Currently viewing the tag: "COVID-19"

Jayden Myers, Eighth-Grade Student at Thurmont Middle School

While people have been carefully navigating the daring dance with COVID-19, the world has been faced with lockdowns and restrictions.

In the resulting chaos, everyday life changed for us all. The stressful situation took a toll on those who were confined to their homes, sending some into a boredom frenzy and making others feel stir-crazy.

Although still relatively restricted, people have slowly adjusted over time and become very creative with what they do in their free time.

Many have stayed busy by engaging in hobbies, ranging from making face masks to writing stories. Others have committed to helping others during this time by supporting small businesses, supporting the food banks, providing for those who can’t go out, and much more. This has been beneficial to the community and its citizens in this time of need.

Besides supporting the community in various ways, there are other hobbies people have developed for fun. Personally, I’ve started writing more stories, drawing, painting, and trying new recipes. I also found a new hobby of crafting sticks into wands. It gives me a project to focus on that I have fun doing. Not only has this helped me cope with the sweeping lifestyle changes, but it’s helped me discover other interests as well.

Eighth graders Olivia Johnson of Western Heights Middle School in Washington County and Kendall Stuart, a home-schooled student, spoke of how they have occupied their time over the past year.

“I started writing and making TikToks more,” Johnson said. “That’s mainly what I’ve done to keep myself busy.” Although our conversation was brief, she went on to explain that there hadn’t been a whole lot she had become interested in, as writing takes up most of her time. This keeps her occupied during the time she isn’t in school.

Stuart committed time to personally enriching hobbies, “So far, I have started making YouTube videos, TikTok videos, and improving my makeup skills and dancing skills. I mainly focus on improving my makeup and dancing. I’m trying to work toward my goal of being a professional makeup artist.” Stuart agreed that these activities have kept her busy during her out-of-school free time.

Both have found pastimes that they enjoy and that keep them active. 

While randomly asking members of the community about their hobbies, the most popular answers were arts and crafts, such as wreath-making; drawing; painting; making face masks for the community; pursuing outdoor activities; and spending more time with family. It seems people have started doing activities they did not have time for before the pandemic. I feel like people have realized what they were missing before it all started.

The quarantine has given people time to connect with their families and to have more free time to explore creative outlets. It also taught many a lesson like cherishing what they have before it’s too late, and to be grateful.

Similarly, new hobbies such as cooking, storytelling, making online videos, creating music, designing, and far more, have been chosen by people along the way to keep away the lockdown boredom.

As time progresses, many will likely stick with the new hobbies and skills they gained during this difficult time.

James Rada, Jr.

The Town of Thurmont is considering building its own internet service to provide residents faster service at a lower cost.

The Thurmont Internet Commission presented a pilot program to the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners in February. The plan would be a gradual build-out of service using the town’s electric company rights of way and water towers to do a fiber-optic build-out.

The idea is not new. Other municipalities, such as Easton, already offer this to their residents. For Thurmont, it would also rectify a problem residents have with current providers, which is they don’t get the service speeds they pay for.

“A lot of our residents only have access to DSL, and the speeds they’re getting on DSL are abysmal. They’re getting 7 megabits, or they’re paying for 15 and only getting 7. They’re still paying $30 to $50 a month and not getting what they’re paying for,” Elliott Jones, commission chair, told the commissioners.

The leading providers in Thurmont are currently Comcast and Verizon DSL. When the Internet Commission surveyed residents, it found that most residents received around half of the speed for which they pay. Residents in remote areas of town can’t even get DSL access right now.

Commissioner Marty Burns, the commissioner liaison, said this needs to change. “With COVID-19, it made it even more critical that we all be connected like never before.”

The proposed plan could eventually be expanded to be 10 Gbps, although it would start at 5 Gbps. The plan also proposes a wireless network initially that would be replaced by a fiber-optic network once enough residents are using the system.

The potential pricing is expected to be significantly lower than Comcast or Verizon. For instance, suggested pricing for 50 Mbps service for residents could be $65 a month, and they would also get a 50 Mbps connection.

The commission projects the cost to build a system to be $506,000 over three years. Afterward, it would cost about $90,000 a year to maintain the system. At this point, the system becomes highly profitable.

The basic idea underlying the plan is to create a wireless system that can quickly provide high-speed internet to most of the town at a minimal cost. Then, as users join the service, the town can save money toward paying for the expensive fiber-optic build-out, and it will know in what areas the fiber network is most needed. It’s all about a gradual build-out.

“It’s like eating a sandwich. You can take one bite at a time. Instead of having to eat the whole turkey, you can eat a turkey sandwich,” Elliott said.

The commissioners are interested in the idea, but they have not yet voted on whether to proceed.

As the 2021 spring season approaches, Thurmont Little League is looking to the future, yet reflecting on the past as well. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the league. Although COVID-19 restrictions will not allow for the grand celebration deserving of such a milestone, the board of directors is still working hard to plan an exciting year for players, coaches, and families. The league is looking for information to recognize any past board presidents from the 1950s-2000s. Additionally, anyone with photos from the 1950s-1990s, especially from league championships, please feel free to pass them along to the current president, Keith Myers (keithmyers07@gmail.com).

After an off-season, filled with field renovations and improvements to the grounds, the league is now moving full-speed ahead for its opening day festivities. This year, opening day will be held on Saturday, April 10. DJ Brian Mo will be on hand once again as Master of Ceremonies, presiding over player introductions, the National Anthem, and the throwing out of the first pitch. Throwing out the first pitch this year will be the Myers family from Thurmont Kountry Kitchen. Their dedication and service to the town of Thurmont, as well as their constant support of the league, have been greatly appreciated, especially during the pandemic.

There is still lots of other work to be done before the season starts. Evaluations for the minor and major division will be held, along with a draft for each. Fundraising efforts are continuing as well, with the league accepting donations for its annual basket raffle and continuing to sell spiritwear items, such as t-shirts, hats, and hoodies. The league is once again selling discount cards, which are always a popular item. For $10.00, you can purchase a card for unlimited usage at many of your favorite local restaurants, everything from a free drink to 20 percent off your order. Please contact the league on Facebook or by email at tllnetwork@gmail.com for more information.

Finally, a fundraising night will be held at Roy Rogers on Friday, March 19, with proceeds from drive-thru orders going to the league. Come on out for a great meal to support the Thurmont Little League.

As always, the league is continually looking for volunteers to help with coaching, concessions, and umpiring. An umpiring clinic will be held at Leisner Field on Sunday, March 21, at 9:00 a.m., with lunch provided. If you are interested in seeing what is involved, please make plans to attend. This is open to all adults and youth ages 13 and up. It is a great opportunity for retirees who love the game or high school athletes looking to gain some volunteer hours. Please contact Umpire in Chief Blaine Young at beyoungjr@comcast.net for more information.

Everyone is excited for the upcoming season, in hopes of adding a return to normalcy for players and families. Thurmont Little League can’t wait to see everyone at the fields.

Thurmont Little League’s upgraded bullpen area.

Jayden Myers, Eighth-Grade Student at Thurmont Middle School

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, it has left many establishments and businesses closed down, including schools. Following the closings of schools, students and teachers began using an alternative to in-person classes in the form of virtual school. This has been a hard transition for many, as they were no longer able to meet in person and receive that one-on-one instruction. What was supposed to be only a few weeks of missing school to flatten a COVID curve, has turned into a long-term struggle for nearly a year. Students and teachers alike have been affected, and it leaves the decision of returning back to school questionable in many ways.

