COVID-19 — March 10-17, 2020. I am beginning a compilation of 1961 emails as we deal with the huge challenge of an extraordinary pandemic, our scariest challenge in our 80± years. Not only are we in the midst of a world-wide crisis, but we are in the age group of biggest concern. The old people are dying, and we are challenged to do our best to survive.
Thanks go to 1961 classmate Judy Marshall Kennedy for coaxing me into this. It’s meant to be a reference for those alumnae who follow and are interested in the pandemic. I wonder if any of us won’t make it through. I wonder if it won’t be such a big deal in the future.
Check under “Literary” for Bette Keck Peterson’s powerful poem.
This first compilation is of about a week’s worth of emails. I guess the next batch will be in a separate post. Hugs to you all with hopes for a successful physical separation from others. What a challenge we are facing! I wonder how long this will last!
Liz Hottel Barrett, 1961 Webmistress (aka Liz Webfoot)
3/10/2020 – 10:46 am. What’s happening in your areas re the Coronavirus? Are you and friends cancelling travel? Cancelling events? Self-quarantining? So far, NH has only a few cases but folks are in fact starting to cancel travel, especially outside the US, not so much because they fear getting the disease, but they fear being quarantined at the border coming back into the country. Most events here are going forward but a friend in Boston said that lots of meetings and other large gatherings are being cancelled. I went hunting yesterday for pump hand sanitizers for our local music school in anticipation of increased use there by both staff and students, but all stores in the area (Walmarts, drugstores, grocery stores, hardware stores) are “out” but expecting new stock “in a week or so.” Judy Marshall Kennedy
PS That same friend sent the following advice from a MD who has worked for years studying the coronavirus. It’s the clearest and most reasonable thing I’ve seen so far (Dr. Robb)
3/10/2020 – 1:41pm. I was scheduled to take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, led by the Episcopal Bishop, and leaving this week. With Israel stating that all tourists would be quarantined for 14 days (the length of our trip), it was canceled. Now I’m thinking I will travel domestically in the fall. Pennsylvania is one of the states which has coronavirus. Jennifer B-C Seaver
3/10/2020 — 11:58. University of Tulsa will probably lock down following next week’s Spring Break so all profs are learning how to do online teaching. I am on the faculty’s organizing committee for a national conference on the future of the university to be held mid April and we just decided to postpone until Fall. Two graduations of grandkids ( Georgetown and University of Florida) will also likely be postponed.
A leap into the unknown!!! Good health to all of you!
3/10/2020 – 12:10 pm. Advice from Dr. Robb has been circulating the internet for a while now. I’ve gotten it many times already. Unfortunately, stocking up on sanitizer, zinc, rubber gloves, etc. is almost impossible at this point since most stores seem to be out of everything. Hopefully many of us have a reasonable supply of many of the recommended items on hand already.
The American Chemical Society, with thousands of members world wide, and speakers world wide, cancelled its annual meeting for the end of March here in Philadelphia. No cases of corona in Philadelphia, but here, in Delaware County where I live, one case has been reported. I have been going out, but taking all the precautions advised. Liz T
3/10/2020 – 12:04 pm. Hi all. Here in California we have had several cases – 2 here in Long Beach – people who were on trips, apparently , some events have been cancelled, and my campus is considering putting classes online and having students complete the semester from home – apparently a number of universities have already done that. But other than admonitions about handwashing, things are pretty normal here. We’ve certainly been following it all and wondering what is coming next. We are making our own travel plans for late spring and summer, and wondering whether they should be contingency plans – it’s hard to imagine how long this will all last.
Dee deFerranti Abrahamse
3/10/2020 — 4:47. In Washington state, it first broke out in a nursing home near Seattle, and 14 there have since died. State-wide, I believe we are at 123 confirmed positive, with all of those under close supervision/surveillance. In Tacoma, local universities have gone to all on-line classes, or have taken a short recess so faculty can prepare for all on-line classes. One school (Mary Lyon Elementary) is closed for three days for thorough cleaning after a teacher tested positive for it. Numerous big events (fund-raisers, conferences, sports) have been cancelled. For the most part, people are self-monitoring by not going anywhere if they don’t feel marvelous. As I write this, I am missing my monthly luncheon/ study club meeting, cancelled yesterday because a couple of members didn’t feel well. The Episcopal Church is not offering wine at Communion, because we use a common cup. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has turned some of its financial and scientific resources to creating at-home testing kits (to be processed by University of Washington labs); by the end of this week, they expect to be able to handle 400 tests a day, and plan to up that to thousands per day “eventually.” Callers to 911 are now routinely asked about fever, cough, and shortness of breath before aid is dispatched. In public spaces, people wearing masks over their mouths can be seen. Personally, I have been giving myself the gift of 8 hours of sleep every night. We receive daily updates from the governor’s office, our state legislators, our local health department, the newspaper, etc. Governor Inslee’s response to being called a “snake” by POTUS: “I really don’t care too much what Donald Trump thinks of me. We just kind of ignore that. It’s background noise because we really need to work together, Republicans and Democrats. This is a national crisis.” Frannie Blair
3/10/2020 – 8:12 pm. Thanks for all the interesting comments from everyone. Just today our local Anne Arundel Community College announced that after spring break (next week), all events at the college will be cancelled, and all classes will be online. This has the faculty jumping to prepare for on-line classes in less than two weeks. Interesting.
