Everyone Has A Story To Tell

April 3rd, 2020

By Kerry Lippincott, Executive Director

When I started the Historical Society’s blog in 2013 its primary purpose was to be another way to share Geneva’s stories.  For the most part it’s been stories from Geneva’s past, even the relatively recent past.  I, however, never thought that there would come a time when we would actually be living through a historic moment.  Here’s my pandemic story.

I’m a leaper (which means I was born on February 29).  To celebrate turning the big 10 I went on a trip with friends to Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia in early March.  Even before the trip I was living in a bubble.  My mind went from wrapping up various projects at work and trip preparations to complete vacation mode.    Yet when I returned on March 11 it was as if I was coming back to a foreign country.

The only way to describe the past three weeks is a roller coaster ride.  I went from “if” the Geneva History Museum should close to canceling or postponing programs and closing the museum to the public to a complete shutdown of the Historical Society.  For the safety of my staff and visitors I spent the first one weekend going to at least nine stores looking for hand soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.  New words like social distancing, ppe and sheltering in place have entered my vocabulary.  There have been empty shelves at Wegmans and Walmart (a sight I never thought I would see).  I stocked up on books at the library (as long as I have something to read all is good in the world or at the very least I can escape it for a moment or two).  Programs and events have been canceled or postponed one right after the other (thank you Ticketmaster for refunding my Hello, Dolly ticket).  My favorite stores are closed for the foreseeable future.  I’m concerned about my parents who are, due to their age, in the high risk category.   For me the night of March 18 stands out.   After a board meeting (where we practiced social distancing and the tables and chairs were disinfected before and after the meeting) I stopped at Mark’s Pizza to pick-up dinner and I found a parking place on Seneca Street directly across from Mark’s.  Let me repeat that I found a parking place on Seneca Street.  There were only two other cars on the street and Mark’s was the only business open.  Exchange Street had a few more cars and there were none on Castle. Aside from the four Mark’s workers I only saw three other people. On my way home I cried.  This was not Geneva.  But this has become the new normal

small desk with lap top and folders surround by a water bottle, folders, and notebooks

Geneva Historical Society – West

Part of the chorus to Jon Bon Jovi’s  new song is “If you can’t do what you do, do what you can.”  This is has become my new motto.  I’m staying at home and washing my hands more times than I can count every day.  When I do go out I practice social distancing.  Through take-out I’m supporting local restaurants .  I’m working from home (my parents have nicknamed my apartment Geneva Historical Society- West).  It’s been an adjustment but I’ve found sticking to a schedule helps and zoom and conference calls have become my new bffs.  The work of telling Geneva’s stories continues from our home offices – research requests are being answered, summer programs are being developed (though they could become fall programs), exhibits on education and Rose Hill workers are being created (even though their openings will be delayed), collections work continues, and stay-at-home activities are regularly being posted on our Facebook page and website.

In an ever-changing situation (and some days it feels changes occur hourly) for me it’s become about the little things.  Finding a can of tuna (score!).  Talking with my nieces who at 8 and 10 don’t understand why they can’t see everyone but realize their birthdays this month will be very different.  Binge watching tv shows I wanted to see but never had the time.  Seeing the countless acts of kindness in Geneva to around the world through social media and the news.   Finding new heroes like Andrew Cuomo and the health care workers.  And the continued good health of my loved ones.

Let me put on my historian’s hat on for moment.  We are all living through a historic moment.  And no matter your age, we all have a story to tell.  I encourage you to find a way to tell your story.  Draw a picture.  Keep a journal.  Take photos.  Write a song, poem or letter.  Create a video.  Make a collage.  All that matters is you tell your story.

There are a lot of unknowns right now and it will probably be this way for a while but together we will get through this.  All you have to do is look back to our collected past for reassurance.  Life will be different but we will get through this.

Be well and stay healthy.

What might future historians and generations need to understand the COVID-19 Pandemic?  All of us have a story to tell on how the pandemic is affecting our lives.  Are you in an at-risk group or have someone in your home who is?  How has the stay-at-home order affected you?  Do you shop less or use a grocery delivery service?  For students at home, what has your experience been like? What is your new normal?    Join the Geneva Historical Society in documenting this historic moment through “We Stay At Home: A Record of Geneva During the 2020 Pandemic.”  Share your story through narratives (a letter, poem, song, recipes, and short story), images (photographs, screenshots of social media, memes), audio, videos, and files (emails, flyers, announcement, text messages, tweets).  To share your story, go to

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3 responses to “Everyone Has A Story To Tell”

  1. Joanne Wisor says:

    So important for people to document these times. Thank you, Kerry, for telling your story.

  2. Pim Larsson-Kovach says:

    Thank you Kerry for telling your story.
    My story is mostly sad and worrisome except for two birthdays and our wedding anniversary, all worth remembering in isolation.

  3. Maryrose Arimoto says:

    I like your new motto!

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