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Social isolation in the time of Lone Ranger

By on April 27, 2020 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
Susan Sampson has kept her umbrella from the days of living on the wet side.

By Susan Sampson

I’ve been thinking about social isolation imposed by the coronavirus, and my reaction is probably not typical. 

I’m not finding it to be too bad, except for my son’s having to cancel his visit and my husband’s driving me nuts by following me around with dire warnings and Clorox wipes if I so much as pick up junk mail out of our mailbox. 

Rather, I think of being 10 years old living three miles outside of a small village (pop. 1,500 or fewer) on the Oregon coast and it’s 1957. It was a time of isolation, but I recall it as being idyllic.

 School is out for the summer, so I won’t see my friends until September. There aren’t enough kids my age in our neighborhood to create any groups of 10 or more, so there’s no concern with “social distancing,” although certainly infections go around. Our school has closed in the past for a day now and then for flu. 

Gary from across the street has ringworm on his head, which has been shaved and he has to wear a cap made from a nylon stocking to hold pennies on his lesions, but nobody would touch an icky boy anyway, so he isn’t highly contagious. 

 We race bicycles with balloon tires up and down our dirt street, all of two blocks long, running right off US 101. In July, I’ll pick blackberries, and in August, enough huckleberries for a pie. I dog-paddle in Munsel Lake. 

We have no TV at home, and won’t get it for another four years, and there is only one telephone in the house, but it’s for business. 

Besides, it’s installed permanently in the middle of the kitchen/dining room (no such thing as cordless, or even long-corded yet), and who wants to talk with everybody else listening? 

But we do have radio programs — The Lone Ranger comes on at 3:30, followed by The Children’s Story Hour at 4 p.m. where the narrator will read Dr. Doolittle to me, and after that, I’m fascinated by Dr. Dan, Detective, an M.D. hunting down medical clues, like hookworms entering the body through bare feet. 

That’s an awful lot of radio time, but I don’t know that anybody ever criticized it like they do with too much TV or computer time. In fact, my mother lives with the radio running all day long.

I’m stuck inside on rainy days, but that’s okay — I can play phonograph records, although none of the records are pitched to kids — I hear the Figaro aria from The Barber of Seville because it’s comical, until I drop and crack the record. 

My cousin Patty and I play “Hide the button.” I have some scraps of fabric and can try to make costumes for the 7-inch tall dolls my grandmother has sent me, already adorned with elaborate crocheted costumes. 

If the mail fails to bring a letter, then it’s probably my turn to write to my grandmother in Florida or to my gal pal 60 miles away in Eugene. 

That evening, it’s dinner time with simple home-cooked food like meatloaf, spaghetti with sauce consisting of hamburger and canned Campbell’s tomato soup, or pot roast on Sunday. 

We might eat out twice per year, when we have hamburgers at a café owned my one of the clients of my father’s plumbing shop. 

At dinner, we listen to KUGN out of Eugene, OR, playing country and western music, Tennessee Ernie Ford singing Sixteen Tons until it’s time for Garner Ted Armstrong with The Good Word About the World Tomorrow, when my dad commands that the radio be turned off. 

In the evening, we read books, and Mom or Dad will read to us. We cover Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, Heidi, Old Yeller, Kidnapped and Robinson Crusoe. Does anybody else remember that what Ben Gun wanted most when he was rescued was a slice of cheese? 

Treats? Summertime, we were allowed Kool Aid. 

So relatively, now in the age of coronavirus, with a pile of electronics in my living room, cooped up with my latest love interest (for the past 20 years), and a bottle of Kirkland prosecco, better than chardonnay and $2 per bottle cheaper, what’s so hard about this? 

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