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. This tape features the continuation of an interview with Gus and Gertrude Radon, footage of a group sing-along led by Margaret Falkenberg, and an interview about the difficulty of retirement with Mrs. Cassalio.
00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with a blue screen.
00:24Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of Gus and Gertrude Radon sitting in a social room at the Clark-Irving Apartments. Gertrude talks about once owning her own home and her regret in not holding on to it. Shortly afterward, the couple takes the videomakers, Joel Gold and Maxi Cohen, on a tour of their apartment. Gold gathers footage from inside. This lasts for several minutes.
05:10Copy video clip URL Gus and Gertrude begin to talk about their desire to get out of Chicago.
06:01Copy video clip URL Gold gets a shot of the view from their front window. Gertrude then begins to talk about her upcoming 69th birthday. Shortly afterward, she walks over to the refrigerator to grab a couple of apples for Gold and Cohen. The videomakers then slowly make their way out of the couple’s apartment. Gold gets a shot of the long hallway leading up to the couple’s apartment before he and Cohen enter the elevator.
09:20Copy video clip URL Cut to footage of Margaret Falkenberg and a group of residents singing the song “Paper Roses.” This lasts for several minutes.
11:24Copy video clip URL The women begin to perform another song. This lasts for several minutes.
14:18Copy video clip URL The women decide to perform the song “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”
15:30Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of the couple from earlier in the video. They have ventured downstairs to listen to the women perform. The sound cuts out for this portion of the tape. Gold gathers footage from around the area and eventually makes his way over to the lobby. While there, Gold records Mrs. Calssalio as she checks her mail and speaks with friends. This lasts for several minutes.
24:41Copy video clip URL As the sound comes back in, we hear that Mrs. Calssalio is having a conversation with Spanish-speaking resident Carlos Alias about the primaries that took place earlier in the day. Calssalio then makes a few comments about her views on politics.
25:30Copy video clip URL Calssalio is a little insecure about being on camera and asks if she’s speaking okay. Cohen offers her reassurance and compliments her on her voice quality and demeanor. She talks about leaving work due to forced retirement. Calssalio’s demeanor changes as she opens up about the experience. She had taken care of her sick mother up until her death. Upon her mother’s passing, Cassalio found a job at a department store and fell in love with it. She states that having to stop working broke her heart and that she had no idea what to do with herself afterward. “I knew that I worked three days a week and the other days, I’d go shopping. I’d wash my clothes, clean house–I had a schedule, you know? I had something to do. But now, I don’t do anything… You feel neglected. You feel like the world has no place for you anymore.” The three continue to talk until the end of the tape.
33:25Copy video clip URL Tape ends.