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Guest Column: Apalachicola’s been good at handling pandemic

Norm Biondi Special to
the Times
The Apalach Times

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to share through The Apalachicola Times my observations about being a refugee from “Up North” coming to the quaint and blessedly laid-back town of Apalachicola.

Since then, my spouse and I have worked on spending every other month in Apalachicola while settling our affairs Up North. We returned to Apalach in early February and guess what, the coronavirus appeared and exploded, bless its heart! Truly a game changer for all of us.

It looks like Honey and I are going to stay here a long, long time. Considering all the rules being put in place countrywide and including local nuances, Apalach has become our little “Brigadoon,” except most of our townsfolk have Panhandle Southern accents, not Scottish highland brogue. There are lots of differences on how our residents handle things corona-wise when compared to Northerners, and even the larger populated Southern towns. Essentially, I describe it as our locals are “mildly annoyed” versus everyone else on the planet shows as “pretty darn freaked out.”

Here are some examples:

The run on toilet paper, hand sanitizer (now liquid gold), Clorox-type wipes and other must - have products was in full crisis, lines around stores, shopping cart crashing up North at the start of the pandemic. We all saw it on television or online!

I was in a store, one of the “dollar-type” stores along Highway 98 when the local run on necessary items started. The difference? Sharing by limiting quantities versus big city hoarding. Better that everyone could get some, instead of people having none. This particular trip did get exciting when a customer got loud and uppity with the cashier. Toilet paper problem? Nope. The customer allegedly had a “coupon” in her car but wouldn’t go get it. The cashier didn’t recall the product being on sale and was insistent on seeing it. Nearly turned into an in-your-face moment! The customer stormed out and the cashier explained to the audience that the person was from Georgia. There you go!

People up North seem to struggle with things to do to keep themselves occupied. Not all of them, but enough that nerves are frayed from so much togetherness! I have a great view of the city marina from my house and the parking spaces below the bridge today. Being Sunday, the spaces are full to bursting with pick-up truck trailer combinations waiting for the fishermen to come home with dinner and more fish for the freezer. The boats are doing great at maintaining social distance!

Finding things to do is different here too. I have started a very personal crusade to rid our yard of raccoon's. Yes, they are cute, but pooping in spots I like to step, walk, sit, drive or just plain look at is enough. I invested in a few humane traps and studied up on the “how to” part of it. After using cat food and finding the food gone and the traps not sprung, I asked around. Great advice. Marshmallows and trap placement. Worked like a charm. I am now two-for-two and getting along great with Franklin County’s finest, the men of animal control, responsible for the relocation program. This wouldn’t happen up North; the Save the Raccoons Society would be picketing me.

We know that various levels of government have been forced to decide what are essential services and who are essential persons. Nobody asked me, but why is beer brewing considered non-essential? Ben Franklin allegedly said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” My son Nate, working for a brewery in Nashville has been furloughed! Nate is hoping to get a call from his Oyster City buddy, Clayton. Someone in a position of governmental authority here may have shut OCBC down, well at least the Tap Room. I think I saw Clayton’s boat trailer under the bridge! Clayton and his comrades make very good beer. Very good beer.

On a sober note, I applaud all of our restaurants for doing what they are so famous for doing, finding a way to feed us during a crisis. Yes, the rules are problematic, but the owners and staff find a way to adjust and get it done. We should acknowledge that owners lose money. Maybe lots of money. A sense of community and belief in patrons carries them past this somehow.

We all look forward to an end to the coronavirus pandemic and a return to normalcy. In the meantime, I hope that we can find opportunities to point out the good in Apalachicola. It’s there!

Norm Biondi can be reached at