Larry Mirel

Oberlin College Library


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00:00:00 - Moving to Kendal: Nothing not to like

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Alright thank you so much for doing this interview with me today. Could you start out by telling me how you came to live at Kendal at Oberlin.

Resident: Sure um I was living in Washington, DC where I had made my career after graduating Oberlin in 1957 and then going to Columbia Law School. So I worked for about 60-65 years in Washington, DC as an attorney. And I didn’t know anything about Kendal. And my wife, who did not go to Oberlin, saw the ad for it in the New Yorker magazine, and we started talking a little bit about what we were gonna do when we couldn’t manage our large house anymore. And she said well let’s go look at Oberlin. So I thought, sure, why not? We came out here and we just thought it was great. And so we decided fairly quickly, within a matter of months that we were gonna move here. And umm I’m very glad. We–it was, we came out here for a trial, and we thought we would like some things and we wouldn’t like some of the things. Couldn’t find anything we didn’t like! So we said this is for us.

Caroline: Oh that’s so good, nice! How long have you been at Kendal now?

Resident: Let’s see November 2018, so a little more than three years.

Segment Synopsis: After going to Oberlin College, this resident made his career in Washington, D.C. While the resident and his wife began thinking about the difficulties of managing their large house, they saw a magazine ad for Kendal. They came to look at Kendal and could not find anything they didn't like.

Keywords: Career; Glad; Kendal Ad; Large house; Oberlin College; This Is For Us; Trial; Work

Subjects: Community; Moving

00:01:37 - The reality of the pandemic set in at the last Oberlin College orchestra rehearsal

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: So now moving into the pandemic-related questions. If you could think back to the very first days of the pandemic, I know that was a very long time ago now. What were your first reactions and anticipations for the future?

Resident: I remember the day very well because one of the things I do here that I love to do, and there’s a lot of things that I like to do, but one of the things that I love to do is to go to orchestra rehearsals. I played in the orchestra when I was an undergraduate. And I love to go to Finney and sit on the balcony and watch them. And on Friday, March–I think about March 20th, 2020, I went to the rehearsal and it was a little different. It turned out that the school was just closing, which I didn’t even know. And this was supposed to be a rehearsal, but it became a final thing. And umm even though I usually was the only one watching rehearsal in the balcony, there were dozens of people there including the president of the college. And everybody knew that this was gonna be closed down. And so even though I had read about the pandemic and I knew it was coming, I wasn’t aware of the implications until then when I suddenly realized, they’re gonna close the whole school. And we were gonna have a lot of rules to deal with. My thought was that it was gonna be quick. You know we would have maybe a month or two, and we would get it under control. People would learn how to deal with it. Maybe there would be a vaccine. And pretty soon things would be back to normal. But for that month or two it was gonna be pretty hard. I had no idea it was going to last that long or be that distressing.

Segment Synopsis: This resident recalls that he was watching an Oberlin College orchestra rehearsal when he found out that Oberlin College would be shut down. The resident suddenly realized the seriousness of the pandemic, although he had no idea that it would last for so long.

Keywords: Closed down; Closing; Distressing; No idea; Normal; Oberlin College; Orchestra; Orchestra Rehearsal; Unaware; Vaccine

Subjects: First Reactions; Rules and Restrictions

00:03:30 - "Not the same Kendal:" A loss of autonomy and community at Kendal

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Yeah as a student I can remember those last couple days were just chaos. Nobody knew what to do and yeah everything–we also thought that we would be back in 8 weeks or so. I was like, should I pack up my stuff, should I not? But yeah obviously it ended up lasting much longer. So overall, if you could pick one word to describe your pandemic experience, what would that word be?

