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My Interview With Alice Adler

Updated on April 27, 2020

As my history teacher requested, I sat down (virtually, of course) with my 84-year-old grandmother Alice Adler, a retired biochemist. Adler was born in New York City and currently lives in Massachusetts with her extremely long-term boyfriend Ed, who is rather infamous in our family. She is also a lifetime Democrat and strongly believes in her political values. She seemed like the best candidate for this assignment, given that my other options were enduring a 2+ hour conversation or spending the entire time talking about my cat’s health.


Her day-to-day life has changed quite a bit in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, as she was eager to explain. Her weekly routine has been reduced to leaving the house once, during which she visits the grocery store, the wine store (which is “mercifully still open”), and checking the mailbox, wherein she will find “one piece of mail, which is all it takes to get infected.” Despite the fact that quarantine was not yet mandatory (at the time of this interview) in her hometown of Lexington, Massachusetts, all large gatherings have been closed, and her choir is no longer allowed to perform. In order to stay healthy, she has been only listening to information from the CDC and other similar sources, and “doing exactly what they say.”


As one would expect, she is a very adamant current-president-hater and believes that the federal government is currently “useless” due to the fact that they could be ordering factories to produce more supplies and haven’t taken the opportunity. She went on to say later in the conversation that the only trait she values in a president is “an adult rational mind.” When asked about her favorite president in history, she took a while to decide, going back and forth between Kennedy, Eisenhower and FDR, before eventually deciding on Eisenhower because, “he was a lot like Biden. He was a republican, but he brought the country together.”


When urged to compare the COVID-19 crisis with other past crises she has experienced in her lifetime, she said that the likes of 9/11 and the Cuban Missile crisis don’t even come close to what the nation is currently facing. The big difference, she says, is that this affects everyone in every sort of situation as opposed to just being vague and scary like previous crises. When asked about previous diseases she has dealt with, she mentioned that everyone was afraid of polio when she was a kid and said never to swim in public pools, but it was nothing close to the fear and threat surrounding the coronavirus. She didn’t seem particularly optimistic about the current pandemic, and was resigned to the fact that it will last “at least a year and a half,” or until we get the vaccine. She also said to expect a major recession and large amounts of unemployment.


She wrapped up the interview by saying she needed to cook dinner and I had “called her a terrible time,” and I went back to staring at my computer like a teenager.


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