recorded at Selinsgrove Center April 2015
photo by JJ Tiziou
Susan: Our recording is on the counter, sure. OK, OK. Now that we're talking we don't have to worry about this at all. It's just going to sit here and be our silent friend. So, my name is Susan and I am interviewing Jim at Selinsgrove Center in Pennsylvania. It's April 11, 2015 and we're talking with Jim for the Temple University Institute on Disabilities Project Connecting through Story: Lives Lived Apart and in the room with Jim and myself are Debbie and Colleen and Bruce. OK. So already I know some things about you. I know that you like the warmer weather because you like to be outside.
Susan: Yes. Can I talk to you a little bit about when you were a child? Nope? OK. So maybe some favorite things? I know you've lived here for a while. What do you do on... what's like your normal day here? When you get up you have breakfast?
Susan: And then... well we were talking about going into the room where you can build things.
Susan: Trucks and these are model trucks, right?
Susan: Yeah. How long have you been building model trucks?
Jim: A long time.
Susan: What do you like about it?
Jim: I love the model trucks.
Susan: When you put them together there's a piece of paper that tells you what to do?
Susan: OK and do the pieces fit together? Do you use glue? How do they stick?
Jim: I use super glue.
Susan: Super glue. OK and then when you're done with the truck you could actually roll it? You can move it?
Jim: No. You have to put it on my nightstand.
Susan: Your nightstand? Do you have a lot of trucks in your room that you built?
Susan: How long does it take to build a truck?
Jim: Not long.
Susan: No? Like can you do it in a day?
Susan: OK. Are there other models you can build aside from trucks?
Jim: I build monster trucks too.
Susan: What's a monster truck?
Jim: A monster truck is a something you build a...
Susan: So what's the difference between a regular truck and a monster truck? There you go. Feel free to chew. Now that we've chewed and just make sure I can hear us. I can hear us so... So Bruce tells me you have a brother?
Susan: What's his name?
Susan: Ralph. Are you older or are you younger?
Susan: You're the older brother?
Susan: OK so when you were a kid growing up, how old were you when Ralph was born? You don't know?
Susan: OK but he's smaller than you?
Jim: He's bigger than I am.
Susan: Now he's bigger? OK. So you're the bigger brother in age but he's the bigger brother in size? OK. When you were little did you grow up in the same house?
Susan: And did you go to school together?
Susan: OK. Did you like school?
Susan: Some things? What did you like about it? You like playing with other kids? Did you have a favorite subject? What you liked to learn? Maybe English or... When you were in school did they have like a machine shop? Did you like that?
Susan: Yeah. So have you been building model trucks for a long time?
Susan: Yep. I know Christmas time they, on the TV, they talk about the Hess truck. Have you seen that?
Susan: Yeah. You could probably build a model for that.
Susan: Do you remember, Jim, how old you were when you came to live here?
Susan: 13? OK and before that where did you live?
Susan: Newport? OK. When you were in school like when you were little and after school and stuff did you like to play sports?
Susan: No? What did you like to do after school?
Jim: Play with other kids.
Susan: Play with other kids? What kind of games did you play?
Susan: You like basketball? You any good at it?
Susan: Yeah? Well you're tall. I can imagine you'd be good at it.
Susan: Did you play basketball with your brother?
Susan: OK. Who's the better basketball player? You or your brother?
Jim: My brother.
Susan: Your brother? You're an honest man. I like that about you. OK. So when you were... I just made some notes before I get stuff a lot so I wrote down some things I wanted to know. What's the first thing you remember? Like your first memory of something. Maybe it was a holiday or a birthday? You have an idea? Nope? That's OK. Before you came to live here who took care of you?
Jim: The center.
Susan: The center? OK. When you... before you were 13 when you lived with your brother at home were you living with also your parents?
Susan: OK and did you have any pets?
Susan: What did you have?
Jim: I had a dog.
Susan: What kind of dog?
Jim: Chocolate lab, cocker spaniel.
Susan: What was its name?
Susan: Tippy toes?
Jim: Tippy-Toes, Snoopy, and Peppy.
Susan: Oh you had three dogs? OK. How did Tippy-Toes get its name?
Jim: Because I named the dog.
Susan: Do you remember why? No? And was Tippy-Toes the cocker spaniel?
Jim: Chocolate lab.
Susan: The chocolate lab, oh they're beautiful. They're beautiful. So I understand from Bruce that your brother drives a truck? OK. Have you ever made a model for Bruce? I'm sorry - for your brother Ralph? I'm sorry I forgot his name. Tell me again. Your brother's name?
Susan: Ralph, OK. Got it. So you never gave Ralph one of those trucks.
Susan: OK. When was the last time you saw him?
Jim: A long time.
Susan: It's been a while? So sometimes he comes to visit?
Susan: Yeah? Does he ever take you anywhere?