Students have their own opinion of online school, whether it be good or bad. As an eighth-grade student at Thurmont Middle School, I understand some of the challenges. One of the main issues that students face—myself included—is the ability to understand material in their classes. In school, learners could receive one-on-one help and get visual examples. Assignments are easier to comprehend when shown in-person rather than over a screen. Another issue that poses a challenge to students learning at home is distractions. As a student with ADHD, I sometimes have a hard time paying attention, and now that I’m home, I have many more distractions than I had at school. This is hard during online classes because my attention can quickly switch from my work over to something else, to the point I stop paying attention and I lose track of what I was doing.

In addition to the academic challenges, the loss of social interaction is also a concern.

The absence of social time greatly affects students. School provides social interaction with people rather than just a computer screen. Eighth-grader Olivia Johnson feels strongly against virtual schooling. “It’s the worst, and I hate it,” she said. “I would rather be in school to socialize, and it’s a lot easier to get help when you’re in school.” Liv continued to say, “It’s also a lot harder to focus because there are so many distractions.”

Liv’s days with virtual learning are challenging to say the least. “Every day, I have my main classes: E.L.A, science, history, and math. The days transition between A or B. On A days, I have one of my selected gym classes and tech. On B days, I have one of my extra classes and an extra help class for my last period,” she said. She explained that it switches every day, which makes it more difficult to follow her schedule. While this is just viewed through my perspective and Liv’s perspective, everyone feels differently about it, but the difficulties are apparent.

The in-school break has been tough for teachers, too.

For Michael Brown, a technology education teacher at Thurmont Middle School, virtual teaching is all new, and it hasn’t been easy. “One of the issues that I and other teachers have has been the plan on how to deliver instruction effectively,” Mr. Brown said. “Teachers also had to look at how to provide coherent instruction that was easily navigated and understood by all.” Mr. Brown continued, “The teachers had to think about how they would collaborate and plan together, especially for those who teach the same courses.”

These were just a few concerns that Mr. Brown and other teachers had as they began the journey into virtual instruction. As time goes on, the idea of returning back to school continues to be discussed, laying the foundation for new plans to be made for a safe return.

Mr. Brown also spoke of some of the aspects of returning to school. He talked about the safety measures and rules that students and teachers would need to follow in order to keep everyone safe and schools open, when the time comes.

Life Skills teacher Vanessa Yost added to our discussion. “We must make sure students, both online and in-person, have their individual needs met,” she said. Mr. Brown added on to that, “Things are changing quickly, and it’s adding more instructional complexity.” They both agreed that the transitions will be challenging. “However, we have great faith in our FCPS students to transition smoothly and continue to make excellent growth.”

Teachers have not been blind to their students’ struggles. Mr. Brown and Miss Yost agreed that virtual learning has been tough, with isolation, focus challenges, and time management pressures. They also noted that building relationships between students has been challenging.

Students will be meeting one another for the first time in many cases and will have to get to know one another on a more personal level, not behind a screen.

Since the start of virtual school, students and teachers have faced many transitions and have risen to these challenges with positivity. Although the road ahead in returning to school will have its bumps along the way, we will continue moving forward. As you can see, the issues students and teachers have faced are complex, but we are all learning and we will continue to get better each and every day. As this uncertain time progresses, teachers and students will still face challenges, and they will meet them head-on to the best of their abilities.

In Frederick County, as of January 21, 2021, over 12,000 residents have received their first vaccination for COVID-19. Currently, the county is vaccinating people in group 1A and those who are 75 years and older who live or work in Frederick County. Residents who are interested in receiving the vaccine must visit the website at www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/CovidVaccine, and complete the “Vaccine Interest Form” located in the blue box.  Please note, completing this form does NOT make an appointment for you to get the vaccine.

They will contact people who have registered on this form by priority group as they receive more vaccines.

You will be contacted by the email you provide in the form. When you are contacted, you will need to register for your appointment online.

You only need to complete the form once.

It may be several days, weeks, or longer until you are contacted since it depends on vaccine availability.

If you are unable to complete the form online, you may call the Frederick County COVID-19 Appointment line at 301-600-7900, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please note that this call center is specifically to help people make appointments if they cannot do so themselves online. They are asking our community to please check on friends, family, or neighbors who may not be able to make their appointment online and help them with that process so that the call center can help those most in need. Appointments slots continue to be limited, but more will be available each week.

The Thurmont Lions Club had another great opportunity to hold a fundraiser to help in giving back to the community to support local and charitable organizations during COVID-19.

The club conducted its first fudge fundraiser on December 19, 2020, just in time for the holidays. They sold vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, maple, eggnog, and peppermint fudge. It was a big success, with 145 pounds sold and a sizable profit for the club.

Peanut butter and chocolate were the best sellers, followed by maple. The club would like to thank the community for helping to make this a successful fundraiser. All the profit will go back to the community.

The Thurmont Lions Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Due to COVID-19, the meetings are held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, located on Church Street in Thurmont, or virtually. 

For more information, visit www.thurmontlionsclub.com or call 301-271-4020.

A Clean Slate

by Valerie Nusbaum

Happy New Year! I’m hoping that 2021 will be a great year for all of us. I know a lot of you were miserable in 2020. Many people we know suffered job losses, business closings, and illness.  Randy and I were fortunate that, so far, we haven’t been visited by COVID-19, but we know many people who weren’t so lucky. My hubby and I didn’t mind staying at home, although there were times when I know we got on each other’s nerves.

I trust that every one of you had as good a holiday season as possible given the circumstances.  With that being said, it’s time now to take a deep breath—which is difficult when wearing a mask—and figure out what the heck we can do to make this new year better than the last one.

We probably all ate way too much over the holidays. I’ve heard horror stories from friends about how they’ve gained a lot of weight due to quarantine-eating and depression. Maybe that’s where we start: an exercise plan and diet regime. I’ve never been a big fan of dieting, and I haven’t really needed to do it. If I notice that I’ve put on a pound or two, I give up desserts for a while or do a little extra on the treadmill. Or buy larger pants.

Since I know that losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution, I had planned to tell you about the night Randy met Richard Simmons; however, that isn’t going to happen. In mentally writing that story, I realized that there’s no way I can tell it without incriminating myself and my friend, Roxann. It’s a shame, too, because it’s a great story. But since it involves a romantic dinner for two at The Quail Ridge Inn, a fit of hysteria, a spinning toilet, and a drive back to Frederick where something illegal occurred, I can’t go any further. I will tell you that I have a lovely photo of Randy being hugged by Richard Simmons, both of them grinning maniacally. And I can still hear Richard yelling, “the thingie, the thingie…” There was even a brief uninvited peek inside Richard’s limo, which only happened because one of us made a friend of the security guard.  Don’t judge me. This happened in 1991 or 1992, and “Sweating to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons was a huge hit. 

So, if I can’t write about diet and exercise, I think I’ll talk about snow since we’re heading into the timeframe where blizzards are possible. The hubby has a snow blower. It’s not the kind of snow blower one would normally use for a smaller property such as ours. Granted, we do have a lot of sidewalks, both surrounding our yard and leading from the front door to the back door to the basement door and crossing the patio, which needs to be plowed, too. Randy also likes to make a path leading back to his workshop, because if he doesn’t do that, I can see his footprints and I know he’s in there hiding from me. 

