ACROSS AMERICA — As you consider the uncertainty and strife hanging in the air as crises converge, consider the enduring spirit of Kam Wong.
She was a 7-year-old child living in Asia when the 1918 killer flu swept the globe, killing about a third of the planet’s population. She stayed home as businesses shuttered, wore a face mask and survived.
Now, a century later, what was an old memory is new again: Kam masking up again at a Tampa, Florida, retirement complex, separated from those she loves.
But she got a special treat for her 109th birthday, when her family members drove by and spoke to her in her native language. Tears rolled down her cheeks. By D’Ann Lawrence White on Tampa Patch
Below are a dozen more Patch stories that offer a respite from turmoil going on in the world today.
Strike 3 And You’re Out, Coronavirus
To be honest, 96-year-old Florence Simek’s family had lost a little hope when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 at her New Jersey nursing home. But perhaps they shouldn’t have. Simek has watched her beloved New York Yankees through multiple pennants and has outlived some the all-time greatest baseball players. She wasn’t about to let the virus deny her a chance to see the Yankees play this season. By Russ Crespollini on Chatham Patch
Message In A Bottle
Rose Baker is a bit of a beachcomber and has long been fascinated by messages sealed in bottles and cast into the sea. Now, after finding four bottles on the beach, each of them containing messages to a woman on what would’ve been her 30th birthday, she’s determined to solve the mystery. “I just want them to know that somebody's going to think about her I'll think about her now, every time I go to the beach,” Baker told Patch, adding a special message to the young woman addressed in the bottles: “Happy heavenly 30th birthday. You are loved and missed by your family and friends.” By Lisa Finn on North Fork Patch
A Baseball Story That’s Not About Baseball
Perhaps nowhere in America is the return of Major League Baseball anticipated more than in Dyersville, Iowa, on a diamond of dirt in the middle of America that is right out of the movies — to be precise, "Field of Dreams.” The Yankees-White Sox game will be a great story if it happens, but nothing compared to stories of the tens of thousands of people who have made annual pilgrimages to the movie site, which some visitors say is enveloped in an aura of kismet. By Beth Dalbey on Across America Patch
More Than A Hashtag
The #inthistogher hashtag is so often used that it’s almost a cliché. But for some, it’s a mantra. The owners of a suburban Chicago ice cream parlor and corner store have been as hard-hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic as other business owners. But the family-owned business have offered free groceries, masks and hand sanitizer for folks in need and for delivery to senior citizens. Now, they’re asking for their neighbors’ help to bring back laid-off staff. They’re responding. By Jonah Meadows on Evanston Patch
Laugh Your Way Down The Sidewalk
The noises a 24-year-old occupational therapist in New Jersey wakes to every morning are cause for sheer delight — laughter, donkey noises and other sounds coming from the sidewalk outside her home, where she created a colorful “sensory pathway” in the chalk. The path encourages people to perform tasks as the walk along, including making joyous sounds. My favorite part about all of this is seeing entire families come and go through the pathway together — the fact that I can get people to smile during this painful time means the world to me, Elizabeth McIlroy told Patch. By Caren Lissner on Summit Patch
Elegant And Romantic, But Still Honk Your Horns
The coronavirus crushed Rebecca Citerella’s fairy tale wedding to West Point graduate Brandon Fast. It was going to be in a chapel that looks like a castle. About 250 people were expected to attend the reception. And then the coronavirus hit and disrupted the plan. The couple’s wedding will still be elegant and romantic, but guests may have to honk their good wishes rather than whisper them in an embrace. That'll work. By Alexis Tarrazi on Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch
'When You Dream Of Chocolate Cake'
A suburban Chicago woman who just published her first children’s picture book, titled “When You Dream Of Chocolate Cake,” says baking is a “love language.” Before they could walk or talk, Tianna Gawlak’s children were in the kitchen with her. “The very first time all of us baked together, my son was a few weeks old swinging in his baby swing and my daughter was almost 2 and standing at my side. I was a very new mom of two [kids] under 2 and I wanted a way to remember the day we all made chocolate cake.” By Andrea Earnest on Homer Glen-Lockport Patch
Finding A Voice Through Jazz
Improvisation is one of the defining elements of jazz. When demonstrators took to the streets to protest the police custody death of George Floyd and unite in a call police reform and racial justice, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA fellows began improvising. Jazz has a deep connection to the black experience in the United States, and the fellows are offering one-on-one summer jazz camps to high school students. "I see this as an opportunity for students to learn and also to breathe and take it all in," Malachi Whitson, one of the fellows, told Patch. "We'll have open discussions. I think music is really important to help people process everything that's going on." By Nicole Charky on Santa Monica Patch
She’s Grand Marshal Of Parades
A car parade to celebrate a birthday or other special occasion is normal these days. But there’s nothing normal about what Long Island resident Gabby Heilman accomplished when she set her mind to “bringing the party” to people through her business, Fun Rentals. She’s organized more than 100 parades to celebrate big occasions “I just figured it was something that could bring the community together,”she told Patch. “I have two kids of my own, so I feel really bad for all the children who have birthdays right now and can't celebrate the way they normally do.” By Priscila Korb on Patchogue Patch
Speaking Of Missed Traditions
Jackie and Gary Sherrick — respectively, the head coach and assistant coach of the Stratford High School varsity softball team — went to great lengths to make up for traditions lost to the coronavirus. They hid Easter eggs in their players’ yards instead of on the practice and they delivered flowers to the team’s seniors, but it wasn’t enough. The girls never to play a single game, but you wouldn’t know it from the big billboard that features seniors, several of whom will play college ball. By Anna Bybee-Schier on Stratford Patch
He Was A Great Cop
A county sheriff in Florida wants you to know this: Lt. Charles “Bo” Harrison, who was honored with a flyover on the 17th anniversary of his death, was a great cop. "Stereotypes create division, but a positive attitude can calm a storm ... There are bad actors in every profession, and we will not be defined by the bad ones in ours,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said. “Instead, we will continue to overcome those negative perceptions of law enforcement and continue to represent the good in our community just like Bo, with a message of unity and respect.” By D’Ann Lawrence White on Across Florida Patch
This Moment Of Unity
We’re living in trying times. There’s no escaping that. But when the situation turned tense at a demonstration for racial justice in California, “a woman showed up ... she was the voice of reason to calm some of the more vocal agitators,” one of the police officers involved said. They embraced. They danced. They made a genuine human connection. And everyone involved came to an understanding that what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis was a tragedy. By Renee Schiavone on Temecula Patch