Resident: Frustrating, distressing–I guess those are the words I would use. A lot of people suffered enormously in the shut down and we certainly didn’t. I mean we did pretty well here. But as good off as we were compared to other people, it was still pretty demoralizing. All the things I came here for we couldn’t do. That was the major problem. You know we came here for the music. We like to go to all these concerts over there. Suddenly, you couldn’t go to any concerts over there. We like the–we like the autonomy of living here. The philosophy of this place is much to our liking–it’s really run by the inmates. We were in charge of our own lives: that was very appealing. And many, many homes like this you know it’s regimented and everything pre-planned and we did not want that at all. We wanted to be in charge of our lives. I would say me and my wife who was with me, so both of us agreed on that. And I wasn’t even really aware of who was running this place when we first got here. You know we knew there was a staff and we knew that things got done, but we never thought–we never looked to this place for instructions as to how to live. And suddenly we were being told what to do and what not to do. And Barbara Thomas, who I’ve gotten to really appreciate, I mean she’s a phenomenon. I didn’t know who she was. We were here more than a year, you know I knew she was in charge of the staff and stuff but that was it. And suddenly she was making rules that were governing how we were living. And um we couldn’t go to the dining room. I mean the whole idea of this place was that you could meet people and share ideas and experiences. We couldn’t do it. So the question really was, why are we here? The answer of course is that it would’ve been worse where we were. I mean living alone would’ve been much worse. And she did a remarkable job, the whole staff did a remarkable job to keep us safe and as comfortable as possible. But it was very disappointing, I mean it really was. There were some people here, again, we could give our blessing because there were people who were worse off. There were married couples who were–one was in the healthcare center and the other wasn’t. And so they couldn’t see each other anymore. You know they weren’t allowed to visit, which I thought was extraordinarily cruel. And I wondered at the beginning if it was necessary. I see in hindsight that it was. But boy that was, that was depressing. So it had a very depressing effect on us. We were lucky because our health was good, we had each other. The place was, despite all the rules, the place was trying very hard to keep us as safe and as well as they could. And we appreciated it.

Segment Synopsis: This resident describes the pandemic as distressing because they were not longer able to do the things that they loved to do, such as listen to music. He lost the sense that he was in charge of his own life, which was difficult because he and his wife came to Kendal because of the organization's emphasis on resident autonomy. The resident became acquainted with Kendal leadership for the first time because the CEO and others were giving them instructions on how to live. Overall, the pandemic had a depressing effect on him because he lost his sense of community. However, in hindsight, he recognizes that many of the rules were necessary and that he and his wife may have been worse off living alone outside of Kendal.

Keywords: Alone; Autonomy; Barbara Thomas; Comfortable; Concerts; Cruel; Depressing; Dining; Distressing; Frustrating; Health; Hindsight; Instructions; Lucky; Music; Philosophy; Rules; Staff; Suffer

Subjects: Administration; Community; Mental Health; Personal Freedoms; Resident Disagreement; Rules and Restrictions; Safety

00:07:37 - Creative coping mechanisms: Music groups and Zoom courses

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: So what did your day-to-day look like during those periods of lockdown?

Resident: Oh boy! This being Oberlin and I think this comes–I hate to say this because it makes me sound like an Oberlin groupie, but one of the things I loved about the college when I was here is the ability of people to innovate, to create their own stuff. So we started trying to do that. We couldn’t have outside musicians in anymore. We couldn’t go to concerts. But I got very interested in making our own music. And I did a little survey to see how many people around here played instruments. And we formed some musical groups. And we set up a concert schedule. And we started playing music for each other, which was good. My wife got interested in college courses. They were all being done by Zoom then. You know and none of us had any experience with Zoom. But she took a couple of college courses, and enjoyed them very much. The first one was particularly innovative. Somebody in a literature course in the literature department did a course on the history of plagues! And then, you know, starting with the Bible and going through other people who wrote about plagues. And she took that course and you know she sat in our apartment and got on the Zoom and there were people on the Zoom from China and from Mauritius out in the Indian Ocean and they were all having this course together. And that was pretty good. We–even though we were glad to have each other–being together 24 hours a day every day–it was a little bit trying sometimes you know. But we managed to do that. We set up the apartment so we could have time and space apart from each other, you know. So we did some creative workarounds. But it was not the same. It didn’t feel like the great fit place that we had chosen to spend the rest of our lives. That was the problem, you know? We started thinking, was this smart? Was this a good idea? What else would we do and how would we do it? That kind of stuff.

