By Barney Blakeney
It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Good thing I’ve decided not to have any more bad days – some may be better than others, but I don’t have bad days anymore. Still, the past couple of weeks have challenged that outlook.
I was just coming down with some kind of ‘bug’ when the Corona Virus pandemic hit the media. I never used to catch colds and such. But in the past few years as I’ve gotten older I find I’m coming down with something maybe once a year during the cold season. This year, for the first time, I got the flu vaccine. Lo and behold, a few months later, I come down with some kind of ‘bug’.
I didn’t let it bother me. For maybe the past 10 years I’ve kept a cold jar of “Life Everlasting’ in my refrigerator. And no, the plant that can be found growing wild in the Lowcountry is not illegal. A couple of years ago I called Charleston Police Department and asked the sergeant in the vice squad to be certain. He said there are no codes against it either in the municipal or state code of laws. But don’t take my word for it – call them yourself – never mind rumors and what ‘they’ say.
When I found myself coming down with the bug, I went straight to my Life Everlasting, homemade chicken soup and orange juice – works every time for me. I ‘bout had the bug licked when the Corona Virus scare hit the news. By the way, any you guys got any of that Corona? I can use a six-pack. I got my own lime~ lol. That joke doesn’t go off so well with some folks. While battling the remnants of my bug I coughed at a friend’s house and got escorted to the door.
A few days later as panic wreaked havoc among friends and foes one source encouraged people to prepare rather than panic. While the COVID virus is serious business, nothing substitutes for good information. Another source said this pandemic will bring out the best and worst in us. We ain’t seen nothing yet.
I’m a little worried about that. We’re only a few weeks into this thing and people already are snapping at each other. We haven’t begun to feel the full weight of this thing. Pretty soon all the social distancing will start to take its toll. People are social animals. It’s how we survive. Us recluses may find it a little easier at first, but the social butterflies are gonna catch hell.
And we’re good for right now on the financial side, but the freebies and ‘gubment cheese’ soon will run out. As an old man I know used to say, “Plenty money, plenty fun. No money, grumbles come.” We’re looking at a new world order, people.
Just when I thought things were about as challenging as they could get, I got a pick up. I went to the church to deliver some newspapers – haven’t been to service in weeks. And yes, I hear Mrs. Riley’s voice in my ear every Sunday I miss. As I walked in passing the Sunday School class, one of my sisters got up as the lesson was being discussed, ran to me and gave me a BIG hug! She was glad to see me. I’ve been missed.
As she approached I backed away saying, “I’ve got a bug!” but she continued to rush in exclaiming, “I don’t care about no bug!” and gave me one of her customary squeezes. I’d missed a lot of Sundays, but she made me feel like the ‘Prodigal Son’. It was one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long time! I promised myself I’d get to church last Sunday. But the city outlawed church gatherings. I always figure in times of trouble, church was one place people wanted to be.
That was a downer, but things took a turn for the worst during a Sunday afternoon phone call. I learned Rev. Dr. Helen T. McKune died March 19. She was 78. I met Ms. McKune when I started this gig. She always was a staunch supporter of the paper and a close friend to founder Jim French. Ms. McKune always was straight laced with me, but they tell me she could be quite a hilarious pickle. I know she was one of those at the forefront of progressive action in the Black community. In that respect Ms. McKune was no joke! She made things happen.
The latest setback came with the memorial service for Ms. Evelyn Brown formerly of 31 Poplar St. in Charleston. She passed away February 15 at Baptist Hospital, Miami, Florida at age 93. I don’t know a lot of details about Ms. Brown’s life, but her big picture was a kaleidoscope of giving and nurturing. I know her father was a former pastor at Gethsemane Baptist Church, Romney Street in Charleston. Her sisters are Mrs. Harvey, mother of Gethsemane’s current pastor Herbert Harvey, and the late Mrs. Virginia Morgan.
After finishing Burke High School Ms. Brown completed her B.S. Degree at Benedict College. She moved to Philadelphia, Pa. then to New York, N.Y. where she received her certification and Master Degree in Early Childhood Education. While living in NYC, she taught in early childhood centers for over 30 years. In 1978, she retired as the director and owner of her own Day Care Center back to Charleston.
Ms. Brown didn’t drive. She walked past the paper daily as she volunteered at Wilmot T. Frasier Elementary School, studied African and African-American history at the College of Charleston and served as a member of the ASAALF at Avery Institute. A celebration her life burial and memorial service was held March 21 at St. Johns Episcopal Church 91 Anson, Street Charleston.
Some of this may sound pretty bad, but as I said, there are no bad days. Some are just better than others.