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Column: Keep yourself, others and your taste buds safe
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

When I was a kid, we traveled on interstate highways until we reached the point where they were not completed. From there, it was a journey along a U.S. highway. 

Those routes came into being as Americans started buying automobiles and finding their way across this great land.

One of the places I remember along the highway was Howard Johnson’s restaurants. They were very distinctive with an orange roof accented with a turquoise color. 

At Howard Johnson’s, you didn’t have a hot dog, it was a butter-grilled frankfurter. The bun was toasted, and I thought they were great. They also offered 28 flavors of ice cream. They would give you a little wooden spatula containing a sample of one of the 28.

The Monroe Drug Store had several flavors of ice cream at its ornate marble soda fountain, but nowhere near 28.

I’m beginning to think that there are more strains of the coronavirus than Howard Johnson had ice cream flavors.

If the vaccine will address some or all of them, I’m ready to roll up my sleeve.

It seems there are two distinct attitudes about the vaccine. One is those who spend days and nights online or on the phone looking for a place to get the immunization. The other is people who bristle and say “don’t tell me about that vaccine.” They are also the same people who don’t want to get tested or wear a mask.

I don’t have the answer, but if wearing a mask or getting a shot can help, so be it.

In our early wars in this country, we lost as many of our soldiers and sailors to disease as we did to bullets.

By the time World War I began, we started vaccination of our uniformed personnel. One of the things we didn’t have a vaccine for was influenza, which many of them brought home from foreign shores. It launched a pandemic that took a few years to bring under control.

We may be in for a long ride with the current pandemic, if that is any indication of things to come.

I am amazed at the excuses people give for not wearing a mask. I heard one genius say that he put one to the test, at least his version of a test.  “I can wear a mask and still smell when I (pass gas).”

The researchers have learned that the coronavirus is spread by contact. You have to introduce the active virus into your body. This is why we don’t shake hands or stand too close to one another. A few molecules of this stuff could send you to the hospital in the right circumstances. The next gas you smell may be oxygen being pumped into your lungs to help you breathe.

Some folks are doing well with the precautions. Others, if you could resurrect them, might tell you that they would take them a little more seriously.

One of the most common effects of the virus is losing your sense of taste or smell. Howard Johnson’s strawberry ripple would taste the same as mocha chip or orange-pineapple.

I have many reasons to stay well. Somewhere near the bottom of the list is my disdain for beets or asparagus. If someone tries to feed them to me and my tasteless tongue, I’m going to get upset.

Wear your mask, wash your hands and be careful.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on

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