Sunday, March 14, 2021

Women's History Month - Focusing on Emma Hale Smith and the Relief Society


                                                       Image via Carole Maguire


     Is it merely a coincidence that Women's History Month coincides with the creation of the Relief Society in March of 1842? Maybe so, but let me tell you about one of my heroes, Emma Hale Smith, founder of the organization.

     Emma Hale Smith was the creator of the Relief Society, one of the world's oldest and largest organizations of women. Founded in New York State, it has been in continuous operation since March 17, 1842. Emma was the gathering's first president, and its very first meeting, she predicted to all present they were about to do something extraordinary. This week in my studies regarding Emma, I found this quote by her mother-in-law, Lucy Mack Smith, “She has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty-she has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman.” What did this mean, exactly?

     Many people reading Lucy Mack Smith's words, if they are unfamiliar with seafarers and their lore, might not understand the depth of admiration that this mother-in-law felt for her son's wife. They might not have grasped the many layers of meaning in the above quote if not for for the history I'm about to share.

     According to the research done by many historians and maritime aficionados like Debra Ronca, sailors tend to be more superstitious than the rest of us. The long list of nautical legends, folklore and superstitions may seem odd to us landlubbers, but when your profession exposes you to the elements and uncontrollable natural disasters, you're better safe than sorry. Good luck charms and omens of bad luck pertaining to sailing, boats and sailors have endured for centuries. Just two of these false beliefs are that a sea voyage which starts on a Friday is doomed, or whistling on a boat will conjure up a storm. One old nautical superstition held that women on ships or boats were very bad luck. Women were historically forbidden from sailing on military vessels or merchant ships because captains believed their presence would anger the sea gods who would cause rough waves and violent weather. (An alternate explanation might have been that bringing a woman on an extended sea voyage could be extremely "distracting" to the all-male crew — and probably cause problems for the woman as well. A distracted or jealous crew is an unsafe crew.)

     Yet, although sailors believed a woman on board would anger the sea gods, they also believed a bare-chested woman calmed the seas. A topless woman would "shame" nature into suppressing its anger. This is why you still see bare breasted female figureheads with their blouses wide open on the prows of boats and ships. (From “Why Were Women on Ships Considered Bad Luck?” by Debra Ronca)

     A fictionalized account of these unfounded, traditional fears can be found in the well-researched book Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (published 1993). The scenes themselves seemingly come to life on the televised Outlander series whose third season was based upon this novel. Another example of sailors’ traditions is demonstrated when, to ward off misfortune, the sailors of the Artemis must touch a horseshoe placed in a prominent position on deck. Regarding that horseshoe, everyone had to rub it before embarking on their journey. With the Artemis already underway, the strong-willed protagonist of the series, Claire, who has not as yet caressed the object, wishes to placate the seafaring men by making an obligatory touch of the metal shoe. Captain Raines says, "Too late for that. It must be done at the beginning of a voyage." She is quickly instructed on many of the traditions that ward off bad omens and sea demons and is told that during the voyage, women should be baring their breasts so that the sea-gods will perhaps show mercy upon the crew.

     Lucy Mack Smith was poetic and at the same time sincere in her praise of Emma. Her daughter-in-law was there as a beacon of prayer and mercy - a bit of a bad omen to tradition - who had weathered fierce storms of disease and persecution.

     Who was Emma Hale Smith, beyond her creation of an enduring world-wide sisterhood?? Most notably, her name is associated with her husband Joseph Smith Junior, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She had an active role in Church proceedings and advisement. Her discouragement of men spitting their tobacco onto her floors led to a health code called the Word of Wisdom. Decades later, many people such as the Kellogg Brothers took an interest in health codes and practices similar to the Word of Wisdom. Shortly afterward, physicians embraced the consumption of healthy food alongside the abstinence of hard liquors and tobacco.

     Emma was also a scribe to her husband at a time when many men, but women especially, could not read or write. (This was in a time before organized Women’s Liberation or the Suffragette movement.) Women did not advise their husbands in their religious callings let alone preach on the pulpit or transcribe sermons. The Relief Society was the beginning of something big, a movement with momentous repercussions.

