My Aunt Florence lives two blocks from the containment zone of New Rochelle, NY.
That was one of the first cities in America to be on total lock down due to COVID-19.
From time to time, I call her to check in on her and the situation there.
She told me early on that the governor called in the National Guard to ‘help’ with the situation. Being naturally leery of authority figures, I asked her what she had experienced with soldiers walking around the neighborhood.
In her splendid Yonkers, New York, accent, which I miss hearing, she said the following.
“Not much really. They stopped by our building to deliver food. Don’t get me wrong, Gregory, that was a very nice gesture, but your uncle and I don’t eat that kind of food. Everything was in a can or a box. I use all fresh ingredients. I make my own tomato sauce, soups or lasagna, everything from fresh. There was nothing for us to use!”
Aunt Florence is a fabulous Italian cook. She learned from her mother, who was also a fabulous cook and baker. ( I have bragged on my grandmother’s kitchen prowess in previous posts.)
The next time I called, I asked about the Guard again. Had they put down any riots, forced business to close, or were they just delivering food?
“Oh no, it’s very quiet in New Rochelle. All the stores are still closed, and everyone is off the street. People are concerned about getting sick. The National Guard is not telling anyone what to do. They don’t have to.”
Are they still delivering food?
“Yes, the same stuff,” she said disappointingly.
Then the tone of her voice switched to one of excitement.”Well, yesterday the bag they brought had a box of pasta and a can of kidney beans. So I made pasta e fagioli for your uncle and I.”
She finished her statement with a laugh.
Aunt Florence’s house in immaculate. You could not find a thread of dust on anything, even if you used a magnifying glass to search with. When you look in the refrigerator it is like looking at a display in a top notch museums – perfectly arranged, spotless, well lit. Her mom’s house was the same way. As a matter of fact, her two sisters and her brother, my dad, have houses equally as tidy. Considering the situation, these houses could even be cleaner, if that is possible.
She also has a practical nature and is not shy about sharing that – not rude, just not shy.
When she told me she needed a taxi to take her to the doctor, I asked how that worked out.
Her voice got a little serious.
“I asked them if they would disinfect the car before they came by. I’m sorry, Gregory, I’m too old to care what they think about that. Besides, you never know who was in that cab before me.”
She did not laugh this time, I did. But she had a point.
Maybe the next time I call she won’t have to be concerned about that. Maybe the National Guard will be gone and the streets and shops will be full of people again.