By Craig Hastings
“Isn’t it great that things have started to get back to normal?” A common question when refueling one of the City’s police cars here in town. The question will usually come from an out of town, out of state traveler next to me at one of the pump islands. I’ll always respond with, “Sure is.” “It’s about time.” Something along these lines. If I was to tell the truth my response would be; “What are you talking about?” Of course I know what they’re talking about but in order to avoid engaging in a long drawn out conversation I agree with just a few words.
They’re talking about more normal travel abilities, more normal food consumption options, and of course, for them maybe, politics back to normal now that Joe Biden is our President. I don’t engage with any of these travelers because maybe, probably, they wouldn’t understand a thing I was talking about. Proudly I would tell anyone that here in Corncob County, Illinois, that while so many very much more populated areas of the country suffered crazy economic loss, endured more violent crime than usual, destroyed their cities from within, and hated everything Donald Trump and Republican, my community remained mostly peaceful living per usual. The single greatest tragedy Tuscola has suffered is the temporary, and far too long, economic losses to our food and beverage industry and losses to those employees employed by the same. I believe if Tuscola had in our own ability a monetary mechanism in place to shore up and keep those businesses and employees equal as though nothing was going on everywhere else in the country, we would. I certainly would rather contribute to those in my own community than those crossing into the country on the southern border. And trust me, we all are funding the southern newbees.
My family, like so many others living here, continue to spend our money at home, in town, ordering out even if it meant getting out in the hot, cold, rain, or snow in our vehicles to pick up and take our breakfast, lunches, and dinners home. I believe Tuscola residents supported Tuscola businesses through this pandemic as best we could. Our City Government did for sure. Through the pandemic era of political unrest taking place in much of the country we didn’t experience much of this in our community. The population living here refused to be influenced and intimidated by outside propaganda schemes that might cause us to doubt one another and fight amongst ourselves. Another reason I’m proud to have been born and raised here. The few peaceful demonstrations that did take place in Tuscola were just that…peaceful. “What about your schools?” What’s to tell? Compared to most of the country, here and in most rural communities little was lost on the learning side. Our teachers bravely plowed through the political influence to shut down and continued on providing the children here with the education they deserve. However, our students did lose something of great value. Extracurricular activities at all levels came to an instant halt. As adults we may have thought this was a small price to pay with all that was going on but, it was as tragic to these kids as it was to those moms and dads that lost their jobs because of the pandemic. So many of our students plan their next years in school based on what other activities they would like to be involved along with their required standard learning. These times in their lives were taken from them and never will there be a way to get them back.
Finally, I wouldn’t have much to say to a stranger about the politics that were going on then or now because the effect politics have had in regard to how our community endured was little. As the rest of the country was picking sides to die for, it was ho hum and boring as usual politics are in Tuscola. I would tell a stranger this; “Politics are more of a popularity contest here than they are Democrat, Republican, or Independent.” “You see, I believe most of our population couldn’t tell you the difference between what Democrats and Republicans even stand for.” “With that said, if you live here, have a bunch of relatives living here, and your relatives actually like you, should you run for office here you’ll probably win.” Simple, simple, simple.
All of this I would have to say to a stranger passing through and quite frankly I wouldn’t care to take the time for fear they wouldn’t understand me anyway. Said it before and I’m saying it again; thank god I was born and raised in Tuscola, Corncob County, USA. Life here has been and still is the best America has to offer. On another note, get your shot when you can. I have and it didn’t hurt a bit nor did I have any after pains. Butch and Rich were with me and I may have heard them squeal a little but that’s normal. Our Douglas County Health Department has done an excellent job rolling out this very difficult vaccination program. Take advantage of it.