Columnist: Susan Stafford

Some (okay, many) of my columns will reminisce about by-gone days in Kansas, of the Sunflower State as it was years ago and even earlier than that.

This column, however, will reminisce about the by-gone era of a year ago (2019).

Recently, I was watching a movie on TV. I noticed that in one scene, at a sporting event, I saw throngs of people all crowded together. I felt nostalgic. That wouldn't happen today. I wistfully recalled how handshakes way back then (last year) were automatic, hugs were frequent, and masks were something worn only at Hallowe'en or for illegal activities.

I consider Kansans fairly social people. We do generally mind our own business, but we enjoy social gatherings - going to parties, church, sporting events, restaurants, movies, classes and club meetings. A year ago that was common and unremarkable. But this year, such socializing is rare and very restricted.

Handshakes and hugs have given way to air-bumps and air-hugs. We talk on the phone when we used to stop by for a visit. We text when we used to meet to chat. We write notes and letters (yes, some of us still do!) when we used to get together for a good long talk.

These days, I hear dark predictions that the coronavirus pandemic has permanently changed our way of life. Perhaps that is true in big cities like New York and Los Angeles. But I'm not so sure about the state of Kansas. 

Yes, I do encounter Kansans who passionately argue that we must all wear masks, maintain a six-foot distance, and sanitize everything. One woman posted a comment that people who failed to wear masks in public would answer to God. For others, masks are becoming a fashion statement. And who would have thought a lunch with friends at a restaurant would be considered a death-defying act? 

But I see many Kansans who are too practical, or maybe too stubborn, to put up with these changes over a long period of time. They will find ways to work around the restrictions, if necessary. Or they will rely on therapeutics or vaccines to see them through until this coronavirus has gone the way of major pandemics of the past.

Soon, in Kansas at least, we will feel comfortable again meeting and socializing and, yes, even shaking hands. Kansans have lived through many hard times over the past decades: drought, cholera epidemics, locust invasions, dust storms, blizzards, polio, Spanish flu, and floods. We got through them all and I am convinced that we will get through this pandemic too.

I look forward to the day when we automatically shake hands, hug, hold large parties, or go to the big game, without a second thought. That day is coming and will be here soon. So here's to returning to the "good old days" of a year ago!


"Remember When?" Copyright © 2020, Susan Stafford