbians," was a wonderful thing as far as I'm concerned r eally. Because in th e heterosexual world, couples oftentimes, when they're asked about retirement they think, "Well, if worse comes to worse, my children will take care of me. And then if need be I'll be a ward of the state. It's my children who will take care of me." I n a gay and lesbian environment, there are very few children around to look after their elderly. I mean they're just not around. Who will take care of me? Who will look out for me? I hadn't thought about it for well until I retired. And then I said, "Well

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# " How have things changed s ince I grew up? Well, obviously, j et planes were not a big deal in the 1950s. The A ir F orce may have had them but I didn't know about it. I grew up in a small town in w estern Michigan a very rural area. I can remember as a kid watching airplanes go overhead. There was an airplane that went three days a week, from east to west a cross the sky where I could see. And I felt one day, "What a wonderful thing to do to fly." I wouldn't know about a jet plane. We did have a television. (laughs) It was very small. It was I think maybe a seven inch diagonal. It was black and white. And the television station broadcast from nine in the morning until eleven in the morning, and then again in the afternoon from five o'clock until eight PM That was I mean the rest of the time JM: No HD [high definition television] with eight hundred channels. AC: We sat around and watched the radio. (clock beeps) That was my clock, sorry. Oops. JM : (fumbles with recorder) Just want to make sure this isn't turned off on us, or something AC: No, it was my clock. So things really have changed a great deal, even in my lifetime. To think of having a retirement community for gays and lesbians I think required people to have gone through the political upheavals that we had in the 1960s. To even think, to consider, that a retirement community for someone that was not of the mainstream is I mean, requires a step beyond. I think that people who lived throu gh the 1960s finally said to themselves, "Well wait a minute. We can do this. We've done this kind of thing before." When you consider the changes in the sixties [19 60s ] San Francisco, the flower power children, Woodstock. Not Woodstock lately, but Woods tock one [1969] o ut in the mud and the slosh. You know, just l iving through the political turmoil, as it was. To have a president assassinated [the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1964] To have a war that nobody wanted. To have another poli tical assassination [the assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968] To have yet another political assassination [the assassination of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968] I mean those were harrowing times as far as just l iving in this society. And then not being heterosexual was an added almost a load to carry around. It's not at all now what it was then. Very few people that I was aware of anyway were out and about. We really did hide a lot. So to come to a community like this in my out years, I am very happy to be here. I'm very happy to be here. I'm very happy to be a part of this community and commit time to it, t o interact with my neighbors. It really is neighborhood. Oftentimes in cities you can live next door to another in the same building (laughs) and never have any interaction with them well, y ou may know their name if it's posted on the mailbox somewhere.

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$ " You don't know who they are. You don't know what they've ever done. You don't know what they will do. You know. So i t's a very isolated existence. JM: Is that like the neighborhood that you came from before you moved here? Was it similar to that situation ? AC: No because once again we lived in a small town. JM: Okay. AC: In New Mexico. JM: Oh. I used to live there too. AC: Really? JM: Alamogordo. AC: Well we lived in Bos qu e Farms which is if you go from Alamogordo to Bel e n if you go from Alamogordo across the mountains up to Belen JM: A bit far away. AC: and then go north, that's where Bos qu e Farms is. JM: Oh, okay. Nice. AC: And once again it's a small town atmosphere. We didn't know all the neighbors because people didn't live like next and next in this type of a situation. The l and was really pretty spread out. But we knew many many many people there. JM: Were you out when you lived there? AC: Uh no. No. But if people didn't figure it out, well okay. But did we have to tell anyone? No. JM: Which I feel like maybe has a little bit to do with the spatial arrangements in Ne w Mexico being so spread out you d on't have to see your neighbor every time you check the mail. AC: That's right. JM: It's a little bit more private. AC: But in addition, Matilda [her partner] was on the city council and she didn't feel that it would be appropriate for us to declare. To me it made no difference. I am so happy

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% " with my life. For the past forty years, it's been a wonderful life. For the first thirty five years, probably not so wonderful. But (laughs) J M: What marked that shift for you if you don't mind talking about it ? AC: Um finding a voice. Getting settled in a relationship. Mat and I have been together for thirty seven years. (laughs) Yes! And last September we got married! JM: Congrats. AC: (laughs) Well it was a long time coming, that kind of thing. JM: Did you go to Canada? AC: San Diego. And I'm glad we did that. That was the one thing on my bucket list 1 JM: And now what's your status now after Prop 8 2 ? Are you i s it pending or is it annulled ? AC: We don't know. If the annulment police come and serve us papers, we'll just put it o n the back and hide it behind our marriage license. (laughs) According to what I've read, the arguments that were made last week before the California Su preme Court suggested that those folks even if the proposition is upheld, those folks who have attained marriage status will be allowed to retain that. JM: Okay. I thought I heard something about the possibility of them being revoked but I wasn't sure. AC: Right but that's once again dependent on what the Supreme Court does with the ruling. It has no e ffect on us whatsoever. JM: You're not gonna go break up because of your marriage license. (laughs) AC: Nor are we going to move to California. (laughs) It's a moot question. And so consequently like I sa y it was only one thing on my bucket list. JM: And so how was it? Did you have a big ceremony? AC: Yes we did. And friend s of ours took pictures and made a video for us. JM: Nice. """""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """"""""""""""""""""""""" "&'('))*+,"-."-/'"#001"2.3*'" !"#$%&'(#)$*+,) 4"5"6789:'-";*<-="*<"5";*<-".("-/*+,<".+'">5+-<"-."599.2?;*5<"5"E5;*(.)+*5"75;;.-"?).?.<*-*.+".+"-/'"F.3'27')"%@"#00D"';'9-*.+"-/5-"';*2*+5-'B" <52' G <'H"9.8?;'/*9/"-/'"E5;*(.)+*5"K8?)'2'"E.8)-"/5B"5;;.>'B"'5);*')"-/5-"J'5)A"L/'" ?).?.<*-*.+"?5<<'B"5+B"7'952'"'(('9-*3'".+"F.3'27')" M@"#00DA

