By G. Wayne Dowdy
Your correspondent writes another letter to Colonel John McLeod Keating, managing editor of the Memphis Daily Appeal during the 1878 yellow fever epidemic, where he discusses the state of presidential politics, the Covid-19 pandemic and continues to be inspired by the resilience of our city’s neighborhoods.
Dear Colonel Keating:
The pandemic continues with no end in sight. 258 new Covid-19 cases have been reported which brings our total to 32,306 infections since the crisis began. Sadly, 490 Shelby County citizens are now dead. The number of Memphians who have gone back to work has increased; in August 37,100 Memphians found work. However, our unemployment rate still sits at 11.8 percent.
Like a hunter creeping through the woods at twilight, we search for signs that we can overcome the division and sickness plaguing our land. We certainly didn’t find it this week.
Last Tuesday Derrick and I watched the first presidential debate and were disgusted with what we saw. The Republican attacked with blustering nonsense, trying to destabilize his opponent and avoid answering embarrassing questions. On the other side of the stage the Democrat, who seemed to lament that we have tripped into such a deep field of muck, desperately tried to make his case. The stunned looks on the faces of the television journalists were no doubt replicated in living rooms all across the country. It was a shameful event that frustrated our citizenry and delighted our adversaries.
On Friday morning we awoke to learn that the president had contracted Covid-19. What followed was four days of confusion, dissembling, and foolishness. The White House is now an infection zone and the President refuses to work with Congress to provide needed assistance for suffering Americans.
Two days ago Derrick and I again delivered meals for MIFA. At one of our stops Mr. Robert Wilson was waiting for us outside. While Derrick put his food in a bag, I asked Mr. Wilson how he was doing. “It’s a little cold but there’s no need to complain because this is God’s world, we just live in it.”
We talked for a few more minutes and when Derrick handed him his food, I asked if I could take his picture. “You want to take a picture of me?” When I assured him I did, he gestured for Derrick to join him and I snapped the photo. “Put me in the news,” he said as we drove away.
To tell you the truth, I’d rather talk to someone like Mr. Wilson than most anyone I know. His wisdom is far superior to many of those currently in the halls of academia, business, and government. Unafraid to speak the truth, Mr. Wilson and many like him have a lot to teach us. When we ignore those living in our neighborhoods, we limit our possibilities and weaken our future. Let us hope we will pay closer attention to what they have to say.
Your faithful correspondent