Caroline: Yeah, I remember that there were five of us in my family again. Obviously my two sisters and my parents–and we had grown up with the five of us in the same house. But suddenly when we were all back together it was like, oh! So cramped! There’s nowhere to go! When there’s no option to leave it feels just so much more claustrophobic.

Resident: That's a good word for it–claustrophobic.

Segment Synopsis: This resident called upon his innovative education at Oberlin to cope with the pandemic. He missed going to concerts and listening to music, so he started a musical group with other residents. His wife took Zoom classes. He and his wife set up the apartment so that they could have space away from each other. Kendal became unlike the place they had originally intended to be their home, so he and his wife started to question whether it was a good idea to move to Kendal.

Keywords: Classes; Concerts; Courses; Create; Creative; Innovate; Music; Oberlin College; Space; Workarounds; Zoom

Subjects: Communication Technology; Coping Mechanisms; Family; Hobbies

00:10:54 - Masks impide hearing, seeing, and observing musical performances

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Were there any other challenges that you faced–that you felt like were a big…?

Resident: Well the masks, they drove me nuts in part because you know I have hearing aids and I wear glasses and I need another pair of ears not to hear but just to hang things on. Every time my mask came off it pulled my hearing aids out, and just the sheer physical stuff of dealing with it was annoying. I had to cancel dentist’s appointments and routine kinds of medical things that I had just gotten used to over the years. I couldn’t go to the gym anymore. The pool was off-limits. All those things that made things, made life here so enjoyable.

Caroline: Yeah, definitely masks are, yeah. Especially when you have hearing aids and glasses. I know it’s too much on your face.

Resident: Too much. So when you’re playing music which I love to do with other people. Chamber music and stuff like that. Facial expressions are so much a part of it. Being able to see the other people and communicate with them visually while you’re playing an instrument. And you couldn’t do that. It really interfered with the ability to be with other people in that sense.

Segment Synopsis: This resident really didn't like to wear a mask because it interferes with his ability to use his hearing aides and glasses. Moreover, he knows the importance of facial expressions in music.

Keywords: Communicate; Doctor's Appointment's; Exercise; Facial Expressions; Gym; Music; Physical Issues; Pool

Subjects: Masks; Rules and Restrictions

00:12:25 - Navigating the rules to organize a resident musical group

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Yeah, was your group formed over Zoom? Did you play for each other online?

Resident: We–let me see, what was the…? By the end, we were playing in Heiser auditorium. We had a lot of go-arounds about how we could do that. You know, I play clarinet, so obviously you can’t do that with a mask on. And so the rules initially were you couldn’t be together in the same room. And we had started playing out in the lounge but we couldn’t do that because there were too many people walking around. So the rules were very hard to negotiate. But we managed eventually to come up with ways to do it that satisfied the rules. And Barbara Thomas was really very good at this. She does two things, which I think are pretty remarkable. She knows how to say no. She does it easily and quickly. But she will always listen, and she can be persuaded. I spent a lot of time online trying to find out what musicians did to stay safe. And now we played on the stage in Heiser auditorium, and I told her I would sit at least 10 feet from the piano player. And that was okay. And there were other musicians but we couldn’t have anybody in the audience. But we have KOTV and we can play on that. So we worked around. I can’t remember exactly what the sequence was, but over the course, we got better and better at living within the rules but coming close. That alone was helpful–you know it kept our minds active.

Caroline: For sure, and now I like that we have KOTV now so that you don’t–if you’re in the care center–you don’t have to walk all the way down here. You can watch it online or you can in person, which is nice.