Anyway, the snow blower is an industrial-sized monster of a machine. Calling it a snow “blower” is such an understatement. I’d say it’s more of a snow “hurler.” If a person is ever unlucky enough to be walking down the public sidewalk in front of our house, he or she would be buried and frozen solid in a matter of seconds. Randy can accomplish this feat while standing at least 100 yards away from said person.  This snarling metal behemoth will also hurl rocks, dirt, and porch furniture, and it makes a growling sound much like an angry hippopotamus, or maybe I mean a rhino. It’s scary, that’s all I’m saying.

The snow blower used to belong to Randy’s dad, who bought it to plow out a driveway that was 150-yards long, and to manage my in-laws’ five-acre property. It was never intended for use in our cozy neighborhood. Consider yourselves warned. If the blizzard that Randy is praying for arrives, you’d do well to avoid us until the walks are cleared. It is kind of funny to watch, though, because the machine tends to get away from Randy. Once, he got his scarf caught in it. Winters are long, cold, and hard. I take my jollies where I can get them. 

Did I mention that I’m not allowed to use the snow blower?  Nope. That’s a job for a big, manly man. I really don’t have a problem with that because I much prefer staying inside where it’s warm and being in charge of the hot chocolate and cookies. Yet, I’m pretty sure Hubby keeps me away from his monster machine because of the incident with our riding lawn mower. Actually, there were several incidents, but maybe I’ll tell you about those in the spring.

Here’s wishing all of you good health, prosperity, and much happiness in the year to come.  And laughs—lots of laughs. Find them where you can, and if you can’t find them, call me. I’ll tell you the Richard Simmons story over the phone.

Counting Our Blessings

by Anita DiGregory

In celebration of the last day before an extended holiday break, my daughter’s lovely and very talented tutor had created a “Grammar Bingo” game for the class. Each child chose their own card from her stack of handmade bingo cards.  My daughter chose hers and then proceeded to win grammar bingo not once, not twice, but five times!  As we climbed into the car with all her candy winnings, I joked on our way home from our homeschool cooperative that maybe she should try her luck with a lottery ticket.  Her homemade cards made me think, though: Can you imagine if we all had bingo cards for the year 2020?  Who would have had murder hornets for the win? How about toilet paper hoarding?

I think we could probably all agree that if 2020 had a motto, it would be the year when everything was out of whack and nothing went as planned. For many, it was a year of tragedy, of loss, of division, of suffering, of sadness, of isolation.  Many have fallen ill; many have lost friends and loved ones. And all of us, even those fortunate enough not to personally be infected, have been impacted by the reverberations of this pandemic. And, as a result of the very nature of the beast, we have been denied of the very things that would bring us any semblance of solace: church services, gyms, restaurants, and even each other. 

Last Thanksgiving, my family lost not just one but two beloved family members. I recently read somewhere that the human body remembers trauma. As these anniversaries drew closer, I could feel my anxiety grow.  And, as the 2020 holiday season drew closer, I so deeply desired to be with all of my loved ones. Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen. My parents and brothers and their families couldn’t be here. Even my son, my expectant daughter-in-law,  and our granddaughter couldn’t be with us, care of COVID-19…the gift that keeps on giving.

I may never get “the big picture” or understand why things happen the way they do, but I do trust in God and His perfect love for each and every one of us. Even as COVID-19 threatens to follow us deep into 2021, we can still choose to make this a wonderful year and strive to become our best selves. I think the challenge lies in becoming the best version of ourselves, not because of all life presents us with, but in spite of it. One of the keys to this may be cultivating an attitude of gratitude.  For example, instead of thinking of all 2020 as ruined, perhaps it would be helpful to count the blessings it brought. I have a friend who shared that she chooses to remember 2020 as the year she had her husband at home, a year that brought them closer as a family and as a couple.  Personally, 2020 brought much of my family back under one roof again. I am thankful for the gift of time with my loved ones, and I find myself even more grateful for and appreciative of those times when we are all together. I am also thankful for all those working on the frontlines, for the doctors; nurses; police; fire, rescue, and EMTs; priests; teachers; and the parents who have added homeschooling tutors to their long list of responsibilities this school year.

Gratitude reminds us of those things we may have taken for granted and helps us focus on all the blessings in our lives. Cultivating gratitude isn’t always easy; it is a skill worthy of developing and practicing each day. 

Overwhelming amounts of research show that gratitude is the most powerful way to increase happiness. Simply developing the habit of writing in a gratitude journal for five minutes a day has been proven to have substantial health benefits. Furthermore, in a research study that examined those who counted their blessings and those that counted their burdens, it was noted that the grateful group reported increased well-being, had better health, exercised more, felt life was better, and had increased optimism. But that is not all. In over 50 studies on gratitude, it was observed that grateful individuals experienced improvements in their health, personality, and career, as well as personally, socially, and emotionally. Some specific benefits included improved health and sleep, increased energy, optimism, altruism, self-esteem, better relationships, and feeling happier, more relaxed, and more resilient. 

So here’s to making 2021 different. Let’s make it a year to become the best version of ourselves, to be present and intentional in every moment. Let’s put what really matters most first. Let’s work hard but strive to love and pray harder. Let’s perform random acts of kindness, help others, give more than we get, say “I love you,” go to church, say “I am sorry,” and not put off until tomorrow what we should get done today. Let’s not take one second for granted, but count our blessings and strive to be grateful for all the beautiful moments, big and small. It may sound like a tall order, but can you imagine what this world would be like if we all strived to become the best version of ourselves?  I pray that you and yours have a safe, wonderful, and blessed new year.

Blair Garrett

For frontline workers, the approach to each workday remains the same. While the world changes rapidly around us with global pandemics and novel vaccines, the essential workers who have put the time in day after day have realized a new normal.

It’s going on ten months since COVID-19 reached the United States, and there is still not quite an end in sight. When put in situations of great adversity, individuals find ways to adjust to survive or push past a difficult time. It’s been a period of great challenge for an entire nation and beyond, from top to bottom.

Yet, the people who continue to provide the rest of us with essential services head to work every day with the same attitude. Just keep going, and one day we won’t need so many limitations, precautions, and restrictions on where we can go. But until then, the reality is that we don’t know who could have the virus, and we don’t know its long-term effects. People who have to work through this situation have to take a risk each day, and that can be tough to manage when you don’t know how it’s all going to play out.

“At first, it was scary,” UPS Driver Alex Serpi recalled. “We really didn’t know what was going on.” But like the rest of the essential workers, Serpi found a new normal in an abnormal world. “After a couple of months of it, we became numb to it,” he said.

Had the panic of the pandemic ended in early summer like many anticipated, we would be looking back on the chaos that was the start of 2020 with strong disdain. Unfortunately, it has dragged on throughout the rest of the year, and it’s now been long enough to make what was at one point a brief nightmare feel like just another day.

“Now, it’s the same situation because we’re tired and numb from it,” Serpi said. “There’s an unknown to it. The sentiment of a new, masked normal has permeated our everyday lives. “Where we’re going, who we’re seeing, what’s going to happen. You get to the point where you become desensitized to it.”  

