Life in the Time of COVID

It’s hard to believe that this crazy time we are going through will one day be in the history books. I’m sure that it was also hard for our ancestors to imagine that their everyday lives would be a part of history one day. In fact, it may not have been something they even thought about as they forged ahead building our wonderful country. The truth is that growing up I wrestled with learning history from history books. I always found it dry and hated every single history class I had until I got to college and found myself enrolled in Western History taught by Dr. Margaret Brown. Dr. Brown taught history through stories and, for the first time in my life, history came alive. I found myself fascinated with real life accounts and experiences of people from the past. (and that led me to wishing I’d paid more attention to all those times my mother, Elsie Taylor Owens, dragged my sister and me to cemetery’s and historic sites.) I became so enthralled with history that I spent the rest of college signing up for every single class that Dr. Brown taught! The good news was that I had the rest of my life to learn about the past but it never occurred me that my daily life would be something that my grandchildren would one day learn about…and then came the global pandemic! This past spring Angelyn sent an email to the South Carolina board and Town Committee chairs telling them that Anna Duff, our national president, was encouraging us all to tell our stories about this time. To create a diary for the Dames that are to follow us. Since that request we have received many wonderful Covid Stories- stories of how our South Carolina Dames brought joy to others, celebrated birthdays and anniversaries and even how, in the midst of a pandemic, a busy young family came together and found that the forced slow down gave them the gift of time together. There are many, many sad things that have happened during this time- from loss of loved ones to feelings of loneliness for many people- and those stories are very important and need to be told as well. But one of the things that I found as I went through the entries from our Dames was that I felt a connection to others as I read each story and realized that these stories need to be available beyond this one Palmetto Post. I’m excited to tell you that we have curated a “time capsule” on our website where these stories can be read and that will act as a living history for daughters and granddaughters and great-granddaughters (our sons too- I was just speaking in terms of future Dames) We have titled this: Life in a Time of Covid,  and it is something that we will continue to add to as we receive more diary entries. I encourage all of you to write down your own stories- the happy and the hard- and share them with us by emailing your experience to Who knows, maybe one day there will be a girl who finds herself unable to relate to history through a dry textbook and the accounts in our diary could be the difference between her passing a required history class in college or not!

Blair Harris
(Mr. Robert Keith Harris)

Living History at a Social Distance: Colonial Council, The Powder Magazine, & Beyond!

Dear NSCDA-SC Members,

Colonial Council representatives and employees are doing a wonderful job making certain that the challenges of this year do not hinder our historical activities. Let us start by acknowledging those NSCDA-SC members who have already committed to their annual Colonial Council Partnership.  It is your gifts that make our programs possible. Thank you!

Just before the pandemic, our Charlestown Battalion of Artillery (CBA) volunteer crew made an appearance for Colonial Day at Colonial Dorchester State Park. Our staff and volunteers supported the State Park Service by interacting with families, discussing the history of SC, the Cherokee War, and (of course!) 18th-century artillery. Like so much this year, we were disappointed that our staff and volunteers could not be part of the SC 350th events planned for this past spring and summer, but we did not allow this to discourage!

Undeterred by statewide event cancellations, museum closings, logistical challenges, civil unrest, hurricane threats and a reduced revenue stream, our Executive Director of Programming Alan Stello and his team remained undaunted.  Working remotely they not only planned and executed the safe reopening of The Powder Magazine Museum but developed a new idea for virtual history programming:  The 2nd Cup Conversations.  We are proud to report that these have grown to become anticipated learning opportunities hosted bimonthly via Zoom video conferencing. Through 2nd Cup Conversations, the NSCDA-SC is able to highlight a variety of historical sites including NSCDA Great American Treasures (GAT) properties, authors and historians.  Please join us for field trips across America and interact in real time with other history lovers.  No need to pack a bag, just pour yourself another cup of coffee and click the link or phone in and you’re set!