     Many times, Emma witnessed the horrifying burns and injuries that her husband endured at the hands of angry villagers. She suffered the loss of several children, one notably after its birth. A chill wind blew into the room in which her infant’s cradle was kept after a door was left open during a home invasion. Local mobs, incensed by their hate, strove to pour hot tar on Joseph, and then cover his body in feathers. They burst in as he was singing to and cradling the child in his arms. Stories are told of removing such a mess from human skin. It could take a day, maybe two leaving tears, welts and open sores. Emma not only had to tend to her injured husband by peeling the tar from his raw skin, but comfort a sick and dying baby.

     Some people in this world would have considered it bordering on evil at the most, maybe poor judgment at the least, for Emma to be outspoken in the church, well educated, and by her husband’s side, through all the turmoil that came her way. Ultimately her husband was martyred. Perhaps more mercy could have been shown to Emma and her family by people inside and out of the church. Maybe mercy was shown more than we can imagine, as at one point the mob came to castrate Smith. Ultimately, through the storms that came Emma’s way: death, escape, polygamy, moving every several years from state to state, sacrifice and widowhood – this great woman’s prayers for mercy bared her very soul. She was a blessing and an example to the women of her time, and mine as well.

     Emma Hale Smith is one who endured.  She leads my personal vessel as a woman of strength, patience and prayer. Lucy Mack Smith’s words were an eloquent summary of Emma, whose countenance is carved in my heart; Emma Hale Smith leads the way as the woman I honor this Woman’s History Month.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Creating the Great American Fondue Pot While Counting and Measuring the Ingredients.


        Several days ago, I posted the above meme on my Facebook author page. By posting it, I wanted to see how many people were triggered by the words Arabic or forced. Just I as anticipated, I got some very interesting responses from some very appalled readers.


    Please, allow me to let you in on a little something I learned DECADES ago: Arabic numerals. They are the basic numbers that all of us used, learning how to count and do mathematics, beginning in pre-school and grade school. They are what we all used when counting for teams in gym class.  I for one felt forced to use them as a small child. For that matter, I felt like school was a prison until I reached seventh grade. I am grateful for Arabic numerals over the Roman numeral system.


     Until 1968 I was raised with Lebanese-American and Arab-American neighbors and friends - Christians- not Muslims as some of the neighbors I lived close to in later years assumed all people of Arabic descent must be. Thereafter, at least once a month, we'd visit an Arabic - American woman that prepared the most scrumptious lamb served in pita bread. Once a week, as a toddler, I faithfully watched a Lebanese - American woman as she graced the screen of my television: Marlo Thomas in That Girl on Detroit’s own ABC channel 7. (I wanted to be her and yes, I remember the sixties.) Her father, Danny Thomas, produced among other programs, a very iconic, very All-American classic: The Andy Griffith Show.


     I have Japanese-American sisters, a German born mother who obtained her citizenship before I was born, and had Mexican-American neighbors. My dad told me the history of traditionally African-American foods and although I am not African-American, those are my favorite foods. I can cook hot-wings and ribs and banana pudding - oh my!!! (In Detroit those dishes were called "soul food" but my family just called it Southern cooking.) I also enjoy making traditionally Mexican-American recipes such as tacos and fajitas. I make a great pico degallo also known as salsa fresca.


     Back to math, what is the common denominator in the nationalities I just mentioned above? "AMERICAN". When my family enjoyed all these wonderful friends, neighbors, relatives and their food, and by extension their cultures, we were not appropriating. We were appreciating. Somehow we all got along. Then about fifteen years ago, so-called do-gooders "doing good" came along and accused we-the-neighbors (AMERICANS) of culture appropriation. I guess divide and conquer is the mantra of their wrinkled souls. Please, for the sake of all that is Holy - DON'T LISTEN TO THEM!


     I choose to love, eat, pray and visit. If you do as well, ignore those that spew hate and divisiveness and just choose LOVE. Let's share a park bench, and a bagel sometime.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

He asked, "Why do I have to pay school taxes if kids aren't going to school?"

