As I write this on March 14, 2020, Cumberland County and the surrounding region in southern New Jersey has not been directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic—that is to say, there are no known cases of any individual testing positive. Indirect effects, however, have been on the scale that most of us, in our lifetimes, have not seen. We’re used to going out to eat on a regular basis, meeting friends at events, shopping for what we need for the week, and traveling on spring break. We’re accustomed to doing all these things without a thought about events being cancelled, store shelves being emptied (with no snowstorm in the forecast), embracing family and friends we meet or obsessing about washing our hands every time we touch something.
Over the last couple of weeks, our daily lives have been turned upside down and we are left to wonder if we should be practicing “an abundance of caution” or not feeding into what some suspect is hysterics on overdrive. Most of us are somewhere in the middle.
On the facing page is an article by Andrew Abeyta, assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University – Camden, who suggests that we all find our calm place in the midst of the mounting chaos, and that one very good way to do that is to remember and be nostalgic, at least until we can get back to our normal routines, however long that may take. I suggest you read it and find your peace.
Ten years ago, I never thought I’d be one to rehash “back in the day” with family and friends, but as I grow older I’ve been doing just that. Well, my kids, all three in their 20s, will tell you I’ve always done it (maybe I have with them), just as my parents, aunts and uncles did with me. I’m sure I rolled my eyes, hearing about the Depression years, eating bread and lard sandwiches and on my father’s side being less affected living off the land as farmers. But now I find comfort in knowing that they survived without all the stuff we’ve grown accustomed to. And we can do it again, if it comes down to it, and be stronger for it.
Something I shared with my kids recently is that their grandchildren will one day ask them about the great coronavirus pandemic of 2020. I know this because I asked my own grandmother about the Spanish flu of 1918.
Speaking of that event, in this issue, on page 25, we reprint an article by our longtime history columnist Vince Farinaccio. It first appeared in The Grapevine in 2009, about the time of the swine flu epidemic (remember that?). It offers a glimpse at the 1918 Spanish flu and how Vineland was affected by it. Reading it may put our current health crisis in perspective for you.
We will all have our stories when we look back on these times. Mine will include the rollercoaster ride of last week when I was looking forward to a long-ago-booked trip to Florida. It was to be a girls’ getaway with friends from high school to visit another friend who lives there, and to catch a Phillies spring training game. Day by day, I was going, then not going, then spring training was cancelled, Spirit was still flying, then what if I got stuck down there, and would I need to quarantine after I returned? Friday morning we cancelled our Saturday flight. In the scheme of things,
it was not a sacrifice.
All of our stories should include how we came together in crisis and forever after remained compassionate to our fellow citizens, how we left that last needed item on the shelf for someone who needed it more, how we stayed home more, had more family meals, brought back family game nights (I suggested this after the sports suspended their seasons—upending my sons’ routine)—how we did more with less.
Here at SNJ Today, we plan to continue your routine delivery of this paper as well as radio at 99.9 FM, with John and Yamira weekdays between 8 and 10 a.m. We invite you to make or keep us part of your routine as we journey through this new normal together, day by day, week by week.