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M " AC: Yes. So they sent us the DVD. It was just very nice. And then when we got back here the whole community gave us a reception. JM: That's so nice. AC: Yes it was wonderful. The men that live down the street got married a month earlier, and once again the com munity gave them a wedding reception as well. JM: Seems like I've talked to a few people who went and got married in California or Canada. AC: M m hm. And people say, "Well why'd you do it?" Because we could! (laughs) To put it quite blankly: just becau se we could. JM: Do you think that's pretty well understood in the neighborhood? Because I've talked to people who 've had positive experiences about that. But I wondered do you feel that there's anybody who doesn't really I know that you can talk about how politically some people say, "We're rejecting marriage. They don't want us to do it anyway so we don't want to." But others say, "I want to do it because I can do it. I should be allowed to do it," and that sort of thing. So there's this dichotomy wit hin. AC: I'm sure there are some people who say, "Well we don't need to have marriage. A civil union would be fine. And I would say the same thing. If eventually it makes a difference with regard to the federal government rules and regs [regulations] t hen I would say whichever legal tag title that they want to put on it, is fine with me. What I would like to see it won't happen in my lifetime I'm certain, but at least for your generation, I would like to see gays and lesbians have full protection und er the law in all areas of the law including financial, economic considerations. So the IRS would treat us as spouses. JM: Yeah. AC: And treat our children if we have as legal dependents. The state of Florida does not recognize the situation where one p arent can adopt another's child. And I find that to be absolutely foreign. JM: Do you think that'll happen within you were saying within your lifetime ? AC: Probably not my lifetime but I would certainly hope within your lifetime b ecause so much has cha nged in forty years. Now that may be beyond when you have your children adoptable. We don't know that. But JM: It's really such an interesting moment in history I think I don't know where you are politically, but I'm a n Obama supporter I'm sort of ass uming that you are too (laughs)

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N " AC: Well I'm probably to the left even of that! (laughs) JM: Yeah I kind of assumed, but it was amazing how when we found out that he was elected how hopeful and excited I was. You know there was just so much energy and everybody it felt like there really was this spirit coalescing around this. I remember going out I was in the library it was midnight. I went outside, and e verybody was out in the street. Everybody just came out of their dorm rooms. They just wanted to be out. And there were cars honking and everyone had lights going and there were fireworks. I mean it was a si gh t! At the same time, even amidst this feeling of pride, it was this huge disappointment, e verything that happe ned with Amendment 2 3 Prop 8. Across the country, sweepingly, rights being taken away from gay people. AC: Yes. JM: And so the way I mean, I c ouldn't wrap my mind around it, s o the way I ended up thinking about it is: Well, you know forty years ago, bla ck people, they would say, "Never. We will never see this, it's impossible. So I'm trying to think about it as shifting you know you were talking about how the sixties [19 60s ] shifted the way you could think about things. You could think about this as a shift in what is possible. So even though it's this huge disappointment, especially in light of such hopefulness, thinking that you know some people think there would never ever be a black president. Well maybe we think this will never ever happen. And maybe it just takes the right person at the right time with the right charisma and all these There's a lot of things that had to line up for this to be able to happen. AC: I think in addition it will take not only someone like Harvey M ilk 4 but it will take energy people of your generation. We are people of my generation we're worn out, quite frankly. And I'm also dismayed by the lack of fervor for fighting for pushing back the barriers. JM: I think there's a degree of apathy in most people my age because so much has already been achieved. AC: Yes. JM: It's sort of this idea of like, "Okay well we've got enough. We're comfortable enough." There's not the need ? AC: Yes, yes. I find that distressing. I really do. """""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """"""""""""""""""""""""" $ "O2'+B2'+-"#">5<"5"?).?.<'B"52'+B2'+-"-."-/'"P;.)*B5"E.+<-*-8-*.+".+"-/'"F.3'27')"%@"#00D"75;;.-@" >/*9/"B'(*+'B"25))*5,'"5<"7'->''+".+'"25+"5+B".+'">.25+"5+B"75++'B"8+*.+5<"5"2'27')".("K5+"P)5+9*<9.I<"S.5)B".("K8?')3*<.)<"*+"!T1D@"-/'"(*)<-".?'+;J",5J"25+"';'9-'B"-." ?87;*9".((*9'"*+"E5;*(.)+*5A"U'">5<"5<<5<<*+5-'B";5-')"-/5-"J'5)A

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1 " JM: Me, too. AC: It's like I heard a young woman say it was just recently ; I can't even remember the context right now but I heard her say, "You know the 1950s ? Oh! I just love that!" Oh my God, dear. You haven't been there. You have no idea. JM: Yeah it was the ide alized no tion of what it was like on TV, which wa s never reflective of reality in the first place. AC: Yes it was Leave it to Beaver But man oh man it was oppressive! It was oppressive for all women. What were my options when I graduated from high school o ther than going to music therapy school. (laughs) I could become a nurse, I could become a teacher, or I could become a wife and mother. Now I leave out secretary okay I couldn't become a doctor. I mean who? What woman was a doctor? JM: But you did it AC: Well but I'm not a real doctor. JM: You are, though. AC: (laughs) JM: I'm going to consider myself a real doctor when I get my Ph D. (laughs) AC: I heard some one say just l ast week as a matter of fact, "Oh he's not a doctor, he's just a Ph D !" JM: Oh those people drive me crazy. (laughs) AC: But I did not object to that. I just you know. I didn't want to be a teacher because my mother was a teacher and I saw the hours that she worked for very little recompense. I knew I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to get married. I mean, I knew that that was well if I got married I didn't want to have any children. I knew t hat I couldn't do that. And that's when I JM: Can I ask you I wonder about, what do you think it was that made it possible for you to think at what point [that] this is a possibility? And then here you are sitting today with more than a Ph.D. How did tha t happen in your life? AC: Just pure dumb luck. JM: You think so? I'm gonna give you more credit than that. I'm thinking there had to be some sort of soul searching, or There's something very radical in you tha t you were able to achieve that, despite

