For the last 33 weeks, we have been ensnarled in this plague they call a pandemic. This week, instead of griping about this or that facet of life under siege which annoys us all, allow me a few moments to reflect on a few things for which I give thanks.
First on my list is a major league thanks for my bride of 52 years. In the fall of 1967, a smiling woman raised on the banks of the Damariscotta River agreed to have a drink at the old Thistle Inn with a nearsighted Hoosier. A year later, despite rumors that she was entering “Indian Country” (some still believe that anything west of Boston is the Wild Wild West), she flew out to Indiana to meet my family. After making sure I had a job and was not just saying I did, she answered with a warm hug when I got up the nerve to pop the question.
A few days later, we marched into the office of the Warren Township Justice of the Peace and said, “I do.”
That was in 1968, 52 years ago. It was an election year, filled with the nation seeing protests over an unpopular war. It was a year where, like 2020, sharp words replaced honest debate. It was a year that saw the terrible assassinations of national leaders Rev. Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. God forbid we ever again have to endure such a thing.
That was a year when we all gave thanks for our survival. Ditto this year.
This morning, as I made the coffee that enabled me to write this missive, I looked at the side of the fridge where we have a gaggle of photos stuck to the shiny black surface. There are photos of smiling little girls, giggling teenagers, goofy adults and joyful family gatherings. These photos, printed on real paper, not just digital images pixilated on a flickering phone, represent some of the other people for which I offer thanks.
This year, we will not be giving a collective thanks as we sit elbow to elbow around a noisy table filled with the overflowing bounty of the season. We will miss the company, as well as the turkey, stuffing, boiled onions, cranberry sauce, peas, carrots, all awaiting the moment when they are smothered under a blanket of warm gravy.
Instead, this is the year of hard times, hard times as Mr. COVID-19 lurks around our door. Since March, we have more or less stayed home.
As the leaves of this election season continue to swirl around our collective psyche, let us give thanks to our friends and neighbors who volunteered to staff the polls, count the votes, and endure the taunts of those who disputed the score.
And don’t forget to offer thanks for the brave first responders who bring us to hospitals and nursing facilities staffed by brave doctors, nurses, janitors and mechanics. Others deserve our thanks, too. Do you visit the grocery store, or the hardware store or gas station? We would be in the mud locker without them all. In a few months, we will need our local druggists to dispense the vaccine that Big Pharma is cooking up in their kettles. Thanks in advance to them.
Don’t forget to give thanks for our neighbors who volunteer at thrift shops, libraries and food pantries. I will offer a special thanks for another group that is vital to our community. Despite the danger of illness, the faithful reporters and editors at my favorite local papers, the Boothbay Register, the Wiscasset Newspaper, and the website PenBay Pilot, have remained on the job. The brave folks at our rival sheet, the Lincoln County News, stayed on the job, too.
Your local paper is the only place you can find accounts of local events that affect our daily lives, including stories of schools, taxes, town and county government, local elections, church notices, and obituaries, all topped off with Bob Mitchell’s beautiful photos of the people and places that make us, us. In many ways, the local newspaper is part of the glue that holds our community together. We cannot let it pass into the dustbin of history.
In these times of trouble, local newspapers deserve more than our thanks. They deserve our support. If you are not a subscriber, take a moment and go to your computer and sign up. While you are at it, why not sign up your kids and grandkids. It is a great way to keep them in touch with the community we all love.
Stay well. Stay strong. We will survive these times.
As Stephen Foster wrote in 1854, “Hard times, come again no more.”