We are now heading into winter with our hopes set for spring for small businesses, bars, restaurants, and even sports to return to the old normal. This winter will be more of the same social distancing, masks, and limited-capacity public spaces. Still, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel, even if we haven’t seen much of it this year.

The notion of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is something grocery store workers, in particular, have had to deal with throughout 2020. At Jubilee Foods, Margaret Burns has effectively navigated the scary unknown that followed the initial pandemic announcement what feels like an eternity ago.

“In 35 years of me working in retail, I’ve never experienced anything of this magnitude,” Burns said. “We just went at it head-on, tried to listen to the information and take it one day at a time.”   

No matter what happens, everywhere from small mountain towns to big cities will keep plugging away because of the efforts and consistency of those who connect with the public every day. 

The ‘just keep swimming’ approach from millions of Americans in essential business has been admirable, and they certainly have not received enough recognition for it.

Whether you are a frontline worker who deals with the public on a day-to-day basis, or you have family or friends who do, we all need to be mindful and appreciative of these everyday heroes whose continued efforts provide the country with things they need to keep a sense of normalcy alive.

“You just keep it going; that’s all you can do,” Serpi expressed. We all need to just keep it going, and eventually, businesses and individuals affected by this situation most will be back on their feet.

George Tuggle, Emmitsburg Council of Churches Secretary

What a year! How many events have been canceled? How much fellowship postponed?

The Emmitsburg Council of Churches (ECC) regretfully cancels the 2020 Christmas Tour of Churches. The Tour would have placed tour participants and congregations at an unacceptable risk for COVID-19.  Our greatest priority is the well-being of each and every person. We consider each person a child of God, a sister or brother.

Even in the cancellation, we remember with fondness and warmth the 2019 Emmitsburg Christmas Tour of Churches.

December 29, 2019, dawned a rainy, gray day outside. Yet, at the appointed time, each church demonstrated the gracious hospitality so important to all who follow Jesus. The tour brought out a cheerful company of visitors to each church. Many were members from one of the participating congregations.  Each church visited displayed how they celebrate Christmas. Following the tour, Trinity United Methodist Church hosted a hearty soup, sandwich, and dessert meal that warmed up the “tourists.”

Carols, good cheer, and Christian love were all present in abundance during the 2019 Tour. The Emmitsburg Council of Churches thanks everyone who participated in the 2019 Christmas Tour of Churches and looks forward to the 2021 Tour.

May the Lord bless and keep everyone during these difficult times.

As the leaves turned colors and the temperatures began to drop, Thurmont Little League brought an end to a season that will not be forgotten any time soon. With COVID-19 bringing about the cancellation of the spring season, an extended fall season, jam-packed with raffles, spirit wear sales, sandlot games, and a Fall Showcase Tournament, made sure that the players and their families ended the year on a memorable note.

The T-ball and Instructional divisions wrapped up their seasons in late October. Several evening games were held to give these up-and-coming stars of the future the chance to shine on the big field under the lights. Despite the cold weather, everyone always has a good time with these games, and it is great to see the progress that they have all made throughout the season. Developing these players at a young age is what helps Thurmont Little League stand apart and build a great program for the future.

It was an incredibly competitive Minors Division this year, as all four teams ended up with winning records against those outside of the league. The top three teams all finished within a game of each other, which made for an intense end-of-season playoff. Ultimately, the Nationals, managed by Jeff Kuhn, were crowned the champions. They defeated the Angels in a back and forth matchup to finish things off. An end of season All Star game was also held. Players recognized by their coaches to participate in this game were: Brayden Rickerd, Noah Bradbury, Mason Fry, Logan Holden, and Devin Youngerman (Angels); Tucker Bryant, Bracen Webb, Myles Kuhn, Marcus Kuhn, and Tyler Creel (Nationals); Grayson Strobel, Reed McCauley, Seamus Riddle, Ethan Tokar, and Ayden Merritt (Orioles); Colton Warner, Jeremy Veronie, Tristan Van Echo, Gibson Main, and Parker Hahn (Braves). It was a great season, overall, and many of these players will be moving up to the next level in the spring.

Not without its fair share of excitement was the Major Division, which saw both Thurmont teams representing the league with excellent performances in the first-ever Fall District 2 Showcase Tournament. Several rounds of pool play were held, and eventually the Thurmont Twins and Orioles wound up playing each other in the semifinal round of the American Division. After the Orioles jumped out to a big early lead, the Twins battled back to win in walk-off fashion. The next day, they relied on timely hitting and a dominating pitching performance by Brennan Conrad to defeat the Frederick American Elks 10-1 for the Championship. Many of these players are aging out of the league, so it was wonderful to see them going out on top in their final season for Thurmont Little League.

With the season wrapping up, it was time for the league to take on another initiative that was in the works for quite some time. For over a year now, the Board of Directors has been planning a makeover on the two main fields, Nicholson and Leisner. On Sunday November 1, work began to have the fields scraped and torn up from behind home plate to about 10 feet into the outfields. The final result will be a more even and level playing surface, significantly better drainage for those rainy baseball days, and a far smoother playing surface. This will give our players a better opportunity to make even more great plays in the field. This project will be completed during the off-season, and they will be ready to go for opening day 2021.

Speaking of 2021, the board of directors is already hard at work with planning for next year’s season. Registration for spring begins on January 1! Thurmont Little League will be celebrating its 70th anniversary, so there will undoubtedly be a huge celebration planned, as long as COVID-19 restrictions will allow it.

If you are interested in learning more, volunteering, or signing your child up to be a part of this wonderful organization, please visit www.tllbaseball.com.

Courtesy Photo

Thurmont Little League Minor Division All Stars.

jEanne Angleberger

The year 2020 will go down in history as a time of staying healthy and preventing COVID-19. Honestly, it made us pay closer attention to our health and body. Let’s always be aware of our health. It shouldn’t take a world-wide coronavirus to get our attention. We’ll recap this year’s healthy tips and move into 2021 with the hopes of a healthier nation.

Starting the New Year with a plan to improve your health is a great start. Specifically, what do you want? What are healthy and unhealthy habits?

 Boosting your immune system is essential. Shaklee has four different multivitamin and mineral formulas to help strengthen the immune system, in addition to their vitamin C formula.

A daily tasty and healthy breakfast fuels the body. Muffin-Pan Egg Bites is a grab-n’-go breakfast. The recipe is available upon request.

Shaklee Immunity Defend & Resist Complex can help stimulate the body’s natural resistance during seasonal changes when it needs extra defense.

Make America Healthy Again defines why Americans become unhealthy. Dr. Nicole Saphier spells out why Americans need to take better care of themselves.

Skin requires nourishment from the inside. Skin health is dependent on dietary choices.

Do traditions and values play a role in aging well? The 80’s and 90’s population believe they grew up in kinder times. Relationships were developed over time. Socializing is vitally important to your physical and mental health.

Staying properly hydrated keeps body temperature regulated, joints lubricated, and organs functioning. Certain fruits and vegetables can help you stay hydrated and energized.

Vitamin D3 plays a major role in protecting your health and immune function. Support your body with the nutritional needs year-round.

May 2021 begin with healthiness that follows you and your family throughout the new year.

Many non-profit organizations throughout Frederick County are continuing to help the public and their members (at least to some degree) during the coronavirus pandemic. Partners In Care is one of those organizations, although COVID-19 has adversely affected their overall efforts.

“We are continuing to drive people to their doctor appointments, the grocery store, the food bank, and elsewhere,” said Frederick County Partners In Care Site Director Randy Gray. Since their members are isolated (due to COVID-19), it has amplified the need for their “Phone Buddy” service. A Phone Buddy is a volunteer who calls a member who may be lonely or in need of some cheering up. The handyman service also remains active, although it’s limited to outdoor work at this time. “The pandemic may have added to the stress levels of some folks, but it doesn’t keep us from calling and trying to comfort our members,” Gray added.

Partners In Care, which has been located in Frederick for more than 20 years, moved to a new location at the beginning of 2020. The non-profit is in the Willowtree Plaza off Route 40 (the Golden Mile). Not only is there an administrative office, but there is also a beautiful, upscale resale boutique.

“The Upscale, Resale Boutique opened in late May observing protocols to keep our volunteers, customers, and staff safe by social distancing, requiring masks to be worn, and frequently using disinfectant,” said Boutique Manager Diana Modelski. “We gratefully accept donations of new and gently loved ladies and men’s clothing, jewelry, artwork, housewares and furniture. Donations are accepted Tuesday through Saturday during business hours (10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.). We are so appreciative of our donations, which we sell to support our heartfelt mission,” said Modelski. “Please help us get the word out!” For more information, please call 301-732-7110 or email FrederickBoutique@partnersincare.org.

Partners In Care is based in Pasadena, Maryland, and was founded in 1993 as a way to help older adults remain independent in their homes. The organization deploys a unique model of “service exchange,” where all members are expected to chip in to help the good of the cause. There are no fees for membership or services. In addition to Frederick and Pasadena, Partners In Care also has an office in Easton, Maryland, and will soon begin operations in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Before COVID-19, the organization would send volunteers into members’ homes to fix leaky faucets, replace batteries in smoke detectors, and take care of many other minor handyman tasks. Partners In Care also hosts presentations and group events for members on various “older adult” topics when not in pandemic lockdown. The Frederick office of Partners In Care recently brought on board Office Coordinator Dawn Hessler and Site Director Randy Gray. For more information about their services, to volunteer, or to make a donation, please call 301-682-7433 or email dawnhessler@partnersincare.org.

Cuddles Cat Rescue Needs Your Help

Our rescue is facing difficult challenges. We’ve been at our location for six years due to the generosity of the owner in allowing us to utilize our space rent-free while paying only utilities.

Earlier this year, we had exciting plans to expand into a space within the building, where we could offer an adoption center open to the public. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic devastated our fundraising efforts, making our plans to expand no longer possible. The building we occupy has now been listed for sale.

We’re unsure of our future and how soon we will be required to move. We desperately need a new location for our rescue so that we can continue our life-saving work for cats. So many residents in our community are aware of the wonderful services we offer for stray and feral cats/kittens that may have never had a chance for survival without our dedicated volunteers.

If anyone knows of or has a space in Thurmont (even a room in a building) that is available for little or no rent where we could relocate our rescue, please let us know. We’d greatly appreciate it if you could help us save Cuddles Cat Rescue of Thurmont by asking around and sharing this news with everyone you know.

Contact us by email at cuddlescatrescue@gmail.com.

~ Thank You, from all of us at Cuddles Cat Rescue

jEanne Angleberger, Shaklee Associate for a Healthier Life

We know that a strong immune system can help us stay healthy during the upcoming cold, flu, and COVID-19 season. The purpose of your immune system is to protect your body from harmful invaders: germs, viruses, bacteria. The immune system plays a vital role in your health. If it’s not working properly, your body will let you know it.

How can we be assured that we have a healthy immune system? There are many measures we can take to strengthen our immune system and stave off illnesses, one being taking supplements.

Shaklee offers a Sustained Release Vita-C (500 mg.). A Chewable Vita-C has a sweet, lemon cream-flavor, suitable for children or adults. We know that a strong immune system starts with Vitamin C.

Vita-D3 plays a major role in protecting your health and immune function.

Shaklee’s Defend & Resist Complex is my choice for supercharging the immune system. It contains echinacea, black elderberry, larch tree, and zinc. It helps stimulate the body’s natural resistance during seasonal changes.

Consult with your health provider for his/her advice in getting a flu shot. It is very important to understand why you should get it, as well as when the best time is to do so.

We are going into the time of the year when we, like never before, need to continue to keep our immune system as strong as possible. And to stay clear of people who are sick or not feeling well.

Support your body with the nutritional needs year-round.

Keeping your immune system strong is crucial to your good health, not only in fighting off illnesses, but also fighting fatigue, improving digestion, increasing energy, and much more.

Members of the Fort Ritchie Community Center can win a free T-shirt if they can properly guess their temperature upon entering the facility.

The Community Center has established a COVID-19 prevention protocol based upon guidelines from the CDC, State of Maryland, and Washington County. The protocol includes each member answering a series of questions related to their possible exposure to the virus, as well as having their temperature taken by a Community Center staff member.

“We came up with what we hope is a fun way for our staff to approach each member,” said Buck Browning, executive director of the Community Center. “It can be intimidating to have someone hold an infrared thermometer to your forehead, so we are trying to make it a little less awkward for both people,” he added. 

The Community Center features a fitness center, weight room, gymnasium, and multi-purpose athletic room, along with other amenities.  Equipment such as treadmills, stationary bicycles, and strength machines have been aligned so that they are at least six feet apart. Some machines have been closed off to improve the social distancing among members Browning said. 

The T-shirt initiative has been well-received by members. We had ten members guess correctly on the first day we offered the T-shirts,” Browning said. “I thought we might do this for a month or so, but at this rate, we will run out of shirts in a week or two,” he laughed. The initiative will continue while supplies last.   

The Community Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization, located in Cascade on the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army Post. In addition to the fitness center and weight room, the Fort Ritchie Community Center offers group exercise classes, youth programs, and a wide variety of community events, such as craft shows, holiday celebrations, and speaker presentations. 

For more information on the Fort Ritchie Community Center, please visit online at www.thefrcc.org.    

A Fort Ritchie Community Center staff member checks a member’s temperature upon entering the facility.

James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont Commissioner Marty Burns entered politics when he was elected as a Thurmont Town Commissioner in 1999. In August, the Maryland Municipal League recognized his 21 years as an elected official in Thurmont by inducting him into the MML Elected Official Hall of Fame.

The announcement came at the end of the town meeting on August 4. Inductions are usually made during the MML annual conference in Ocean City, but because this year’s conference was virtual due to COVID-19, the certificate was sent to the town office.

Mayor John Kinnaird nominated Burns for the honor and read the certificate into the record. At one point when Kinnaird said Marty was being recognized for his “long, exemplary service,” Burns jokingly asked, “Can you say that one more time?” Kinnaird replied, “Exemplary? That’s a typo.”

The back and forth joking and banter among everyone present showed not only how well the board of commissioners get along now—which at times during the past 20 years could get contentious—but that everyone present felt Burns deserving of the honor.

Former MML President Jake Romanell said that Burns receiving the honor shows, “Marty loves Thurmont, its residents, and his neighbors.”

Burns served two years as commissioner before serving three terms (12 years) as mayor. He has served as commissioner for the last seven years.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner also proclaimed August 4, 2020, as Martin Burns Day. In her proclamation, she noted some of the things Burns has accomplished during his time as an elected official, including creating the Charter Review Committee, overseeing a new town charter, getting a new police station built, helping the town become a Main Street Maryland Community, and forming the Thurmont Addictions Committee. Some of the people in attendance, including Mayor Kinnaird and Commissioner Bill Buehrer, pointed out that Burns was the person who pushed them to run for office.

As commissioners and audience members came forward to speak about Burns, jokes were made about his tendency to speak at length and to use Pentagon jargon, but they all praised his goal as trying to do what is best for Thurmont.

“You always have the best interests of our community at heart,” Kinnaird said.

“You certainly add balance to this dais and this board,” Commissioner Wes Hamrick told Burns.

Burns thanked his family for the sacrifices they had made to allow him the time to serve. He also said that his current term would be his last. He said it has been rewarding to serve on the board but also a burden because he has always tried to do the right thing. He thanked the residents of Thurmont for allowing him that opportunity.

“You saw through my flaws, saw all the bad parts of me, and still said, we want that person on the board,” Burns said.

Marty Burns, his family, and the commissioners are shown on August 4, Martin Burns Day in Frederick County.

The Guardian Hose Company, Inc. has decided to cancel the James H. Mackley Golf Day that was scheduled for September 26, 2020, at the Maple Run Golf Course. The event is held to raise funds for graduating seniors from Catoctin High School who plan to continue their education in the emergency services field. This would have been the 10th year for this event. But, with COVID-19 and cases beginning to rise again, it was decided not to hold the event this year for the safety of our first responders and also the public.

The Guardian Hose Company is pleased to announce that the scholarship was awarded to Emma Ford this past year, and they were also able to renew scholarships for Lauren Ames and Caitlyn Naff again this year.

The Guardian Hose Company thanks all the businesses that supported this fundraising event, and all of the golfers that always came out to make this a fun-filled day. They are looking forward to holding the James H. Mackley Golf Day next September 2021 and hope to see everyone then.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club awarded scholarships to the following students: Michael Staley, UNC School of Arts; Sabrina Poore, Shepherd University; Douglas Isanogle, American University; Allison Rippeon, Shippenburg University; William Ochs, Frederick Community College; William Anderson, William and Mary College; Aaron Matlock, Shepherd University; Sahel Kargar-Javahersaz, University of Maryland; and Allison Howard, Anne Arundel Community College. 

Due to the COVID-19, the annual picnic to award these scholarships was canceled. The funds for these scholarships were derived through Lewistown Ruritan fundraisers.

The Lewistown Ruritan will have two more chicken BBQs, scheduled for Sunday, September 13, and Sunday, October 4, for carryouts only, beginning at 10:30 a.m., near Lewistown on Rt. 15, northbound near the intersection of Fish Hatchery Road.

James Rada Jr.

Thurmont’s largest event and one of the largest craft festivals in Maryland has fallen victim to COVID-19. Colorfest has been canceled for the first time in its 57-year history.

“We’ve had very cold weather, very hot weather, drenching rain… we even had it a month after 9/11. I was really worried that year that having so many people might make us a target, but we made it through all that,” said Catoctin Colorfest President Carol Robertson.

The Thurmont Commissioners met with members of Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. and different community groups that benefit from the 100,000 visitors Colorfest brings to Thurmont during the second week of October each year. For many community organizations, the annual Catoctin Colorfest event is their primary fundraiser for the year.

The town provides bus service, sanitation, and additional security for the event, which is paid for out of permit fees vendors pay. Town officials needed to know if the event would continue, so completion of the competitive bidding process could be done in time for the event.

“We find ourselves in the midst of a public health emergency, and while we hope that the virus does not have a significant resurgence in the fall, the incidence of infection is predicted to increase. The only smart thing to do at this time is to rely on the science and make a decision now that will permit people to plan while also protecting the public,” the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners said in a released statement.

They feared that such a large gathering, where social distancing could not be maintained, would create a surge in people contracting the virus.

“We have an obligation to protect not just the residents of Thurmont but all those who visit Thurmont. Given the severity of the pandemic, we have determined that it is unsafe to proceed with the festival as a matter of public health and safety. While we are disappointed that it cannot be held this year, we look forward to the Colorfest Festival in 2021,” the mayor and commissioners said.

Robertson told the commissioners that she had been thinking about what to do for months, but too many things needed to come together for the event to work. In the end, it came down to her and the other members of the Catoctin Colorfest Board not wanting to harm the community they love.

“I have given a lot of thought to this whole thing, but I am more concerned about my family, friends, and this community than I am for having 100,000 people come here,” she told the commissioners.

Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler agreed, telling the commissioners, “It is going to be a big risk if we do have it, and I think we should cancel it. There is no way to do social distancing, there is no way to enforce coverings, no way to really enforce anything. We have trouble now enforcing that with what we have in Town, and I know other law enforcement agencies have the same thing.”

Therefore, the decision was made to cancel the event for 2020, and plan on making the 2021 event on October 9-10 even better.

Large crowds of visitors are shown at the 2019 Catoctin Colorfest, Thurmont’s largest much-anticipated yearly event.

by Valerie Nusbaum

During these difficult times, it’s more important than ever that we take care of ourselves—our health, our bodies, our minds. Many doctors and scientists recommend that humans walk at least 10,000 steps every day, which is roughly the equivalent of five miles. Lots of people use pedometers and/or FitBits to track steps and mileage, as well as to monitor and track things like heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature.  We shouldn’t need to be told that sitting a lot and leading sedentary lives is detrimental to our health and well-being, but most of us do need to be reminded of this from time to time.

With COVID-19 still out there, we must do all that we can to stay well. Being at home more often, doing more cooking and baking, and overall malaise and depression may have triggered overeating and weight gain in a lot of us. I know that I’ve been less careful about what foods I’ve been putting into my body. Ice cream is now my best friend, and it’s usually served with hot fudge, whipped cream, and a Little Debbie Swiss cake roll.  Don’t judge me. Life is hard.

I still religiously walk two to three miles per day on my treadmill. Every day, without fail, I put on my sneakers and go at it, and I walk at a brisk pace and on a steep incline. One might even refer to it as “wogging.” This takes care of around 4,000-6,000 of my daily step requirements. My compulsive walking isn’t to lose weight. It’s to maintain my current weight and health, and it keeps me relatively sane. I feel lucky that I (so far) haven’t gained the COVID fifteen or twenty.

 The other half of my walk load isn’t so easy to accomplish. In order to log another 4,000-5,000 steps each day, I’ve come up with some little tips to help, and I’m sharing them here with you. I know you’re not really interested in my exercise regime. You would much rather read a recipe for chocolate cheesecake or have me write about Randy’s antics, but as I keep telling you all, Oprah has left the building, and I feel a responsibility to pick up the slack.  If I don’t look out for you, who will?

Tip #1 – Stand up. Standing is supposed to help clear your mind and make it easier to think.

Tip #2 – Move. If you put something in your microwave to heat, instead of standing in front of it and waiting for it to finish, walk around your kitchen or your house. It’s easy to log at least 100 steps during a one-minute microwave cycle. I do this every time I make a cup of tea. If I’m heating a piece of cobbler, well, it just seems silly to exercise.

