Joe’s Journal

Week 27 – Hard times

Ramblings from an old scribbler
Wed, 09/16/2020 - 7:15am

It has been 27 weeks since our fearless elected leaders told us a terrible pandemic was lingering outside our cabin door triggering the summer of discontent, er, confinement, sort of.

“Hard times come again, no more.”

Our business friends, who depend on the tourists' dollars to get them through the lean winter months, seem to be hanging on, although I am reluctant to ask them how they are doing for fear the question will lead to awkward embarrassment on both sides.

Ronnie Babcock's auto repair shop and Russ Pinkham's specialty seafood/meat and provisions emporium report their business is doing pretty well.

Back home, most of us have had no or very little interaction with friends and neighbors. Venturing outside our bubble on the hill meant strapping on a mask and elbowing our way through Hannaford's crowded aisles as we restock the larder once again.

Unfortunately, we have had no visits from friends from away who love our peninsula and islands. These are friends who spend the winter months longing to spend a few weeks sitting on rickety porches, staring at the sea and ignoring the classic novels they pledged to read.

Many of us have limited our activities, too. We are well past our “sell by” date, and are on a first-name basis with too many doctors to venture outside our self-imposed bubble.

You may blame it on Mr. COVID, who still lingers outside our cabin door. Hard times.

We are bombarded with political ads on TV and online that insult the candidates, their supporters and our intelligence.

There was a bit of excitement on the peninsula last week after a flurry of national news stories said the current occupant of the White House used language disrespecting those who put on the uniform to serve the nation's interest in the former Republic of South Vietnam. The words “loser” and “sucker” were used to describe them.

My Southport pal, Jim Singer, a smiling, mild-mannered Republican, is also a very proud Marine veteran.

When he heard the words “sucker” and “loser,” he hit the ceiling, opened up his computer, and took to social media to let the president and the rest of us know what he thought of those words.

He began by telling us how 53 years ago, he was a young Marine infantry lieutenant charged with leading 30 of the “finest young men I have known,” as an NVA division came across the border near a dot on the map called Con Thien. In a three-day battle, the Marines suffered nearly 200 casualties. A mortar shell landed next to him, killing six, including his radio operator, and wounding a dozen others.

Second Lt. Singer suffered minor wounds. His post did not tell us that after he came home, he battled the Veterans Administration for years to get them to recognize the toll Agent Orange took on his body.

Singer, who is retired from the airline industry, also explained how he watched President Trump bungle his way in and out of commercial aviation. He also objected to the president’s affinity for dictators and propensity to dismiss our military leaders.

Admitting that lots of folks would disagree with his position, he laid out the reasons for all to see.

“For the record, I'm part of that dying breed called moderate Republicans. I dislike most of the ‘progressive’ platforms that are out there. I'm not particularly a Joe Biden fan and wish the Democrats had picked someone I could actually feel good about.

“But I will state unequivocally that I would never vote for an elitist, draft-dodging Commander in Chief who feels that guys like my cousin George (who died last week from complications of wounds he suffered in Viet Nam), like the Marines I served with in Vietnam, and all the other servicemen and women in today's military are ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’”

Singer's sentiments are shared by more than a few veterans who still get their dander up when they think of their contemporaries who avoided military service by running away or having parents with enough juice to pull strings to keep them out of uniform.

It is refreshing to read original comments from a friend who writes from his heart. Much of Facebook's political opinion posts seem to have been regurgitated from mysterious websites.

But original thoughts, reposted rants, and snarky insults are part of the strangest of all American political campaigns, waged during a pandemic, severe economic woes, racial injustice protests, religious unrest, and just plain cussedness.

I think I’ll take a cue from Stephen Foster.

In 1854, he wrote, "Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears. While we all sup sorrow with the poor. There's a song that will linger, forever in our ears. Oh, hard times come again, no more."

Be well. Stay safe.