     I belong to several forums across this great nation of ours. Lately I see individuals saying, "If schools are not going to open then we should not have to pay school taxes."

     In many districts nationwide, teachers are still teaching remotely and lunches are still being made and delivered. Parents are doing their best to step up and implement lessons in the home. It's a struggle, but that's what we as parents and grandparents face indefinitely.

     In these community groups, you always get the people that react and type, "This is a stupid question." As a former teacher, I'll chime in here:
Good teachers always say there is no such thing as a stupid question. Also, the student (or person) asking is not stupid. Questions should always be asked. We just need to answer and educate. Clearly these posters don't know about remote teaching or the cost of media and materials, not to mention the maintenance crews that still show up to work. They clean, maintain plumbing and fixtures as well as monitoring in-building climate control. That's why we continue to pay school taxes.

     Now I'm going to add a parable and I hope it puts this in perspective for some of you adults: Most sporting events are viewed on TV. Should we stop paying athletes if we don't see the games in person? My taxes go towards stadiums and other sporting facilities. Many games were cancelled this year and some sports that are still taking place have limited spectators or none at all. So, let's suggest we lay off the maintenance crews and let the stadiums crumble like the Pontiac Silverdome. Oh, wait, you want a field that's mowed this Autumn for the NFL? You want a nice smooth surface for an ice-rink so there's no bumps in the ice when hockey resumes? You want a nice, shiny basketball court for the Pistons? I bet millions of tax-payers would get their panties in a bunch if their favorite team were inconvenienced or if they had to miss another game.

     Many of these sports heroes never crack a book after they leave college. That is why our country is facing mess after mess because our idols are no longer the ones that fight for freedom, save lives, or create art, music and literary works. We idolize strength of body alone, not balanced with intellect or thought. Even the hardest working men and women need to relax, read, contemplate and meditate. That is what teachers do. They guide our future generations to use their brains. Honor the teachers in your lives and continue to use your heads.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Render Unto Caesar

     When craftier people in a crowd questioned Jesus in ancient days, they asked Him about paying taxes. Two thousand years ago, the burden of heavy taxes was hotly contested amongst the conquered people of Isreal. An answer either way could cause controversy, riots “unfollowers” you could say. If the Son of God were to proclaim that the conquering Romans and their tax-collecting minions were in essence evil, while true, that statement would be in defiance of the imposed Roman sanctions. To state that paying those taxes was fair and within the law of the land would anger the conquered Jews in the city and also in the countryside.


     The goal of some of these people was to cause controversy and trip up Jesus with His own words. In His wisdom, Christ gave it great thought, took a few breaths and asked, “Whose face is on the coin?” The people in the crowd answered that Caesar’s image was on the coin. In Mark 12:17, Jesus answered, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”


     During this “time of uncertainty” as many call it, we’re asked to wear masks in public. Some government leaders call it a law. If we wear a mask, does that make us any less a Christian? No, it does not. Does that make us unable to pray? We can still pray.


     What makes us less Christ-like is arguing with our fellow beings that may (or may not) agree with mask compliance. You know, the ones greeting us at grocery store entry ways. They say “Hello” and you feel the need to tell them to make love to themselves (but with a lot less kind words). You see the hosts at restaurants wearing masks. They say, “Hello, may I seat you?” then you scream in their faces, “If I have to wear a mask I won’t eat here!” Good enough, you can use a drive through or have take out. You rant about Constitutional rights, but the government isn’t saying that because you’re a certain ethnicity, political group, gender or religion you have to don a face covering while everyone else doesn’t have to wear a mask. Add to that, these businesses are not a political power. They’re following government guidelines.


    I believe I have (and will have) bigger issues to fight for. Wearing a mask is not a deal-breaker for me. I pray nightly for the leaders of our world to come unto Christ. In the meantime, I will wear a mask in public. I will follow my Saviour and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

(By the way, I don't drink Crown Royal. If you read one of my posts from several years ago about my dog Jodi, You'll understand the place Crown Royal holds in my heart.)