Resident: Yeah, it’s a little bit of a double-edged sword because sometimes you don’t have as many people in the auditorium as you’d like to have in the auditorium. And if you broadcast it over KOTV people tend to be a little bit lazy and stay home. Particularly with music, I think it’s better if they’re actually listening to it live. But yes there was a time when we couldn’t do anything collectively, having KOTV, having a Zoom were really very important. I don’t know how we could’ve gotten through that pandemic without Zoom and I had never heard of it before. All of a sudden (snaps) there it is.

Segment Synopsis: This resident negotiated Kendal's rules and restrictions to start a musical group of residents. They worked with the administration to be able to practice together in-person and eventually play for a live audience. Though difficult, this project kept his mind active. Additionally, he says that this programming would not have been possible without broadcasting over Zoom. Now, however, he complains that people do not come see the live show and instead watch it on Kendal TV.

Keywords: Barbara Thomas; Better and better; Care Center; KOTV; Listen; Minds active; Music; Musicians; Negotiate; Persuaded; Safe; TV; Zoom

Subjects: Administration; Communication Technology; Hobbies; Masks; New Habits; Rules and Restrctions; Safety

00:15:26 - Permanent changes in dining program that reduce resident autonomy over their mealtimes

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Are there other things, like for example not as many people coming to watch music still, are there other things that you think have remained changed since?

Resident: Yeah, we’re not quite back yet, and we may never get back to the way we used to eat together collectively. I don’t know how long you’ve been working here.

Caroline: Yeah, since before the pandemic.

Resident: Do you remember the Langston?

Caroline: Yeah, I do remember the Langston.

Resident: Which was a cafeteria and people came in and they sat where they wanted and picked their food and sat down. And it was very friendly. I remember being startled by that when I came here for a “try it and like it.” Because where my mother was, in Connecticut, both my mother and my in-laws were in homes in Connecticut that we visited, and it was all quite rigid. They had to go down to the dining room at a certain time. They had to have tables set up ahead of time. It was all–it was very, they waited on everybody, hand and foot. Which we certainly didn’t want. And I just remember being struck when we came here to “try it and like it” that I could go down to the cafeteria and sit down at a table and everybody would say, come sit with us! It was very friendly. One incident I remember in particular was that I was sitting at a table during the “try it and like it,” and a woman was coming down the cafeteria line. And she was knocking things over and spilling and it was clear that she was blind, totally blind. But nobody said anything, you know they picked up her stuff and handed it back. They gave her what she wanted. When she had finished she sat down at my table, and we started talking, and she said, you know, I live in the care center because I’m blind. And she said, but every once in a while I really want to come down here. And they say, okay, go! And I remember thinking this is a great place, you know (laughs). It’s just that’s the way it should be. And then when we started coming back from not being allowed in the dining room at all, it’s sort of reminding me of the place my parents had been because it was rigid. You had to decide in advance. They seated you at tables. You couldn’t pick your own food–you know it was all. And a lot of that went away. Now some of it has come back. And they’ve had problems that are not related to the pandemic, or not directly related, like staffing problems that they have. So it hasn’t come back to that wonderful feeling we had in Langston completely. But we can sit where we want to now. For a while, we had to be seated. And you know you had to make an appointment in advance. Now we can come when we want, sit where we want. They still bring the food out, you can’t see it. And it’s not quite as–they’re trying to make it more of a restaurant. And to me it was a canteen, it was where you went you know, it was probably like the Stevenson hall where you go when you want to with your friends and you sit down. That’s the way I saw it. And they keep trying. I suppose it’s the people who run the kitchen try to do that. They try to make it more restaurant you know? They want to make sure everybody is served and is happy and I didn’t want any of that. I wanted to sit where I wanted and eat when I wanted. We’re part way back to that but not completely.

Caroline: Yeah, definitely.

