Appendix on Methods
My aim in this book was to construct a narrative of gay experience in
Cherry Grove and to place that narrative in the context of what is
known at this point about the broader history of gay life in twentieth-
century America. My primary resource has been taped interviews
which I conducted with forty-six former and current Grove residents
to whom I refer as principal narrators, a term which seems more suited
to historical work than the term used in anthropology, informant.
Every interview came through personal contacts. lowe a special
debt of thanks to former Grover Audrey Hartmann, who enthusias-
tically granted the first interview and whose contacts and suggestions
led me to many others. Most Grovers agreed to interviews immedi-
ately; they were proud of the community and wanted to tell its story.
three instances, people contacted me, offering to be interviewed.
As I discovered, I am not the first Grove historian. A number of
people said they had wanted to write or wished they could write a his-
tory. Charles Dickerson, Nat Fowler, and Ted Drach all wrote about
Grove history in Fire Island newspapers. And many items of historical
importance, such as drag costumes, party invitations, books by Grove
authors, photographs, letters, and postcards, had been preserved by
Grovers who showed them to me; Harold Seeley, the local archivist,
displays some of these treasures each year for Grove audiences.
I had already lived in the Grove in 1985, before I began this work,
and continued to do so through 1989. Two interviews took place in
Fire Island Pines, one in Sayville, and four in New York City; the
rest were done in Cherry Grove homes, usually the narrator's, less
often mine. The shortest interview with a principal narrator lasted
about an hour. The longest interview went on for more than seven
hours on different days. Kay found it hard to concentrate; our briefer
conversations extended informally over three years.
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