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Spires: Changing times

Spires: Changing times

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Over the years I’ve seen some unusual things happen.

I didn’t realize just how much I have seen until the most recent crises with the pandemic and all of the civil unrest.

When I was about 5 years old, we moved to Miami, where several of my father’s brothers were living. One of my uncles had a small house behind their house that an older couple lived in on the same property.

We would visit my uncle and his family often, where we kids would play in the back yard.

The husband came down with tuberculosis.

He would be taken along with his wife to a home (asylum) for folks with tuberculosis. All the furniture was removed from the house and burned, as were the couple’s clothes.

All of us had to be tested for tuberculosis by the way, just because we had been in the vicinity of the couple.

Also, at the time we were still in the throes of the Polio epidemic. Thankfully, a vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1955; however, thousands of folks were infected and many did not make it.

There are two people I know personally who were infected by Polio. Neither ended up in an “iron lung,” but it had lasting effects on their health.

In the flu epidemic of 1957-58, my brother spent two weeks in the hospital with the flu. By the way, over 100,000 people died that winter in the United States.

I am a child of the ‘60s and remember well the “counter-culture revolution,” the Watts riots, as well as the Vietnam War protests across the country.

It was a bad time for our country and folks tend to forget how really bad it was, with streets on fire and people looting stores.

Since those days there have been patches of civil unrest, mostly in other countries. We’ve been lucky here as well with pandemics. Remember the Hong Kong Flu, Swine Flu, and the more recent H1N1 Flu?

In our area, I lived through the flood of 1994 when I lived on Lake Seminole and was told my house would be 10 feet under water.

I survived Hurricane Kate, tornados, and the most recent Hurricane Michael.

This coronavirus has most of us worried. I personally have changed my lifestyle quite a bit, especially now that several friends and relative have come down with the virus. I know folks, by the way, who have died from the virus, it is not a conspiracy — it is real, and it will kill you. How it got here, that’s another question.

As far as the civil unrest is concerned, it is not new to this country. This kind of stuff has been going on all of my life, as I mentioned earlier.

I am not sure how it will end. My thoughts are we have not seen the last of it.

Right now, we need to keep ourselves and our families safe.

Maybe we need to pray more as well.

Byron Spires is a retired newspaper editor. He has written dozens of short stories and serials in the Havana Herald. He recently published “The Curious Life of Marci Bell: Part I,” in a series of three books. Byron has been involved with local theatre having done over 50 musicals, a dozen stage plays and wrote and directed an original play “Splintered Judgement.” He is available for speaking engagements. You can contact him at

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