The 2nd Cup programs will pause for a few weeks beginning on October 15th as we launch the Colonial Council’s virtual Fall Lunch & Lecture Series. Traditionally, this popular six-week series is held in The Powder Magazine.  This fall it will assume a videoconference format and be called Zoom at Noon.  Guests will be encouraged to enjoy their lunch from work or home and learn more SC history. Topics planned include: Edgar Allan Poe; the history of integrating Charleston’s police force; Beaufort legend General Stephen Elliot, and more. There will be a nominal charge for participation.

Events, in-person and virtual

On Saturday, September 19, The Powder Magazine in partnership with The Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon  hosted an in-person activity called Pirates to Patriots: Living History at a Social Distance.  Families were encouraged to go back in time to colonial Charleston and meet pirates, patriots, redcoats, sailors, and civilians. Volunteer living historians were at both The Powder Magazine and The Old Exchange, sharing history at a safe distance. These special features were included with regular museum admissions. Photographs and conversation were encouraged while facemasks and distancing were required.

Outside of Charleston our staff and volunteers are still planning to support Historic Camden’s 50th Anniversary event on November 7. Unfortunately, the PeeDee Town Committee’s Francis Marion Day at the Florence County Museum, also planned for November, has been cancelled as the museum remains closed.  The Greenville/ Spartanburg Town Committees’ Tamassee School Patriots Day has like wise been cancelled.

The Columbia Town Committee remains ever hopeful that an in-person March to Ft. Congaree will take place early spring 2021. In the meantime, TPM has been asked to partner with the 12,000 Year History Park in creating virtual programming focusing on 18th c history and culture in the Midlands.

Hopes are high for the resumption of the Colonial Charleston Summer Institute for Teachers now being piloted by the Low Country Town Committee. Adapting to the uncertainties of the times, the Low Country Town Committee has renamed the project The Colonial Charleston Teacher Institute and plans to offer Zoom meetings on Tuesday evenings and onsite visits on the following Saturdays. The program will run from January 19 through March 6, 2021. For more information please contact Mac Langley or visit

As always, your Colonial Council team salutes our marvelous director, Alan Stello, whose genius for leadership and programming has never missed a beat.

Frances Ford & Kathy Armato

Mary Spencer "Pence" Craddock Scurry

2020 has been such a strange year due to the global pandemic. The Scurrys went into lockdown like all of Columbia, SC and much of the US, on March 16th. This was my brother Jack Craddock’s birthday, which was also the first day of Spring Break for Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, where our kids were in the 4th and 6th grades at the time. Lockdown meant remote learning for the kids via Google Meet and working from home for my husband, JP, who is in commercial real estate. I already work from home in my fine art advisory business, Oldfields Advisors. So, the rest of my crew invaded my home office and we began a new normal.

I thought Covid would slow down my appraisal and advisory business with the economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. When people were posting online how they were cleaning out closets and pantries, my business strangely got busier. People became more determined to buy and sell items related to their homes because they were spending more time there, pondering their interiors. Therefore, my business continued with museum donation appraisals, insurance appraisals, estate appraisals, and helping clients buy and sell fine and decorative arts. I even had a successful auction of a client’s painting at a New York auction house, which took place entirely online, on the telephone, and via absentee bidding. The auctioneer conducted the sale as a live stream on their website.

We began to have weekly Zoom calls with everyone close to us, family, college friends, and work colleagues. We discovered we might actually be staying in better touch with all of these people while on lock down than we were when we were living our lives normally. Our family became enamored with a television show, The Curse of Oak Island, which is about the search for the supposed treasure hidden on Oak Island, Nova Scotia. It is a documentary that is a mixture of a treasure hunt and an archeological dig, and it has gotten my children more interested in history than ever.

As summer arrived, we began to come out of our house and travel in socially distant ways. There have been amazing gifts in the pandemic despite the anxiety it has produced. We are reevaluating our busy lives and are becoming more intentional about the activities we choose. We have spent more time together and outside than I can ever remember. As a family, we have walked through the neighborhood and traveled to beautiful places we would not have taken the time to visit if sports and overnight camps had operated on a normal schedule. The new school year began for our children on this past Wednesday, and we are all praying that the implementation of masks and new safety measures will keep everyone safe until a vaccine is available.

