In 1975, the Chicago video collective Videopolis produced a documentary called "It's a Living." The tape was loosely based on Studs Terkel's book, "Working," which was a collection of interviews with ordinary people talking about their jobs. This hour-long program was shown on Channel 11 (WTTW) in Chicago. After the success of this tape, the videomakers were commissioned to make six half-hour shows that had the same type of mission. "Paper Roses" featured residents of the Chicago Housing Authority's Clark-Irving Apartments, which provided low-rent housing for senior citizens. In this tape, videomakers Joel Gold and Maxi Cohen tour the facilities, meet a few residents, and observe a game of bingo.
00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with a blue screen.
00:19Copy video clip URL Open on footage from outside of the Chicago Housing Authority Senior Residence on the corner of Irving Park Road and Clark Street in Chicago.
02:50Copy video clip URL Videomaker Joel Gold briskly walks towards the camera and performs a pre-taping ritual. Gold and Maxi Cohen share a Hershey’s chocolate bar while Gold comments on the vulnerability in making documentaries.
06:15Copy video clip URL Gold and Cohen make their way into one of the buildings and are greeted by a desk receptionist. Shortly afterward, the two meet Building Manager Mrs. Chase. She takes them into an art class that is currently in session where numerous residents are seen working on their art projects. The art teacher talks about teaching the class for seven years.
12:39Copy video clip URL Chase speaks briefly with the desk receptionist before introducing the videomakers to resident Carlos Alias, the only Spanish speaking resident in the building. Alias has been ailing with a fever but is in relatively good spirits.
14:24Copy video clip URL Chase speaks with a few women in the social hall about their lives and families. One woman talks about being one of the first to ever receive social security. Another talks about being stationed with her husband in Brazil during his time in the service. This lasts for several minutes.
20:55Copy video clip URL Cohen, Gold, and Chase make their way over to the other building on the grounds. Chase comments on the elderly and their love of storytelling. “A big problem amongst the elderly is that everybody’s got a story to tell and each one wants to tell a story, so you don’t have the listeners. You just have the ones who do the talking. So if you’ve got a willing ear and a few minutes time you will be kept very, very busy.” They then speak with resident Mrs. Sampson about her needlepoint and cooking projects. They then make their way into the middle building to see a bingo group.
23:38Copy video clip URL They speak with a group of volunteers at the reception desk before making their way over to the bingo hall.
25:43Copy video clip URL Upon reaching the bingo hall, the videographers make their way around the room. Excited residents wave and smile at the camera and seem to be excited about the prospect of appearing on television. Chase spends some time speaking with the ladies present for the game and explains what the videographers are doing. Once a new game starts, a hush of silence comes over the room. Each player carefully listens as the numbers are called off, hoping to get a winning card.
31:33Copy video clip URL Chase and the videomakers speak with a man and his wife who are celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.
32:27Copy video clip URL Cohen speaks with Chase about the number of residents who live in the buildings. Chase states that there are about 425 people residing in the three buildings. She also talks about her friendships with some of the residents. The tape ends shortly afterward.
33:01Copy video clip URL Tape ends.