Ham radio kept Upland man connected during pandemic – San Bernardino Sun


Where were we? Oh, yes, pandemic hobbies. Some of you found one and, three years later, are still pursuing it, creating a positive change in your lives.

I printed a batch of your responses Wednesday and wrap that up today. (If more come in after deadline, sorry. I don’t intend to make a hobby of hobby stories.)

Michael Guerin of Upland resurrected an old interest: ham radio.

“I hadn’t been on the air in a few decades. When COVID hit I dug out the gear, set up a makeshift antenna in the backyard and retrained myself how to make contacts,” Guerin told me.

“Since 2020 I have met fellow hams on the air in all 50 states and made contacts in over 100 countries,” Guerin said. “In speaking with these hams, many had a similar story of returning to the hobby after many years.”

Adam Donner of Pomona also circled around to an old interest: running.

“I started running for the first time in 30 years,” Donner told me.

“I had run the first two years in high school but had quit following an injury. But needing to take care of myself physically and to deal with stress and trauma,” Donner said, “and with the encouragement of my wife and group of friends, and the motivation from the Pomona 5K, I have kept on running these past three years.”

Apparently it’s never too late. Donner just needed three decades away to get his second wind.

Annick Downhower of Arcadia got hooked on running as well. But she’s not the one doing the running.

A fan of Thoroughbred racing, Downhower was disheartened when live racing at Santa Anita was discontinued in March 2020. To fill the void, she subscribed to a streaming app, got a Roku and started watching the ponies across the U.S., as well as following commentators on social media, tuning in to live streams and reading blogs.

While Downhower is again watching races in person at Santa Anita, she’s continuing to stream races on FanDuel.

“The pandemic only expanded my love of racing,” she said.

Thank you for riding. Er, writing.

Darryl Musick, formerly of Duarte, threw himself into gardening after retirement, and the pandemic, gave him more time to devote to it.

“I had a goal to grow at least three months’ worth of fruit and vegetables for my family (three of us) and met that last year,” Musick said. “This year, I plan on doubling that, then I want to have at least one vegetable and one fruit available to us from our garden year round. Oh, I also built a greenhouse last spring.”

What an aside. I was half-expecting a follow-up: “Oh, and I built a rocket and launched my greenhouse into space.”

Pat Lambert of the Pomona Public Library also expanded her home garden, picking up helpful tips via Zoom gardening classes offered through Mount San Antonio College’s continuing education program.

Currently she’s growing onions, scallions, garlic and rosemary, as well as three types of berries. Tomato and pepper season are coming and she has a mini-orchard with lemon, key lime, tangerine, orange and blood orange trees.

“Since most of us were prisoners in our homes, going outdoors and working in our gardens felt like a mini-field trip!” Lambert joked. “COVID lockdown gave me the opportunity to pursue something I was always interested in.”

Al Parra, who likes woodworking, built a Little Free Library for his Upland front yard at the suggestion of his wife, Julia, who curates the selection, focusing on books to appeal to students at the nearby elementary school.

“I really enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of children when they find a book that they are excited about,” Julia said.

One day the couple found someone had dropped off nine boxes of books on the sidewalk. Confided Julia: “I think this person’s pandemic project was to clean out their garage.”

The Inland Empire’s largest city was finally represented in my in-box after a light scolding here Wednesday. I’d wondered whether any of Riverside’s 325,000 residents had a hobby.

Elizabeth Adame, a retired middle school art teacher, had been making art since childhood. “I channeled that passion into bringing people joy with a piece of original artwork and some words of encouragement,” Adame told me.

Elizabeth Adame battled the isolation of the pandemic’s early months by creating hand-painted cards to send to friends as tokens of encouragement. The message, from John 16:33: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Courtesy Elizabeth Adame)

She painted and mailed out 150 cards over 18 months to friends in the Inland Empire, across the nation and to London, Mexico City, Australia and Uganda. And she was so productive, she sold cards at the Riverside Art Market last April.

“Hobbies are alive and well in Riverside!” Adame declared.

Elsewhere in Riverside, Carole Manly-Bridges delved into genealogy research. Already a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Huguenot Society, she’s now applied for membership in the United States Daughters of 1812.

Reported Manly-Bridges: “I very much enjoyed spending time with my ancestors.”

Speaking of ancestors, or at least predecessors, retired Press-Enterprise columnist Dan Bernstein of Riverside got in touch.

“Your column about new pandemic pursuits hit the bullseye with me,” Bernstein said. “I spent a good part of the last couple of years researching and writing a memoir about my long life as a small-time musician.”



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