I will have no concerts so no more rehearsals. I’m wondering if all of my ceramics will have to stay unfired until next semester. That includes a special wedding present for the daughter of a close friend — sadness to not have it ready for her by the end of May.
[FYI, I heard from the editor of the Alumnae Quarterly a couple of days ago. They will have an article about Ann Boesgaard in the April issue, and our (Bobby’s and my) article about our Hawaiian trip will appear on the “extra web information” which will be referenced by the Quarterly article. I am disappointed that we didn’t make it into the print magazine. I’m not going to share it with you all because I want you to enjoy fully whatever is in the Quarterly, and I don’t know what they’ll include.] Hugs to you all.
Liz Hottel Barrett (aka Liz Webfoot)
3/12/2020 – 3:54 pm. MHC response to Co-Vid-19: I see that in-person classes end March 13. And spring break is extended until March 29. All students must move out of the dorms by March 20 at the latest (a few exceptions). Alternate teaching methods for the rest of the semester. (On-line, I suppose) Other Universities taking similar actions. No known cases at Mt Holyoke.
Ann Merchant Boesgaard
3/14/2020 – 12:58 pm. Am I the first to have family members in quarantine? my sweet little granddaughter who works at Yale New Haven hospital (not in patient care but in setting up trial cases related to her neuro-psychology degree) has had a low fever and sore throat, not considered sick enough to be tested but her illness has been reported while, she says, those of many others maybe suffering from the virus have not – good news for all of us is that the fever was gone this morning and, that, if it stays down she’ll be released! We are determined not to worry – Alicia is just Matter of fact – amy laidlaw
3/14/2020 – 1:35 am. Nope, Amy. My nephew and his wife have been housing her son and family during a job relocation hunt; the family’s five-year-old is ill, and the family is quarantined for two weeks, so my sister (78) has gone in to cover for her son at work (in the family-owned business). Frannie Blair
3/15/2020 – 10:07 pm. Wishing the very best for that little one / we’re advised not to worry about the young but it’s not that easy- my granddaughter is doing well but quarantined for 2 more weeks – she’s taken to art: painting, not sure which media because I’m not sure who’s bringing her supplies. Amy
3/14/2020 – 1:28 pm. Blessings on us all. There’s a good article in today’s Wall Street Journal about all the diseases our parents had to worry about. Stay well.
Marian Strong Moore
3/14/2020 – 3:13 pm. Our current situation caused me to remember the flu pandemic during our freshman year. I got sick early and spent a few days in the infirmary. By the time I got out, there were cots in Kendall and, as I recall, the college had recruited former nurses living in South Hadley to staff it. I suspect some have memories of time spent in Kendall. Anne Fry
3/14/2020 – 10:47 pm. Thanks Anne! I landed in Kendall on the cots! Did my dorm bed feel good when I was finally released! Cindy Dennett Yee
3/15/2020 – 4:36. I too remember freshman year in Mead lying on a cot in Kendall for what seemed an eternity and being very hungry! Marty Smith was in the cot next to me. Mary Ginn Weinland
3/14/2020 – 3:38 pm. I went to a local grocery store today. The salad bar had not been filled. When I stopped at a Wendy’s, everything is being served in a bag, not on trays even for those of us who planned to sit inside. Our local municipality, West Chester, PA, has mandated that the police will check all eating establishments to make sure tables and chairs are far apart. Needless to add, public schools and West Chester University are closed. Jennifer Bagster-Collins Seaver
3/14/2020 – 9:38 pm. Same in Annapolis. All schools and colleges are cancelled for an additional week after spring break, starting up again on March 30 — at least that is the plan now. Churches are mostly closed. City and county events are closed, government offices are closed. I had a chamber singers class today, last day of classes at the community college before break — in a classroom with all chairs spaced apart 6 feet. I still felt uncomfortable and left. Bryan and I are now at lock-down here. While we remain healthy, we are loving not being able to go anywhere! Trying to make this fun not scary.
