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Letters from the Homefront: A New Victory Garden

The following “Letters from the Homefront” account is part of our new initiative, Collecting in Quarantine. Inspired by the poignant letters in the Maryland Historical Society collection documenting past adversities from the Spanish flu of 1918, to the Annapolis yellow fever epidemics of 1793 and 1800, MdHS is calling on Marylanders to send their personal stories of how the pandemic is impacting their lives.

A poster that says, "Plant a Victory Garden, Our Food is Fighting."
“Plant a Victory Garden–Our Food is Fighting,” poster by U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943, Large Poster Collection, H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Center for History and Culture.

March 19, 2020 – On this day, Jerry from Silver Spring writes:

I’m still in disbelief that the District of Columbia Public Library, where I have been a special collections librarian for twenty years, is closed until Wednesday, April 1st.  Who knows if it will even reopen at that time?  Today is my 4th day of being on (paid) leave and I feel like I’ve been gone for a month.  I miss the Peabody Room where I work and all of my patrons.

Went to Safeway a couple of days ago. Stock was spotty; not a potato to be found nor bottled water. I can understand the potatoes but the water? People must think that tap water is contaminated [sic] or maybe it will stop flowing.

I really wanted a bag of frozen, cooked, and de-tailed shrimp. There was a fully stocked freezer of all types of shrimp and they were all on sale.  Yay.  But when I read the packaging, I saw that the shrimp was all from China.  No wonder no one was buying it!

The guy next to me at the recently installed self-checkout stand (one of four), became aggravated with the scanner as it kept malfunctioning (as mine was).  He had a full cart of groceries.  His solution? He walked out of the store with the entire cart.

This is how civil unrest begins, I thought.

I planted a “Victory Garden” of spinach in our backyard today.  For years I have planted mesclun in our raised garden boxes.  This time I planted spinach because of its far more nutritional value.  I hope it grows because I fear that the sustainability of the fresh food chain is going to be the first to be broken.

My 85 and 86-year-old parents in Ohio are doing OK.  They have plenty of food and my mother can still drive to the grocery store.  I feel bad that they and the rest of the “Silent Generation,” who lived through the Depression and WW II, are having to live through this.  The repercussions of this pandemic will remain the rest of their lives and most likely mine. 

Please note: The views, information, and opinions expressed and shared on the underbelly through the Collecting in Quarantine project do not necessarily represent those of the Maryland Historical Society. Our staff does not verify for accuracy the information contained within these submissions or edit the content beyond minor modifications for formatting. Just like the historic letters in our collection, each letter presents the writer’s own perspective. The primary purpose of this series, with the permission of contributors, is to share and collect the experiences of Marylanders living through the COVID-19 crisis at this moment in time.

To learn more about the Collecting in Quarantine project and how to share a story and/or photos of your own, click here.