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Caseythoughts In the midst of rhapsodizing the merits of paper, last week, I had a few sharp readers tell me that they wish I had thought some more on the disappearance of toilet paper. Well as Kurt Vonnegut once said, "that's the way it goes".

I normally transmit 'Thoughts' via email to my editor and I imagine that fact alone is enough to send a few of my more technologically adept readers in the spasms of guffaws. Email? Well, when I tell you that if I do it from a local library, you'll realize that I have now painted myself into a virtual corner. No libraries, no email for Casey -- now what?

Well I have managed to do it anyway in a roundabout manner, which gives me a little freedom to share a few thoughts about our current American and world dilemma that we're all sharing.

I honestly don't know -- and don't feel qualified, though that hasn't stopped me before -- whether we have the moral strength for this. Public health is certainly a task that we have delegated to government and, you know, for the most part it's been a job well done. But we're close to slowing down the economy to a crawl and lot of people are getting hurt emotionally, financially, and I dare say politically.

How this will all turn out is anyone's guess and predictions are hazardous, but I can honestly say that something is drastically changing due to this pandemic, and though it will not be near the devastation of the so-called and misnamed Spanish flu of 1918 - 1920 nor on the scale of past epidemics in America and the world, we very possibly may be witnessing a sea change in American politics, especially nationally. If we tip into recession -- and some say we already have -- then our November elections will be up for grabs and "where she stops, nobody knows."

It's a factoid that Ithaca and Tompkins County is/was recession proof, but now? The industries that kept Ithaca humming are entertainment, hospitality, food, art and education. All stifled, even strangled by this reaction and it will take quite a while to recover locally and nationally too.

I'm incredibly lucky. I'm still working my part time job and I am healthy. Gratitude is a wonderful thing.

And I've seen and heard some really good yes and bad things these last few days and I remember a quote from Woodstock: "You better damn well remember that person next to you is your brother."

One thing that keeps popping up in my little mind though is what if we put this kind of effort, forethought, and energy, when this is over, into the number of people shot every day in America? Or the number of injuries and deaths on America's highways daily? Imagine that... declaring a national emergency over gun violence or highway carnage or domestic violence? Well, we can dream.

I'm back to reading a couple of obituaries of the rich and famous and two of the more notable have struck me as worthy of remarks this week.

Have you ever been to a Trader Joe's? If you have, you're smiling right now -- a true adventure. If you haven't, you really need to go to Rochester or Syracuse or perhaps ask a friend to take you. It's an adventure of culinary delight.

The reason I mentioned it is the passing of Joseph Coulombe, the original Trader Joe and the founder of the iconic stores. He died at 89 in California. He started Trader Joe's in Los Angeles in the 50s as an experience in "new experiences, new foods, new wines" and stocked his stores with many foods unfamiliar to many shoppers in the fifties and sixties like -- are you kidding me? -- Dijon mustard and granola. Hawaiian shirts, employees called 'shipmates'and 'crew members' and weirdest mix of cool taste challenges you can imagine nothing in these stores has any other name than Trader Joe's and it was an impossible task to not fill your cart, go up to the backwards checkout lanes and laugh all the way home and then your kitchen. Humor, high quality, and a friends list of work to get for her at TJ's are all a part of mr Coulombe's experiment -- and it worked. They say he democratized access to foods that were expensive and hard to find.

At his death last month there were over 500 trader Joe's though he had long since sold the chain to Aldis in 1979. Mr Coulombe went farther than his 1954 MBA could have ever taken him. He found a way into the kitchens and hearts of millions of TJ fans.

The other obituary is named Amory Houghton's. Amo, as he was nicknamed, passed a couple of weeks ago and I can say I kind of knew him.

Congressman from Corning, he was chief executive officer of Corningware, now Corning, Inc. He was responsible for changing Corning from a casserole dish maker (his grandfather started the company and he was the fourth generation CEO) to the world's leading fiber optic manufacturer. Amo was a Marine in World War Two, graduated from Harvard in history, then obtained an MBA.

I met Amo when he was the congressional representative for the Western half of Tompkins, County and much of the Southern Tier. The man was highly respected and a very funny and down to earth guy. You would never guess he was pretty much the richest guy in Congress and had a reputation for honesty and working 'across the aisle' to get reasonable and reputable legislation passed.

Amo angered his Republican colleagues by voting what he called "my conscience" against tax cuts and for reproductive freedom. He was known as the 'grand old man' on the Ways and Means Committee.

I still have a gift he gave me -- a white house Christmas ornament that I treasure as much for its beauty as for the fact that he gave it to me with a big smile. Amo even set me up with a conference call from South Africa on his dime where he was attending Nelson Mandela's inauguration as a free South Africa celebrated a new era following apartheid.

Amo was a real salt of the earth and always made me feel special. I'm told he made everyone feel special. That's an epitaph I'd love to have some day.

How about a laugh about this coronavirus thing? Goodness knows we need one.

A paperback book published recently, available as a paperback for $7 99 cents on Amazon, entitled 'Corona, Virus , All secrets about Corona virus. Practical advice to protect your family - symptoms and treatment'. Yes, that's the entire title of the book.

There apparently were many enthusiastic five star reviews such as "very suggest this book!" and "I am extremely worth investigating this book!"

But you know what? I've been fortunate to have seen, heard, and heard of some marvelously wonderful words and actions during these days of uncertainty and isolation. And I would challenge you to keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to these examples of goodness, courage, and, yes, bravery. Downright. Human goodness will prevail over bad behavior if we keep our hearts open.

Be well and take care of each other.

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