3/14/2020 – 10:47 pm. It’s a strange feeling. I spent the day reading a good book – “”The Gift of Rain” by Tan Twan Eng – still only about halfway through, but enjoying it. It looks as though our Quaker meeting will have us all sit in silence for an hour at home tomorrow — then try to get us all on Zoom for later weeks.
Dee deFerranti Abrahamse
3/14/2020 – 7:01 am. I’ve been thinking about our flu quarantine for the last two days. My memory is that they canceled all the mixers that fall. I never got sick so it was a peculiar way to start college rather than any personal concern about illness.
To mildly change the subject you’re a good group with whom I can get satisfaction from my curiosity. Is the toilet paper phenomenon national or local. Can’t buy toilet paper within 5 miles of my house. I didn’t try any further away.
I’m afraid I’m slow I haven’t explored what the symptoms of this condition really are. Curiously, Maggie aka Meg
3/14/2020 – 7:19 am. Maggie aka Meg: the toilet paper panic is definitely not local. There have been major runs on it in all parts of Canada…Toronto, Ottawa, etc. One Costco in a suburb of Toronto was limiting people to one bail each and had a policeman at the door. This in polite Canada! We can’t quite figure out why as diarrhea is not a symptom of the virus (people may be confusing “flu like symptoms” with stomach flu symptoms?). What would be interesting to study are the items left on the shelves during this food buying panic…chickpea pasta, broccoli, jicama, chocolate covered crickets, etc. The things no one wants to eat. Pat Petersen (aka Patty Ure)
3/14/2020 – 8:20 am. Here is a link to an article in today’s NY Times about two entrepreneural brothers buying and hoarding some 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizers, but now that Amazon (and EBay too as I understand it) refuse to allow them to sell them in their Amazon store, they are stuck with them. If you are wondering why the paper goods aisle at your local supermarket has bare shelves (as ours up here in the mountains does), here’s the answer. People are hoarding. I was at Hannaford yesterday and not only was it mobbed but the frozen food section and the canned bean section were practically empty too. Absolutely bare shelves with no TP, Kleenex, Paper Towels, etc., on both sides of the paper goods aisle. Judith Marshall Kennedy
3/14/2020 – 8:44 am. Yes I remember the flu during our freshman year, Anne. Yes, Liz, I am thinking this is a good time to start clearing out (a gift to my sons and daughter-in-laws who would probably get the job). However I am still thinking about it while I pick up another book I meant to read. We are pretty much homebound as it appears all of you are too. Keep out of the infirmary class of ‘61.
Nancy Desmond Cox
3/14/2020—10:30 am. I remember being in Kendall also not fun as I recall. We are at Longboat Key..nice place to be stuck at home. We got six books out of the library yesterday. They usually don’t allow that many but they are closing. I’m in heaven. They say the sun kills this virus, so sitting the pool, reading! Isn’t it strange and a little scary now being in the most vulnerable group?? Betsy Karch Wilson
3/15/2020 — 10:45 am. Re toilet paper hoarding: over a long life I can remember encountering phobias about no TP from time to time. And kind of giggling. ED’s. Maybe growing up in a big family that didn’t discuss such things. And of course blizzards up north. And so over this long life I have always stashed supplies in several places. Right now I am with my sister Ann in Ormond Beach FL.