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D " AC: I knew when I was a child that I was gay. I knew. I just I was in third grade and it was like (laughs) I just I wanted to run with the boys. I was not ever interested in what at that time were little girl things. I just never was. I was the one that took my bike apart and put it back together and did that kind of thing When I was in high school I wanted to take mechanical drawing, and I was disallowed because I was not a boy. I had to take home e conomics. JM: Where you learn ed how to bake and sew. AC: Yes to do the things that girls do. JM: I had to take that class. You think that they'd AC: Yeah it's still like (laughs) So the more things change the more they stay the same. That's why I find it distressing that there are still people who are happy with as you say, we 've gotten so much. We' ve come so far. But the reason that we ve come so far is people have died for it. JM: Absolutely. And I think people tend to forget also, that progress isn't linear. Just as soon as we get legalize marr iage someone will try to take it away. AC: Yes and we've seen that once again. They did it in Massachusetts They've done it in California. They ha ve changed things here in Florida. It's just as you say, it's a constant battle. And those of us who are i n our seventies now, we fought those battles. We pushed back so many barriers. We came out when it wasn't politic. You know, I see kids running around with real butch number acts going on. Do y ou know what I mean by that? JM: (inaudible) AC: Yeah. Jus t being females being very male in their activities, kind of thing. Playing games like they're going to be boys rather than working hard to have female voices. JM: Oh yeah Okay. AC: Which I think is important. I really think it's an important thing that young lesbians need to be aware of. Really I do (laughs) JM: Absolutely. No, I definitely agree with you. I see a lot of sexism within the lesbian community. It seems AC: But I'll tell y ou fifty years ago that was the only way to do it. JM: Re ally?

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T " AC: Yes. Yes. JM: So because you what was your position in that ? You liked to play with bikes, and you played with the boys and stuff like that. Did that situate you with a group of friends that were not interested in finding their voice? AC: No, I was always pretty much singular. I didn't really ever have very many friends. Once again I'm kind of a shy person s o I don't make friends easily. I will not go out of my way to break into a crowd or something like that. But did I do cross dressing kind s of activities you know, that kind of thing ? Well yeah Because that was how I identified with this is what a lesbian does kind of thing I didn't have any mentors. (laughs) JM: Yeah you're right. There's a certain script out there: this is what a lesb ian is. And if you are a lesbian, then okay these have to be consistent. AC: M m hm. JM: (). AC: Right. Yeah. JM: (). AC: Yes. JM: (). AC: That's exactly. JM: (). AC: Yes, m m hm. That was part of finding my voice in the 1960s was finding that I'm a woman that likes women. (laughs) I don't have to play at being a boy. JM: I think it's so neat that you talk about that, and brave as well. AC: Well that was part of my growing up really c oming to grips with who I was in a soc iety that couldn't have cared less. Or that's how I interpreted it. So it was an interesting couple of decades really. (laughs) JM: Did you have a big coming out? I mean, I know it's a process. You can't just do it for one person and then it's done, but did you was there something that happened that which enabled you to do it or something that required you to be able to do it? AC: No, it was just a slow maturation. Change over kind of thing. And when I look back at it now, I realize, "Oh what a wonderful experience that was." But going through it was

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!0 " not wonderful at all. It really was not. I don't know I've never talked about t hat with any of the folks that live here. I don't know if anybody else has ever experienced that. Because our past lives are past you know. We talk about our adult lives quite a bit. JM: It's probably difficult for a lot of people, especially peopl e who were married at one point, and that sort of thing. AC: Yes, I think so. JM: So do you think it's something about trying to just you know, in this place we're going to be like this an d not worry about what that was? AC: I think that that' s probably a goo d way to put it. I really do, a lthough again, I've never broached that with anyone. I think most of us live now in the present. I mean we have the baggage, the luggage that we've brought. JM: No need to unpack it at a party, right? (laughs) AC: Exactly. (laughs) That's exactly right. There are still things that you've put away in a storage cabinet but you don't go over there and open it up and look "Are you still there?" (laughs) JM: Everything's intact! (laughs) AC: But I think most of us are we liv e in the present but for the future. As I look around at most folks here, we are very content with just living. But once again most of us don't have the energy to be pushing back barriers anymore. We've done a lot of that. It's now up to another group of folks to literally take up the armor and make more changes. Part of that is what is represented by this community, I think. JM: You feel as though you're not engaging politically but from my point of view I think that living here is almost an act of politics. It does advance. The fact that this place exists AC: Yes. Now, Rainbow Vision is another place. JM: Did you look into living there at all ? AC: Very expensive. And it's condos and I didn't want to do that. JM: Did you look into you mentioned you were n't interested in mobile homes, but did you ever hear about [another gay/lesbian retirement community] ?

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!! " AC: Yes. The reason that I wasn't even interested at all in that is I didn't want to live in a mobile home in hurricane country. (lau ghs) JM: True. True. (laughs) AC: (laughs) That didn 't make very much sense to me. So t hat was off the books immediately. JM: How do you feel about the idea of that though? The idea of living in an all lesbian community instead of a mixed place? AC: I don't think it's realistic. I really don't. I think people get too biased. It would be like probably like what this place was like when it was first developed. It was all boys, you know. And some of them have never given that up. (laughs) JM: Oh, okay. AC: No I shouldn't say that, but men and women have different ways of doing. And that's what the real world is about. Just different ways of thinking, different ways of approaching problems doing problem solving. I t's not that one group can and one gro up cannot. It's not that at all. But I find it very nice to have gentlem e n friends. I have always had gentlem en friends. Once again, t hat's part of my what I consider to be my girl voice, m y desire to be a woman with men around b ut not have activities wit h them for procreation. JM: Leave that part out. (laughs) AC: Right. I'm not interested in that. (laughs) But oftentimes I enjoy their sense of humor. I like to be aghast at the fact that they tell dirty things to each other. (JM laughs) I enjoy being y eah, you know. Because that's how men deal with stuff. But that's also how women have been socialized to deal with men doing what they do. (laughs) You know what I mean? JM: Yes, absolutely. AC: It is a socialization process. I would feel very bereft to not have any men around. Really I would. JM: And you think that has to do with gender? AC: Well I don't know. I think that's just how the world is. And why make a false world? You know? Because I think if we do that we limit our potential to change the heterosexual world. I really do. I think we limit the ability to communicate that we are not that different than you all. We are different, yes. I don't mean to say that I think everything's going to be blissful and wo nderful not at all, but I think that we have to be realistic and interact with opposite sex in a community situation.

