Forgive me if my first posts are a little pedestrian. Mostly, I’m giving you background — the setting, if you will.
I live in a recently restored building in former Mayor Pete’s revitalized downtown South Bend. Built in 1930, the Hoffman Hotel building is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are 48 apartment units, and when it opened in 2016 in its current configuration, it was conceived as a community for artists, musicians and writers.
Most of us do not live purely off the earnings of our artistic pursuits. So you can imagine that the economic disarray caused by efforts to minimize the spread of the Corona virus have hit many of the tenants particularly hard.
I see our community as a microcosm of this city, each of us with our own story. Everyone, after all, has a story, and it’s the individual personal stories of the people I encounter each day that are most likely to make my daily missives compelling reads for you, my readers, much more so than my own musings.
It’s chilly here today — and a little gusty too. But the forecast had been for rain, and since it wasn’t raining, my daughter and I used the opportunity to stroll around the block.
We live next door to a major performance venue in our community — the Morris Civic Auditorium. The doors are shuttered now, of course. The Disney production of the Lion King had opened March 4 and was the hottest ticket in town until Gov. Eric Holcomb announced March 12 (Was that just last week?) that the state was banning all gatherings of more than 250 people. That very night we arrived home to see dozens of people in the Morris loading doc glued to their cells phones. The production trailer remains parked there even now, although I haven’t seen sign of life since.
Next door to the Morris is the Palais Royale, a popular setting for wedding receptions, proms, parties and other gatherings. Who knows when they will be allowed to reopen for business?
I was astonished to find Griffin Book Store still open. I had never stepped in, having moved to my apartment only last fall, and I was delighted to find it not only open but, with their emphasis on classical literature, I would never lack for good reading through the duration of our Corona-induced social distancing experiment.
In addition to books, the Griffon is filled with eclectic serendipity — from miniature modeling supplies to military and war collectibles, traditional gaming, cards and dice, Notre Dame sports memorabilia, and used media and framed art. Even though we were the only shoppers in the store, the clerk said she expected it would remain open unless they were ordered closed by governmental decree. It’s sad to find such a cool shop empty, as we found it today. If you’re interested, check out their website: www.griffon-bookstore.com.
It appears that the Griffon is the only open storefront on our block. Pedestrians have abandoned the sidewalks of our typically bustling downtown district were empty of pedestrians. Vehicle traffic, while light, persists. We’ll continue to explore more in coming days.
The first thing I should tell you about myself is that I’ve been a writer my entire professional life. I’ve been a newspaper reporter, a magazine editor and a public relations professional, as well as a freelance writer and editor.
I’ve also lived in the South Bend community for most of my adult life.
However, for the past nine years I’ve been almost entirely a caregiver for several different family members. One is my daughter, who lives in the same downtown apartment building as I do. Her story is unique, and I expect I’ll introduce you to her before long. But as a caregiver, I suspect that will color my experience through this pandemic.
I’m a little odd too, because early in my career I wrote about faith topics. But later I wrote about science. And I like writing about both. I see many parallels between the two.
Scientists and serious people of faith share some things in common. First, both seek to know what is true. And second, both are rooted in a kind of awe of the world and all that’s in it. And third, I think both people of science and people of faith are working for a better world.
The microbial world has been a primary interest of mine for a number of years. While at the moment we are focused on a virus that can do a terrible amount of harm in a very short time, there is an unseen universe of benevolent, benign and pernicious microbes alike — far exceeding our imaginations. I expect I’ll write more on that as well.
I hope by sharing my thoughts and experiences through this global adventure that I’ll connect with others and gain from their perspective as well.