One of the inspiring stories to come out of the pandemic involves a French nun who recently celebrated her 117th birthday. Sister Andre, who was born Lucile Randon in 1904, is the oldest known person in Europe and, most amazingly, survived the coronavirus with no complications. What some alert readers (ARs) might find particularly interesting is the menu Sister Andre selected for her celebratory luncheon at the nursing home in Toulon, where she now resides. She started off with an aperitif of port wine followed by foie gras with hot figs; her entrée consisted of roasted capon with mushrooms and sweet potatoes; she then enjoyed a two-cheese platter with Roquefort and goat cheese along with a few glasses of red wine; she topped it all off with her favorite dessert: raspberry and peach flavored Baked Alaska, and a glass of Champagne. Despite all of the media attention devoted to Tom Brady’s vaunted TB12 diet, ARs could be forgiven for preferring the Sister Andre diet that apparently helped her beat Covid-19 and live to 117.
Speaking of French nuns, I was taught in elementary school by nuns of The Society of the Sacred Heart, which was founded in Amiens, France in 1801. Seventeen years later, in 1818, the order opened its first school outside France in St. Charles, Missouri, a few blocks from what is now Schlafly Bankside. It was at Barat Hall, a Sacred Heart school in the City of St. Louis that is now closed, that I first studied geography and how to read maps, skills that were later helpful in my search for a Covid vaccine. A few weeks ago I discovered the State of Missouri’s Vaccine Navigator, https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/navigator/, a useful website where I would encourage all ARs who have not yet been vaccinated to register. Thanks to the Navigator, my wife and I were able to make appointments for vaccines in Eminence, Missouri; and, thanks in part to what I learned from nuns at Barat Hall, I was able to find Eminence on a map.
The drive from St. Louis to Eminence, the county seat of Shannon County, was quite scenic, taking us through The Mark Twain National Forest. While some ARs have probably traveled to Eminence in order to float the Current River, I suspect that comparatively few have visited this charming little town (population 600) in February. But, thanks to the Vaccine Navigator, that was where my wife and I found ourselves on February 12th . As I wrote in this space last month, this was the first day of the Chinese Year of the Cow, which was fitting in that the word vaccine comes from vacca, the Latin word for cow. Little did I suspect back then that this would be the day on which my wife and I would be receiving our first vaccines.
Missouri, like most states, has prioritized eligibility for vaccines according to several factors, one of which is age. It’s one of the perks of being a senior citizen, along with Medicare, Social Security and half-price tickets at movie theaters. In some states, including New Jersey, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Virginia, smokers are also eligible to move to the front of the line for Covid shots. Such a policy is puzzling, to say the least. For as long as I can remember governments and others have been spending billions of dollars every year to discourage people from smoking. These efforts have included education, advertising, stern warnings on packaging, increased taxes on tobacco products, prohibitions on selling cigarettes to minors, higher premiums for smokers for health insurance and life insurance etc. Considering that governments are allocating massive resources towards discouraging people from smoking, it seems a little odd now to be rewarding folks for taking up the habit. Given the lengths to which some people have gone in order to get highly coveted Covid shots, I wouldn’t be surprised if some residents of these states might now decide to become instantly eligible by lighting up.
My wife and I will be returning to Eminence for our second shots on March 12th. We’re looking forward to going back for two reasons. First, there will be the relief of being fully vaccinated. Second, it will be another pretty drive. The first signs of spring should be visible with some early blooms and there may even be some intrepid canoers on the Current River and other Ozark streams. Also, although we didn’t plan it this way, it will be fitting to receive our second vaccination on the first anniversary of the day all hell seemed to break loose in 2020.
If everything goes according to plan, we hope to have a high level of immunity by the end of March, meaning we’ll be more comfortable going to Cardinals and Blues games and even movies (with half price tickets). We may even celebrate with a feast befitting a 117 year-old, French nun, adding some stout and oysters to the mix.
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery