Businesses closed in March 2020 near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to try to prevent its spread. I gathered photos from local places to have my own record of this strange time and I wrote several columns in my job for It’s a Southern Thing. Check out my photos here.
I decided to update and close out my pandemic journal and asked friends on Facebook to share their memories. The thing I remember most is how we all came together at first but how we quickly broke down into political teams, which really shocked me. On a lighter note, I’ll remember how quickly TV and movies responded with commercials, shows and films that reference the pandemic. Weird times, for sure.
Here’s what some friends and family said:
“At first I just kept saying it wasn’t real, they couldn’t shut down a country especially not a month before my wedding. But then they did and I kept saying it won’t last, it’s not that bad… and then it was that bad and I had to cancel my wedding and I just remember thinking I was never going to be able to marry Aaron before the world ended and I was heartbroken.” – Shannon Kazek Gamblin
“I play for a couple of churches every Sunday, and I did notice a couple of things. While the Episcopal church had us wearing masks and sitting six feet apart in every other row, the Catholics wore masks for the first few weeks (some of ’em never did), and then it was left up to the individual. They continued to sit together as well. Do you know how difficult it is to sing with a mask on?? Every time you take a breath, the mask gets sucked right into your mouth. It’s a PAIN. Furthermore, the rules change frequently at the Episcopal church. We wear masks; we don’t. We have fellowship afterwards; it’s canceled until the current surge is over. Geez louise, I’ll be glad if/when we get a PERMANENT all-clear.” – Claudia Swift
“This is a hard thought to ever flesh out correctly and I have gone back and forth with my answer since this was first posted. I said when lockdowns first started, that would cause more problems than Covid itself ever would, and that proved to be true. Be it the businesses that never recovered, the mental health issues it caused (or perpetuated), the division between people, etc. etc. etc…” – Wil Elrick
“I remember all the annoyances, such as my glasses fogging up from wearing a mask, my grands fighting over masks, having to answer all the questions about Covid symptoms in the last 2 weeks before seeing the Dr or dentist, not being able to find hand sanitizer or toilet paper (at first), church shutdowns (who would have ever thought), the postponement of Aaron and Shannon’s wedding, and concerts getting canceled. I think I could go on and on but I’ll stop there. I woke up everyday feeling like I was in the Twilight Zone and that it was something that you lived through to be able to tell your grandkids, but they lived through it too! Crazy.” – Denise Gamblin
“The introverts rejoiced, and the extroverts (like me) mourned. The world needs more dinner parties.” – Nancy Hawkins
“We could pick up dinner from a restaurant, including a bottle of wine (which they didn’t allow previously), and they included a complementary roll of toilet paper as a thank you gift!” – Beth Smith
“I remember finding out I was an essential worker while it seemed everyone else was staying at home.” – Timothy Little
“Very mad due to people being too scared to go visit each other. Mad the churches closed, mad restaurants wouldn’t let us eat there. Mad that events stopped. Mad that I had to wear a mask and everyone was so paranoid, washing their groceries because no one knew for sure how people caught it. Just so angry at people stopping life and telling us what to do. I have been an essential worker the whole time, people were working from home and that sounded good but at least I got to see people and talk to them. …. Family events were cancelled – even at Christmas. I needed to see my family. I always need people and family. … People are still scared, rightly so, but thank goodness less people are dying from it. My fiancé and I were there the first night Outback opened up and then kept going places because we wanted them to stay in business. So many good businesses went out from people being too scared to work or go anywhere.” – Suzanne Keller
“I was on a group bike ride when news broke that restaurants and bars would close immediately. There was a sense the world was breaking down. We snuck into the Jefferson County courthouse parking deck and rode to the top. It felt naughty pedaling past the sheriff vehicles parked, and the view from the top was startling. Birmingham was still and quiet, with little traffic moving about. I felt like why not trespass on courthouse property since our society was crumbling.” – Anonymous
Columns from quarantine/lockdown/isolation: