Mendel Letters 5: Shutting the Schools

Hard copies of these typed letters were discovered in an old camp trunk in the basement storage facility of one of the few buildings that remain standing in this Brooklyn neighborhood. The building is quite decrepit and is scheduled for demolition. The letters were found in November 2048 by a teenager who believes they were written by his great-grandfather. The letters are addressed to Mendel, the letter writer’s father, who appears to have been dead for at least six years when his son, whose name we are unsure of, started to write him. The son appears very agitated in some of the letters. With permission from the family, we are publishing them on the date they were written, only 28 years later.

November 21, 2020

Dear Mendel,

They had computers and the Internet when you left us, but I don’t think you ever used one. All the computers are now “plugged in” together, connected by phone lines and some kind of mysterious invisible waves that travel through the air and bounce around off space satellites. We call this the Internet. It’s real life science fiction.

The COVID epidemic has made a mess of school and it is rough on kids. School started a month late this year while city officials dithered about how to keep kids and teachers safe in classrooms. In the end, less than a third of the kids actually “attend” school. The rest stay home and supposedly attend classes and do school work, if they are doing any school work, on the Internet using computers. It hasn’t been good. Now the virus has spiked and in person schools are closing down and everyone is supposed to be online. Not good.

You know my brother and I were not the best students. We would look for any excuse to miss a day or two or three here and there. But most of the time we liked going to school, it’s where our friend were. If we didn’t have to do school work or deal with teachers it would have been perfect. If I was still in school, I would be going crazy locked up at home.

Your son