Will we ever really get back to normal?
by Ed Wendell
Feb 02, 2021 | 285 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Geordie's Joint, a year ago, closed on St. Patrick's Day. With indoor patronage allowed at 25 percent starting February 14, some small measure of relief is ahead for businesses like Geordie's. In the meantime, residents can support their local establishments by ordering takeout and eating and drinking outside whenever the weather permits it.
Geordie's Joint, a year ago, closed on St. Patrick's Day. With indoor patronage allowed at 25 percent starting February 14, some small measure of relief is ahead for businesses like Geordie's. In the meantime, residents can support their local establishments by ordering takeout and eating and drinking outside whenever the weather permits it.
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I’ve been privileged to write this column for the Leader-Observer for nearly ten years. I’m really not sure how long, to be honest.

And some weeks, I’m not sure what I’m going to write about so I go back through past columns looking for inspiration, perhaps a new angle on an old story. And that’s what I did this week, looking back to last January and February.

Neir’s Tavern had just announced that they were closing for good. And then a miracle happened, and Neir’s was saved.

The Woodhaven Business Improvement District (WBID) met with local business owners at the Avenue Diner to discuss how our city was fining and penalizing them over signs and awnings to the point where many of them felt like giving up.

“The majority of these businesses can’t afford to pay for fines or for new awnings,” said WBID executive director Raquel Olivares. “Either way, they’ll be saddled with even more debt.”

In early February we turned our eyes to spring, when WORKS Little League announced registration for the 2020 baseball season.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center for Women were holding their annual Mardi Gras celebration in late February. It turned out to be a lovely event, lots of laughs, lots of dancing, all for a great cause.

The Queens Distance Runners were planning a race through Forest Park, a race that would end on Forest Parkway.

Assemblyman Mike Miller honored local women, as he did every year in March, which is Women’s History Month.

And American Legion Post 118 announced their annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon would take place two days before St. Pat’s.

And then our world turned upside down. It’s funny reading those pre-COVID articles, and about all the events and gatherings and longing to be at one right now.

With 2020 hindsight, we read about life during those few months and see how the city weakened so many businesses in the months before the virus struck. I would love to see a report showing how many of the more unnecessarily heavily fined businesses managed to survive the pandemic.

My guess is that the city led a lot of these businesses to the chopping block and COVID-19 was the executioner. The Avenue Diner, which did not survive 2020, was a victim of both COVID and the City of New York.

The Little League season never happened as kids were herded inside for recreation and schooling. The real impact of the past year on our youth may not be known for many years, but I don’t expect it to be good.

The St. Patrick’s Day party at American Legion Post 118 was the first event on our calendar to be canceled due to the pandemic. By the following week bars and restaurants were closing, and we wrote with sadness about Geordie’s Joint, an Irish pub if there ever was one, being closed for St. Patrick’s Day.

Life changed so rapidly back then, and I don’t even know how you can describe what the next twelve months brought. What words would you use to describe them?

And now, a year later, people are receiving the vaccination. We hope this means an end to this current way of life, which should just be temporary, but sometimes feels more like it’s here to stay.

I don’t think any of us expect life to go back to normal with the flick of a switch.

I remember seeing a friend of mine in Stop & Shop early last year. There had been a few mentions of the virus at the time, but our city officials were still encouraging life to go on as normal. There really didn’t seem to be all that much to worry about.

Yet, he was the only one in Stop & Shop with a mask on. It was my first sighting of someone with a mask, and to be honest, I thought it was odd.

A week or so later, I was in Home Depot and I noticed that more people had masks than didn’t, though it was still close to an even split.

Today, if we see someone without a mask walking towards us, we avoid them. We cross the street.

Even when the all clear is given, how many of us will be able to slip easily back into our old ways? Will it be business as usual?

Or will we look back at those gatherings early last year and think about the unknown invisible killer that, even then, was lurking among us. And how many of us will worry about the next one. We’ve got a long way to go.

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