The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.
All interviews are edited for length and clarity.
Arminta and Ron Miller, residents, The Waters on 50th senior living community
Arminta: I just feel like we’re in prison. We have certain times we can go outside in the garden. They send out a list, and every Monday and Thursday we can go and sit out in the garden for 45 minutes. It’s like yard time, I think.
Ron: If nobody else is out there, we can stay longer.
Arminta: Some of the people are really having a tough time. One gal walks every day and is all alone and very lonesome, and she’s going blind, so she can’t read and she can’t watch TV. She saw us out there — we used to eat with her — and sat down with us. They kicked her out because it wasn’t her day. I felt bad because she got in trouble.
Ron: If you sit down and touch something, they’re right behind you cleaning. Five minutes after I exercised this morning, everything was cleaned — the weights and everything. They’re very good about that. They may be going a tough way, but they want to keep us safe.
This is a safe spot, but it’s a very boring spot. It’s not their fault. It’s just the times. You’ve got the virus, you’ve got riots. It’s getting to be the last days, for God’s sake. Every time you turn on the news, someone else is getting killed or you have another virus spike.
Arminta: We’re safe though. Our daughter brought Dairy Queen one night for dessert, and they sat in chairs on the boulevard and we sat on our balcony, and we had a nice chat.
My good friend Juliette Huber is a hairdresser in Bryn Mawr. So when she was able to open up, I was so excited for her and we went and got our hair cut. We looked terrible. I looked like an old witch and Ron’s hair was curling up in the back and the sides. She took our temperature and insisted we wear gloves. I was thrilled for her because she really lost a lot of money and I kind of wanted to repay her by going back there.
When we got back here, we were in big trouble. You’re talking to the bad people at The Waters. They took our temperatures and scolded us and let us know we broke the rules. If we were out walking around, they’d say, “Someone got a haircut” — they’d make these comments to us. Who’d have thought at our age we would be troublemakers? Honest to goodness, I didn’t even think about it, but I know we weren’t supposed to leave.
Ron: If people go outside, they don’t want somebody to bring the virus back.
Arminta: We’re still free of the virus. They’re doing a good job protecting us. I bet they don’t like feeling like wardens either.
[The killing of George Floyd] was just awful. Several of our grandchildren are peacefully protesting, as they should. Our Walgreens at 54th & Lyndale, where we were supposed to pick up medicine, had been completely vandalized and a clerk told Ron it wouldn’t be back for two to three months.
My thoughts on the protests are that it’s about time. It was a horrible thing to watch him die. [Police chief Medaria] Arradondo is very, very good. I worry about some of the people who marched without masks; I hope they’re going to be OK.
VOICES FROM THE PANDEMIC
- Barb Jones, infection preventionist, Jones-Harrison senior living
- Marcia Zimmerman, rabbi, Temple Israel
- Arminta and Ron Miller, residents, Waters on 50th senior living community
- Tracey Schultz, science teacher, Clara Barton Open School
- Peter Kumasaka, Linden Hills, emergency room physician
- Jen and Marcus Wilson, co-owners, True Grit Society gym
- Marion Greene, board chair, Hennepin County
- Jesse Vasquez, Uptown resident
You can read all of the stories here.