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March 27  Good Morning, Evanston

It’s March 27, the 87th day of the year. The temperature of Lake Michigan yesterday was 42 degrees at the Chicago crib and 43 at the Chicago shore. City Council last night voted to extend the state of emergency; these last from Council meeting to Council meeting. But the lakefront is still open.

This day in history:

  • 1912: Helen Taft, wife of President William Taft, and the Vicountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, plant two Yoshina cherry trees on the northern bank of the Potomac River, near the Jefferson Memorial, celebrating a gift of 3,020 cherry trees from the Japanese government to the U.S. government.
  • 1979, Pattie Boyd marries Eric Clapton, and history.com writes that Ms. Boyd with her two famous husbands (the other was George Harrison) comes close to rivaling Alma Mahler, with her four (Gustav Mahler, Franz Werfel, Oskar Kokoschka and Walter Gropius). Mr. Clapton is said to have written “Layla” about Ms. Boyd while she was married to his friend Mr. Harrison, and later “Wonderful Tonight.” Mr. Harrison was inspired by her to write “Something.”

Parks and playgrounds are closed. Lynn Trautmann took a photo at McCullough Park, before, when the playgrounds were still open, and Mary Mumbrue sent in this “after” photo of the playground at Lincolnwood School – illustrative of all of them.

Our paths and trails are still open, though readers probably know Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed Chicago’s lakefront paths.

There was a sing-along at Three Crowns Park on Wednesday and there are daily activities via Zoom for students at Dewey School, though Parents Open School. And there’s always something going on at the digital library.

We’re all falling at our own speeds into the new normal, plucky but puzzled.

Last night, after one of our reporters texted me about a supply of toilet paper at a local grocery store, I thought about how my scattered family responded a couple of weeks ago to the advice that staples would be in short supply, stockpiling junk food, wine and chocolate.

And yesterday morning my friend Mary Ann sent to our book group a link to a letter said to be written in 1920 by F. Scott Fitzgerald from the south of France, where he and others were quarantined because of the Spanish influenza. Here is part of it: “The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy.”

Fitzgerald’s letter also said, “Outside I hear what I perceive may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retired to their quarters, and rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public places. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked him if he had washed his hands.” Here is the link: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ETbc11xXkAAfBon?format=jpg&name=medium

I don’t know if the letter is authentic, but, as Hemingway once wrote, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

The RoundTable welcomes your photos and anecdotes; let other Evanstonians know how you are doing and what you are thinking. We know things are likely to get tougher in this country, the county and this City. Illinois received kudos for helping to flatten the curve, but the possibly lionlike end of March and the “cruellest month” lie ahead. We will help each other through.