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 begins with some footage of Chicago's Chinatown, then visits the Clark-Irving Homes for an interview with Walter and Peggy Wolberg, who talk about adjusting to retired life.
00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with a blue screen.
00:15Copy video clip URL The videomakers test out the equipment before heading out into the field to shoot.
00:41Copy video clip URL Videomakers Skip Blumberg and Jane Aaron make their way out of an apartment. They are venturing over to Chinatown to collect footage from around the neighborhood.
01:43Copy video clip URL Cut to footage of a street corner right outside of the Dong Kee Co. Chinese Bakery. Blumberg gathers footage of the store window. The two eventually walk into some type of convenience store, where Blumberg gathers footage from within. They eventually leave the store and walk down the street to the Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant. This lasts for several minutes.
05:48Copy video clip URL Cut to footage from some type of protest rally near Daley Plaza. This is followed by footage of the lake shore near Buckingham Fountain.
06:56Copy video clip URL Maxi Cohen and Joel Gold speak with Walter and Peggy Wolberg in their residence at the Clark-Irving Apartments. They speak with the videographers about life after retirement. Walter talks about the good feeling he gets knowing he doesn’t have to work anymore. He and Peggy go on to talk about his woodworking hobby. Walter had recently made a miniature wooden horse and carriage. This lasts for several minutes.
13:25Copy video clip URL Gold asks Walter about the negative aspects of retirement. He briefly talks about some of his physical ailments and how he has to pace himself. He keeps a positive view on his situation and states that he can always find something to do at the apartment complex. The couple go on to talk about their life before retirement. Walter had apparently become ill, had gotten better, and was asked to come back to work in a supervising position at a warehouse. He talks about having to travel across the entire city by public transportation to get to work. After six months, Walter had to quit because of the work becoming too much for him to handle. Peggy begins to talk about receiving social security for the first time. She states that she was reluctant to receive it because of age. “I didn’t feel like I was that old… Age has never bothered me, but it was something about it that, this is it.” The two continue to talk about their marriage for several minutes.
23:11Copy video clip URL The couple asks the videographers about the piece they shooting. Cohen talks about the program in detail.
24:16Copy video clip URL Walter comments on how a person can effectively handle retirement. “If you can keep your hands and your mind occupied and be very congenial and tolerant with your people around you–because you’re going to get a lot of crabs. You’re going to meet a lot of people that are obstinate–think like that. Keep an even mind. There’s a reason for everything you know? If a person stops to reason things out, there’s never a problem.” Peggy goes on to talk about the fact that most of the people in the building do not talk about their physical ailments. Walter then says he never talks about any of his own physical ailments. He comments on others who do talk about their ailments. “Some of them pity themselves.” The two continue to talk about life at the Clark-Irving Apartments.
27:31Copy video clip URL Walter talks about the cliche of men looking forward to retirement. He talks about the uneasiness that comes along with working as an elderly person. “The problem was, I’m going to have to keep right on working. You’ve always got that uneasiness in the back of your mind. How much longer can you keep on going? How much longer do have to keep on working? You know what I mean? And the way things are getting so, and the tightness with money and the tightness of the conditions of living and everything else. It’s always been a problem, every week, every month, every year of getting by. But now all of that is out the window and I’m thankful to have things the way they are. I’m very grateful.” Walter continues to talk about his working career up to his retirement. He also talks about enjoying his last job. This lasts for several minutes.
31:23Copy video clip URL Walter talks about how he and his wife ended up at the Clark-Irving Apartment Complex. This lasts for the remainder of the tape.
32:44Copy video clip URL Tape ends.