‘Harrisburg’ Category

 

Readin’ and Writin’ and ‘Rithmatic

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Do you know how many students attended public schools in the United States in the 2019-2020 school year? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/, about  50.8 million – 35.5 million in prekindergarten to grade 8, and 15.3 million in grades 9-12.

About 3.7 million students graduated from high school this spring, in the strangest ending to a school year anyone can recall. I’ve heard stories from my parents of “depression years” and school schedules revolving around “cotton-picking time.” My Dad was double-promoted in high school during hard times and wound up graduating at age 16. “Daddy had been a school teacher, and he made sure I got my studies done first. So I’d go to classes in the morning and then put in a crop in the afternoon,” he told. My Mom was dealt a reverse blow – her father held her back for two of her school years; once due to a lengthy illness and once when she simply needed to help support the family. My grandfather was a carpenter, and she dug clay from the riverbank to make bricks. But both parents persevered. They made it, despite the odds.

This year’s high schoolers were hit with an unexpected, unpredictable crisis along about March. In a flurry of fears and fumbles, as the COVID-19 virus began to creep across the country, schools shifted to stay-at-home, online classes. The methods varied from state to state, even within school districts. “Let’s stay home till this passes,” was Plan 1.

It didn’t pass. Virus cases continued to go up and state governors were tasked with issuing mandates to protect their citizens. What a thoroughly depressing “rock and a hard place” to be between. We can’t let 3.5 million kids miss a senior year! But also, we can’t let 50.8 million kids sit side by side in a classroom when the danger of illness, or death, is entirely possible.

So what to do?

You know what happened, it’s past now. My two high-school-senior-grandchildren toughed it out, sitting at home with their laptops; certain hours for online classtime and individual study. Yes, you can STUDY at home (that’s normally called “homework”) but how the heck do you complete a welding class online? They missed the senior prom, the cross-country meets, the camaraderie with school chums. It all went flat.

I applaud the effort their school officials made to create “virtual graduation ceremonies” so they did get to WEAR those caps and gowns; they did get photographed with smiling faces and feted with “immediate-family-at-home parties.” And cake, of course, cake. I’ve heard stories from friends in different parts of the country that told of similar, and some very unusual, solutions for “how to make it SPECIAL for the Class of 2020.”

Life goes on, and the virus isn’t letting up as the fall “school year” fast approaches. The daily news is mostly daily arguments and accusations; we MUST do this; we CANNOT do that. The impact of school closures extends far beyond “educational concerns” or “health concerns.” Financial, emotional, practical, common-sense issues are topsy-turvy; our structured way of life is no longer certain of its footings.

I analyze COVID-19 cases every day on the CDC site; today’s totals are 2,982,900 with 145,663 deaths so far in our 50 states, the District of Columbia, and our US territories.

Top Ten List

Sometimes, I noted, it isn’t good to make the TOP TEN LIST. Today, the ten US states dealing with the highest sheer numbers of COVID-19 cases are:

  1. 399,925: New York. Capital City Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat
  2. 277,724: California. Capital City Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom, Democrat
  3. 210,594: Florida. Capital City Tallahassee, Governor Ron DeSantis, Republican
  4. 210,585: Texas. Capital City Austin, Governor Greg Abbott, Republican
  5. 173,878: New Jersey. Capital City Trenton, Governor Phil Murphy, Democrat
  6. 149,574: Illinois. Capital City Springfield, Governor J B Pritzker, Democrat
  7. 110,338: Massachusetts. Capital City Boston, Governor Charlie Baker, Republican
  8. 105,094: Arizona. Capital City Phoenix, Governor Doug Ducey, Republican
  9. 100,470: Georgia. Capital City Atlanta, Governor Brian Kemp, Republican
  10. 92,148: Pennsylvania. Capital City Harrisburg, Governor Tom Wolf, Democrat

Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Phil Murphy, J B Pritzker, Charlie Baker, Doug Ducey, Brian Kemp, and Tom Wolf, governors of these hardest-hit states, have some tough decisions ahead. So do the governors, and health departments, and school boards, of ALL our states and territories.

There are more than 50 million children out there whose future rocks, and rolls, on the decisions you make.

