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COVID Diaries 

The Missouri Historical Society has been documenting the era of the coronavirus, gathering submitted photos and stories so that the tragedies, joys and everyday moments are not forgotten. We're sharing a few entries from the society's project, Stories of the Pandemic: A St. Louis COVID-19 Digital Archive in conjunction with this week's cover story.

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  • COURTESY OF THE MISSOURI HISTORICAL SOCIETY

My daughter, Samantha Stitch, and her fiance, Chris Beseau, had a wonderful 'courtship' which ended when he got down on one knee at Mascots Bar and Grill where they both worked and asked her to marry him. They planned for almost a year to be married on April 5, 2020. Save the dates were sent, wedding showers were held, and invitations were delivered. Then COVID-19 hit and the venue where they were to marry had been shut down by social distancing rules.

At first they mourned the loss of their dream wedding, but then they decided love was stronger than a pandemic and they began planning an outdoor wedding in front of just their parents.

While the day wasn't what they expected, they had a wonderful, relaxed time sharing the vows they had written for each other and a love song that was recorded years ago when Chris's dad sang 'Love Me Tender' to his mom! There were fun pictures and lots of laughter, even though there were less than 10 people in attendance. Everyone dressed up and the newlyweds ordered a take out dinner to eat by candlelight, just the two of them.

There may be a reception someday when we can all gather together again, but we are so proud of them for remembering what was really important in their lives! 

— Susan Stitch

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On April 1st, 2020, our very tight-knit family anxiously awaited the news that our second daughter, Hayden, had arrived. Of course this was done via text/call since only one visitor was allowed to be with me in the hospital. This is the first baby that has been born into the family since my dad passed away in October 2019. This being the 7th grandbaby, we have quite the tradition when babies are born: grandmas/grandpas, aunts and uncles, and cousins all gathers in the waiting room, multiple pizzas are ordered, and everyone rushes in to welcome the new bundle of joy. What unfolded was very different from that. We decided people would allow "window visits" until this pandemic was over.

— Melissa

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  • COURTESY OF THE MISSOURI HISTORICAL SOCIETY

This photo shows how a family, all separated, is keeping in touch with their 95-year old father, a WWII veteran, who is isolated in a local assisted living center. Dad doesn't know how to use Skype, but his nurses do, and we've been able to talk to him and see each other. It speaks to the changing ways in which we care for our elders, which has gotten increasingly difficult during these times of COVID 19 isolation. It reminds us of the important role that front-line caregivers in assisted living centers play,not only by putting their own lives at risk but by providing compassionate care through small kindnesses, like keeping a family connected to its patriarch. Even though Dad was born in 1925, after the Spanish Flu, he has never experienced anything like this in his long life, and he is adapting.

— Jim Kemp

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My husband and I were discussing the fact that the CDC was now recommending all people wear face masks and my daughter, Ever, got an idea. She ran to her playroom and got all of her doctor equipment and said she was going to cure Coronavirus. She started examining her big chick stuffed toy first and then she did me, my husband, the dog, and the cat. We all got a shot after that and she declared us virus free.

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So this just happened March 30, 2020, my grandma's funeral in St. Louis, MO was held through a Zoom meeting. Due to current Coronavirus regulations only 10 people could be in the building. So it was my mom and me and my lap top. I have attended but never been the administrator before. If I weren't introduced to this platform with eXp Realty I wouldn't have known how to adapt in this stressful situation, or even where to begin. Our family and friends were able to remotely attend the visitation, service, and entombment. My grandma was respectfully laid to rest and later once social distance is suspended we'll get together to celebrate her life. This was the first virtual service the funeral home has held and watched closely as I navigated unchartered waters. Never in her wildest imagination would the thought have crossed my grandma's mind. I can see her shaking her head now. — Kimberly Spell

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I am a registered nurse who works in the Emergency Department at Mercy Hospital South. I am also a grandparent to seven grandchildren who are all eight years old and younger. Because of my exposure daily to the virus, my husband and I made the difficult decision to socially distance ourselves from them to keep them safe. This has been one of the most difficult choices I have made. My husband and I are very involved with all of them, and my heart is breaking not being able play with them or to hug and kiss them. On April 5th, our grandson Hudson celebrated his 3rd birthday. We celebrated his birthday with him which included us staying outside on his porch while he was inside. My daughter set up a small table for him to sit right in front of their front door while we were on the porch. We were able to sing Happy Birthday to him and we were even able to get hugs and kisses from him through the door. I can't wait for the day when I can hold him in my arms for a real hug! This at least gave my broken heart a little peace because he knew we were celebrating his special day with him. 

— Kimberly Whoberry

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Both our daughters were made aware from the get go of everything going on. They ask questions and are understanding as much as they can. But this day was a hard brush with reality for our 4 year old. She had the natural reaction and urge to want to embrace her cousins when we saw them through the screen door during a front porch drop off, but instead was told "no" multiple times. Then was told we weren't staying and had to leave. Poor girl. I couldn't agree more with her statement of "I just want this to be over" as she wiped away her tears. — Abby Eich

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The picture was taken from inside my home in South Country. My mother was dropping off some groceries for us that we had ordered. She hadn't seen my one-year-old daughter in about three weeks. We FaceTime every day but as soon as my daughter saw her through my front door window she immediately reached out her hand and my mom reached out hers as well. — Jessica Johnston

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  • COURTESY OF THE MISSOURI HISTORICAL SOCIETY

As Covid-19 started to spread in the Midwest, my brother Jon (a St Louis native) and his fiancée Julia (a Wash U grad and former St Louis resident) made a heartbreaking last minute decision to move their Chicago church wedding up by a week. A decision that would mean none of our family and only a few of her family would be there to celebrate with them. We love them both so much and tried to make the best of a surreal situation. We all put our wedding clothes on including my daughters in their flower girl dresses — and coordinated with Julia's mom to Face Time the wedding for us! We are so thankful for technology that allowed us to "be" there for such a wonderful day!

— Jen Huelman Odle

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October 21, 2020

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