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Dear Customers,

             First of all, let me say up front that this column has nothing to do with food or supermarkets.  It’s not a secret that most people, world-wide, would rather forget that 2020 even happened.  The way we lived, the way we struggled through our daily lives and the limited way we interacted with others was completely, radically and instantly changed.

            We began in March of that year, by being told that the virus would most likely run its course in two weeks, so we should all just go home and avoid everyone for that long.  But people around the world couldn’t do that.  They got on airplanes, they went to work, and they just acted like it was business as usual – until it no longer was.  Now, a year later we’re still suffering the aftershocks, albeit to a much lesser degree and people are venturing out. . . maybe not to the degree we once did, but slowly, cautiously.

            This was never more apparent to me than on a night back in early April.  The week after Easter was pleasant with sunshine and temperatures hovering in the high 60’s and low 70’s!  Not unheard of, but certainly not usual for the first week of April.  I left my house on the South Side about suppertime.  Things were relatively quiet, that is to say, normal on Bank Street as I crossed the bridge to go mail a couple of letters before heading to get my hair cut.

            Upon leaving the post office parking lot, I turned right, heading West on Water Street.  At the first stop sign, I glanced down into Hamlin Lake Park and was surprised to see 40 or 50 cars and trucks parked next to the skate park.  At the second stop sign, I saw the reason.  There, the Lady Hubbers were engaged in mortal combat on the softball field with their peers from Otto-Eldred.  Continuing west on Water St., I noticed a smaller group scurrying around the Chet Burt Little League field.  One of the two teams in town was engaged in practice as evidenced by the adults interspersed around the field obviously offering nuggets of wisdom! 

            At the bridge, fishermen lined both sides of Marvin Creek enjoying the last few hours of daylight.  The Tastee Freeze (a.k.a. Smethport Drive-In) was packed as people sought to appreciate the warm temperatures and sunlight with some frozen treats.  It struck me at that moment how different the park in Smethport was from a year ago.  Sports had taken an enforced hiatus and while there were a few fishermen around the lake, they were few and far between.  Passing McCoy Stadium, there was a similar group of young men, quite probably the Hubber Varsity, taking batting practice. Continuing out past the old County Home, there were five or six cars and trucks parked at the old bridge, drowning some worms.  A lone Osprey hovered, obviously upset about sharing his fishing spot.

            Upon my return, on the Willow Street side of Hamlin Lake were a dozen or so toddlers crawling all over the playground while Smethport Memorial Pool was full and ready for someone to begin the annual chore of changing the water from dark & murky to pristine blue.  At least a dozen more fisherman were camped out in the Mencer back yard and Mr. D. was crawling down a ladder leaned up to the roof of his food truck where he’d no doubt been engaged in a little routine maintenance.           

Everywhere around the lake there was frenetic activity as people rushed to make up for the losses of a year ago, almost as if they couldn’t believe their good fortune and wanted to take advantage before it was ripped out from under them.  Again.  Welcome back Spring in Smethport, we missed you!