This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
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This interview was conducted with Tom Taylor at the Hudson Lodge in Hudson, NY on Monday June 27, 2016. Tom was born in Florida and spent much of his early working life in New York City settling in Hudson later in his life. Tom describes at length the transitional phases of his life, and there is a theme of reinvention throughout his narrative both in relation to himself and what he makes (Tom is an artist). He describes an interest in urban excavation and talks about spaces in Hudson which he has transformed including the Hudson Lodge where the interview takes place (which was the Elk Lodge previously). He elaborates on the history of the spaces in the area which he has repurposed, as well as found objects which he has transformed or reimagined. He also talks about his family life before coming to Hudson, and his subsequent separation from them. He was married and had three children (two of which were mentally disabled). Tom explains the challenges of raising children with mental limitations as well as the difficulty of tending to them as adults—constantly aware that they are at risk of being taken advantage of. Tom describes the time his family unit was dismantling, and how his wife became pregnant at this juncture. He talks about the experience and feelings surrounding going to an abortion clinic in the South. At the time of his marriage Tom was working in finance and felt his choices were restricted by his responsibility to his family and their survival needs—unable to explore other aspects of himself. When his children entered adulthood two of them were placed within a group home, and it was around this time that he was separated from his wife. Post-separation Tom realized that he was predominately interested in men. He describes this shift, and particularly discusses a longtime daily correspondence he has kept with an intimate friend. He talks about how he is gradually moving in the direction of the person he wants to be, and the struggles inherent in the process.
Charlotte is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied a mix of visual art, sociology, and writing. She is interested in memory-identity politics and the intersection of trauma and transformation. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, and has done several projects relating to subcultures and individuals who identify with extreme manifestations of otherness. She grew up in Glen Ridge, NJ.
This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.
Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”