Bear with me for a minute while I unload, there IS a “feel good moment” coming. But first: I’m 66½ years old, and maybe gettin’ a little jaded and just maybe for good reason.

When I was a kid we lived under the “threat” of nuclear holocaust. Mutally Assured Destruction or MAD for short. Between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. we had more than enough firepower to destroy the planet a couple of times over. I knew a couple of families here in Metropolis that actually had bomb shelters in their basements.

Folks my age remember “duck and cover” drills. It didn’t alter my childhood but I do remember the images we saw ever now and then of mushroom clouds and scintillating waves of energy overrunning everything in their path.

A couple of decades or so later, my new wife and I lived in a little house in Joppa, and for the first couple of years or so we almost froze to death. One entire January when the temperature never rose above freezing and a 28” snowstorm, these things were kind of commonplace for about five or six years.

Time magazine, and the scientific community, proclaimed “we’re on the verge of a new Ice Age”. So much for mastodons and wooly mammoths.

Then we discovered a hole in the earth’s ozone layer. A hole that moves around some and has probably been there forever. We were all gonna be severely irradiated if we didn’t quit using hair spray and aerosol cans — the Montreal Protocol.

Then along came Y2K — the end of all things technical…or so we thought. If something close to what Y2K was hyped up to be happened now, it truly would be the “end of the world”. But we got through that too.

We were warned of possible “polar shifts.” We heard Al Gore’s famous rant about the sea levels inundating Florida, while he purchased an $8.9 million, sea-side, 6,500-square-foot “bungalow” in Montecito, California. We learned that the polar bears were becoming extinct because of melting ice caps, and my old Chevy Suburban had to go because it was warming the earth too much.

It’s been one crisis after another, and I for one am weary of it. All the while, Mother Nature, in concert with Mankind, has been busy in the lab.

Over the past couple of decades we’ve been introduced to the West Nile virus and Legionnaires disease. We had an anthrax scare, the mumps came back on us, we were introduced to E-coli with a salmonella “kicker,” discovered the Hanta virus, a couple of “corona” viruses in SARS-covid and MERS-covid, the Zika virus wrought havoc for a while, Ebola found us, the “granddaddy” of them all- HIV- still haunts us and for a while whooping cough was “cause for pause.”

Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring helped bring about the end of the usage of the pesticide DDT, and we now suffer over 200 million cases of malaria worldwide with around 400-450,000 deaths a year from a disease we had practically eliminated in the U.S. by the 1950s.

And now we have the new corona virus, and it’s handing us our lunch in just about every way imaginable.

Italy has just about folded shop. Entire industries are scared to death, and everyone is on edge… at least that’s what it looks like.

Is it real?

You tell me.

I have no idea how this will go, but I have a long history of crises to draw upon. I sure hope it goes well. Now that we’re all spooked and down in the dumps.

Listen up. Back on Super Bowl Sunday in 2015, Josh Spiedel, a senior at North Columbus High School near Indianapolis, was involved in a horrific car wreck. Josh was a standout high school basketball player averaging nearly 28 points per game and had inked a national letter of intent to play basketball at Vermont University in Burlington, Vermont.

Josh suffered a severe head injury and his prognosis was bleak. Josh was comatose for close to five weeks and his parents were informed he would probably never walk again, would require around-the-clock care, would probably never read above the fourth grade level… you get the picture.

Vermont’s basketball coach Tom Becker kept Spiedel on scholarship, and he graduated with a 3.2 GPA as a member of the Catamounts basketball team.

This past week, coach Becker and the sporting world were rewarded when Josh “ran” onto the floor for Senior Night against Albany State.

In a pre-arranged set-up, Albany controlled the opening tip and scored uncontested. Then the roof blew off Patrick gym when Josh took a pass near the lane and executed a flawless lay-up.

I watched some of that footage on ESPN, and if it didn’t bring a tear to your eye, you might ought to go see a heart doctor. He joked afterwards that he started to miss the lay-up, get the offensive rebound and then put it back in to “pad his stat line.” His Catamounts just edged out UM-BC’s Golden Retrievers in the America East conference tournament and will now face Hartford for the America East title on Saturday.

And yes, that’s the same UM-BC team that knocked off #1 Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The first ever #16 upset of a #1 seed in tournament history.

The horrible tornadoes that devastated middle Tennessee last week touched Baxter and Putnam County hard. Eighteen people in Putnam County lost their lives. Three Baxter basketball players [two girls and a boy] lost their homes and belongings.

For lifelong friends Torrie Brooks and Ashland McClelland, both forwards on the Upperman Lady Bees, the tornado hit awfully hard. The two were spending the night at McClelland’s house when the F-4 twister roared through Cookeville. McClelland’s mother had just enough time to push the older girls and Ashland’s eight-month-old baby sister into a small utility closet as she rode out the storm in the hallway of the house.

Ashland said she could hear her mother grunting and groaning as debris from the storm’s fury pounded her. Fortunately she survived with just superficial injuries.

Officials delayed the first of Baxter’s two remaining games so Baxter-Upperman could begin the healing/recovery process. Lady Bees coach Dana McWilliams, “the most competitive person ever,” eased off the girls’ schedule after the tornado and concentrated on “talking things through.”

She even offered to let her two forwards sit out those last two games. The girls were having none of that. Those last two games — one a loss to Macon County and the other a win over Meigs County — were memorable for everyone as the opposing teams honored Baxter with moments of silence and tee shirts proclaiming “Praying for Putnam.”

Did I mention that girls basketball is a big deal in Baxter?

The Lady Bees are the Class AA Tennessee champs two times in the last three years. And the double overtime win over Meigs last Saturday put them back in the big dance this year.

The Lady Bees played Gatlinburg-Pittman Wednesday night in the first round of Tennessee’s Class AA State tournament at MTSU’s Murphy Center.

Sometimes all these crises and tragedies are brought back into perspective by human interaction in the real world not the world on our flat-screens. Let’s take a deep breath now.

I’m gonna keep on washing my hands, but I’m also gonna keep on shaking hands.

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