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!# " For example, in your university, how many men are on your faculty? Men versus women? Is it fifty fifty ? JM: Actually I think it is abo ut split. AC: Is it? JM: There might be more women than men AC: Really? In my field, in basic medical sciences, in a medical school faculty f or example, the University of New Mexico which is not the Harvard of the Southwest by any stretch of the imag ination B ut nonetheles s, out of eighty basic scientists when I joined that faculty, four were women. JM: Jeez. AC: One was at the associate professor level, one was at the assistant professor level and two were at the lecturer level. JM: Yeah, it's a mazing. We always talk about how even though actually women are beginning to rise above the number of men with degrees with higher degrees, especially, even though it's sort of tipping that way it's still the case that when it comes to job s whew! AC: An d if you look at the hierarchy JM: There's no correlation between education and salary. AC: Exactly. And if you look at the hierarchy, the top positions are not women. JM: Right. AC: They're not. And there's a mythical stereotype that says if a woman does get to that position, the only way she got there was to become more male like. JM: Absolutely. And the fact that there is one woman in a powerful position tells a group signals to everyone else. "Oh, we don't need this feminism stuff anymore." AC: Right. Yes, yes. JM: "There's no more sexism. She's up there." AC: There's one there. Oh, okay. JM: (laughs) Tokenism is incredible.

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!$ " AC: Yeah. And that I always resented. But, I always enjoyed working with male counterparts, so long as they worked as h ard as I did. (laughs) So long as they worked as hard as I did. JM: That's interesting. I enjoy working with guys, too. I don't have a problem with it. The one thing that bothers me about gendered behaviors in the workplace or in my case, in school is jus t when I see women act differently in front of me n AC: Yes. JM: It kills me. AC: Yes. No, I'm totally in agreement with you. That's something that I think is that's a socialization process JM: (to Matilda ) Oh, thanks! Thank you so much! Did you make these? Isn't that great? Matilda : Have one. AC: These are called pignolis. JM: Wow! Is that AC: They're Italian cookies. JM: Okay. Sorry, I dropped AC: No, that's okay. They drop all the time. JM: They look (inaudible) Thank you. AC: Have you been to () ? JM: Mm mm [no]. AC: Wonderful place. It's an Italian deli restaurant. JM: Oh, okay. So these are from I'll have to go get them. These are really good (laughs) AC: Yes, (laughs) they're in there. They're in their cookie place. JM: They're really good. AC: Yeah, they have a wonderful bakery there. () is top notch.

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!% " JM: I'll check it out. (). AC: Yeah. It's in [nearby location] on () I don't know. Exit () right? Is it () ? JM: They're so tasty. Matilda: I think it s Exit () JM: Okay. Matilda: but it's () JM: Okay. I'll have to check it out. Actually, I have a friend in [from] out of town this weekend, so I'll have to take her there. I was looking for somewhere nice to go. Matilda: Oh, it's good. Yeah. JM: All right. AC: Um They close at two on Saturday, though. Matilda: Six. Oh, Saturday, two o'clock. They're not open on Sundays. JM: Two in the afternoon? Matilda: But if you go to the end of the exit on () turn left, go down nine blocks and turn righ t, it's right there. JM: Okay. Thanks. AC: That's if you're coming from this side. Good place. JM: So tasty. I'll have to go there. AC: (laughs) Pine nut specials. Matilda: They have a bakery, they have a deli, they have a cheese shop, they have a wine shop. It's just I was brought up Italian, and that has to be one of the nicest Italian markets I've ever been in. JM: Who knew for [that city] ? It's great. Matilda: Mm hm. JM: I really will. I'll go there Saturday.

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!M " Matilda: Okay. JM: Wit h my friend for brunch! (laughs) Matilda: If you go for lunch, better get there a little early. JM: Okay. AC: Yeah, I don't know on Saturday. We've never been on a Saturday. But during the week, everybody from all over [that city] goes there for lunch b ecause they have sandwiches, either hot or cold. Big sandwiches, for five bucks. JM: Oh, nice. I was thinking this would be kind of expensive, so I like it even better now that it's not so expensive. AC: Those are expensive. JM: Oh, okay. AC: (laughs) Those are expensive. N o, I agree with you. I think women have been socialized to yeah, to act differently. JM: I used to well, I don't want to transcribe this, so I'm okay to say this. AC: But I don't think lesbians play that game, for the most part. JM: No, I don't see that. AC: Yeah. I mean, I think they deal with men counterparts as, "Oh. Well, you're here, let's deal with it." They're not looking for a mate. And I think sometimes women go to college to increase their chances of gettin g a worthwhile mate. I really do. JM: Have you heard of now it's such a big joke that they call it the M.R.S. degree. AC: Oh. (laughs) JM: Yeah. But I don't know, I think the way that I relate to men, if anything, is sometimes I err on the side of being precautiously formal, or maybe whereas with a girl, I'd be more willing to joke around and stuff, and not worry about how it's received. AC: Yes. JM: Like a guy oftentimes will be more until I get to know him better, you know, I don't want to be friendl y, and that's construed as flirtation.

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!N " AC: Yes. Yeah. And I think that's something that one could fall into or just being misinterpreted. Mm hm. And that could be a dangerous situation, it could be a nd I can tell you back forty years ago absolutely would have been. JM: Sometimes I kind of feel bad about it. I wonder if I'm too formal, or less friendly or something not unfriendly, but you know, just sometimes I feel like it's you know, maybe it's not warranted or fair, but then it's just easier, sort of. It's more efficient for me to do what I need to do than trying to get to know each individual person. I guess in a way it's stereotyping, in a very in an unfair way. AC: But it's also self protection JM: Yeah. AC: because it conserves your energy. JM: Yeah. (laughs) AC: Well, it does, (laughs) to not have to deal with that. JM: If it becomes a problem, it's something you have to worry about. AC: Mm hm. Right. JM: Did you ever have any issues with that, working in a male dominated department area ? AC: Not really. I had one time, one issue, when someone was promoted before me, but that was when I was getting ready to get out, so I just said JM: Let it be. AC: Yeah. "I don't need this." Didn't need it. (laughs) But other than that, no. As I say, I do demand did demand that they do as much as I, for the same recompense. When I was very first going to work full time, in 1957, I went to a job interview for a chemistry bench position, and there were people on both sides of this hallway, sitting in ch airs, lined up, waiting for their turn to be interview ed I went into this huge, big office. Behind a huge, big walnut desk was a little frump of a guy (laughs) that was interviewing everyone. And he you know, we went through the interview, back and forth and back and forth, and blah blah. And he finally said, "Well, you know if you take this job, the man right next to you is going to be making fifty dollars more than you, because he's married and has a family." JM: He was testing you. What'd you say?