Resident: Staff can’t eat there anymore. That was you know, and I loved that: the fact that you go through the line in the cafeteria and the person next to you was a staff member you know? You can’t do that yet. Maybe we’ll get back to it, maybe not.

Segment Synopsis: This resident laments that the dining program at Kendal is not back to the way it used to be. When him and his wife visited, he had an experience where he realized that Kendal's old dining program allowed total autonomy to the residents. He liked that he could stand in line, pick out his own food, and sit wherever he wanted. Now, Kendal's dining has transitioned to a more rigid system where residents are seated and served. This resident wants to transition away from a restaurant style back to a more "canteen," way of dining, although he recognizes that staffing shortages have impeded Kendal from returning to normal

Keywords: Cafeteria; Care Center; Change; Friendly; Restaurant; Rigid; Staffing; Waited On

Subjects: Community; Dining; New Habits; Personal Freedoms

00:19:48 - Kendal's post-Covid dining program does not meet residents' everyday social and nutritional needs

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: It’s funny you bring up Stevenson though because I feel like students are also still in the habit of doing grab and go which is what we had to do for two years. So less students sit down in the dining hall, and I used to spend like an hour in the dining hall just talking to everyone. And you know we’re getting back to it–it hasn’t happened completely.

Resident: Yeah, I’ve never been to Stevenson, so I’m just kind of guessing what it’s like.

Caroline: Yeah, it’s just you know habits are hard to break but we’re getting there.

Resident: When I was here as a student, dining was very different. I don’t know how much you know about that era but the women’s dormitories and the kitchens were together. And the men were assigned to a women’s dormitory to eat. But it was very formal. I mean it was a –you had to dress up. You had to wear a coat and tie. And nobody went in until the house mother let us in. And then everybody sat boy, girl, boy, girl around these tables. And you said grace and then the meal was served. And it was nothing like now. I didn’t like it then, and most students didn’t like it then. But yeah, I imagine that dining is the time when you socialize. That’s a very important function of communal dining. So I keep making noise about it. I keep pushing that they go back to the old Langston. And they say, well some people like to be served. Well, all right, the original plan was a good one, which was that they were going to turn Langston into a dining room where you could reserve and all. And then Fox and Fell, because it was bigger, it would be the people who just wanted to eat like a canteen. And then it didn’t happen. Because they couldn’t open Langston they didn’t have enough staff.

Caroline: Yeah, hopefully soon.

Resident: I hope so. But they seem intent upon wanting to serve you. Which I think is bad for a number of reasons. You know portion control. I used to like to say a little bit more of that, a little bit less of that you know? Now, you just order it and it comes the way it is. So people around the table, somebody doesn’t eat very much and they have too much and other people have too little and it’s just not right. So then the answer is “that would happen in a restaurant.” Well yeah, but in a restaurant, you don’t have to go!

Caroline: Yeah, you’re not eating there every day.

Resident: You’re not eating there every day. You don’t like it, you don’t come back! You can’t do that when this is home.

Caroline: I agree with you also because if you get served you can’t see the food, and so I know, like, for people in the Care Center, like circling something on the menu and reading it isn’t the same as seeing it and wanting it. It’s nice for people to be able to visualize.

Resident: They tried to deal with that by putting out a display. But it doesn’t quite do it. It’s helpful.

Caroline: Yeah, that’s good.

Resident: But yeah, if you want to see the piece or you want the part on the end.

Segment Synopsis: The rigidity of Kendal's new dining program makes this resident recall the old formality of meals during his time as a student at Oberlin College. This resident has given a lot of thought to the importance of changing the new Kendal dining program to make it more suitable for residents' social and nutritional needs. One major problem with the new restaurant-style dining is portion control, with some residents getting too much food and some too little. Kendal was not able to carry out its plan of returning to a buffet-style dining program because of staffing shortages.

