Recording session tackles COVID experiences


For the Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — The 39th West Milton area oral history recording session of Milton Memories/Reflections took place on Monday evening, Sept. 27. The panel discussion topic was COVID-19 experiences.

Virgil Gallagher gave a recap and some statistics of the beginning of the pandemic and how Yankee ingenuity stepped up to fill the need for masks and leading the way in the development of a vaccine. Residents adjusted to isolation by using curbside pick up, working on home projects, going for rides just to get away. Among other things, residents experienced hoarding, loneliness, loss of jobs and income, etc. His family faced the loss of three family members, three friends, and two acquaintances.

Scott Fogle chaired the West Milton Area COVID-19 Relief Effort beginning in March of 2020 serving Union Township, Union and Englewood. Thirty volunteers used e-mail, Facebook, and a dedicated phone line to receive requests. At Easter, Highland Church and the Bowman Family provided Easter baskets. Five members of his family contracted COVID during last December, all having survived.

Jim Sarver shared how COVID has affected the death care profession. There has been a surge again this fall. As people stayed home, it has affected the town by lack of activities and the churches by lack of attendance and by things being shut down. It has been hard on people as funerals were delayed, causing the grief process to be delayed, multiple deaths of all ages in families, folks dying alone, and people not being able to travel for services. Those in his profession had to take extra precautions while dealing with COVID deaths.

Dr. Cliff Poling practiced optometry in West Milton from 1983 to 2021, having just retired. He kept his office open for emergencies only until March 20, then closed, using an answering machine for patient communication. To assist his employees, he applied for the Unemployed Payroll Protection Program. In May, they resumed modified procedures. Even though they used safety precautions he contracted COVID from a patient who later tested positive. He described what a difficult experience it was.

Dr. Bill Ginn was raised in Milton, opening his medical practice in 1984. COVID was new to the medical profession causing early cases to not be diagnosed as such. They eventually had to restrict office hours dealing with patients over the phone and applying for assistance for his employees. He explained that, as Miami County Coroner, he does not get called to every death. So far in 2021, there have been 235 deaths. Six of those have been COVID, 11 were suicides, 13 from auto accidents, and 18 were overdoses.

As a 2020 M-U graduate, Paige Barnes shared the effects of COVID on her and her friends. The 20-21 school year was mostly on line, causing a lack of schedule and mental and physical stress resulting in a drop of her usual straight A grades. She shared about her Show Choir instructor having survived cancer to then succumb to COVID. Her tennis matches were “separated,” which meant they played and left, no fellowship. Graduation attendance was limited to five people. She felt she and her friends missed a lot during their senior year and the transition to college.

Payton Brown is an education major at Sinclair College. He has started his own business, PB6 Investments, and coaches M-U football. His senior year of tennis was cancelled. He was so excited to qualify for the state wrestling tournament. At the last minute, his dad called him and at the same time the school PA system announced the tournament had been canceled. He felt it was a great opportunity lost, as well as possible scholarships. He was allowed only four tickets for graduation. They were not able to take a family vacation. He feels COVID had a negative affect physically and mentally but that M-U did a great job considering all the circumstances.

To hear many more details tune in to the local public access station, listen on YouTube, purchase a CD or borrow one from the Milton Union Public Library. For further information, call Barb at 937-698-6559.

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