There is no question that the negative aspects of the coronavirus pandemic far, far outnumber any positives and I suspect all of us long for a rapid return to some sense normalcy in our lives. Nevertheless, that does not mean there have not been some positive aspects to the negatives.

For example, the current disruption in the school calendar stirs up memories of the harsh winter of 1977-78. My oldest son was in the fifth grade in Gallatin, Tennessee, then, and because of a combination of the planned Christmas break followed by severe winter weather, schools were out of session from Dec. 20 to Feb. 2. As a result, the school day was extended, Saturday classes were added and the summer break was shortened to make up for the lost time.

My son continued to do well in school, but I am still not convinced that year was not a step backward in his educational growth that was further complicated the next year when I accepted a job at The Independent, forcing us to move to Ashland in February 1979. Thus, when nearly every sixth-grader left in May for the annual safety patrol trip to Washington, D.C., he stayed in school in Ashland.

Just as in 1977, schools are again out of session, but this time the coronavirus pandemic is to blame; not Old Man River. However, that is not the only difference in this break to the one 43 years ago.

In those ancient times, there were no cell phones, no internet and little cable TV. However, because of technology unimagined in the 1970s, today's school children are doing their school work from home.

Each school day, my 10-year-old granddaughter, a fifth-grader at Oakview School, spends FaceTime with her teacher where she receives the same instruction she would get at school. It is not as good as actually being there, but it is a good substitute.

In 1977, I was editor of the tri-weekly newspaper in Gallatin, Tennessee, which was 8 miles from my home in Cottontown. For nearly three weeks that month, there was so much snow in our driveway that I had the only vehicle able to get to the highway.

Thus, while I was able to get to and from work each day, my wife, my son and our then 9-month-old daughter were literally snowbound. As a result, they developed a severe case of cabin fever that I avoided.

Oddly enough, we still have some fond memories of that winter in Tennessee. We frequently were without electricity that winter, and slept around the wood-burning Franklin stove — our only source of heat without electricity.

Today, I miss my Hospice visits and Woodland Oaks, which have been restricted to family members because of this virus. I miss having lunch with my fellow old men each Friday.

At church Sunday, my wife and I and our dog Colt sat in the car in the parking lot at South Ashland United Methodist and listened to the service on a low-powered FM station. It was better than nothing at all, but it’s a poor replacement for meeting and hugging my fellow Christians.

Because the YMCA has been closed, I have not been able to do my regular exercises, which are critical to this diabetic’s health. Thus, we decided to try walking at Central Park.

I can no longer walk more than a few feet without the help of a walker. I have three speeds: slow, slower and slowest. I knew I would not be able to go completely around the park, a distance of 1.3 miles. My granddaughter who has her own physical disabilities decided to go with us but said she didn't think she could make it all the way around.

Well, to our pleasant surprise, she — with the help of Colt — has made it around multiple times and enjoys doing it. To me, personally, that still is the most positive aspect of these negative times.


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