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!1 " AC: I knew if I didn't accede to that, I wouldn't have the job. And to this day, I resent that. Doing the exact same work and fifty dollars in 1957 was a lot. It really was a lot of money. But then I thought about all those people sitting out there in the hal lway, and I said, "Well, I deserve it more than they do." So I said okay. JM: Yeah. That's a shame that you Marxism [Karl] Marx always talks you know, in sociology, one of our big founding fathers, Marx. And he talks about you know, that very problem whe re the workers are always they have absolutely no (inaudible), because there'll always be somebody AC: That will exploit them. JM: So, you know, you're willing to be exploited, or you're jobless. AC: Mm hm. Mm hm. JM: There's not much room to sort of rise up, unless everyone does it collectively. It's a problem; no one will do that. Someone will always go take that job. (Sound of something thumping) AC: That's right. That's exactly right. JM: At McDonald's, they treat their workers horribly, you kno w. But they've got a stack at all times, it always says, "Now hiring." Always. AC: Mm hm. Yes. JM: Just because they want to keep the stack about that high of applicants. It doesn't matter what the turnaround is AC: Right. Because JM: and that's why they don't train people to be proficient at anything. All they have to do is know how to flip or package or hand. Right ? N obody's skilled. There's no reason to keep workers. I mean, it's it's a big problem. It feels like it's getting worse. AC: I think w e will, in this next two years, we will see more of that. JM: Yeah. AC: More exploitation. JM: People are desperate for jobs right now. AC: Absolutely. Mm hm.

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!D " JM: It's even becoming more competitive just applying to Ph.D. programs, because so many people have lost their jobs, and I guess they're trying to go to school. So now there's a whole influx of applicants that were never sort of in the same pool before. AC: They were never considered before, or they didn't consider it before. JM: So it's ha rder for people trying to get their Ph.D. It's harder for everybody. AC: Mm hm. My nephew works for a company in which he has risen through the years H e's risen to the top of his category. To go further into management position, he has to have a college degree. And he said, "Aunt Abigail, what good is that piece of paper going to do for me?" And I said, () you're absolutely right. You are at the top. But, as a manager, you will have to talk with other managers JM: That will be college educated. AC: who are college educated, and you must be able to say, Here's my paper. Here's my paper.'" JM: Yeah. It's almost like a social proficiency above anything you learn in class. AC: Yes. JM: It's having the wherewithal or the right. I feel it's like a c all and answer thing. People test you culturally or socially. You're expected to know certain things, but you don't know what those things are unless you know them. Right? AC: Yeah. And how do you know them? They were passed down to you informally through family connections, going to school, other connections, and so on and so forth. Yes. JM: You know, my dad was he's retired now, but he was in the same situation when he was in the Air Force. Very poor family, one of eight children, a single mother who wa s a waitress that sort of situation, that was my dad. And so he joined the military. It was the only thing he could do AC: No other options. JM: aside from continue working at the gas station he worked at in high school. So he joined the Air Force, was in for twenty years, and he rose as high as he could without a degree, which was a master sergeant. AC: Non com [non commissioned].

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!T " JM: Somebody my age, who just got a four year degree from it doesn't matter what university, joins he's a master sergeant, they're an officer. AC: Right. JM: Twenty years down the drain. I mean I think that's incredibly I always felt bad for my dad about that He just couldn't go to college. Probably could, if somebody paid for it. He probably would have done okay. But he wasn't able to do it. AC: Yeah, it took me nine years to get my bachelor's degree. JM: Really? AC: Yeah. We didn't have Pell grants. (laughs) So the way you did it was you either worked part time but you know, at the wages that you were paid at that time, you couldn't afford to live and go to school. You just couldn't. JM: (laughs) It's kind of a similar situation now. AC: Yeah. Well, especially as a T.A. But I mean, if you were out working, okay not at McDonald's, but somewhere, you know JM: The problem is jobs that are jobs that pay more than ten dollars an hour won't hire you for part time work. AC: I know. Mm hm. JM: So you really AC: Or, they'll hire you for thirty two hours, so you don't get any benefits. Okay. (laughs) JM: I'm luck y to have my T.A. stipend. I'm also transcribing these interviews at the library, so I'm getting paid to do that as well. So I'm really lucky with the situation. But I know most people who go to school don't have any help. AC: Mm hm. Yeah. I'm glad I persevered in that. I am, because along the road, I learned a lot. I really did. I learned all kinds of things. (laughs) Once again, it's like you know, as you were saying. How did you know that? Well, I don' t know. I just did. How'd you know that you had to do that, or you had to take That's why my answer was it was pure dumb luck. I mean, because I don't know. JM: And keen observation to the little things that are happening, right? AC: Mm hm. Mm hm. Yeah. You just have to live the best you can, and su rvive. That's another thing. I am a survivor. I haven't gotten beaten down far you know, very often.

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#0 " Gotten beaten down, but not to the point of despair. Close, a couple of times. (laughs) But once again, I've had a wonderful supportive life partner. And I can tell you that having a life partner does make for longevity, because it gives you something to live for, something to live with, something to do for. Which is, I think I think it's I can't remember the basis for it, but I think there's a sociological study that's been done on people who have stayed together the longest have lived longer. JM: [Peter L.] Berger and [Hansfried] Kellner describe marriage 5 and partnership, obviously would be included in this it's not just you know, within the past year you've been married. They talk about marriage. Anyway, Berger and Kellner talk about how partnership is a nomos building activity. So that would be the flip side of anomie, where everybody's living in complete chaos AC: Yes. Mm hm. JM: the destruction of society and that sort of thing. AC: Right, right. JM: So, when two people come together, you're both constructing your reality, actually. So maybe you have a mutual friend that you're sort of indifferent about. Maybe Matilda really hates him. Pretty soon, you're going to hear her talking about it over and over again. Pretty soon, that's gonna sort of become your reality, that includes you as well. So collectively, you have an opinion towards somebody that maybe individually you wouldn't have really th ought about. AC: Yes. JM: So you solidify, whereas perhaps before it was just sort of this not that every person is just floating in this (inaudible) not that idea, but that where something was a possibility, it sort of closes and fixes AC: Yes. JM: things in your life. So it constructs this reality, in a new way. AC: Right. It can be something as simple as buying a rug. JM: (laughs) Really? AC: Yes. JM: How so? """""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """"""""""""""""""""""""" M "VR"*<")'('))*+,"-."S'),')"5+B"W';;+')I<"!TN%"5)-*9;'"6R5))*5,'"5+B"-/'"E.+ <-)89-*.+".("&'5;*-J@=">/*9/" 5??'5)'B"*+"X.;82'"!#@"F827')"%N".(" -+./#0#, A