Friday, June 5, 2020

The March I Want to See

The March I Want to See

I took a walk on the beach yesterday. I saw Asians, Blacks, Latinos and Whites. I saw mixed-race families. I saw young faces and old faces; some covered by masks but many were not.

I even saw the police on the pier. They were looking out at the water. I asked what was going on. They said that they heard teens were climbing the cat-walk. They didn’t say Asian teens, Black kids, Latino youth or White children. I’d been there at least twenty minutes and had not seen anyone on the cat-walk.

The people I saw on my stroll were not arguing. They were not throwing things or shouting. They were walking, just like me. They were living their lives like we all should. This is the march I want to see – not just for today, or this month but for always. We are all God’s children. Let’s walk together.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Memorial Day, a Motor Boat and Oops, it was just a Joke!

     For the past several years I’ve heard people state the opinion that our country is not great or unique. This is a fact: our country is the greatest for a multitude of reasons.

     We took the best ideologies of Greco-Roman scholars and teachers. We also took the teachings of Christ that everyone is equal and we need to forgive, and allow people freedom and new starts. Biblically that new start is called repentance. In the American tradition, it is the chance to begin a new life.

     For us to have freedom, we must have a government that is accountable. Our founders established NOT a king, but a president, with two extra branches of leadership: a congress of individuals that we choose to represent citizens and a supreme court to judge weighty issues facing "we the people". That way, one division of leadership would not become greater than the other.

     Sadly, in the two centuries that we’ve been a nation, career politicians, special interest groups and lawyers have taken over Washington and managed to corrupt the process. Also, despite dedicated teachers in each and every state, “education” failed a majority of students. Textbooks were written to state dry facts in the most boring way. I credit one teacher in particular for kindling within me the will to learn, not just parrot a few statements back. He taught for the Taylor School District and his name was Mr. Harrison Caswell. He made Michigan History come alive for me.

     Once I got out of the public school system and did my own independent studying, I learned more about United States and world history, actual HISTORY, going back more than just the last fifty years. I learned about Plato, Socrates, Thomas Payne, the Revolutionary War, Egypt, Rome, Greece and more. I wanted to know about my ancestors and what they faced on the other side of the world. I wondered what they thought when they journeyed from Europe. I discovered that some politicians (in Washington) displaced entire groups of people to the Indian Territories no matter what race they were, although most were a Cherokee mix. Many politicians and their supporters saw the beauty of the land and wanted the resources for themselves. Why? Because they felt they had the right, that they were above "we the people".  I learned that many Americans were against this displacement, but a corrupt President, one-time war hero Andrew Jackson, was the head of this forced move to what was then called the Indian Territory. I wanted to know more about how some settlers traded alongside the Native Americans yet others claimed the land for themselves as soon as their Cherokee neighbors were made to leave at gunpoint. I wanted to know why Native Americans were allowed by fellow Americans to be displaced from their homes.  I later thought about my ancestor Pherribba Talley and the separation from her sister Nancy who was forcibly moved west to present day Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. I wanted to know the stories of WHY our many ancestors came here in the first place; beyond the Pilgrims’ reasons. Then I wanted to know more about the people who were called Pilgrims and why they moved from England, to the Netherlands and ultimately a new and intimidating land.  (Let me tell you, it was quite an adventure!) I wanted to know why slaves were taken from Africa, traded for goods, chained in cramped conditions on ships, sold at markets then held as prisoners and forced to work for a master. I found out that some Cherokees had slaves, some Native Americans enslaved people from other villages, and then I learned that even the Irish were traded around the world as slaves until the era of Saint Patrick when he implored English ship captains to put a stop to trading and selling his new Christian converts! I learned about political prisoners traded by the English and used as slaves here until our Revolutionary War. I learned that one of my ancestors was a widow and that after her husband was killed during the Civil War, her man-servant stayed on for a time. I learned about some settlements where the color of skin didn't matter; just a strong back and a will to make a living on the land.

