Harold Green says: I must have driven by The Fountains a thousand times in the years that we [lived nearby]. I didn’t even know what it was. One day I was fortunate to be able to drive through and I loved it, because I was a boater and developer and the setting just struck me. The grounds were just wonderful – I originally came from up-state New York near Albany, up in God’s country. I inquired a little bit further. One day I just decided living alone wasn’t fun anymore and I called.
Harold Green Interview, June 2013
HG: Harold Green
J: Jill Hofer
I: Ines Newby
J: Good morning!
HG: Good morning!
J: Hi – is this Mr. Green?
HG: That’s who it is.
J: Great – my name’s Jill Hofer and I’m here with Ines Newby – I think you just spoke with her a second ago?
HG: I did.
J: Thank you so much for your time – we really, really appreciate you giving us a call. We’ll try not to keep you too long, but I do have a few questions here. Thank you for indulging us.
HG: OK – you ask your questions and I’ll try to give you answers.
J: That sounds like a plan. OK, so…before you moved to The Watermark, what was your hometown? Where did you live right before you lived in the Watermark?
HG: Just before coming to Watermark, I lived at the Country Club at Sarasota, which is almost across the street from Lake Pointe Woods.
J: Oh, that’s convenient.
HG: And I drove by many times and didn’t even know what it was. One day I was fortunate to be able to drive through, and I loved it, because I was a boater and developer, and the setting just struck me.
J: Oh, nice, well that really says something if you were in that industry and you liked the way the architecture and you know, if you liked the way –
HG: The grounds were just wonderful. I originally came from up-state New York.
J: Oh, ok.
HG: Near Albany, New York, up in God’s country.
J: What year did you move to Florida?
HG: Permanently in 1991, but my wife and I went back and forth, but she became quite ill and passed away twelve years ago.
J: Oh, I’m sorry.
HG: And she couldn’t make the – well, before she passed away, we decided we couldn’t make the trip, so we decided to stay down here.
J: So she got to enjoy some full time years in Florida?
HG: Oh yeah.
J: Oh good. Wonderful – and what year did you come to live at The Fountains at Lake Pointe Woods?
HG: Let’s see, it’s four and a half years ago, so I’d have to back that down…let’s see…it’s 2013…so 2008 I guess?
J: Oh, so a little bit of time then?
HG: Oh yes.
J: When you think back to that time, before you moved, can you think of the things, you know we’re using this interview to try to understand folks and to – I mean it’s really less about marketing and sales as it is for us to try to kind of get into the mindset of the person before they move? You know, because that can be kind of scary; it’s kind of a unique position to be in. Do you remember back to that time – what was making you reluctant to move to a retirement community?
HG: Well I actually was not reluctant, but I had never given it a lot of thought. We had a nice home over here and I enjoyed it and you know, we had everything, we had our pool, we had everything that you needed. And I must have driven by the Fountains a thousand times in the years that we were there, and I heard it was a nursing home, so that didn’t impress me. When I was able to get to ride through and saw the rest of it, I inquired a little bit further, so, one day I just decided living alone was not fun anymore and I called over – Actually, I had brought another couple over that were even older than I am, but they looked at a couple of apartments and then decided not to take the one that I have.
J: Oh, you took it?
HG: I took it – I called a couple of days later and I said, “Are you going to take that apartment?” He said, “No, I can’t get my wife to move.” So I called Alison back and said, “Alison, you got a contract ready? I’m on my way over!”
J: And she said, “Yessir I do!”
HG: And unfortunately, all my life I dealt on good faith, I never read the contract until I was here two or three years and somebody asked me a question about it, so I read through it. It didn’t surprise me; I mean, the contract is written for Watermark, so that didn’t phase me, but once I got here, this place is – the people here, the people and the staff are just fantastic.
J: Oh, I love to hear that.
HG: I really didn’t know what I was getting into, because it was a big change from living and doing everything myself, having been a builder I fixed everything if there was anything to be fixed.
HG: But, I think the people here now – Joe is doing a much better job of letting people know that we’re here.
HG: Because as I say, I drove by many, many, many times and I heard it was a nursing home, and I was like, well, I didn’t need that at that time.
J: No, that takes it off your radar.
HG: But he seems to be doing a much better job now.
J: That’s great.
HG: And he’s got a good group.
J: Oh, that’s important.
HG: Yeah, well, I’m so happy that I moved here, now, because I’ve made new friends, they’re close friends, and they’re right here.
J: Right, right – they’re just a few steps from your door!
HG: That’s right.
J: Now before you moved, like you said you didn’t really, really know what you were getting into, but what enticed you? What made you think, “Hey, maybe I ought to do this,”?
HG: Well, some years prior, quite a few years prior to that, a friend had asked me to go look at some of these places they were thinking of coming into a retirement living. And I had looked at quite a few of the other places, and when you say what enticed me to come – just that I was tired of being alone. And I know I never came here prior to buying a place or buying in – after I had signed a contract and everything, they had me over for dinner – but it was just wonderful to see the people here.
J: Oh, that’s so great. What kind of things do you do there? What do you like the most? Programs? How do you spend your time?