Tip #3 – Pace while you’re on the phone. My mother always tells me that I sound out of breath when we talk on the telephone.  It’s because I’m moving.

Tip #4 – Take a walk outside. I do the treadmill because I don’t enjoy heat, cold, wind, humidity, rain, or bugs. However, when the weather conditions are perfect, I head out the front door and take neighborhood inventory.  A change of scenery is always good, and I can grab Randy and force him to get some exercise as well. Truthfully, though, Randy has been really good about walking on his own every day. I think it gives him a chance to get away from me for a little while.

Tip #5 – If I need to move five things from one room to another, I make five trips if I have the time. Some days, time is limited, and it’s not possible to do this, but I do it when I can.

Tip #6 – Do exercise in increments. If I don’t have time for a full 45 minutes on the treadmill, I break it up. This has another benefit for me because I’m not a lady who perspires daintily. I sweat like a pig and am completely soaked when I do get off the treadmill after doing all my miles at one time. I’m then obligated to bathe and wash my hair, which requires applying all the lotions and drying and styling my hair. I don’t have time for this some days, so I opt for shorter, less sweaty walks and quicker clean ups.

Tip #7 – Take the stairs. If you have stairs in your home and are able to go up and down them easily, do this as often as you can.  Sometimes, I stand on the floor and go up and down the bottom two stairs for ten or twenty reps.

In general, just add steps wherever you can. I count mine sometimes because I’m anal and have mild OCD, and it helps me to feel that I’m making progress or accomplishing something. If, like me, you walk on a treadmill, I’d recommend watching something mindless on television as you walk. Lifetime movies are great, but my personal favorite is The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  Randy won’t admit it, but he enjoys watching that with me. I think it makes him realize just how lucky he is to have me. I know that’s what he’s thinking about when he’s out walking.

James Rada, Jr.

The signs on the doors of businesses across the area are turning from closed to open as the COVID-19 restrictions in Maryland and Frederick County loosen. Even businesses that were open because they were deemed essential are expanding their operations.

On June 11, the Carriage House Inn in Emmitsburg opened with 32 outdoor seats so that customers could eat at the restaurant for the first time in months. That is, as long as it didn’t rain.

“This is so outside of the way we like to operate,” said Manager Kristy Shriner. “We like to exceed our customers’ expectations of service and this will make it hard to do.”

However, as the restrictions loosened, the restaurant would also offer indoor seating at 50 percent of capacity the following day.

Sherry Myers, owner of Kountry Kitchen in Thurmont was going through the steps of having outdoor seating when the restrictions allowed indoor seating.

“We were really worried the first two weeks after things closed down, but the community has been our biggest supporters,” she said.

With hospitalizations in Maryland under 1,000, and other metrics improving, Governor Larry Hogan lifted some restrictions on June 12 and 19.

On June 12, restaurants could allow indoor seating at 50 percent capacity with social distancing and other health considerations implemented.  Also, outdoor amusements, such as rides and miniature golf could reopen as long as they followed various health rules. Pools could operate at 50 percent capacity while following health rules.

On June 19, gyms, martial arts studio and dance studios could reopen at 50 percent capacity if health guidelines were followed. Casinos, arcades, and malls could reopen. School buildings could reopen for small groups and childcare could have a maximum of 15 people in any one room.

Christina Royer, owner of Here’s Clyde’s in Thurmont, reopened on May 29 with stylists wearing facemasks, curtains between wash stations, hair dryers more spread out, and a sanitizing station. The stylists had also all completed a course on how to properly clean and sanitize their stations.

“It was busy at first,” Royer said. “We were working 10 to 12-hour days, sometimes 14 hours trying to get caught up.”

Although the Fort Ritchie Community Center was shut down during the health crisis, some fitness classes were offered outside when the weather was appropriate.

“Our outdoor classes were all well attended,” said Director Buck Browning. “They were generally all at capacity.”

While the center was closed, Browning made plans for precautions that would be taken when the interior rooms were allowed to open. Grant money paid for Plexiglas shields between pieces of equipment in the fitness center.

However, even when the center was allowed to reopen, the damage done during the closure will require a long recovery. Besides lost dues for three months, many summer camps were canceled, and those that will run will do so with few attendees.

Shriner said the Carriage House staff also made use of their down time and planned new menu offerings, but she is eager to be back at full operations.

“Everyone has been so wonderful,” Shriner said. “It’s nice to hear how important we are to them because they are important to us.”

Myers agreed, saying, “We miss our customers.”

Although things are taking on a sense of normalcy once again, businesses are still facing restrictions that hinder their ability to do business and may force some to close permanently. So, if you have the opportunity, buy from a local business. They have supported their communities in the past, and now they need their communities to support them.

Christina Royer, of Here’s Clyde’s Family Hair Care in Thurmont, is shown washing a client’s hair at with COVID restrictions in place.

Outdoor yoga classes at the Fort Ritchie Community Center allowed the center to offer fitness classes to its clients during the time when indoor fitness classes were closed due to COVID restrictions.

James Rada, Jr.

If you weren’t already aware of it, the closures due to COVID-19 also caused Maryland’s Primary Election to be postponed until June 2.

The State of Maryland is pushing for this election to be primarily conducted via mail. All registered voters should have already received a ballot. If you are registered but did not receive a ballot, it may be because you have changed addresses. The ballot was sent to the address the Board of Elections has on file.

If you need a ballot, you can download it from the Maryland Board of Elections website on the absentee voting page. The ballots must be postmarked by June 2. You can also drop the ballot off at designated locations. For our area, the closest locations are:

•   William R Talley Recreation Center, 121 N. Bentz Street, Frederick.

•   Frederick County Board of Elections, 340A Montevue Lane, Frederick.

You can also vote in-person on Election Day at the William R. Talley Recreation Center (the closest) from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Social distancing guidelines will be observed at these locations, which could lead to long lines or wait times.

In Frederick County, you will be voting for president, vice-president, congresspeople, state judges, and county board of education members.

You can check to make sure your ballot was counted by visiting www.elections.maryland.gov and clicking “Look up your Voter Info” and following the directions. You can also call 1-800-222-8683 and ask a State Board of Elections representative to check the status of your voted ballot. The information will be posted about 10 days after the election.

Alone Together

by Valerie Nusbaum

In January, we began hearing and reading things about a mysterious new virus that had reared its ugly head in China.  Randy and I didn’t think too much about it then, but by February and early March, the doctors, scientists, and politicians in the United States were warning us that things weren’t looking good.  Italy had already fallen prey to the coronavirus that was now being labeled COVID-19, and the United States was being invaded by way of Washington state.

Somewhere around the middle of March, we were told that self-quarantining was the best way to keep from being infected by what was now a very deadly foe. Because lots of people can’t follow directions or refuse to take things seriously, the President and Governors of various states began enacting mandatory stay-at-home restrictions. Businesses were being forced to close, and we were told that we could only venture out for essentials like groceries and medicines. Some businesses and agencies were deemed necessary and were allowed to stay open, but were urged to have employees work from home whenever possible.

At this point, Randy and I discussed the situation and realized that not a whole lot was going to change for us. We already both worked from home, and we didn’t go out a lot. We felt that things were going to be okay for us because we had a full freezer and pantry and were stocked up on most essentials.

Day 1 — Randy worked all day in his basement office. I worked in my office and studio upstairs. We thawed and cooked chicken for dinner, watched some television, and went to sleep, hoping that the state of the country would improve rapidly.