Backpack Ministry Continues Despite COVID-19

As a result of a Bible study on the Book of James, a ministry was formed in Florence, SC, that provides food on weekends for elementary school children who would have nothing or very little to eat.  The name of this ministry is Help 4 Kids Florence.

Allie Walker, past Town Committee Chair of the Pee Dee Committee in South Carolina was among the persons responsible for the formation of this non-profit organization which started in 2013.  Their vision of feeding elementary school children on weekends by putting non-perishable food items such as Vienna Sausages, Ramen Noodles, fruit cups, and applesauce cups into paper bags has been a godsend to so many hungry children.  The bags are delivered to elementary schools, and school personnel put the bags in backpacks, which the students take home on Fridays.  Initially, the program provided food for 100 students.  Presently, approximately 2500 children in all of Florence County elementary schools and Head Start programs receive bags.  During the summer months, Help 4 Kids Florence continues to provide bags of food for the weekend to food insecure children who attend Head Start programs and the summer reading programs throughout the five school districts of Florence County. Help 4 Kids also partners with The Boys and Girls Club in Florence County, East Florence Mission, and the City of Florence to distribute bags to hungry children.

When schools closed due to the pandemic in March 2020, Allie didn’t know how the ministry would survive.  The miracle, she said, came when she received a phone call from a minister and church representative asking what kind of aid Help 4 Kids Florence needed.  Working with donors and volunteers, Allie devised a plan for sorting food and packing bags, keeping in mind that social distancing was required, and, lastly, delivering the bags to drop off sites so the bags could be picked up by students or family members.  Allie Walker continues the long tradition of Dames rising to the occasion to overcome obstacles and challenges.

Pandemic “Parade” Paragraph

We all love a parade…..from my earliest childhood memories of a child of 5 years old I remember sitting on the top of my father’s car in front of my grandmother’s home on Pine Street in Spartanburg, SC watching the Christmas parade. I was fascinated with the marching bands, colorful floats, glamorous beauty queens, old timey cars, the vendors selling toys, the sounds of excited children and Christmas music in the air. And YES… waiting for Santa! When I see parades I think of joy, happy moments, action, and engagement of sight, sound, smell and even taste if one is sipping on a beverage like hot chocolate and apple cider! A parade engages all the senses in unique ways.

The past three months dealing with COVID-19 has presented many challenges, obstacles, adjustments, cancellations, cancellations, cancellations, and separation from precious family and friends. And all this has occurred with no real understanding of when this new NORMAL will end. Everyone I know has been impacted in some way shape or form. As a 68 year old grandmother, mother, and daughter it’s sometimes hard for me to process that the “vulnerable aging population” encompasses me and my friends as well as my 93 year old mother.

As DAMES we are called upon to preserve our history, to stimulate a spirit of true patriotism, and demonstrate a love of country. We also are called to honor the qualities of heroism, ability, valor, suffering, and achievements of those who went before us. What better objectives and examples of our forefathers could we have to help us set the course for life during Covid-19? While no one could have imagined our current situation I am lifted, inspired, motivated, and challenged by the way so many are dealing with very difficult and challenging circumstances. The cancellation of the April NSCDA-SC state meeting in Spartanburg affected dames state wide.  This was only one cancellation among thousands of meetings and events cancelled in all our lives. And those cancellations seems quite minor compared to individuals who have lost family members and are unable to grieve among family and friends, those that have lost their businesses and jobs, and the cancellations of celebrations like weddings, christenings, and birthdays.. We can re-schedule meetings and events but lives and loved ones are irreplaceable. Our heroes of today in 2020 are the first responders, healthcare workers, physicians, nurses, and those who put themselves in harm’s way for others. This pandemic has many heroes and faces we will never meet but owe so much to for their service.

My lovely mother lives independently in a cottage in a retirement community in Spartanburg, SC called Summit Hills. She has caregivers during the day to help her with driving and specific tasks. In mid-March 2020 Summit Hills quickly closed the retirement community to all non- care visitors (including family). This was done in accordance to CDC and DHEC regulations for the protection of the residents and a very vulnerable population. It was quite a shock from being able to see and visit my mother daily to absolutely no visitation in a matter of 24 hours. Families were asked to communicate by telephone, IPADS, facetime, zoom meeting, and letters. For those with limited computer skills, hearing and vision impairments this has presented many new challenges. Summit Hills has held two FAMILY PARADES  to celebrate family and the residents. The first parade took place in April on Good Friday and the second on Mother’s Day in May. A third parade is planned for Father’s Day Weekend. AND so now this takes me back to EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE!!!

Family members and friends of residents at Summit Hills decorated their cars , made posters, wore hats, threw streamers, played music, blew bubbles, tossed flowers ,and threw kisses from a distance. The long line of cars circled the campus to participate in an organized drive through of the facility. Members in Independent Living sat at the end of their driveway or lined the streets in front of their homes (socially distanced) on sunny days to watch each car pass. Those in Assisted Living and Long Term Care were positioned in chairs, wheel-chairs and even roll out beds in the open air with caregivers so they too could watch the parade. The voices of “ I love you”, “I miss you,” music, horns, and laughter filled the air. Each car was beautifully decorated reflecting so many different messages of hope, encouragement, and we shall get through this together! Now my most memorable parades going forward will be the ones at Summit Hills to see my mother, her friends, neighbors and those special individuals who have also become my friends.

So while much has been lost the past few months much has been gained. To quote Bob Dole,“I think one of life’s great milestones is when a person can look back and be almost as thankful for the setbacks as for the victories.” I hope each of us will find inner strength in the setbacks and find growth and a deep sense of grace during these Covid-19 days.

What I’m doing now that my book tour for Bells for Eli is cancelled as a result of Covid-19

What does a debut novelist who had 50+ events planned in 8 states between March-Memorial Day to launch her novel, Bells for Eli, do now that the physical book tour was cancelled as a result of Covid-19? I spend some of my time rescheduling events for the hoped-for day when the virus and its consequences will no longer dominate our lives. I also spend time reaching out to readers and reviewers through online venues such as Facebook, Instagram, review blogs and podcasts. One of my undertakings during these days of isolation is partnering with a number of Southern independent bookstores, such as Bookmiser, Ernest and Hadley Booksellers, Books on Broad, Book Exchange, and Buxton Books to conduct a virtual writing workshop titled “Family Stories: Evoking Genuine Emotion in Your Characters.” It is a joy to meet workshop participants on Zoom, discuss the importance of family stories, talk about how to creating genuine emotion in characters, and help others engage in the process of writing those stories.

Like many people in these strange and anxious days, I wake up some mornings discombobulated because I’m out of a normal routine. I have to think what day it is. I’ve found that doing a yoga/Pilates workout in the morning helps me to focus and set a plan for the day. I’m fortunate that instructors at the athletic club I belong to are livestreaming classes. But even if you don’t have ready access to a live instructor, you can find workouts to do at home on You Tube and other online outlets.

My favorite time of the day  at present is after 5:00 pm when I go out on my porch with a glass of wine and read to my heart’s content (or until hunger prevails, and I come inside to make dinner). Though sometimes, my husband makes dinner, so I get to stay on the porch longer! And have time for more reading while I maybe drink a second glass of wine (you think?). Normally, I’m reading books written by our  clients at Magic Time Literary Publicity, but with our authors’ tours currently postponed, I can read whatever I choose (not that I don’t enjoy reading our clients’ books; I certainly do, but it’s nice for this retired English teacher to have more time to indulge).

Books I’ve read during our “shelter in place” days in South Carolina include the novels Call Your Daughter Home  by Deborah Spera (a 5-star in my estimation), The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead,  and I’m finishing another excellent one,  Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. There are more books on my to-read list than I can name, but I’ll mention a couple I’m looking forward to: Ann Hite’s new memoir, Roll the Stone Away: A Family’s Legacy of Racism and Abuse,Anne Tyler’s new novel, Redhead by the Side of the Road, and Lee Smith’s upcoming novella, Blue Marlin. When June arrives, I hope we will be with one another again, but I’ll still be reading, and Jill McCorkle’s novel, Hieroglyphics, will be at the top of my list when it’s published on June 9.