Dottie Smith Mann
3/15/2020 — 10:48 am. I live near our local library. After I checked out 4 books the librarian said the library was closing for the next 2 weeks. Then I realized I can download books from our online library. Jennifer B-C Seaver
3/15/2020 – 9:09 am. My memory of the flu, freshman year, was lying on my bed in the gym in Kendall, watching Nancy Dingwall drink 19 glasses of water. She had a date with a special guy and decided the only way out of Kendall was to bring her temperature down. I think she pulled it off. Sue Wheatley Carr
3/16/2020 – 11:43 am. I remember the quarantine when we were sophomores. I met some of my best MHC friends there inKendall. Judy Jordan Hall and Helen Suderley Harris among others. My roommate, Penny Gray stayed in our dorm room in Mead and waited the flu out there. Best memory is that on the Sunday of the quarantine a small plane flew over the campus dropping notes of support from the guys at Yale. They said that they hoped we were doing well, and not to fear– They would return! I saved one of these notes and passed it along to the college archives several years ago. Wow – so this was Ivy League life! Our current situation makes the Kendall quarantine look like a piece of cake. We are in the vulnerable population – so please everyone be well! Diana Diggin
3/15/2020 – 9:43 am. Though I neglect to share with you all my life at this time, which is a happy one for sure, I do remember the flu our freshman year, many of us in the beds in Kendall, and lots of water imbibed. Today as I self contain at home per my physician’s suggestion, due to age and basic, not dire, underlying health conditions, I continue to drink lots of water and my favorite diet ginger ale. And I send many wishes for positive self care and good health to you all. Ding
3/15/2020 – 7:09. Hi Ding. You must have changed your drink of choice! Over the years, I have told so many people about my roommate who was an expert on Coke and Pepsi and had favorites of each brand, depending on which part of the country it was manufactured! (As I recall, your Dad was head of Pepsi of Florida!)
Did I make up this whole story, or is that true? Good to hear from you! Cheers. Kim
3/15/2020 – 1:02 pm. Yesterday, in our pretty big supermarket, the crowd of shoppers was huge, managers were scurrying around out in the parking lot retrieving empty carts – actually stalking shoppers ready to unload their groceries, bare shelves everywhere and sparse selection for everything, = you probably know the scene. I did laugh out loud when I saw the ONLY item in the poultry cases was turkey necks!!
Andy and I are in Florida in our beach and tennis community. No known positive tests yet in our county. In an effort to mitigate the epidemic, many communities like ours are”closed”,some even prohibiting all visitors ; our community has just prohibited all group activities. My husband has complex medical issues, so he’s on “reverse quarantine” (my term,my orders) and I’m social distancing. Who could have imagined this world today. … Sherry Welles Urner
3/15/2020 — 2:11 pm. Kirsten and I were scheduled to do our first concert together in 30 years next Saturday but decided last week it would be irresponsible and told the organizers. (We are so disappointed but hopefully we can reschedule). They came to the same conclusion the next day and cancelled all events through April. Then the day after that, our library (where the concert was being held), closed all branches for at least 2 weeks, probably longer. My e-mail box has carried several cancellations of events (like concerts, plays, lectures) in various venues every day so now my calendar is totally blank (or technically, filled with cross-outs!) We still don’t have any cases in Santa Barbara County but I’m sure as the as yet unavailable testing (frown face) becomes more accessible, that will change, especially after seeing pix from the airports today! My ex son-in-law was due to return from Uganda last night but he could still be waiting to get through all those lines at LAX! He will be going on a 2 week required quarantine. My grandson is flying back from Indiana today and I am waiting to hear how he manages at the airport.
Keep healthy! I am at least enjoying reading Pachinko and between newsfeeds, switching to the Hallmark Channel for wonderfully predictable feel-good stories! Best wishes to all. Kim
3/15/2020 — 4:12 pm. Pachinko is one of the best books I’ve read in the last several years. A great companion in this hunkering down time.
My daughter is an ER nurse in North Carolina who preaches flattening the COVID19 curve. I can’t argue, in fact I strongly agree. And in warm Florida it’s easy to walk off cabin fever. But others close to me see it differently. Makes me feel a little sad and lonely. Dottie Smith Mann
3/15/2020 — 11:31. Thanks, Kim! I’m so sorry you had to postpone your concert with your daughter. Hopefully that can happen soon. I’m sort of looking around for a duet to sing with my granddaughter—just for us, not in a concert. But so special, and I hope when your concert does happen, we will be able to see a clip! Virtual hugs, SarahSally Stearns Gipson
3/15/2020 –7:03 pm. Does it bother anyone else that the White House briefings all have everyone clustered tightly together and the press jammed into every seat. One of many things that just piss me off when I watch those.
I was the infirmary during the freshman year flu. Very weird, so early in our college careers. Only other time was right before. comps—literally came out of the infirmary to go to the Comps. Joy. Best part of that was that with only 4 music majors, each of us was in a separate room and the profs brought me purple passions from the CI!
I am feeling SO fortunate because my family had planned a big weekend with everyone coming here (to Indianapolis) for my 80th birthday last weekend, coming from Amherst, Boston, VA and Florida. And it all happened and went splendidly, a whole weekend with all my sibs, kids and grandkids (except one) and spouses. It was glorious for me. This weekend it probably wouldn’t have happened, at least not with everyone. So there were 3 MHC grads in our senior community—me, my sister ‘71 and another resident ‘72. And the weather even cooperated!