Jim: Yeah. Denny's.
Susan: Denny's? Oh, Denny's. What's your favorite thing to eat at Denny's?
Susan: Everything. Nice. Is it fun to go there?
Susan: So when you were younger, before you came to live here, and you were playing with friends after school, was there someone who was a best friend? Nope? No one special? OK. Did you and your brother get along? Yes? Sometimes did you fight?
Susan: Wow, that's great. We could all take a lesson from that I'm sure. So...
Jim: Can I have another smoke, Colleen?
Colleen: No, why don't you finish talking here and then you can go have another smoke.
Susan: Yeah, when we're done here we'll go and we'll have a smoke.
Susan: I'll smoke with you. OK.
Jim: What's her name?
Debby: My name? Debby.
Susan: This is Debby.
Jim: Debby, did you happen to leave a jacket down in the...
Susan: Oh, in the café?
Debby: Yeah this morning I took off my sweater and jacket. I was kind of warm.
Susan: Jim was concerned someone left a denim jacket in the café.
Susan: So we're kind of hunting for the owner of that.
Debby: I left mine in the room that we were in this morning.
Susan: Oh, OK.
Debby: Thank you though.
Susan: Jim, can we talk a little bit about from when you first came here?
Susan: So when you first came here, do you remember how you felt about moving here? No? Well you were living with a lot more people and were there activities and things you liked to do right away?
Susan: No? But now that you've been here for a while, you have friends here?
Susan: Yeah? Do you have a best friend? Colleen?
Colleen: Thank you Jim.
Susan: There you go. So what kinds of things do you and Colleen talk about?
Jim: Quitting smoking.
Susan: Quitting smoking, yes. Colleen gives you a hard time, huh?
Susan: Well that's because she cares about you. So, and we had talked about... what did we talk about at lunch? Oh, the dance. So do you always go when there are dances? No? Not your thing? OK. What do you like to do in the evenings?
Jim: I run around.
Susan: You run around making trouble? OK. Running around to stay out of trouble?
Susan: OK, that's a smart man. That's a smart man. And the friends that you have here, are there times that you guys help each other with stuff?
Susan: Yeah, what kinds of things? Does anyone help you build the model trucks or do you do that by yourself?
Jim: Do that by myself.
Susan: OK. If someone needed help building a truck would you help them?
Susan: OK and do you sometimes, do you sometimes leave and go on... oh we were talking about going to the casinos before. How often do you get to do that? And you like to play the slot machines, yes?
Susan: Yes. So are those penny slot machines or nickels?
Susan: Do you find that most times you win money?
Susan: Yes? Are you saving up for anything special? Are you tired? Would you like to take a break? Yeah? Alright we could rest for a bit.
Jim: Can we go outside first?
Susan: You want to take a break and go outside and then come back inside and finish? OK. Sure.
Susan: A cat but I think dogs are good for outside because they just want to run around and play, you know?
Jim: Yeah. They like... what I like to do is take them and I used to ride a bike. I used to... he would run with me.
Susan: Oh he'd run beside the bike?
Staff: The dog?
Staff: Wow. So you had a bicycle?
Staff: You still have a bike, don't you?
Susan: Do you ride around? Well, there's so much land here, right? Do you ride around here?
Susan: Nice, nice.
Staff: (... bike)
Susan: I haven't ridden a bike in so long I'd probably fall off.
Staff: Is it a ten speed?
Jim: No. It's a regular three wheel bike.
Susan: Oh yeah, like a trike. That's great. That's great. And you're saving up for a wagon, right?
Susan: Nice, nice. How far is the recycling center from here? Could you go on a bike or do you have to drive in a car?
Jim: You have to... recycling is... You know where the laundry used to be? It's right down there but it's still down there.
Susan: Oh, OK.
Staff: What about Mensch?
Jim: It is Sudbury.
Susan: What is that? Mensch? What is that? Is that a store?
Jim: Mensch is where they cash your cans.
Susan: Oh they cash your cans in?
Susan: How much money do you get for a can?
Jim: Sometimes it's 48 dollars.
Susan: Nice. You must bring in a lot of cans.
Susan: So people give you their cans when they're done drinking because they know you collect them?
Susan: OK. Where do you keep them?
Jim: In my room.
Susan: Oh, OK. In like big bags?
Susan: OK and then you truck them over to Mensch and they hand you money? That's a good deal. How often do you go there?
Jim: Well we all go on the weeks, they have to wait two weeks.
Susan: Oh, OK. If you had to wait I bet your room would fill up with cans.
Susan: Wow. So is that what you do to make money mostly the recycling?
Susan: Well you know you're providing a great service.
Susan: Because otherwise those cans would just go on to the garbage. You know?
Jim: Some people, they like to throw their cans in the trash and they don't go in the trash can. They go to me.
Susan: So pretty much everyone around here knows that you're the guy to give their cans to?