     Each and every time, Americans held up the ideals of our Constitution and Bill of Rights to lawfully support the causes of people who were downtrodden and oppressed in our country. Any abuses were at some point put to a stop.

     We do not have a caste system that entire people are born into that they will never leave as do countries like India. Each of us has the opportunity to crawl out of poverty. We abolished slavery more than a century ago and despite that victory, politicians tried to enact Jim Crow laws to suppress voting. Elections were eventually opened to all people, even women who fought with all their might to be allowed the right to vote in all states. In some countries, women are still second-class citizens in each and every facet of that phrase. They are still chattel that are not allowed to make a decision apart from the man that is the patriarch of their family: a father, older brother, younger brother, husband.  Additionally, we do not have a state religion as do some nations. You can worship, or not. We do not shoot people in the street or throw them off rooftops for being gay. The basic laws of the United States, when followed, are now boiled down to the popular phrase, “You do you, I’ll do me.” I learned the words, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” which was allowed as long as it did not infringe upon the rights of others. For example, I can build a shed in my backyard, even if you hate that I painted it yellow – and it is decorated with big metal daisies all over its roof. Now if that shed is harboring rabid rats that invade your yard. . . well, I hope you are getting the idea.

     Since the early 20th Century we’ve been putting celebrities and politicians in the place of true heroes. More recently I’ve noticed people worshiping not only individual politicians but their entire parties. They fall in line and goosestep to one extreme or another. Citizens have been abdicating their common sense and individualism, thinking the direction a celebrity or party urges voters to go must be the right way. Then they accuse the other side of having a narrow minded ideology as well, that if they voted for Suzy MacSmythe, they must also be for eliminating pennies from the banking system and eating possums on Fridays for lent - irregardless if they themselves would never eat opossums on any day of the week any time of the year.

     Although they’ve earned their positions in life by hard work, entrepreneurship, skills, inventions or otherwise, the rich and privileged do not have the right to pressure any business or company to put them above and beyond the common individual. Then they are no better than bullies or organized crime. If allowed to set themselves above "we the people" then we become, “those the oppressed”.

     We cannot look aside when politicians put themselves above those citizens that work hard for a living. When they do, it is called "Tyranny". Beware of anyone who supports actual tyranny. Open a few history books (not textbooks) that were printed before 1980. You can find them online. Most web pages have a bias one way or the other.

     You might ask why I’m blogging about freedom, history and tyranny. Aside from it being Memorial Day when we think about the servicemen and women who gave all and never returned alive to the country that they served and loved, it has also become a time for family. It’s more of a long weekend holiday – leading into the impetus for my post.

     Last week, in my home state of Michigan, after this long Covid lock-down, boaters were allowed to take their watercraft out again. A man called the marina and requested that his motor boat be prepared for use. An employee told the caller that due to recently being allowed to open, he’d get to the boat, but most likely not in time for Memorial Day as requested. The man on the other end of the line urged the marina employee to get the owner or manager, despite the fact that the small business owner was busy with other people ahead of him. The caller then asked if the fact that his wife is Governor Gretchen Whitmer would that get him moved up the line, ahead of everyone else, effectively like taking cuts in Kindergarten for the best cupcake at the kiddie-party – because mommy is the principal. At first, spokespeople for the governor denied that this had happened at all until employees proved that this was indeed the case and that it was Whitmer’s husband, not a prank caller. Ms. Gretchen Whitmer then held a press conference saying that her husband was the caller and he was merely joking around. He was just going to the family cottage to clean up a little, rake some leaves, on Memorial Day of all weekends. He did not take any family members, she said. So why then, did he need his boat? Why would he ask to be moved up the line ahead of other customers?