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#! " AC: You'd be amazed. JM: Is there a story about the rug? (laughs) AC: (laughs) But I mean, it's just something simple like that. It takes it took the two of us hours. JM: (laughs) To pick the right rug? AC: And I'm well, I have to say it probably was not a mutual decision. JM: (laughs) AC : But I paid the bill, because And so I thin k it's becoming more acceptable. (laughs) JM: (laughs) That's funny. AC: Yeah, because those colors, I love, and those probably are not the colors that Matilda would have chosen for that particular place. JM: (laughs) It's a nice rug. The doggies like i t. AC: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It's I mean But that's the kind of thing that, when you do it together, it can take a long time. JM: (). AC: Well, yes. JM: (). AC: (). But, by the same token, you have to find something that you contribute, you know. JM: Yeah. AC: And sometimes that's difficult to do. Once again, when you're academically inclined, you tend to not be home a lot. JM: Yeah, I've been guilty of that lately. AC: Or when you are home, you tend to be engrossed in JM: What's your advice on that? You know how to deal with that. (laughs)

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## " AC: Take your cue from your partner. Really. And just it can cause a lot of dissension if you don't listen to them and their needs, really. You have to take a break from it. You cannot I mean, one of the r easons that we go into academics is we're pretty much self focused. I mean it is. It's a selfish life, it is. I can't get away from that. Going to graduate school is a very selfish activity. You know. Well, okay. But once you're committed to that, you can' t just give it up and say, "I'm not doing this anymore." JM: You can't do it halfway. You sort of have to AC: No. Exactly. And Mat and I met during my first year of graduate school. Well, I already had my master's degree, so I was beginning my Ph.D. wor k. And so I was already committed. In anatomy you can't stop at the master's level. I mean, you'd never get a job. (laughs) JM: What was she doing then? Was she in grad school, too? AC: No, she's in management. She's a manager, a business manager. JM: Oh, okay. AC: And so, I was away a lot. I was just so focused that there were times when it was very the first Well, I have a saying: the first five years is the hardest. Then, after that, the next five years is the hardest. And the next five years after that. It was well, that's usually where the breaking point of heterosexual marriages occurs, is between ten and fifteen years. And then, after that, the next five years becomes a little bit more difficult. But once you get to the next five years, it becom es easier. JM: So after about twenty years, it settles down? AC: (laughs) It does. JM: Okay, I'll just set my clock to that. (laughs) AC: (laughs) Well, no, it does! JM: It's some ways away. AC: But I mean, if you look at groups of people, you know, they have that kind of up and down type of situation. The first five years, you're going uphill, because you're learning new things about your partner. You're learning new things about the world, because you look at the world differently because of your re lationship, you know. JM: Mm hm. And that (inaudible) construction of reality is now dependent upon somebody else. You used to be all self centered, as you say.

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#$ " AC: Yeah. I mean, you just have to accept the fact that they have to if they love you enough, they have to give in a little bit. But by the same token, if you love them enough, you also have to give. So it makes for a very interesting first five years. (laughs) It does! JM: (inaudible) AC: But by the time you reach thirty, it's it's not that it' s cut and dried, because it because you still are learning. You're still in new situations. You're still But the emotional content is a little bit decreased. It's easier to say, "I give up," because you look in the long term, what have you invested, and w hat do you want to have occur in the future? So you just say, "You know, I'm upset about it, but it doesn't matter that much. I'll pout for a while, and then it'll be okay." Okay. JM: That's good to hear. AC: (laughs) JM: It is! AC: But the same thing is true in dealing with long term relationships outside the partnership, you know. JM: I guess I've never really known that, just being a military kid. AC: You've been all over the place. JM: Yeah. I don't have friends since kindergarten. I don't know where I was in kindergarten half the time, you know. So yes, I've had a series of short term friendships. It's different to think about really spending time with the same person for for envisioning that, it's something new. AC: I know. But look at your pa rents. JM: I don't have any reason to be faithful in that idea, because my parents married and divorced each other twice, actually. AC: Really? JM: Yeah. When they were married, they were back and forth. AC: Oh, oh. Mm hm. So they had a difficult first five years. (laughs) JM: They had a difficult anytime they were in the same room, (laughs) no matter what time it was. AC: So you didn't have any mentors?

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#% " JM: For positive relationships? AC: Yeah. JM: No. AC: See, now, I did. And Matilda did. JM: That's good. AC: Both of us had parents that were together many years, fifty. My parents would have been together fifty five years; her folks would have been together fifty fifty six or fifty seven years. Now, that doesn't mean to say they didn't have est rangements and so on and so forth, not in the least. But they did, you know, stick together and work through problems, work through little irritations as well as big awful things. JM: Yeah. It seems like the most important thing is the (inaudible) AC: M m hm. JM: I guess we got way off topic. But thank you for that. (laughs) AC: I don't know. We're still talking about community. JM: Yeah, that's true. AC: (laughs) JM: Let's see. What are some of my real questions from the sheet here? Um so, I was wo ndering, how did you find about this place? Was it online, or in an ad or something? AC: Friends of ours, that we've had for once again, forty years it'll be closer to fifty years pretty soon live over on the east coast of Florida. They're men. And they h ave friends who live in [nearby location] who told them about it. They came over and looked at it when it was first getting going, back ten years ago. And they decided that they weren't ready to retire yet. They still haven't retired. (laughs) But anywa y, we were visiting with them a couple of years ago, and they were going to look come over here and look, see you know if anything what the west side was like, because we have property over on the east coast of Florida. And so they told us about it. And then we looked on the Internet "Oh. Well, let's go visit over there." So we did. And there were two places for sale, and we thought, "Oh, okay." But anyway, the community was having a potluck dinner the night that we were going to be here. So they invit ed us to the potluck dinner, so we went, and yeah, everybody was

