Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

Nextdoor, the online community bulletin board, usually serves up earnest tips on good plumbers and warnings about neighborhood car break-ins.
But last month, amid coronavirus divisions in the Trump era, the north Arlington slice of Nextdoor traffic erupted into the insult-trading, debates-among-strangers you expect around the 700th comment on an ArlNow story.

It started June 29, with Steven Newman of the Old Glebe neighborhood: “This morning around 9:30 a.m. at Tuckahoe Park there was a baseball game [with] two teams of children dressed in [league] uniforms. The game was being umpired…lots of adults and children watching. I didn’t see a single person, adult or children, wearing a mask….The adults and children watching were not practicing social distancing. The players were not practicing social distancing in the bleachers. I am concerned about the health of all involved and the health of all that may come in contact with individuals at the game. The adults are also not teaching children the need for everyone to wear a mask and practice social distancing.”

Held days before Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan for Phase 3 reopening (and just before the surge in COVID-19 cases in southern and western states), the game took place near a Parks and Recreation sign: “Fields Are Open!” But the fine print: “When possible, only play with family members or those in your household…Fields are not open for instruction, leagues, organized activities or special events.”

The 269 comments broke down rapidly. “This should be satire but seems not to be,” came one from Old Glebe. “Glad to hear that kids are out playing and enjoying the summer as they should and glad to hear that some parents are smart enough to understand the healthy benefits to such activity instead of being trapped inside doing `virtual’ crap.” Stop the “sanctimonious virtue signaling.”

From Arlington East Falls Church came a defense of the original: “What do you think people are in ICU’s for, the fun of it? You people are ridiculous.”
Came a riposte from Yorktown: “You’d definitely be more comfortable without hearing viewpoints counter to your own.”

From Old Dominion: Those conducting the game “were obviously fine with such a minimal risk instead of being paralyzed by extreme fear. Good for them.”

Another from Old Glebe: “Since you have no fear, I hope you have been volunteering at the hospital with Covid-19 patients, without PPE if possible, to demonstrate your great bravery.”

From Leeway Overlee: “If everyone could be happy that kids can actually play outside again and if you don’t like it…just move on. No one is breaking any laws, and the world can’t stop anymore.”

From High View Park: “Whether you like it or not, Virginia is reopening again, and Gov. Northam specifically highlighted baseball and softball as probably the two safest team sports.”

Then spoke Shirley Brothwell, “Chair of the Sports Commission, which advises the County Board. Before everyone gets too upset about this event, I would like to assure the community that the diamond field leagues, run by volunteers, have been working diligently to develop safety protocols and educate coaches, umpires, and families on how to implement and abide by them. This post and the issues have been shared with the league and teams and further discussed by others. This is a learning process for everyone, and I would ask for a bit of patience as folks adapt to this new normal.”


Lost to cancer, on May 26, Richard “Hal” Crawford, 68, a stalwart at Arlington Cultural Affairs as director of facilities and technical services.
Hal was a classmate of mine at Yorktown High.

He was admired for his work on plays and concerts at his beloved Lubber Run amphitheater, where I sought him out to praise that treasure in the woods. A Boy Scout counselor, he had retired just last December.
Hal is survived by his wife of 45 years, Sandy, whom he had met at Lubber Run.

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