Stay well, dear friends. Be safe, be smart. Make good choices. I try to be upbeat and positive in my monthly columns reporting on the goings-on in our little corner of the world and encouraging folks. These are indeed hard times.
My husband was asked recently if he ever remembered any times like these, and he said “no.” Upon reflection, however, he did remember. He had scarlet fever in January 1949 when he was 5 years old. He remembers no one could come to the house, no one could go anywhere. His dad, a dairy farmer, had to stop shipping milk for some period of time. He remembers being very sick with a fever and a rash, and everyone being concerned and scared. He said as soon as he started feeling better, the scared feelings went away. A little microcosm of what we are feeling and doing now. As soon as things start looking better, hopefully folks won’t be as scared.
As historian, I am grateful that The Citizen has been posting accounts of the 1918 influenza outbreak and how it affected folks in our area. One of my Facebook friends posted his great grandfather’s letter as a World War I soldier on his experiences with the flu.
I have been encouraging friends and family to journal their experiences and feelings during this COVID-19 pandemic. It is a therapeutic exercise, but just as we are learning from our experiences 100 years ago, we will come though this and we will be stronger. And someday our relatives will be learning how we overcame this sickness.
The positive love that emerges in hard times is triumphing. Our friends are making and sharing masks. Folks are finding new ways to connect — our worship service this morning was on Zoom. A few hours later we were able to worship with our daughter in California — their service was on Facebook! Rainbows, red ribbons, thank yous and chalk drawings proliferate, parents are learning with their kids. Teachers are reaching out in whatever ways they can to make sure that their students are provided for. I have spoken with old friends for the first time in a long time — sharing memories of good times. School districts facing financial hard times are still providing high-quality learning experiences and nourishing our students. I am most familiar with the efforts of Port Byron and I am incredibly proud that we were ready and ahead of the curve in preparing for a school shut-down. I have heard other stories of communities also responding in kind and generous ways to make sure students are nurtured and educated in an expedient and loving manner.
Economically, this can be a game-changer for many of the organizations that are very important to me: the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park, CIViC Heritage History Center, our memorial celebrations, and the wonderful restaurants and theaters that I celebrate are sharpening their pencils and being creative. As of this writing, we are still hosting a Doug’s Fish Fry on April 22 to support the heritage park's special projects.
Below is a list of restaurants, bars and craft beverage producers in the Cayuga County area …
At the head of the list of making lemonade is Auburn Public Theater — I was able to experience the genius that I wrote about last month over again as the re-broadcast of "A Feminist Extravaganza" was made available, as were some of their musical offerings at no cost. If you are not a member of APT, please consider it! Also, we celebrate the restaurants who are making takeout an art form. Incredible!
Our church roast beef suppers are what keep us financially stable. Not only do we miss the fellowship, but the dollars! That being said, the community cupboard is still furnishing folks with supplies and even without Sunday services, the daffodils are blooming in front of our sanctuary. For the first time in decades there will not be an Easter sunrise service on Phil’s Hill. However, Easter celebrations will happen, families will FaceTime egg hunts and ham dinners will be shared vicariously. As the Avery and Marsh song avows: "Yesterday I was sad and lonely but today look and see, I am one of the Easter people, life’s exciting for me, Every morning is Easter morning — from now on!"
Joni Lincoln is the historian of the town of Conquest.
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