Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Walking and Thinking

About four or five mornings a week I go for a walk between 6:45 to 7:00 AM. If that seems early to you, remember this is hot, humid Houston. So far, the early morning hours are still cool or at least cooler than it will be from 9:00 AM through the rest of the day. West University Place where I walk has big oaks shading the sidewalks but there are a few magnolia trees scattered through the area. The other morning I was walking and thinking when this lovely scent stopped me. It was a magnolia tree that was just beginning to bloom right beside the sidewalk. Most of the buds and opening flowers were too high to photograph except for this one. I stood there for a few minutes breathing deeply and fighting the urge to reach up and pluck this flower and take it back to the apartment to enjoy the scent and the delicate beauty. I've made photographs of magnolia blossoms and I've seen many photographs made by others, yet I never get tired of seeing them.

But back to the subject of this post; walking and thinking. I was thinking about how major world events affected me all my life and I was wondering how this pandemic would affect my grandsons for the rest of their lives.

I was born to a mother and father who were children during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. I've saved Christmas wrapping paper and bows, jars, old clothes, never hired anyone to do anything unless it was absolutely necessary, knew how to cook cheap cuts of meat and how to extend meals, fretted about mortgages and car payments, packed food to eat along the way when we traveled, seldom ate at restaurants and, well, you get the idea. Of course over the years some of these penny-pinching ways disappeared but I still see that Great Depression influence in my life.

I was almost five years old when the United States entered World War II. I remember my Mom and Dad with chairs pulled up to the radio and knew that something had happened although I did understand what war was. But it was a terrible thing and we had to have black curtains on our windows at night while my Dad sat close to the radio to listen to the news. My parents had brothers who went to war. The passenger train from Houston to Dallas which we rode every summer was crowded and people got up to give their seats to tall, skinny, tired soldiers. There was quiet talk among the adults about the Pacific, about Europe, about England. At five or six years old I didn't have a concept of geography but I knew they were far away. After the war, the brothers came home and while the adults sat listening to their stories, I would slip into the room and sit back against the wall on the floor to hear what they were saying. I think that WW2 was the beginning of my love of history and travel and probably politics as well although I did not recognize the political side of history at that time.

When I think about the Pandemic and my grandsons, I wonder how the economy will affect their lives. How difficult will it be to find jobs? Find the job they have hoped for? I've wondered how long colleges will stay closed and for my baseball playing grandson, when will his college baseball team be able to play again. He has worked to be a pitcher since before he was old enough to play T-ball.  And what about my drummer grandson. When will venues open for live music? And what about the fun factor of being in high school and in college, parties, dates, sports and then of starting a career. The fun factor is important in a young person's life. Will it return soon? I hope so but I truly believe that this pandemic will affect the way they see the world for the rest of their lives.

What about you? Do you think that a world event affected the way you have lived your life? If you have grandchildren, how do you think it will affect their future?


  1. Glad you are posting again. Interesting as always

  2. I grew up in the Youngstown Ohio area. I left school about the time the local steel industry imploded, we enjoyed 20% unemployment for a number of years. At least half the young people left for other areas of the US for work. The whole thing was traumatic for the area. The next 40 years saw the erosion of manufacturing in general. We had low unemployment, about 5% before the virus but we never saw the kind of rate of pay that industry paid. Youngstown is still a hardup place. It led the state in virus cases per capita from the start.
    To how this virus will affect the future: We'll have a two year recession on the national and world stage. We here in the US were due one anyway, it would have been shorter but for the virus outbreak shutting everything down. Instead of a slow onset of recession, it came in one fell swoop so that should be interesting how the timeline runs. We are being educated on just how we transfer germs to one and other-people will be a lot more careful here on out. Not a bad thing.
    We'll see more concern with supply lines, where we get goods, China will see a general market loss on the world stage. That may be good for Mexico.
    In short, I do not see a depression of ten years, I have a few corespondents who do, I disagree. That said, it might be wise to limit discretionary spending. Cash will be king for a year or two.

    1. Hi Norm, This morning the NYTs had an article


      Sorry for the long link. I need to learn how to shorten these things.

      At any rate the article is about China and how they are opening their economy but they are not finding as many buyers, both business and personal buyers, as they had before. The article highlighted some people who had a difficult time to put food on the table. Where they had bought expensive "imported face cream" or collected "designer handbags" they now were buying less expensive things or deciding not to buy at all in an effort to save money and be better prepared for another disaster/pandemic. I don't know how long we will be in a depression but I think that those who have lived through this will consider discretionary spending for the rest of their lives.