     The fact that our governor's husband would play the "My wife is the governor of Michigan" hand at all, let alone during this time that small businesses are concerned that they may lose their income completely and without mercy or recourse, concerns me and it should concern all of us. If that doesn't, if you still think this was a big joke, if this does not frighten you that your freedom might be in jeopardy one piece at a time, then the fact that our country might lose its position in the world is not the fault of Revolutionary Patriots nor our founding fathers. It is from people that do not hold these values in high enough esteem to actually get off their complaining backsides and vote. It is the fault of bullying mobs hiding behind podiums and their computers trying to overthrow one branch of the government, the presidency, instead of supporting viable candidates to try again at the next election. (Now before you get your little panties in a bunch, I did not vote for Donald Trump. I support the system as it was established.) That being said, if our country loses its place as the best nation in the world, it is not the fault of politicians. It is our fault for not being more involved beyond being keyboard warriors, by voting, running for office, learning history, teaching our children, listening to real sources of news. We are still the greatest nation in the world. Do not let this so-called "joke" be accepted, condoned and brushed aside. Freedom is not a joke.

     Tyranny is also, not a joke.

(Photo courtesy Adobe Free Stock photos. Contact blogger for proof of permissions granted.)

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Corona Virus Reaches Mayberry

     Corona Virus has hit the timeless town of Mayberry, North Carolina, situated in the shadow of Mount Pilot. The townspeople all react to the situation in different ways.

     Sheriff Andy, in his wisdom, weighs out the situation. Truly caring for his citizens, he recommends the lock down. He strongly believes in the Constitution and realizes he cannot tell people what to do in their own yards. His responsibility is the town and its citizens. Reluctantly, he closes down every other non-essential business in Mayberry.

     His first line of defense is a medical team:  Pharmacist Ellie Walker,  and Dr. Thomas Peterson, who is fairly new to town. Not everyone trusts him, but Andy does. That means a lot to most townspeople, but not all. Suspicion abounds.

     Opie and his pals are pulled out of school. Mrs. Crump sends work home for the kids once a week. The teacher actually defies the order to stay home. She bravely decides to set out, throws off her heels, puts on some sturdy leather boots and hikes up the mountain to reach a few outlying farms where children need their lessons.

     Churches and quilting parties are suspended until further notice. With all this extra time on her hands, Aunt Bee, already a domestic goddess, sets out to learn how to cook Chinese and Mexican food. Andy was getting a little tired of pot roast and meatloaf anyway. Wanting to bake bread, Aunt Bee heads to the market to find that yeast and flour cannot be found. She gets in her car and heads out as far as fifty miles away, but each store has fewer and fewer supplies. Always prepared, she’s had extra toilet paper in the back of the pantry, but just for fun, she checks out the paper-goods aisle at every stop. No toilet tissue. Anywhere. One month later, strands of her hair are out of place and she misses her church services and social clubs. She doesn’t remember the last time she wore a bra.

     Andy ordered the closure of the barber shop as well. His hair is getting a little straggly but he learns to deal with it. Desperately needing funds, Floyd starts to sell pot out of the back of the shop, always managing to steer clear of Deputy Barney Fife who is diligently patrolling the streets.

     The jail is shut because only the most violent offenders will be put behind bars. Since everyone is essentially a prisoner in their homes, that means there is no violent crime and nobody's been arrested. Dust is gathering on the cots. The door hinges are rusty. Otis Campbell has nowhere to sleep it off. Bars are closed anyway, but Otis still manages to grab a bottle from the tiny liquor store just out of town. Barney finds him snoozing in a corner, tells him to move along, and being the sweet sot he is, Otis stumbles home. His budding ice-cream business is considered non-essential and there’s no money coming in at all. Nine months later he and Mrs. Campbell welcome twins, delivered at home. Thank goodness Ellie was dropping off Mrs. Campbell's anxiety medication. The lady-druggist assisted in the babies’ births.

     Gomer and Goober are considered essential, although nobody’s driving through town. The Blue Ridge Parkway is locked up tight, so no tourists. There’s an occasional vehicle that needs maintenance. Gomer, a former Marine, has been cleaning and greasing his gun, just to be prepared. His National Guard Unit is called up and he’s sent to California. Nobody knows why. Meanwhile, in neighboring Virginia, the governor wants to ban rifles.

     Pretty Ellen Brown, a talented nail technician is banned from doing manicures. Although out of work, she does her magic and finds creative ways to make a buck. With that money, she buys a ticket on the last bus out and moves to Harper Valley.

