Windermere seeks help to capture oral histories

The Historic Preservation Board needs individuals to interview and collect the memories of longtime residents.

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When a member of the older generation passes away, gone too are their memories, in many cases. The town of Windermere’s Historic Preservation Board is embarking on a project to collect as many oral histories as it can of longtime town residents before any more memories slip away.

George Poelker is the board chairman, and he is hoping to recruit three or four individuals to conduct the interviews, which will be captured in an audiovisual format and later be made available to the public. The interviewers will be trained, so all of the videos are consistent.

Interested individuals can send an email to [email protected], and it will be forwarded to the selection committee, which will determine the best candidates.

What is the criteria for conducting the interviews?

“Mostly enthusiasm,” Poelker said. “They’re not going to be on camera probably. What we anticipate is having cameras set up for the interview — it might be like ’60 Minutes.’ … You have to be able to listen, be able to think on your feet and be able to extract the story from what the people tell you and keep them on track.”

The committee has started a list of longtime residents it would like to interview.

“What spurred this — people who have lived here a long time … are starting to pass away, and we are letting them get away without getting their story out of them. We thought it would be good to have their stories. … We can just record the history of the town. We’re just trying to get their story.”

Poelker said he is pleased with the people involved in this project. One of the committee members is Andrew McGee, who is trained as an anthropologist and works in the technology field. Another member is a sound professional in the movie industry.

The Town Council liaison is Council Member Andy Williams, whose family has a long history in Windermere. He started the list through his family’s connections, and others have been adding names.

“We want them to be as old as we can possibly get them,” Poelker said. “We want to get the 75-, 85-, 90-year-olds before they’re gone. We’re in a battle against time. And then we’ll work on the people who are younger.”

Poelker added that those being interviewed don’t have to live in Windermere currently but must have life experiences in the town.

The purpose of the Historic Preservation Board is to preserve the history of the town of Windermere and its historic buildings. It was responsible for saving the 1887 Schoolhouse and has worked on two other buildings on the National Register of Historic Places: the Cal Palmer Building and Windermere Town Hall.

“We’re just trying to preserve a small slice of that history,” Poelker said.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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