HG: Well, right now I’m in between the second and third tray of cookies going in the oven. (laughs) And I go over to the wood-working shop a little bit, because that’s you know, my really, my life’s work, and I fiddle around over there. But I don’t do too much other than that. The exercise class is fantastic, and I have some problems with my feet and legs, so that’s a good way to get exercise. Other than that, I have a lot of family – I have a big double apartment – I have a lot of family come to visit me, and we all have a great time and everybody here loves my family.
J: Well, you know Mr. Green, I have seen pictures of your family, and I love the photos. You know the ones I’m talking about?
HG: Well, I know they took an awful lot of them, so I don’t know which ones you’re talking about, but I think at one time there were four generations of us here.
J: That’s right – that’s what I saw. There were some little girls and I think you might have been there with your son who I think looks a lot like you?
HG: My son, his daughter and his grand-daughter, so my great grand-daughter.
J: Oh, that’s fantastic.
HG: I think they may have taken a picture of the four of us – I think they probably did because they were taking a lot of pictures when they were here.
J: Well, that’s terrific. I love that they come and visit – it sounds like you have no loss for company now. You probably dine with other people when you want to –
HG: Well, we open the breakfast room in the morning – there’s a group of about fourteen of us that open that up, and it’s always a different group of people for dinner, so it’s just fantastic.
J: Oh, that’s so great to hear. Did anything surprise you when you moved, when you came in? Were you surprised? Was anything different than what you expected?
HG: No. I didn’t have a great expectation – friends of mine had moved into various retirement communities and I didn’t particularly like where they moved, but I guess they were happy. We didn’t talk an awful lot about it, but I guess I did everything my whole life in a very impromptu manner. I don’t think I ever had a contract in my business – it was always a handshake, and if we decided to take a few days off, it was just boom, boom, and we’d be gone. So…
J: That’s great.
HG: Yeah, I had three children – the twin boys and a daughter, and I have five grand children and ten great grand children.
J: My goodness. I’m so glad so many of them are right there in town.
HG: Well, my daughter and her husband live in Plant City, which is not too far away, about an hour and half. But the rest of them are still up north, but they come down quite often.
J: Oh good, that’s great. Well, let me ask you this question: if we were to give advice, what advice do you have for people that just think, “Oh, I’d never want to move. I just want to stay in this big old house where I raised my kids or I’ve lived for twenty years or whatnot.” What advice would you have for people who are just starting to consider moving to a retirement community setting?
HG: Well, I might ask them if they like taking care of a big old house, or a big new house even? And I don’t care – you can have people doing things for you, cleaning people and lawns and pools and all of that, but there are still certain things you have to do. Here we can decide to eat in our apartments or we can go to dinner. And I wish that more people were coming as couples – that’s one of the first things that I try to impress is that you should be here as a couple. And I’ve never heard anybody say, “Well, you know, we’re not going to need…” And I’m, “Well, one of you are, sooner or later!”
J: That’s true.
HG: So that’s probably the…and I like to tell them about the friendliness of the place and so often I’ve gone to one of these marketing events, and one of the first things I’ll say when I’m at a table is if you really want to know about living here, ask me the questions. Don’t ask the marketing people. And they get a kick out of that, I think, and I think they believe me, too.
J: Yeah, it’s the truth. It’s absolutely the truth – your perspective is much more similar to what theirs will be. Well that’s good advice! Alrighty…I was going to ask you the greatest benefits of living at the Fountains, but I think I might have gotten that with just not being alone, not having to take care of the big, old house. Everything’s kind of right there – anything else that I should add to that?
HG: No, I guess not. That’s it – we get things done; they’re done promptly for us, and that’s really, outside of the people that are here, that’s the best part of it.
J: Nice. OK, well, I tell you – I think that might be everything I have unless Ines has any questions, herself?
I: No, everything’s great!
J: Anything else before we let you go, Mr. Green? I really do sincerely appreciate your time – this has been a very enlightening interview.
HG: Well, apparently you’re way out there in the West, so you can’t come have any cookies with me.
J: No, no.
HG: Well, if you’re ever in the area, just check on me to see if I have them baking!
J: Oh, I would love to. I did get to visit a couple of years ago, back when Shannon and Duncan were there. I got to have little Duncan on my lap and I met your maintenance man, I forget his name, the Maintenance Director who does the Faberge-type eggs? I’ll look his name up and send you a note. He’s an interesting guy.
HG: Well, Joe Carpenter is the guy that’s running the maintenance department, but…oh geez – I can’t think of it right now.
J: I can’t either! And of course, I met with Kathy Hallock quite a bit when I was there.
HG: Oh, she’s a great asset to this place.
J: Yeah, she is a vibrant person, isn’t she?
HG: Yes, and how she works like she does, I don’t know. Between her and Dave at the main gate – he’s an ambassador for this place.
J: Well that’s nice! Nothing like a friendly greeting when you come and go, right?
HG: That’s right!
J: Well thank you again, Mr. Green. And if you don’t mind, if I ever think of something that I forgot, if you don’t mind I’ll just take the liberty to give you a call, but I really think we got some good information. Thanks for helping us.
HG: Ok – you can call me anytime.
J: I will, I will. Thank you again.
HG: Have a great day!
J: You too, Mr. Green.