Tomorrow: Colleges

 

 
 
 

Bird-In-Hand Is Better

13 food plateLinda Burton posting from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania traveling from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Trenton, New Jersey – Buttery new potatoes with skins. Sweet-corn casserole. Bright-green peas. Kraut and sausage. Chicken pie. Shepherd’s pie. Ham and scalloped potatoes. I was walking the center aisle of a Pennsylvania Dutch smorgasbord, dipping a smidge of everything onto my plate. Ham balls? There was no more room, well, maybe one. The salad bar was to my left, the dessert bar to my right; I bypassed both, stopping at the bread bar for fresh-baked rolls. Then to my booth by the window, through a silver-haired crowd in a room filled 13 horse purplewith happy talk. Tour buses waited in the parking lot; seniors were traveling today. The weather is still tolerably good; family traffic has slowed with kids in school; now’s the time to wander the hills and open farm lands that make up the happiest place I’ve ever seen. I was happy, that’s for sure; fresh vegetables on my plate, locally grown and simply cooked. Across the road, two horses grazed behind a white fence; one wore a purple blanket, I wondered why. An Amish buggy, horse-pulled at a rapid clip, went by on the highway, ah, that’s it. The purple-blanket horse just finished a buggy trip and was in cool-down mode. Should I go back 13 buggythrough the smorgasbord for a second round? Some shoo-fly pie? It was tempting, but no; the drive ahead to Trenton would be intense; dessert would make me sleepy, and soft. I flipped through my Lancaster County guidebook, and sighed. Too many potatoes? No, too many things I’d miss today. Is this a come-back place? Is this a place I’d recommend for the senior crowd, and for every family with kids? I give it an “A,” for absolutely. » read more

 
 
 

Looking For Socks

09 cover 001Linda Burton posting from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – “This is the handsomest building I ever saw,” is a quote they brag about in Harrisburg. That’s what President Theodore Roosevelt said on October 4, 1906, when he attended the dedication of the Pennsylvania state capitol. Now, I’ve seen a lot of capitol buildings (this is the 47th one on the Journey) and I try to be very careful not to compare one to another, focusing instead on the unique and beautiful qualities of each. But I found myself looking around for my socks today, because (figuratively speaking) my first glimpse inside this capitol’s rotunda knocked them off. Architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940) envisioned the capitol as a “palace of art” and he did not miss the mark. It is described as a “priceless architectural and artistic treasure” and its 600 rooms burst with so much color, and so many messages, that “sensory overload” must be a way of life for those who work inside. And 09 house b 001everybody does – the executive, judicial, and legislative branches are housed in the capitol; it is the workshop of Pennsylvania state government. It’s a huge complex of Renaissance marble and gold; the outside (five stories high) is Vermont granite, the roof is green glazed terra cotta tile; inside you’ll see Italian, French, English, Greek, Roman and Victorian influences. Yet somehow, Huston pulled it all together while telling the story of Pennsylvania, making it an all-American edifice. Because first and foremost, the capitol is a public building, belonging to the citizens of the Commonwealth. The marble staircase was set to showcase a wedding today; the guest chairs waited in place. I asked about the rotunda, but my guide pointed to the floor; “Let’s start with the Moravian tiles,” she said. » read more

 
 
 

The Corn Is Dead

05 dead cornLinda Burton posting from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Remember the Iowa cornfields early this summer? “Knee-high by the 4th of July” was the saying; lush green as far as the eye could see. That time is past now; it’s November, and the only cornfield I spotted on today’s drive in Pennsylvania stretched across the valley as pure gold; rustling cornstalks waiting to be mulched, in that final farming phase of the season. I didn’t see many crop fields on the New England part of the Journey; the focus there is foliage, and oh yes, maple syrup and apple trees. I welcomed the open space of the 05 hex sign 4cornfields as I approached Harrisburg and passed into Pennsylvania Dutch country, where I spotted a few barns sporting Hex signs. These cheerful folk-art designs generally feature birds, or flowers, or hearts. I bought a small Hex sign when we passed through the area in the 60’s, back when my kids were small; it has hung in every house I’ve lived in since. Maybe I’ll get another one while I’m here; a sign to remember the Journey by. Signs. I’m scanning through today’s photos now; other than the cornfield, there 05 hex barn redreally are no pretty landscape scenes; most are pictures of signs I saw today. Signs! It was a long, wearying drive; daylight to dark from Hartford, Connecticut to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; complete with four major traffic jams. In order to avoid the congestion of New York City I stayed north on I-84 to the western edge of Connecticut, and on across New York state. I didn’t get a picture of the funniest sign I saw (and probably the newest) – “It Can Wait. Text Stop Ahead.” Sure enough, there are “Text Stops” along the freeways now. Signs. “Construction Ahead” was the most prolific, of course. May I show you more? » read more