Day 5 — I went to Brunswick to take food, groceries, water, and supplies to my mother. I assumed that this was an allowable excursion since I’m the only caregiver my mom has. When the quarantine began, I asked Mom if she wanted to come and stay with us for the duration. “Heck no,” was her answer.

Day 8 — We began hearing that toilet paper was in short supply. Randy counted our stash and declared that we had 24 mega rolls and we’d be fine. We congratulated ourselves for buying in bulk and on sale.

Day 13 — People were starting to wear masks out in public. My friend, Gail, offered to make masks for us, and I took her up on her offer. In turn, I offered to pick up some milk for Gail’s husband, John, on our next trip to the grocery store. Gail and I arranged a “meet and greet” in the parking lot at Roy Rogers in Brunswick to exchange the milk for the masks.  She stayed in her car, and Randy put the milk in Gail’s trunk and retrieved a bag containing our masks. We exchanged a few words from a safe distance. To anyone watching, this may have looked like a drug deal among senior citizens, but in these tough times, no one questioned it.

Day 15 — We celebrated Randy’s birthday and Easter.  There were two cakes, a ham, and macaroni and cheese. None of us cared too much about eating healthfully because no one knew what was in store. We still had 20 rolls of toilet paper left.

Day 20 — Randy had to go to the post office. He came home laughing because he’d worn his mask, some rubber gloves, a hat and dark glasses. No one questioned his attire when only a short while ago the police might have been called. Things had gotten worse out there. People were scared, and the nasty virus had started claiming victims right here in Frederick County.

Day 21 — We were once again able to buy eggs and milk. Meat was available, at least here in Thurmont, but toilet paper and canned baked beans were scarce.  Randy wondered if those two item shortages might be connected.  Oddly, COVID-19 presented as a respiratory viral infection, and not a GI bug.

Day 26 — Randy baked a loaf of pumpkin bread. I made biscuits, homemade pizza, apple muffins, and several pasta dishes. Mom was cooking and baking, too, as fast as I could get the groceries and supplies to her. Every week, she talked with Randy and rattled off a long list of items that she needed for her pies and casseroles. Our stomachs were too full, and we were getting low on toilet paper.

Day 32 — We were forced to do a virtual doctor visit, but it was just to get some test results. I guess a virtual visit is better than nothing, but I really fail to see how some issues can be treated that way. We were all thankful to be virus- and symptom-free as far as we knew, but who could be sure, as we hadn’t been tested.

Day 40 — I’ve been cutting my own hair, and it doesn’t look too bad, if I do say so myself. Randy’s hair had gotten out of control, so I took my shears to it. It’s good that he enjoys wearing a hat. We were able to buy some off-brand toilet paper, but still no Charmin.

We’re somewhere around Day 50 of this mess now. Some restrictions have been lifted, but we’re hearing dire predictions of things to come.  There are more symptoms than we previously knew and maybe some long-term effects of COVID-19.  The economy is in sad shape. My heart aches for all the people who’ve lost jobs and income. I’m hoping and praying that the coming weeks bring us some hope and good news.  Most of all, my wish is that all of us stay safe and healthy. Also, if any of you have an extra roll or two of Charmin…

The Year is…1918

The Pandemic to End All Pandemics — Part 1

by James Rada, Jr.

Although the country essentially quarantined itself state by state this spring, it’s not the first time such a thing has happened. However, when it happened in 1918, 675,000 Americans died in roughly two months. Worldwide, the death toll may have reached 100 million people, or 1 person out of every 20.

The Spanish Flu is the worst disease the world has ever known.

The First Wave

Much like COVID-19, when the Spanish Flu was noticed and when it began are two different times. It first appeared in Spain in February 1918, hence, the name. However, because Spain was a neutral country during World War I, the press was free to report on the flu, although other places were said to be having troubles with the disease. One historian believes he traced the flu back to a Chinese avian flu in 1917.

With this first wave of the Spanish Flu, people got fever, chills, and aches for three days, and then they would be fine. It was 1918’s seasonal flu, and there was nothing to be concerned about except that more people than usual caught the disease. The odd thing about the flu of 1918 is that rather than attacking the very old and very young with weaker immune systems, it also attacked healthy adults in their 30s and 40s.

By May, 8 million Spaniards had or had recovered from the flu. Not only did the flu attack people of all ages, it attacked people at all social levels. King Alfonso XIII of Spain and King George V of England caught it.

The flu spread worldwide, including the United States, when it appeared at Camp Funston in Kansas in March. Because flu was not a reportable disease, it’s uncertain how many cases there were, but 233 soldiers developed pneumonia, and 48 doughboys died. Given the number of soldiers in camp, this was not considered a remarkable mortality rate.

With a virulent flu sidelining so many soldiers across the world, it affected the progress of World War I.

In one instance, the 15th U.S. Cavalry contracted the disease while at sea. They called it the “three-day fever.” Doctors noted that while the disease lasted three days, it often took a week or two for the victim to recover fully.

King George’s Grand Fleet could not put to sea for three weeks in May because 10,313 men were sick. The British Army’s 29th Division had planned to attack La Becque on June 30, but had to put off the operation because too many soldiers were sick with the flu to mount an effective offensive. German General Erich von Ludendorff blamed the flu for his failure to mount offensives.

Then the flu vanished as temperatures warmed.

The Second Wave

Spanish Flu appeared again in late August. This time, it was even more contagious and much more deadly.

One physician wrote that patients rapidly “develop the most vicious type of pneumonia that has ever been seen,” and later when cyanosis appeared in patients “it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate.” Another doctor said the influenza patients “died struggling to clear their airways of a blood-tinged froth that sometimes gushed from their mouth and nose.”

The second wave first appeared in America at Boston. On August 28, 1918, eight sailors reported sick with the flu. The next day, the number was 58, and by day four, it was 81. After another week, the number was 119, and civilians were getting sick. On September 8, three people died.

By this time, it had spread beyond Boston. Flu reports were coming in along the East Coast.

On September 26, 50,000 residents of Massachusetts had the flu; in Boston alone, 133 died that day from flu and 33 from pneumonia.

In Frederick County

Spanish Flu first appeared in Frederick County around the end of September 1918. On September 20, local newspapers warned that an outbreak was coming. At that time, only one known case of the flu was in Maryland. By September 25, hundreds of cases had been reported, mostly soldiers at Camp Meade, although there was no reference to any in Frederick County.

Given the headlines, Spanish Flu struck suddenly, although not unexpected, in Frederick County. “Spanish Flu Sweeps Co.; Fifty Cases,” read a Frederick News headline on September 26. The article notes one thing thwarted researchers trying to get an accurate count, and that is that all flu cases weren’t being reported to the health officer, either because the doctors were too busy working or because influenza wasn’t a disease that they were required to report. By the way, that changed after the Spanish Flu outbreak, at least in Maryland.

The following day, 10 more cases were reported. The first death from flu in the county, George Cronise of Buckeystown, occurred on September 29. He was a young man of 23, but his resistance had been compromised because he had been sick for two weeks with a slight case of typhoid fever.

The Spanish Flu had arrived in Frederick County and was starting to kill.

The St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during the Spanish Flu pandemic.

The 39th Regiment on its way to France, marching through Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross made masks for them.