Oh, and I forgot to mention:  I have notes underway for a new novel, too.



Susan Beckham Zurenda

How Many Times have I wanted a “SNOW DAY”?

How many times have I said, “if only we could have two or three snow days and have to stay at home? Then I would have time “go through” these desk drawers”, “or clean out my closet or go through these files, or, or, or”…….declaring that in order to do that one must have time to look at and read every single item before tossing in the recycle bin or putting back in the drawer. One must try on any clothing before deciding where a piece lands next. Continuing on to myself or whoever is listening, “I have to have a day when I’m not going to a meeting or to the church to see about something, or to a hair appointment ,or to get my nails done, or to the Fresh market or the Athletic Club.”

Well, little did I have a clue that the two or three “Snow Days” would ever actually happen in March and April when Spartanburg is beautifully bathed in Spring beauty with dogwood and azaleas and tulips and dozens of other flowers all blooming in their glory. And yes, the pollen too!!

Now we have time. I have taken advantage at home and have been productive in my endeavors. I’m not very clever, so I haven’t come up with anything new, but I have straightened and tossed. Out loud I have read so many handwritten notes and letters that for one reason or the other I have kept. Special messages that were worth keeping for a while. A few went back in a drawer!!

Clothes will be donated or hanging again in the closet. Files and old documents have been gleefully tossed at the recycle center. Silver has been polished. Projects ongoing or completed.

But best of all with these “Snow Days” is the connecting and reconnecting with friends through cyberspace or by telephone. People nearby and far away. We’re all in the same boat whether you live here, in another state or in another country. All the same. How many times have I said, “I wonder how so and so is doing? But did nothing about it. Now we know as we once again connect. HOW MANY TIMES will I want more SNOW DAYS?? Never again, I no longer need them to do the things I should!!

Paula Black Baker

Betty Montgomery

This public health crisis has brought us the most unsettling time in our lives.  With pandemic a new word in our everyday vocabulary, with the different changes that have happened suddenly in our lives, we all need to be mindful of our mental well being.  People need to find assurance in their lives.  I find peace in my garden, communicating with nature.  It is a place where I can lose myself in the work I see that needs to be done in my personal paradise.   As I drive through different neighborhoods in around town, I see piles of trash in front of many homes were others have found the need to be in their gardens too.

I am quite blessed to have a garden where I can escape and bond with nature.  Connecting with the environment can help all of us feel better, more energized.  To be outside with flora and fauna and to hear the birds singing and the pileated woodpecker alerting all the animals that I am there, these are a joy that makes my heart sing.  I even heard a turkey clucking today, trying to round up her new brood. 

Nature has the ability to wash away whatever is provoking us.   Studies have shown that being out of doors is good for the mental health.   This new pandemic has caused the world to come to a stand still, yet nature will not be affected.   The hellebores were prettier than ever this year and quite prolific.  Golden yellow daffodils lit up the pastures.   Bloodroot flowered as usual, white daisy looking flowers above the dark brown leaf litter that was beneath them.  

As early March arrived and people started talking about isolation, I could retreat to the garden and not worry about what was happening in Seattle or New York City.  I could forget about how the world was changing since nature was not.   Trees continue to grow and leaves continued to unfurl.  

The azaleas bloomed as they normally do in April and they showed off a kaleidoscope of colors for weeks.  Then the peonies started lighting up the landscape followed by roses.  As I spend time reading my garden journal, things are blooming on time and except for a mishap here or there, performing like clockwork.  

Weeding a flower bed here or there, or realizing I needed to prune a small tree or shrub, these are the joys of gardening that have kept me happy during these uncertain times.   As the world slowed and new problems arose, it was a time for me to remember what the important things are in life.   Some worry about having enough paper products, having enough beef if a shortage occurs, not being able to go to work, making sure their children participated in a zoom school lesson, these are all changes that are taking place daily in so many lives.  Weddings are being postponed; funerals are taking place at graveside with only immediate family members. People are slowing down to a different pace, at least for the short term. 

