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It had been 100 days since this reporter last entered the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

On March 16, like so many others, we were asked to work from home.

How could we publish a newspaper if several people caught covid-19 at the same time? So without packing so much as a pen or notebook, operations were transferred home.

A recent office email reminded us we still have real mail. The kind that requires a stamp and can't be sent with the push of a button.

There was a time when the newsroom was roaring with action at 9:30 a.m. Phones would ring while people talked and typed.

On Tuesday morning, there were five people in the editorial department.

There were a lot more than that working, but they were doing it from home or in the field -- most likely while wearing a mask and possibly even gloves.

The pandemic has changed a lot of work stations, but it hasn't changed the work at your newspaper.

In fact, in some ways it has increased it because meetings are now done by Zoom instead of a quick get-together or simply an email.

Since snail mail has slowed to almost a crawl the past few years, your trusty scribe wasn't sure what to expect when confronting the mail slot used for more than 40 years..

It was full.

There were a bunch of news releases, but also so much more.

Just a sampling of what had been missed started with my friend Anita Cabe's letter in early May asking whether there was anyway to increase awareness for a project at Henderson State University.

Fundraising was underway for a proposed facility that would include rooms for studying, computers, tutoring as well as an office and lobby that would all be attached to the Formby Center.

Anita is working with Athletic Director Shawn Jones on the project, and they are looking to raise $200,000 to break ground. The money has to come from the private sector because the school, like so many others, has suffered financially the past few years.

There was a letter from a man in prison who claims innocence.

There was a letter from R. Robert Bailey, son-in-law of the late, great Crip Hall for whom the award is named that is given to the outstanding Arkansas Razorback football senior in the homecoming game.

Robert felt the award was not receiving the attention and recognition it deserves. For many years the winner received a watch, but that practice was discontinued.

Legend has it Crip, who had polio, won a football letter without playing, and he is the only person to ever do so. He was a very involved UA student.

The award currently is presented by Rick Bailey, the grandson of Crip and Nancy Hall, and is still voted on by the sports writers covering the game that day.

Greg Salter wrote to share a study he found on how important vitamin D is in fighting colds and the flu.

One writer wanted to know why my stance on the pandemic changed. Early on, yours truly was ignorant but quickly got educated. Wearing a mask might save a life, possibly mine.

There was a letter for our handicapper Rick Lee, who just picked Tiz the Law to win the Belmont, but it was dated early May, too.

There was a short note in large letters claiming anyone writing a book about Jeff Glasbrenner would get a book deal.

There was a letter to reporter Trenton Daeschner, who recently left the paper, but it was from the same innocent prisoner.

It took a while to sort through them all, but the mail left no doubt about the love and passion people have for the world of perspiring arts. Like yours truly, they are missing the competition greatly.


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