September 28th, 2010

But where would they live? (1975-1987, NYC and London.) Also, old-age pension.

Situation #1: A Elderly Jewish Pole, female, who immigrated to the United States post-WW2 (late 1940s), and settled somewhere in New York City, in what was - in the mid- to late 1940s, anyway - predominately a Jewish neighborhood. (Judging from my own family stories, somewhere in the Bronx, perhaps?) Definitely working-class income, and still concerned with being part of her own ethnic community. Which neighborhood would be a likely place for her to live? I'm looking not just for factual information, but for stories/experiences of these places as well.

Situation #1: B Same character. By 1982, she is a widow, only child out of the picture, and raising her young grandchild. I believe she would be eligible for old-age social security; would that be enough for her and the kid to live on, or would she have to find some alternative (or supplementary) source of income? If so, does anyone have any idea what that would be?

Situation #2 London, 1975-1987. Middle-class family, second-generation Indian immigrants (i.e., both mother and father are British by birth, born to Indian-by-birth immigrants). One is an academic, the other a working artist; they have two young children, a steady income, and no desire to live in neighborhoods with crime/ethnic tension/what-have-you. Where would they be likely to live? Again, looking not just for facts, but for stories.

Searched: a whole lot of bloody things, but lots of combinations of "Social Security" + "1980s" + "income" + "New York City", "New York City" + "neighborhoods" + "Jewish" + "Polish" + "1940s" + 1980s", "London suburb" + "1980s" + "middle-class"

ETA: I apologize; I was unclear. Character #1 moved to NYC and settled into [whatever neighborhood] in 1940s, but I'm looking for descriptions/resident experiences for that same neighborhood in the mid 1980s.
esspresso cups

Converted Mining Barracks and Swamp Coolers

I'm writing a story that takes place in 2003 and the main location is a fictional small desert town in Nevada. The main action of the story will take place in one house that I'd like to be fairly "in the middle of nowhere" off of a main access road from the town. I'm thinking to have my house as a converted mining barracks (formerly used by a small mining company) with part of the conversion done in the early 1900s and more "modernization" a generation later.

What I need to know is: the probability of such a structure existing; what would have likely been involved in the conversions (in general terms); the materials that might have been used in this construction; and the effects of locating this structure in a small valley at the base of low hills that lead to another larger range of higher elevations.

Just a bit of history of the property, I'd like for a character in the story to have had an ancestor who came west during the tail end of the mining boom – perhaps he was a professional from the East – and purchase the land and the barracks building when the mining company folded. Is this practical? Would the same type of transactions be involved, i.e. execution of a deed of conveyance?

Also, what would be the resulting damage due to run-off from a wash in the hills after a rain? What is the soil base in the Nevada desert, i.e. sandy dirt versus red clay?

What I've done: I've Googled "converted mining barracks," "housing from converted barracks," viewed several sites regarding mining in Nevada – even just to get a look at a photograph – but I can't seem to find the answers. I've researched climate and weather for the desert as well, but can't seem to get satisfactory answers to those "little details."

One last thing… I'm assuming the use of a "swamp cooler" instead of traditional air conditioning units and I've found out all about how these evaporative coolers work. Only I can't find any practical descriptions. Does anyone have first hand experience with these? Very generally, what is the maintenance involved? What do they sound like? Are they effective in cooling?

I would appreciate any help at all. Thanks!

Location of tack and feed in a medieval barn

Setting: Syria, near the end of the Third Crusade.

I'm trying to figure out where tack (saddles, bridles, et cetera) and animal feed tended to be kept in barns or stables constructed in this period of time, assuming they were kept there at all. That's pretty much it. I just want to know if a character can have 'retrieving a saddle' as an excuse to wander into a barn/stable, and if so, I want to know where they'd grab it from. Very much a little detail, but I'd be deeply appreciative if anyone could help me out.

Search terms:
-where saddles were kept in medieval barns
-medieval barns saddles
-tack feed medieval barns
-where tack and feed were kept in medieval barns
-medieval barns
-layout of medieval barns
-construction of medieval barns