It is a cooler day in Carbondale. Again I feel a hint of fall in the air. I visited the Division of Motor Vehicles for my license sticker and was pleased to see their strict adherence to social distancing. A staff member met each person entering the facility at the door and instructed you were to go. I was reared on Walt Disney films and science fiction and Dracula and Frankenstein movies. I wore my cousin, Billy’s Creature From The Black Lagoon mask for a eight millimeter film that we shot. I wish that I still had the copy of the 3 and 1/2 minute masterpiece! The days of my youth were spent riding my bicycle that was fashioned to look like a motorcycle…or later my three speed…which was an elaborate delight! Life contained going to the movies at the Orpheum Theatre in Eldorado, Illinois on Friday night and again on Sunday afternoon. Mom and I would enjoy a humongous root beer and Carter and Choissers Drug store…and they cost a nickel. I throughly enjoyed going to my friend Jackie Brooks house and we would play with action figures such as Johnny West and Stony the army soldier and the Fess Parker rendition of Daniel Boone. Jackie’s mom, Thelma would make us hot dogs…or rather serve us hot dogs directly out of the plastic wrapper…as Jackie liked them better that way. I literally rode my bicycle in from our country home, which was about two miles, and all over Eldorado, and then back home in the evening. Often in the evening we would capture lightning bugs in a jar and marvel at how long they produced their mysterious light. I loved to swim and summers were filled with mom and I and some of my friends and my cousin Brenda making the twenty mile journey to Ponds Hollow to wile away the hours swimming. I learned to float and subsequently floated far beyond the safety rope into the very deep water. As I floated I noticed that all sound dissipated and the people that had been all around me were but little specks on the far shore. I had neither fear nor distress as I was quite sure that I would be fine.
So today we are in the deep water…aren’t we. We are confronted with a pandemic that can take our lives. On top of all of the regular struggles of life has been placed this virus that seems like a science fiction story. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has cancelled all on campus classes after one week into their fall semester due to a surge in coronavirus cases on their campus. With our best efforts we are battling a foe who has no respect for persons or political party or religious affiliation. Believing that you will be alright if you refuse to take the precautions that our health professionals have outlined for us…is a fools errand. Feeling that you are invincible and beyond the reach of a world wide pandemic results in disappointment and disillusionment.
I have felt the surrealism of attending a few events that seem so normal and happy and with nothing to fear. Everything seems good and safe and sane and a sanctuary for human contact and fellowship. But looks can be deceiving. I have seen the happy young people on the beach. I have enjoyed a couple of restaurant meals, al fresco and with masks, and all seemed as it should be and nothing to fear… However, sadly we are not in a Disney movie where everything turns out for the best. We are players in a movie that is a bit more akin to Dracula. We confront a hidden danger that does not reveal itself to empirical studies in public places.
We long for happier and carefree days. I still want to live in the happiness of Lady and the Tramp and Daniel Boone. I can shut my eyes and relive the feeling of total bliss that I felt as I floated in the deep water of Ponds Hollow. All of these pleasure are available to us if we do not allow Dracula to bite out necks…in our sleep…