     The streets of Mayberry are almost empty. Barney Fife, devoted deputy, is beginning to show signs of psychosis. Like a sheepdog without sheep, a dog without a job, he’s quickly becoming a menace to society. Sheriff Taylor assigns him to the farms of the outlying areas within Mayberry’s jurisdiction. Andy tells his sidekick to make sure that the farmers are self-isolating. He knows they are, but is desperate to get Barney out of his hair (which is down to his collar by this point). He advises Barney to make his own policy and sets the officer to work.

     As Barney drives off, Andy watches a truck unloading at the pharmacy. Minutes later, Thelma Lou runs out with a box of masks.  Aunt Bee is laughing in hysterics as she leaves the shop. She’s scored a six pack of toilet paper. Opie wavers through the alley adjacent to Floyd’s Barber Shop. The young man’s brain is as cloudy as the smoke that surrounds his head.

    Andy decides to take Opie fishing, just like the old days. Walks to the fishing hole and catches a few, watching with interest as Barney tickets a lone man in a motor boat. His crime? Operating the motor boat during quarantine. The man’s family goes hungry that night.

    Farmers Flint and Pruitt start their seedlings early. Their greenhouses are full and they’re ready to sell what they have. They meet at their fence line, six feet apart of course. They talk about the weather, crazy people in town and feeding the families of Mayberry and beyond, in places like Mount Pilot and Charlottesville. They are expecting Helen Crump, Floyd, Ellie and Aunt Bee to buy some tomato plants that weekend for their small backyard gardens. Barney drives up the lane and demands the farmers, ALL farmers in the region, shut down. He locks up the greenhouses. He spouts that flowers are non-essential, even for Easter. The men get their overalls in a knot and argue that they’re mainly selling vegetable plants. These produce food, which is essential. Barney accuses them of being un-American racists. The farmers protest downtown, driving their tractors by the barbershop, pharmacy, the shuttered bank, town hall (where the mayor is hiding) and lastly the police station. Andy is out. There’s a matter at home that needs his attention.

     Aunt Bee has had a mental breakdown and Andy’s debating whether he should take her to the small, local clinic. Doc Peterson has tested positive for Covid 19. Conspiracists feel vindicated accusing him of bringing the virus into Mayberry, via smuggled vials. Nurse Oakley has run out of gloves and clean masks. Thelma Lou bought the last shipment - the entire case.  Local citizens are showing symptoms. Ten people came in sicker than dogs. Most were later sent home, but two are in the little country hospital’s ICU. The outbreak is tracked down to Jim Lindsey and his honky-tonk band, who’d just returned from a world tour. Jim later passes from complications and is mourned by the music industry, yet housewives and diabetes patients are succumbing one-by-one in the surrounding regions—and nobody mourns for them. Funerals are prohibited.

     The honorable and beloved Reverend Hobart Tucker wants to comply with the stay-at-home orders, but also wants to spiritually feed his little flock of believers. He urges people to come the following Sunday to receive the word via the church parking lot, to remain in their cars. He erects a podium and speaks to the people via a bullhorn. Medical personnel, towns people and farmers from all over Mayberry gather. The reverend hands out cases of food to hungry families. Barney arrives, hands out tickets and arrests Reverend Tucker. The jail is locked, and Barney is forced to let this hardened criminal loose on the streets.

     The farmers can’t sell their dairy and eggs. They can’t give them away at the church meetings.  Their products are dumped into a ravine and months later people in the surrounding small towns go hungry.

     Everyone agrees with Andy, quarantine is best. A few otherwise sensible citizens are hoarding. Most people agree what is and is not essential, but some things just aren’t adding up. As their stomachs ache, citizens grow distrustful.

     The streets are virtually empty, day and night, except for Ernest T. Bass who is running the streets, giggling like a mad-man, drooling, peering in windows. Month after month, night after night, one by one there are others lurking in the shadows. The townspeople, as well, are slowly losing their minds.

A Sideshow Journey by Liesa Swejkoski

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