Keywords: Communal Dining; Dormitories; Food; Oberlin College; Portion Control; Socialize; Staff

Subjects: Community; Dining; Rules and Restrictions

00:22:58 - Increased awareness of the Kendal administration // Accessing music through live broadcasts

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Exactly, exactly. Umm so are there any other coping mechanisms that you had throughout the pandemic?

Resident: Umm Let me think about coping mechanisms. Trying to, trying to think of things to make it better. Instead of just accepting what was there. We suddenly became very aware of the administration. It had just been a service unit before, it was something that was running our lives. And it was very hard to accept it at first. And um I think learning how that works was important. And we have the residents’ council Quora and I learned more about it and I got to be into it more because before the pandemic they sort of ran everything. You probably know this already but there are more than 100 committees that residents formed to do everything from flower arranging to, you know, to lectures and you know there are only 330 people here, so that’s a lot of committees. Most of them were not able to do anything during the pandemic. They lost their functions. So we’re getting back to it, but we spent more time–Oberlin very nicely the conservatory broadcast their stuff. Some of it before the pandemic even, we would watch them before we came here to just get an idea of what was going on. But they did more of it, and in the beginning they did it badly. The technology was not great. But they got better at it. So we spent time watching that. Things that we probably wouldn’t have done before. Live concerts are so nice and so close and easy to get to. Having to get it up on the machine, the sound was never the same. But it–it helped–it was better than nothing. Better than you know just spending all your time looking at recordings on TV and that kind of stuff.

Caroline: Yeah, for sure.

Resident: Other ways of coping? I don’t know I’m sure there were lots of ways that we coped…

Caroline: That’s–I mean that’s amazing what you did with the music. And I was also really appreciative of the broadcasting of things at Oberlin because it was something that I came to Oberlin for…

Resident: Was a music a draw for you too?

Caroline: Yeah, definitely. I’m not nearly as good as anyone at the conservatory, but I played the saxophone and I love jazz, so love the concerts and things. And I’m so happy that they’re back.

Resident: Yeah, I played saxophone too. I only play clarinet now, but I did play saxophone. When I was here I had a little dance band, we played in Wilder Hall on Friday evenings.

Caroline: Oh, that’s so much fun.

Resident: Kids came and danced. That was a big part of my life too.

Segment Synopsis: This resident became more aware of and involved in Kendal's administration. He notes that Kendal is highly run by resident's, with over 100 resident-run committees, and each of these committees lost their function during the pandemic. Another coping mechanism was listening to live broadcasts of the Oberlin College conservatory concerts. The quality of these broadcasts improved over time.

Keywords: Broadcast; Committees; Concerts; Hard; Music; Oberlin Conservatory; Resident's Council; Technology

Subjects: Administration; Communication Technology; Coping Mechanisms; Loss; New Habits

00:26:38 - Kendal rules and restrictions: Fitting for the most vulnerable, overbearing for other residents

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Definitely. Umm we’ve talked a lot about Kendal’s response as an organization. Is there anything else that you’d like to add about how you felt about how Kendal handled the pandemic?

Resident: I thought they handled it very well at the time. Sometimes it felt like they were overdoing it. But there were several reasons for that. One was that because there’s a care center right here, federal rules were much more strict than they would’ve been if they didn’t have that. They were essentially trying to protect the most vulnerable. And you can’t blame them for that you know, but you know if you’re not in that category, it interferes with what you can do. And some of it is just that different people have different views. Even now there are some people here who are terrified of going without masks. And there are others who would’ve done away with them a long time ago. There’s a variety of attitudes and the administration has to cope with them all, you know? They have to please everybody which is very hard to do. And I thought, especially in retrospect I thought they did a remarkable job at the time some of the rules just seemed crazy, you know? You couldn’t have more than 10 people in Heiser auditorium for example. You know you can fit a lot of people in and still be 6 feet apart. No, they didn’t want anybody in there. But you know a lot of the course of the disease was unknown by everybody. So they were erring on the side of being overcautious. And I think that’s right. I was very appreciative of that even though it made our–my life and my wife’s life–more difficult than it may have needed to be. It was the right thing to do.

