Is this a case of life imitating art?

Is this the 2011 movie, “Contagion?”

For sure we’re not living “… where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day …”

News has been mostly bleak at best the last fortnight:

“Retail workers scared to go to work”

“Restaurant industry devastated”

“Younger U.S. adults claim most hospital rooms”

“Before virus outbreak, a cascade of warnings went unheeded”

“Coronavirus fears clear New York after dark”

“Governor orders all Californians to stay home”

“This is not a recession, it’s an ice age”

“Countries shut themselves off from the rest of the world”

“Interpol arrests 121 criminals in 90 countries cashing in on coronavirus”

“Florida man arrested for stealing 66 rolls of toilet paper”

“Church forgives sins by those stricken by virus”

“Washington bans funerals during coronavirus outbreak”

“NY gov. orders non-essential workers to stay home”

There’ve been faint glimmers of hope:

“Temporary hospitals built at breakneck speed in U.S.”

“Hallmark schedules Christmas marathon during quarantine”

“Christmas lights going up all over country to symbolize hope”

Scary is what life is now; few will argue that nothing in U.S./world history was more frightening than this coronavirus plague holding us all in suspense.

A skosh more than four years before Ralph Bellamy starred as Franklin D. Roosevelt in “Sunrise at Campobello,” the movie set before, during and after Roosevelt was stricken, polio was on every American’s mind.

The first wave of baby boomers was scared polio lay ahead; we’d get it and, as we learned much later in life since there were few pictures of FDR in his wheelchair or braces, be crippled forever like the four-term U.S. President.

Up stepped the Mother’s March of Dimes that raised the money for Dr. Jonas Salk to find the first vaccine that prevented polio (1954).

Now, as elderly baby boomers, here we are, scared again, needing assurance like Americans heard in Roosevelt’s first inaugural address:

“I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days ...”

Roosevelt restored hope and enthusiasm to Americans and as Carolos Santana sang, “There’s nothing more contagious on this planet than enthusiasm.”

Re-watched “Apollo 13” recently, filled with pride as American knowhow brought three astronauts in peril safely home.

Now, Americans can do this.

We can and will get through these perilous times, and as Roosevelt decided early in World War II, get involved in baseball pennant races.

As James Earl Jones’ character in “Field of Dreams,” Terence Mann, said:

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time … It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. … “

Can’t wait for those two magic words:

“Play ball!”

After that, we’ll welcome a new baby boom starting in December.

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