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#M " just so accepting, so open, so really, just friendly. We thought, "Boy, that'd be nice." So we just made the decision: we're going to do this. JM: So you sort of were sold after the potluck, huh? AC: Mm hm. JM: What kind of questions did you have before I mean, were there things that you needed to check out and make sure about before you committed? AC: No. We would have checked a few things out, if we had thought about it longer. But we didn't, so we didn't. (laughs) Would we have done it differently? I can say that we definitely would not have gone down south, but we might have just purchased a house over here somewhere, or a condo over here somewhere. JM: What do you mean, in [the loca l town], but not in this community? AC: Right. Uh huh. Over here on the west coast somewhere. JM: Oh, okay. AC: The reason for that is it gets cold over on the east coast in the winter. I mean they have snow in Daytona, occasionally. JM: Yeah. It's cra zy, huh? AC: And I don't need snow in my life anymore. (laughs) JM: Had a lot of that in Michigan. AC: (laughs) JM: Were you seeking out, though, a gay and lesbian community? AC: Not necessarily. JM: Just sort of you heard about it and you checked it out? AC: Yeah. Just curious. That's exactly right. I mean, we knew about Rainbow Vision because of the one up in Santa Fe. JM: (talking about a pet) I'm concerned if she jumps off she'll like hurt herself. AC: No, she just she's okay.

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#N " So, we knew about Rainbow Vision in Santa Fe, but it's pretty expensive, so we decided no. And Santa Fe is a very expensive city. JM: Yeah. AC: How long has it been since you were in Alamogordo? JM: Oh, gosh AC: Many years? JM: I was there when I was fifteen, an d now I'm almost so it was nine years ago. AC: It hasn't changed a bit. (laughs) JM: (laughs) AC: I can tell you I have a friend who has a physical therapy business in Alamogordo. JM: Oh, okay. AC: And I almost went there to when that big company put me out of business, I almost went down to [my friend] 's and got a job down there. JM: It was pretty, but it was a nothing going on kind of town. AC: Yes. Mm hm. JM: But I liked the landscape a lot AC: Yeah. It's pretty, it is. But yeah, it's I mean, if you have to drive two hundred miles to go to anyplace (laughs) JM: Go to a movie. AC: Yeah. JM: Well, actually there was a very small movie theatre in the mall. (murmurs something to pet) AC: What else? JM: Um So what do you think are the most important things about living here, then? AC: Comfort. Being comfortable around people of like ilk. Um just, you know, the atmosphere, I like.

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#1 " JM: (referring to pet) Sorry, she's tickling me. (laughs) I'm not laughing at you. AC: (laughs) Would I change anything? Oh, probably, but it wouldn't be a major shift. Yeah, I would change something. I would change and it would be a major shift. I would have a reorganization of the political structure, such th at the front and the back were one. JM: Right, okay. AC: I would change that, if I could. JM: In that do you think the political structure impacts the social dynamic? AC: Yes, it does. Yes, it does, definitely, because in Phase II, people are very active, doing things all the time Up here rare. JM: Yeah. AC: Very rare. JM: It seemed like there were more at Beatrice and Josephine's party, there were more people from Phase II AC: Yes. Yeah, there are. Uh huh. Once again, I think that's because of the dynamics of how the community was started. That's what I think, because people here just don't interact at all. They don't interact here. JM: Okay. And what are those w hat were those dynamics like, what made that you think influenced that? AC: It kind of started out as an all boys club, that kind of thing. I think that's really what how it started. Most of the houses were built by men. A few were built by women, but the y were later on. And I think that it was like the boys made the rules you know, it was like a gentlemen's retirement club, I think. I think that's how initially it got started. JM: Back then, were they just calling it gay instead of gay and lesbian? AC: Yes. JM: Oh, really? AC: Yeah. Mm hm. JM: I didn't know that.

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#D " AC: And I think that even now, you hear people's people who have either moved away or have known somebody who used to live here or something, say, "Well, are there any more women that live there now than used to be?" Well, yeah, there are. And I think that that, once again, impacts how the community gets along. It's kind of like more like an old folks' place than in Phase II; you know, people are more active and they interact more frequentl y and so on and so forth. We just don't do that up here that much. So we go to the back a lot. Well, you know JM: Not too far away. AC: Yeah, we don't have to pack a lunch! (laughs) So I would change that, if I could. I don't have the energy to do it, s o we'll just wait and see what happens. Maybe it'll change over time. Mat and I have been here two and a half years. JM: Okay. Has it changed have you seen a change with in those years that you've been here? AC: Well, we've had here in the front, we've ha d one, two, three houses become empty JM: Oh, jeez. Yeah. AC: out of twenty one. And a fourth is now on the market, as well. That's twenty percent of the group, and that's that's just not good. The one across the street is empty; they went to Panama. S o it could be five, out of twenty one. JM: Wow. AC: Yes. It impacts all of us. JM: Yeah. AC: And it also for a community to thrive, you need to have full membership. You really do. For example, this coming Saturday we have what's called our annual elec tion for the homeowner's association. We have three people on our board of directors. We should have four. Actually, it would be better if we had five. But two people from the same household cannot be on the board at the same time. JM: Oh, yeah. I thought you were saying two were, and then that's pretty, uh AC: And so we have three people. So there was a call for nominations back in January. Nobody stepped forward to volunteer, even, to take on any of the responsibility for as a homeowner's association o r a condo association, by statue, we must have a board of directors. Certain things have to occur. Okay? You cannot collect homeowner dues to have things done, unless you have a board of directors. So you can dissolve the statue things. You could dissolve the board. And each homeowner would be responsible for

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#T " what the community now bears. We provide for lawn maintenance. We provide for washing of the houses, power washing of the houses, which is important in this area and particularly with the trees, the ro ofs have to be washed as well. JM: You probably get a discount for doing so many, right? AC: Yes, uh huh. JM: (inaudible) expensive that way. AC: The community and this is all paid for, once again, by the condo fees. The community provides for paving of the inroads and access areas, for television for basic television. So, I mean, all those would go away. And everybody would be responsible for, you know, what they It's like it ain't cheap. How do I know about things like that? Well, I stepped forward last year and became the treasurer. And with people like that empty house, that empty house, and this empty house are not paying condo fees. So that has a long term effect. JM: But you're still cutting their grass and chopping their trees. AC: Yes, right So now we're looking at look at this fence. It's been here for ten years. Pretty ratty. Well, we need a new one. If you don't have that amount of money coming in from those places, can you afford to do that? Well, mm mm [I don't know]. JM: You don't wan t to pay for the whole fence yourself. AC: Yeah, I don't have five thousand dollars to do that. And so on and so forth. That's what a community entails, is you take something that's quite expensive, and you spread the cost throughout, then everybody has a better life. More comfort. An easier way of doing things. JM: So it sounds like, while you feel pretty happy with the social aspect of community, there's other parts that are AC: Yes. It's just like belonging to any organization, to belonging to any ne ighborhood, to belonging to any city, state, nation, and so on and so forth. (laughs) JM: How do you describe the kind of people who live here? AC: Hmm. Most of them are very affable, relatively easy to make superficial relationships with. JM: Okay. AC : I would say I don't know anybody other than superficially, except for my partner.