Stay well, dear classmates. Since I have lung disease I am definitely “social distancing.” Not difficult for this introvert! SarahSally Stearns Gipson
3/15/2020 – 7:11 pm. I, too, do not think a bunch of people need to stand behind the President or VP at their ‘briefings’ which generally amount to the speaker giving himself a pat on the back.
Jennifer B-C Seaver
3/15/2020 – 7:43 pm. Hi Sarah-Sally, Belated Happy Birthday! So happy to hear that you got to enjoy your family birthday celebration! A precious memory for sure! Cheers. Kim
3/15/2020 – 7:46 pm. We just heard that Governor Neewsom is going to order (or some variation of that) all seniors over 65 to isolate themselves to avoid exposure to the virus – details to come in the next day or two. That’s pretty drastic, to say the least! I don’t know if it will be a trend – what state can have the toughest regulations, or something like that. We await details!
3/15/2020 — 8:09 pm. There are so many things bothering me about the administration and its lack of leadership I don’t know where to start. So I won’t.
So so glad your 80th was wonderful. You deserve it! And do observe lots of distance dear roomie. Dottie Smith Mann
3/17/2020 – 9:19 am. On my last sojourn to the grocery store for awhile I saw the real thing. AND…at the check out counter, the cashier said that a recent customer had spent $1,000!!!!
Sue Wheatley Carr
TOILET PAPER AISLE
3/17/2020 – 1:41 am. Several friends with extremely elderly parents (in their 90s and one at 102) have removed them from assisted living facilities, and brought them “home” for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. Frannie Blair
3/17/2020 – 11:09. Here’s the latest in our CCRC. We live in a duplex in Woodside, independent living. Hawthorne Hall is the assisted living, Deercrest is attached independent apartments. There is also a “memory” building and a large skilled care facility. We have now essentially been shut out of our community! Yesterday Charles went to Costco—we needed milk etc—but he took very careful precautions there and back at home (my nursing specialty was hospital employee health which included infection control, so I feel like I know a bit about it…), and my kids were really upset. Guess we won’t do that again, but we have family that can get stuff for us; not everyone does! This is surreal. SarahSally Stearns Gipson (link to Delivery Menu)
3/17/2020 – 11:15. This is pretty much the tune at Seabury. We are well cared for and I am grateful. Marian Moore
3/17/2020 – 11:29. At our CCRC here in North Carolina all activities have been suspended and they are delivering lunch and dinner to all residents in independent living at no charge. Absolutely no visitors, except in cases of residents being in hospice. Independent residents cannot visit other residents (even spouses) in the health center. We have been asked to not to get together in groups. All staff and vendors are being screened daily when they come to work. My husband and I are getting exercise by walking outside the building and, fortunately, it is warm enough to do that comfortably. On a brighter note, this quarantine is allowing us to work on a number of projects that we never seem to have time for! Both of our children are now working from home. Kay Bloecker Nelson
3/17/2020 – 11:50 am. Yes, it is surreal. Everything is closed in our community except golf course and probably tennis courts. But what is really surreal is a trip to the grocery store! A lot of hoarding going on. Most shelves are bare!!
Our grandson and his girlfriend came Sat. night. We are having a good time, but I regret that we can’t do very much and, frankly, I will be relieved when they actually get on the plane and make it home safely. For many reasons, we don’t want them stuck here!! Fortunately, they enjoy the pool and the beach. That’s about all we can offer them. No idea when or what our trip back to NW WI will be like.
Barbara Hartt Hise
3/17/2020 – 12:37 pm. We are at Longboat Key and have decided to go home early. Our son called last night and begged us to come home where we have support and doctors that know us! Hopefully planes will still be going on Thursday ! Changed our flight pretty easily without too much extra cost. Going on Allegiant and all planes are new, so new air control systems. Non stop so no big airport to worry about. Going straight through from ST Pete to Traverse City. We just won’t breath while we are on the flight! And wipe everything down! Hate to leave this gorgeous weather…walked the beach early this am and will go to the pool later on this afternoon. People are sitting far apart and maybe a dozen there. Missing going to restaurants for grouper but may get a sandwich to take out this afternoon.
All our lives are being disrupted, but we pray for those who are already sick and some who have lost theirs. Read and write and text and talk on the phone! Let people know you love them! Back to packing for us! Not so bad! Best to all. Betsy Karch Wilson
END OF PART 1