It is sad to have to cover faces so that you do not see someone smile and to not be able to greet friends or grandchildren with a big hug.  During these days of uncertainty, I retreat to my garden to drink in nature.   What a gift a garden is to me during this interlude and what a joy to have a place to go and work and enjoy.   With everyone moving at a different pace and taking on new roles, I enjoy the treasures of my garden and calm in tending to my plants.   It is a comfort and a way to help me realize all is good with nature and that we all should take time to sit and enjoy this lovely world we live in.   Our mental health will benefit from experiencing nature.  I hope you too are taking the time to get into the out of doors and calm your inner thoughts or anxiety.  I hope you too are finding peace in nature during these unsettling times.

Pandemic Paragraph—Malinda Tulloh

This pandemic for me is a time of surprise and gratitude and concern. The surprise is that the pandemic happened at all and has radically changed our worlds. A further surprise is that I have learned more about technology, such as how to use Zoom to attend Sunday School at the Advent and Facebook to attend church. And, of course, how to use Facetime with friends and family. I have even installed Roku so that Charlie and I can watch British tv shows not available unless streamed! And, yes, the flat silver we use daily is now polished, and the oven is now clean!   (We had to leave the house for a while because the fumes made our eyes burn!)

Gratitude is for  many things—that so few in Spartanburg are ill & that no staff or residents have tested positive at Summit Hills, and that all the essential staff show up every day here at SH and in pharmacies and grocery stores! I am grateful that churches are using creative methods of conducting services and connecting with members.  And I am grateful that we live in the Summit Hills community  where we see other residents at safe distances—at exercise classes held in the lovely courtyard, at outdoor movies, and at outdoor meals. We have been able to see friends at drive-through parades on campus at SH—a real treat to see Anne Flynn and Sally White sending out bubbles from a sun roof and tailgate in these parades! We can run necessary errands such as going to the pharmacy or grocery, and have learned to use drive-through lines at Bojangles for an in-car picnic at Glen Shoals. We have also been regular visitors to the Converse Heights goats. Most of all, I am grateful that people are trying to make the best of a tough situation with courtesy and kindness.

My concern is for all those suffering in so many ways from this virus—economically, emotionally, and physically. I worry about all the caregivers and first responders who risk their lives daily to help others. Maintenance, Housekeeping, Care Service folk, all deserve medals for courage and caring.

All in all, this has been a surprisingly rich time for Charlie and me. I would prefer it not have happened, but dealing with the complexities has made us value much of our life that we took for granted.

Caroline James

Caroline James, one of our Spartanburg Dames, has suffered through this COVID-19 pandemic first hand. Her husband and oldest son both tested positive for the virus…her husband was actively affected, while her son was asymptomatic.

After contracting it in Park City, Utah, they returned and self quarantined at home…in two separate parts of their home.

For two weeks, Caroline did what she could from a distance, including feeding them, while trying to keep her younger son and herself safe! Instant Breakfasts were a big success!

Friends and neighbors delivered food to help.

Following the initial two week period of time, her husband continues to be tested, has given plasma and will continue to do so as long as the antibodies are present. Whenever he goes to work or she goes to the grocery store, masks and gloves are being worn. She says that this routine will continue until at least a treatment is found.

Her husband’s FitBit tracked his activity! The first week, he walked in his space, trying to take care of his work and keep in touch. But the second week shows no activity at all..he was down and out! Very dry cough and no appetite…lost 12 pounds.

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

COVID-19 Pandemic Thoughts

The Episcopal Church of the Advent’s Daily Devotion emails have been very supportive. They highlight positives and remind us this is a good time to be reflective.

The use of technology for family, friends & more: Zoom Reunions with 14 college buddies & even Doctors on FaceTime appointments!

Gave blood for the first time in my life to help on the frontlines!

Updated seven Banker Boxes of Patriotic Service back files (back to the reel to reel marching patriotic Parade of Flag songs!)

Picked roses from my college and delivered them to elderly friends

Babysat new Foster Grandchild while daughter taught school, cleared classroom & worked on student permanent files

California: Frank’s son, Frank ~ in San Francisco ~ has repurposed their restaurant by serving 2200 Take Out meals each week for the elderly, homeless and orphans!!!

Marianna MacIntyre