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$0 " JM: Why do you think that is? AC: Mostly, I don't want to. I don't want to form any deep attachments. That's the kind of person I am, maybe. I don't know. JM: Do you think that if you were interested in that, there would be receptivity? AC: Oh, yeah. Yeah. For example, Matilda is much more at ease with forming relationships, much more so than I am. JM: It's almost surprising to hear I mean, yeah, I guess (inaudible). It's surprising to hear you say that, because you're so fun to talk with. AC: Oh, well, once again, that's JM: I'm surprised that you describe yourself as shy. AC: Yeah, well and that's part of my shyness. If I put myself out, I endanger myself for g etting hurt, for getting rebuffed, for getting JM: Right. That's true. AC: So it's easier to not do that, for me. Now, if somebody comes to me, then that's, "Oh, okay." You know JM: Yeah, I could see that. AC: Okay. (laughs) JM: It's definitely a lo t easier to one on one than in a big group, to feel like you're being more than superficial a connection AC: Oh, yes. Yeah. Mm hm. Yeah. Now, that doesn't mean that I wouldn't do for not in the least, because I would. But I really don't go out of my way, because of my once again, I've had seventy one years of fear of being rebuffed, and I don't need to do that anymore. As a younger person, I would, because I needed to. I needed to put out tentacles, I needed to be in touch with people and so on and so fo rth. I go golfing, for example. I know their names, and I know them. I can joke and so on and so forth with them But they don't know who I am, either but I don't want to know anything other than "Mm mm mm," because it just takes a lot of energy that I don 't want to expend. JM: Sounds like you've reached this really comfortable place with who you are. AC: I have! (laughs) That doesn't say that I mean, that's not to say that I don't have occasions when I feel like left out, or something like that, because I do. But once again, it passes quickly. (laughs)

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$! " JM: That's good to hear. AC: I'm not one to get depressed. When I do, then I have to just work myself out of it. And I manage. Survivor instinct I think (laughs) I don't know if this is h elping you with your JM: No! AC: project or not. JM: It's okay. I've given up on trying to stay on subject, because it's too much fun to talk about the other stuff I t is AC: Okay. Lead on. JM: Uh I was wondering about I've heard that there's a st raight couple who lives here. AC: Yes. JM: I wondered how you felt about that. AC: Do I know them? JM: Or just how you feel about AC: Oh, it's fine with me I have the same feeling in that regard that I have relative to [another gay/lesbian retiremen t community] JM: Okay. AC: You have to have some differences, okay? Do I care that they're straight? No. I don't care that they're not gay. It doesn't bother me. Now, if each of these houses becomes straight, then and legally, that can happen, because of the 20 percent rule. JM: Right. Twenty wait, I don't know about that. AC: Twenty percent of the community may be non gay, because of the discrimination clause. JM: I thought o h! AC: It's a homeowners condo owner association, and that's by statute.

PAGE 33

$# " JM: I thought you couldn't have any provisions stopping anybody from living here. I didn't know that AC: No, no. JM: it stopped at 20 percent, and then no more straight people could move in. AC: Right. Yeah. And once again, that would bother me, becau se then it's no different than living in a heterosexual world, which I don't want to do anymore. I want to be able to walk down the street, not close the blinds all the time. I want to be able to stand and give a hug I want to be able to and so on and so forth, and not be I hate to use the word "spied upon," but it's kind of how I would feel. JM: You reminded me of have you heard of Foucault? Michel Foucault? He's a theorist that I looked at a little bit. Not a sociologist, but it's pretty widely cited. H e talks about this idea of a p anopticon. He relates it to this p anopticon was originated as a type of prison security, in which the guard would be on top of a tower, where the guard could look down in all directions around and see the prisoners, but the pr isoners could never look up, because of the way that the rooms were situated. So the prisoners could never look up, but they always thought that they were being watched. So, in effect, even if there's not somebody in the tower, people act as though they're being watched. AC: Yes. Mm hm. JM: So it's sort of a self surveillance that's enforced by the idea of people watching. So I think I understand what you mean. AC: Yes. That describes it exactly. And I lived my life for forty years well, not forty, thirt y five years that way. And I didn't like it at the time, so there would be no reason for me to be fully open to that in the future. If I have to, I will. I mean, if I have to go live in straight society again, I can do it, you know. I can. It doesn't matte r to me. Where we have property over on the east coast, everybody in that neighborhood knows that we're gay, and that we are a couple. So, I mean, everybody is very accepting, but JM: But it took work, to meet those people and to feel comfortable. AC: Well, yeah. Yeah. JM: It's not you don't get an immediate like a straight couple would, you wouldn't be necessarily immediately AC: That's right. Yes. Yes, that's right. And I think that's once again you know the part about being the non conformist. JM : Yeah.

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$$ " AC: So, I can imagine that they feel comfortable where they are, even though they are the non conformist. But nobody is looking down on them and picking on them, too, which is something that we have experienced all of us have experienced in our th at's part of our past baggage. JM: I'm wondering about how it is living in this small town. You've got [nearby city] nearby, which is pretty gay friendly. There's a lot of gay people who live in [that city] I'm not sure how [another nearby city] I thin k, is better also, but in [the local town] how is it? When you go to restaurants here is it like that? Do you have to change ? AC: You don't go to restaurants here. (laughs) JM: Oh, okay. AC: No, I mean we go to a couple of different restaurants. Yeah. I would presume that most of them just assume that we are spinster sisters. JM: Okay. So you think they just don't even not even on the radar. AC: Yeah, right. Whatever. But we don't give them any reason to worry about it, either. I mean, we don't hold hands in public, and end of recording


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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 briefly describes her childhood, education, and life before retiring. Most of the interview focuses on life in the community: how she and her partner discovered it, relationships with neighbors, etc. There is also a substantial tangent about academia.
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