Segment Synopsis: In retrospect, this resident recognizes that Kendal's administration had to be overcautious to protect the vulnerable people in the care center and the federal rules associated with nursing homes. However, at the time many of the rules seemed overbearing and without reason, such as only allowing a small number people in the auditorium. At some points, he felt like the rules were excessive.

Keywords: Appreciative; Attitudes; Care Center; Crazy; Difficult; Disease; Federal Rules; Gatherings; Handled Well; Overcautious; Overdone; Protect; Reason; Retrospect; Right Thing To Do; Terrified; Unknown; Vulnerable

Subjects: Administration; Masks; Personal Freedoms; Resident Disagreement; Rules and Restrictions; Safety

00:28:49 - "Institution instead of a place to live: Kendal lost its unique qualities during the pandemic

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: So my final general question about the pandemic and part of the reason why I decided to do this project was–

Resident: And it’s a great project by the way.

Caroline: I’m excited about it! And I’ve been transcribing the interviews this week and it’s even, going over them again has been really interesting to see the throughlines between all of them. But especially at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of talk about what was going on in communities of older adults but at the same time not a lot of opportunities for people actually living in those communities to talk about their experiences. And so I’m wondering, as someone who has lived at Kendal, what would you tell someone who has never been to a community like this, what it was like during the pandemic?

Resident: Well, during the pandemic it lost much of the specialness that–I mean we picked this place carefully and it’s very unusual, probably unique. There’s nothing really like it anywhere else. Even other Kendals because they don’t have the relationship with the college that this one does. And that–all of that was lost and it became much more of an institution instead of a place to live. But you have to give credit to the leadership of the place. They got through it with flying colors I thought. So what I’d say to somebody now. And people moved in during that time! And they had no idea what this place was like because they had never seen it function the way it should. And that was–that was sad. We tried to mentor some of them. Tell them what the good life was like, you know? And hope that it will come back.

Segment Synopsis: This resident describes the pandemic as a period of loss for Kendal. In particular, he thinks that Kendal lost its special qualities as a community of older adults, transforming from a place to live to an institution. He can't imagine the experiences of people who moved in during the pandemic who do not know the way of the old Kendal.

Keywords: Flying Colors; Institution; Leadership; Move in; New Residents; Oberlin College; Sad; Specialness; Unique; Unusual

Subjects: Administration; Community; Loss

00:32:24 - As the pandemic becomes less deadly, Covid-19 leaves a permanent impact on younger and older people alike

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: So my final official question is basically attitudes about this pandemic have fluctuated a lot obviously between hop,e like when we got the vaccines, to some pessimism with Omicron and everything and continued lockdown. And so I’m wondering about your outlook for the future of the pandemic and your own future at Kendal.

Resident: Well the future of the pandemic, I think what’s happening now is I don’t think it’s ever gonna go away. It’s getting attenuated. The microbe, the virus I guess, is getting attenuated to the point where it’s becoming more common but less deadly. And I think it’s gonna become just another seasonal flu after a while. Like we’ll still get a vaccine against it. But it’s not gonna kill vast numbers of people. Although you know seasonal flu has always killed people. And um I don’t think it’s gonna go away. But we’ll get back to our lives pretty much. As they were before. And they seem to come quite regularly about every 100 years or so there’s a plague of some kind. You know we feel–most sorry for young people who are making their careers–I mean we had tickets to go see Fattucci, that was going to be produced, and the next week it was gonna be produced, and those kids who worked hard to learn how to sing this glorious music, never got a chance. And that’s hard. One of the kids I know was a conducting major and he graduated you know at a time when there were no orchestras playing! Very hard for them. For us, it’s not so bad. The biggest problem for us is that, you know, when you don’t have that many years left, you want to use your years as best you can. And we lost two of them basically. And you know you can never get them back. So that’s hard.

