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Readers share stories about where they were when they realized COVID changed everything

13March 2021

Richard Ginsberg was on his way to a concert in Minneapolis when he got a text saying the show had been canceled. Fred and Carolyn Bogott were on a plane to Amsterdam when the pilot announced that flights from Europe to the U.S. were going to be suspended. Kelly Holmes went to Walmart at midnight and found rows of empty shelves.

It’s been a year since COVID-19 shut down life as we knew it.

From a missed concert to a canceled vacation to a futile search for toilet paper, everyone has a story about where they were when it felt like the world stopped.

We asked readers of the Pioneer Press to share their moments with us. Here are some of the responses we received:

Carolyn and Fred Bogott, of Austin, Minn., were on their way to Amsterdam on March 11, 2020 when they got word that flights from Europe to the United States were being suspended. (Courtesy of Carolyn Bogott)

AN ADVENTURE CANCELED

The plane for Amsterdam started boarding right on time. We easily found our seats in the comfort-plus section with extra leg room. And we each got out our reading devices, settled our backpacks under the seats in front of us and fastened our seat belts. Looking at each other, we smiled with the understanding that we were off on another adventure. I could see the flight attendant closing the door and securing it. The captain came on the loudspeaker and announced our imminent departure and an estimated time until arrival at Amsterdam. We settled a little more in our seats, and then the captain came on again. “We have just received word that the president has announced there will be a suspension of flights from Europe to the United States beginning in three days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It is up to you to decide how this impacts your travel plans. The attendants will open the doors, so if you choose not to proceed with this flight, you may return to the terminal. If you have checked baggage, you will need to check with the gate agent. This will delay our departure, but we will do our best to minimize the delay.” Fred and I looked at each other, and said simultaneously, “Let’s get off!” We got our bags and left the plane. — Carolyn Bogott, Austin

FROM SCARF TO MASK

My birthday is March 11. I was scared to go out. I had already started wearing my green scarf around my mouth. My mom didn’t understand. Now she insists I have a mask on. Happy Birthday! — Ross Steinberg, Shoreview

FROM VACATION TO THIS?

We returned from a vacation in Key West on March 10. So lucky on the timing of that. It’s been a long year. — Linda Hennum, St. Paul

A FINAL CONCERT CANCELED

On March 13, I was having dinner with friends at the Capital Grill before the Joe Bonamassa concert at the State Theatre in Minneapolis. I received a call from the theater one hour before the show telling me it was being canceled and refunds would be credited to my account. The show was canceled, but the drinks were not. — Richard Ginsberg, St. Paul

On March 13, 2020, Paul and Kelly Holmes, of Overland Park, Kan., were skiing at Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Colorado. They flew home that night on a half-empty plane. (Courtesy of Kelly Holmes)

EERIE FLIGHT HOME

Exactly one year ago, on Friday the 13th, we flew home from Colorado on a half-empty, eerie plane. Two days later, they shut down the ski resorts and announced if you had been to Summit County, Colo., you had to quarantine. Turns out that at the end of February there was a big snowboarding competition, and many Italians had brought COVID-19 to Summit County. When we arrived home, I went to Walmart at midnight, and every aisle was 50 percent wiped. Little did we know! — Kelly Holmes, Overland Park, Kan.

REHEARSALS MOVE ONLINE

I am a member of the Croix Chordsmen Chorus. On March 11, we had to stop rehearsals for our April 4 annual spring show. Then we had to cancel the show. We started Zoom rehearsal within a few weeks. On Tuesday, we are celebrating our 50th Zoom rehearsal. Anyone is welcome to join us. We sing along with song tracks. We have learned to sing about four or five songs. “Remember Me” from the Disney movie “Coco” is my favorite. In 2020, we took time each week to get to know each member better by finding out where they grew up and how they got into singing barbershop-style. We had 32 guests last week via Zoom. We are starting plans to rehearse in person since close to 75 percent of us have gotten at least one vaccine shot.  Yes, most of us are over 65 years old. I tell you, getting 30 members who are over 65 on Zoom was not a small task. Last March and April was mostly training on how to use Zoom. We do real well now. Our director just celebrated his third anniversary with us. It sure has helped that he is 31 years old. Talk about teaching old dogs new tricks. He has been great. Again, I welcome you to join us on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at www.croixchordsmen.org. — Ed Obermeyer-Kolb, St. Paul

SCRAMBLE TO GET HOME

I was in Phoenix following the news and realizing I needed to get home to Minnesota. Reports were getting increasingly concerning. Minnesota was tightening up and the national news predicted the travel bans. On March 16, we got a report saying our flight home was canceled, but we were able to reply that we wanted to get on the first available plane. Upon getting to the airport on March 17, we realized they had combined the smaller flights into one of the larger planes — the kind with two seats on the side and four in the middle. They were loading up the big planes to get the snowbirds home. Everyone was talking, of course, and the same had happened to them. I also had a booked flight to go to California on March 19, and that was canceled because venues were closing. Life changed the week I was gone, for sure. — Jo Shelton, Shakopee

Rowan Emily Schilmoeller was born at M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina on March 17, 2020. She weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces. (Courtesy of Mychael Schilmoeller)

‘OUR LITTLE FIGHTING IRISH GIRL’

Our Irish family, which normally takes part in Mass and pub crawls on St. Patrick’s Day, had a baby on March 17. Rowan Emily Schilmoeller was born at M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina. She weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces. Our little fighting Irish girl! What a crazy year it has been! — Adam and Mychael Schilmoeller, Lakeview

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