Gaining a New Perspective


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Leslie C. McManus 

For those of you who’ve mailed in answers identifying What is it? tools this spring and summer, but who’ve not seen your names in print, I offer sincere apologies. Incredibly, the global pandemic’s reach extends to mystery tools.

I won’t bore you with details, but suffice to say that the virus has forced changes in mail-handling protocols at our office. As if that weren’t enough upheaval, most staffers continue to work from home, causing more delays in getting the mail to where it needs to be.

For now, anyway, this is how things have to be, and we will just have to roll with it. It was a useful realization. Many of us have little experience in dealing with the fallout from global anything, and even less with sacrifice.

We’ve all known people who lived during World War I, the influenza epidemic of 1918-’20, the Great Depression and World War II. As many have noted, those events lasted years, not the handful of months that have passed since the virus reached the U.S. And yet we want, as people have surely always wanted, for life to return to normal.

COVID-19 nudges me to consider a different view – one decidedly less rosy than the scene I normally envision – of farm life in the late teens and early 1920s. The horrors of war were capped off by a pandemic that killed millions worldwide. Then came the Agricultural Depression of the 1920s, creating a continual cycle of debt for the American farmer, who faced a knock-out punch of falling farm prices and the need to purchase expensive machinery.


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