What will be the future look of Spring Street in Eureka Springs? How will small-town U.S.A. recover from this Covid-19 life event?
At the end of March 2020, when the world shut-down due to this global pandemic, this video, by a local friend, surfaced featuring our Eureka Springs. This felt like one of those post-apocalypse movies, with hauntingly deserted streets.
But how will things look once it is completely gone and people can re-emerge to resume everyday life?
First, it's highly likely it will never be truly gone and there probably will be little change superficially. The biggest difference will likely be internal, in the lives changed not only by the disease but by the economic consequences of the struggle to contain it.
The medical crisis alone has taken its toll on the world, and economically we've already watched our local neighbors and merchants shutter their storefront; and businesses that already were marginal, in some cases, were not able to weather the downturn, even with federal or state aid.
But for most all of us, the lingering effect will be in attitude.
Great traumatic events have lasting effects on society. That was true of the first two such events in my lifetime, and I am sure it will be true of this third event.
It was just past my 16th birthday in 1986, when The Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members aboard. The crew consisted of five NASA astronauts, and two payload specialists. Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.
I was in my Homeroom class in High School, in Medford, Massachusetts and our teacher immediately recognized it as a tragic event, swiftly snapped off the TV, unplugged it and wheeled it back out of our Homeroom on the audio-visual cart leaving me and my entire class stunned and inquisitive. When our teacher returned, I remember students asking, "Why was there so much smoke?" "Why did you turn it off?" "Did something bad just happen?" "Are we in trouble?" "Are the astronauts OK?"
As a young citizen of the USA, I remember being told time and again by adults (family, friends, teachers, etc.) that the USA is the most powerful country in the entire world and we've been known to do most everything better than any other country on the map.
To me, The Space Shuttle Challenger event changed my perception of what I was being told. My personal lens on life shifted and I started to open my eyes to see for myself.
When the terrorists struck the Twin Towers in 2001, my partner and I were sound asleep in Seattle, WA. As we moved through our morning routine, we knew that something was "off." No cars were moving on the road, no customers were in the (usually packed-out) coffee shop that I went to each morning on Summit Avenue, and no passengers (also usually full-up) were riding the local city bus with me on my morning route to my office.
Even in my office building, upon arrival, I could tell that something was afoot. The usual people weren't there yet, and those few that I did happen to find, were huddled in the marketing department around the television they had in there all staring numb at what was on the screen.
The 16 year old in me thought, "...more plumes of smoke on TV."
Now, at age 31, I knew right away why our homeroom teacher, in 1986, swiftly snapped off the TV. In a room full of adults, I wish I had snapped it off because just moments later, the second plane (in real time) struck the second tower and every one of us witnessed this together.
I immediately felt this rush of angst and worry push through my entire body outward from the center of my heart as I thought about all of my family members back in Massachusetts and throughout New England and the east cost. (In 1993, age 23, when I was living in NYC, I once accepted a temp job assignment at a firm in Tower 1 as a file clerk and this felt all too close to home for me.) My and my coworkers could not believe what we were witnessing - a huge plume of smoke wending northward from both of the Twin Towers.
Unlike the agitated conversation of 1986 (with my young classmates) my coworkers in this office were silent, numb and somber. That may have been because we were still uncertain as to what happened and why.
U.S. society would never be the same. No more rushing up to the airport gate 15 just minutes before flight time and dashing onto the aircraft. After 9/11, the public accepted certain restrictions on movement, especially as it pertains to air travel, as a matter of course.
What will be the lasting effects of COVID-19?
Time will tell.
Yes, the Japanese disabused us of the idea that oceans kept us safe from military attack when they fell upon our Pearl Harbor and Coronavirus has shown us the same is true of airborne disease in this age of widespread intercontinental travel.
I expect there to be a heightened awareness of contagion and a much greater emphasis on sanitation. Sanitizer wipes, hand sanitizer, cleaning stations and masks will likely become a part of everyday life in America everywhere we turn. Most certainly, and as we've already seen, we will experience even more restrictions regarding travel of any kind.
What will be the lasting effective of COVID-19 in Eureka Springs?
The answer is inside our hearts, our attitudes and comes from our strength as a community. This community is ours and we have every intent to continue to flourish.
Here, at home in beautiful Eureka Springs, Arkansas, while it feels like we're in a bubble some days, we're not. The impact has been felt by all and we all continue to feel it in some way as things evolve.
However, as our nation changes because of these events, Eureka Springs, too, will weather the storm. But how we do so, is up to us. We are strong!
Autumn is here and it always reminds me that with every ending, there is a new beginning. New businesses and new business owners. New residents, neighbors and new friends. New innovative/creative ways to come together. New wonderful memories to make.
Autumn brings a new chapter.
Together, we will become a stronger Eureka Springs - and as we strengthen, even more so, as a community. In my heart, I feel that change ahead will be for the better.
Have hope in your heart friends and let's turn the page and begin this new chapter - together.❤️
IMO | "In My Opinion" is a blog-series that features commentary, ideas, thoughts and viewpoints from the personal opinion of John-Michael Scurio, local resident, creator, owner and blogger of www.iloveureka.com.