By Dr. Jerry Lincecum and Dr. Peggy Redshaw
When we started the “Telling Our Stories” program in 1990, we had to convince older adults that their reminiscences would matter to others. One of the most effective arguments we used was: “Think how much the world has changed in your lifetime. Will your grandchildren believe how different things were when you were growing up if you don’t write down stories about it?” Now the coronavirus pandemic has presented us with a radical new reality, and we need to record some of its defining features. Use the prompts below to begin thinking about your own COVID-19 stories and write them for others to read—now and in the future.
Prompt: What have you bartered, or would be willing to barter, while some supplies and services have been scarce?
Billy Lee was making Chicken Marsala and texting a neighbor when they both realized they had something the other wanted. So they met at the fence between their backyards, and Lee used a mechanical grabber to pass over a heaping dish covered in foil. Then he retrieved something even more valuable from his neighbor: a 12-pack of toilet paper.
Prompt: What little things have you missed the most while staying home?
Retired English professor Jerry Lincecum telephoned two of his fellow volunteers at Wilson N. Jones Hospital for a chat. They agreed that being denied the opportunity to make and sell popcorn to hospital staff and visitors as they had done for years was uppermost in their thinking about coronavirus disruptions.
Prompt: What memorable conversations have you had with the people in your quarantine group?
The grandson of Pat Smith of Sherman expressed a sentiment shared by many children when he earnestly queried his mother: “When are we going somewhere? I’m tired of staying home all day long.”
Prompt: When you consider your history, what is unique to you during the Covid-19 crisis?
Biology Professor Peggy Redshaw, who has studied the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 in depth and taught numerous courses about emerging viral diseases, has been thinking about the sheer luck that her Redshaw family survived the influenza pandemic. Her father was an April 1918 baby, sickly, and a challenge to his parents. The family made it through the fall wave of flu as well as the spring outbreak that followed. Undoubtedly, living in the country, away from the city, helped keep them safe. Today’s pandemic occurring in the large cities makes such social distancing difficult but still extremely important.