Segment Synopsis: Looking ahead, this resident believes that Covid-19 will become more common and less deadly. He notes that the permanent impact of the pandemic is on young people, who have lost career opportunities due to the pandemic. As an older person, he laments that he has lost two years that he will never get back.

Keywords: Attenuated; Common; Deadliness; Flu; Hard; Loss; Music; Plague; Vaccine; Virus; Young People

Subjects: Covid Cases; Future; Loss

00:34:39 - Positive outcomes from the pandemic: A new concert program for Oberlin Conservatory students and Kendal residents

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Is there anything you’re doing the next couple months to make up for the time lost?

Resident: Well, I started this concert program which I’m kind of proud of. I got to know some of the faculty members over at the conservatory just by going to rehearsals and getting to know them and the kids. And what I realized is that–their biggest problem and it was made worse during the pandemic, but it’s a big problem anyway–is that–is finding an audience, somebody who wants to listen to them play. You know we’re in a little town in middle-of-nowhere Ohio, and they’re studying to become concert musicians. They want to practice in front of an audience or play in front of an audience, perform! And here we are over here you know wanting to hear live music, so I started thinking that I’d put them together. And it got to be complicated because a lot of things go on here, so I had to find a time when nothing else was–it was gonna interfere and I finally picked Sunday afternoons, 4 o’clock. And I just–I did this just this past December, I announced a program of student concerts and we do it every Sunday afternoon. The first Sunday of every month, we reserve for us. We play our own music. But the other three Sundays of the month, we have a student from the conservatory. And then, then the college heard about it, and do you know the Verona quartet?

Caroline: Yeah!

Resident: They’re you know teaching college kids–they were hired mostly for the college, which I didn’t realize. So I started talking to them and they had heard that we were doing this and they wanted to know if their kids could perform. And we said, sure! So we have had now since December every Sunday afternoon has been a student concert or one of our concerts. And I got some help from one of the students at the conservatory who was studying concert management. And he’s helping me set it up. But we have booked people right through the end of the term. You know in June everybody will go home, but in the fall we’ll do it again. So I’m sort of proud of that because the thing that’s most amazing about it is how good they are. These kids–they’re just incredible. And they’re far better than we were back–I mean when I played in the orchestra it was pretty good for a college orchestra. But not it’s just–I think kids start earlier, they learn better. It’s first-rate. So it’s been eye-opening to a lot of people here who can’t or don’t go to the concerts on campus that often but they’re starting to hear some of these kids and you know they’re all the ages of our grandchildren so they have a tendency to be thrilled with them anyways. So I’m very happy with that. I’m gonna keep that going. People like it. They enjoy it. But the college and the Conservatory like it too because you know they’ve–the string quartets they have chamber music programs at the conservatory. And they work very hard all semester long for a chance to play one movement of one piece they worked on at a chamber music weekend. And they’re on there with 20 other groups and then it’s over. That’s not enough! That really isn’t–that’s not enough. So you get them to come over here and they love it. The kids love it; the people here love it. It just seems such a natural thing to do. And the audience that wants players and people who want an audience so we just put it together. But it’s a lot of work. It doesn't just happen. And you know to me that’s really the best thing that came out of the whole experience.

Segment Synopsis: For this resident, one of the best things that came out of this pandemic was that he organized a program for conservatory students to come play for Kendal residents. He came up with the idea because the conservatory students need an audience and Kendal residents want quality entertainment. Although this program required a lot of work, it has inspired pride and excitement in this resident. He looks forward to the program continuing beyond the pandemic.

Keywords: Audience; Concerts; First-Rate; Grandchildren; Happy; Music; Musicians; Natural; Oberlin Conservatory; Perform; Proud; Talented; Work

Subjects: Community; Helping others; Hobbies