Susan: OK. How long you been doing that?
Jim: A long time.
Susan: A long time? So you recycle the cans and then you get the money and then you go to the casino. Right? And play some slots?
Susan: Aren't the casinos noisy? No? I was... last time I was at the casino there was so much noise. Ping, ping, ping. I felt like my brain was vibrating because it was so much noise. No? Where's the casino that you go to?
Susan: Oh, Harrisburg. So the center runs a bus?
Jim: No we drive the banger down.
Susan: Oh, OK. How often do you get to go?
Susan: Oh you're going in May?
Susan: OK. Does Colleen go with you?
Susan: No? Have you asked her to go?
Susan: OK. Gambling is not her thing, huh?
Susan: Wow so where do you get smokes around here? Do they sell cigarettes in the center?
Jim: At the truck stop.
Susan: At the...
Susan: Oh, OK.
Staff: Where else do you go?
Jim: Smoker's Express.
Susan: Smoker's Express?
Susan: What's that? Is that a store?
Susan: They sell all kinds of smoke stuff in there?
Susan: I like how the tobacco stores smell. You know that smell when you walk in? Do you like that? No I think we have the room.
Staff: Oh, OK. Sorry.
Susan: No worries at all. So... Hiya.
Jim: Chris, what's up?
Chris: You guys want me in here?
Susan: Sure come on in.
Chris: Hi I'm Chris.
Debby: Hi, my name is Debby.
Chris: Hi Debby.
Susan: Hi Chris. Susan.
Chris: Hi Susan.
Susan: Nice to meet you. You know Jim right?
Chris: No we never met. Hi Jim.
Susan: Is it OK that Chris is here?
Susan: OK, there you go. Hey I have a question about Ralph. Does Ralph have any family? Does he have kids and stuff?
Jim: Yeah, I have a little nephew.
Susan: Oh nice. How old is he?
Jim: Five months.
Susan: Oh he's a baby baby. Very sweet. Have you met him?
Susan: OK. So you're Uncle Jim?
Susan: Very good. What's his name? Your nephew's name
Jim: My nephew's name? Warren James Brubaker.
Susan: Oh. He has your name. So your brother named him after you?
Susan: Wow, that's really special. Did that make you feel good?
Susan: yeah that's a nice story. I like that, I like that. So was there anything that you wanted to talk about yourself? Nope? OK. I think I have most of my questions but you know... we'll get rid of all this stuff. When I first met you today it seemed to me like you were pretty comfortable here. Are you happy here? No? Is there something you'd like to change that would be if you could make something different what would it be?
Jim: Go out for rides or something like that.
Susan: Say again.
Jim: Go out rides or something like that.
Susan: Oh, you want to go out for...
Susan: Rides? Just like on a nice day to drive around? Who would you go with?
Jim: My friend Chris right here.
Susan: OK. You and Chris would go joyriding?
Susan: Are you getting into trouble or you're staying out of trouble?
Jim: Staying out of trouble.
Susan: Staying out of trouble. Where would you go? Anywhere special or just ride around?
Jim: Just ride around.
Susan: So could you make that happen? Who would you talk to, to see about doing that?
Jim: Just Colleen.
Susan: OK and then do you get to go?
Jim: I think so. Can we?
Chris: If you have the proper staff, if we have the staff to go, we can go. He needs a driver also.
Susan: OK. So do people ask to go out on rides and stuff?
Jim: I don't know.
Susan: OK. Alright. Do you have a favorite holiday? No? All kind of equal? We're trying to remember we were talking to someone before lunch about Halloween and that was her favorite holiday. I think it was Shantelle. She said she was a cat for Halloween. No? You don't get dressed up for Halloween, do you? I didn't think so. OK. Alright. Is there anything that you wanted to ask me?
Jim: What do you do when you're at the...
Susan: When I'm not here?
Susan: I teach theatre to high school aged children, some theatre games and some acting and stuff. Did they ever have plays here? Does anyone ever come in and... I know when you have a dance you've had bands, right? Have there ever been theatre groups come in and do any performing? Sometimes?
Chris: Yeah, lots of entertainment.
Colleen: Group recreation.
Chris: There's high school people that come in. There's... remember the girls, the couple that were dancing? The twirlers? There's all kinds.
Susan: Oh, OK.
Susan: So have you ever seen a play or a show here? No? OK. Well it's kind of like acting on TV only in person but thank you for the question.
Susan: I also want to thank you for your time today.
Susan: I know it's nervous talking to someone you've never met before who has this whole list of questions, you know?
Susan: But I appreciate your time.
Susan: And getting to know you.
Susan: And I'm looking forward to coming back and seeing you again.
Jim: Thank you.
Susan: Thank you. Would you like to end the interview now? OK. That was easy.
Photos by JJ Tiziou
A Fierce Kind of Love has been supported
by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.