Frank Smoot Oral History 2020/05/07


Title (Dublin Core)

Frank Smoot Oral History 2020/05/07

Recording Date (Dublin Core)

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Controlled Vocabulary (Dublin Core)

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Date Submitted (Dublin Core)


Date Modified (Dublin Core)


Date Created (Dublin Core)


Interviewer (Bibliographic Ontology)

Shane Carlson

Interviewee (Bibliographic Ontology)

Frank Smoot

Location (Omeka Classic)

Eau Claire
United States

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Transcription (Omeka Classic)

*This transcript was created using AI. Due to the quality of the media file this transcript cannot be considered complete or official*

SC 00:01
All right, it May 7, 2020. I'm Shane Carlson graduate student at UW Eau Claire. We have Frank Smoot with us today. And this is an interview as part of the series on the COVID oral history project. All right, Frank, if you could tell us a little bit about your day to day life, for example, job, extracurricular activities, where you live and what it's like to live there.
FS 00:37
Sure. Well, I'm museum developer at the Chippewa County Historical Society. And so I work in Chippewa Falls but I live in neighboring Eau Claire the epi lie in the town you me you need and Here, the this museum is closed for the pandemic close to the public. It has very limited hours anyway. Even when it's open, it's only Tuesday evening, he was to develop a new museum, which is going to be built to put this building influence urban park. And that museum will be open everything, like normal will be open and some six days a week. So right now, I have been I've been an army of one, mostly on Tuesdays. So one of the things that's probably different, my experience maybe in most people's is that my work life hasn't changed very much at all. I still on one day, I still don't see anything. And so that was true before Word states for the sacred home was actually that part of it doesn't feel much different except it doesn't feel much different than it did before. The pandemic cause Yeah, and also, weirdly enough, just like Winston, I had moved back to Oregon who was constantly on my arm embrace. That worked for quite a while, but she was slipping badly back and that was in February for him so this was before God for the
Frank Smoot Page 1 of 10 Transcribed by

sacred home. So I have been tied to By making breakfast for her, we're getting some people in the back evening. And so, because she went in the memory care like I, my project here, my soap life, my evening our living changed that much anyway, because I've been sort of a homebody while she was at home, then very, very shortly thinking well, I should go out to the coffee shop. Not at this chance that way. And then of course, fairly shortly starting So, probably differently than almost anybody else. In my life It means for a couple of different
SC 04:11
um, could you tell us a little bit about when you first heard about COVID and what maybe some of your initial thoughts were if you could go back to that moment?
FS 04:22
Yeah, you know, I've been hearing the news coming out of Wuhan and there was a fellow independent filmmaker, and was uploading videos like this, which was funny, but he was uploading videos on a Mac. starting early, get on the first time numbers probably is really very bracing dramatic. Put it to hospitals big well People dropping over in stores. And so that's mean that it was much bigger deal that we were thinking about this. A lot of the thinking here was that this was in China. And that's just not wait. As far as I know in the history of the world except for pandemics which was so fatal that they really again like it's it's so fatal. And but this seemed, it seemed like the like other pandemics that would spread and then we started hearing news I started about really severe sanctions that China was taking, which I thought were only one so that in other closing roads and using bulldozers to block 10 feet of dirt roads drive by forcing people to be home their apartments gunpoint if they had to block action. And so they were taking it seemed obvious news experience and then you started to see so I started falling on line, you know the spread of it spreading a little bit outside the province.Then you started picking up a couple of hours because I'm prevention like all AmericansI was I was notgoing to understandhow they how cosmopolitan cleaners, people, flights. I mean, it's a it's a big world class citysort of bigger than geography that goes on outside of the US. And so then I started hearing reports fly from left to Han see fan for San Francisco. And so at that point, I don't know how many people in America and so did you start seeing faces in Europe in the news, man No doubt, but I think you started seeing faces in February, Washington State. So sort of around. And then, of course, some of the big first news that kind of broke into I think the mainstream princess cruise line, whatever cruise ship where it was suppressed because there were people who were infected with the virus, and that's when we got the reports from Trump White House. Well, no worries, because we don't want our numbers to go up. That's not that's not the way endemics unrealistic expectation
Frank Smoot Page 2 of 10 Transcribed by

SC 09:13
and it's it's pretty clear that their communities are changing all around the US. And, you know, a year ago, I don't think anybody could have seen this coming or imagined what life would look like now. But could you speak a little bit on how COVID has impacted your community specifically?
FS 09:39
One of the things that I mean, there's, I talk to people about that, that probably the biggest feeling was the most in depth. There's a feeling of weariness around you know, I drive to work every day, what time of day, most people buy Long spent half a year more boy a lot of cars on the road here they're people fast eaters who did that. Now when I drive to work there's no there's no cars on the road but a lot of places a lot of stablish business Oh, there's not many people there's it's nearly that's that's the word to keep and then started to see keeps changing a little bit I think that it changed towards more serious now I think it's last but no I stopped the grocery store fairly often And so, you know, I stopped out here whatever I was going to stare to. Then I started seeingplexiglass shield between the cashiers and the customers and then started seeing the cashiers were fast and started and then a good percentage. A few customers were late responses and now I'm seeing glow waxing on the part of the customers without on the card. Anybody has a store that you know that my annoyances have been so minor that they even were talking like that again because I'm not a very organized person. But then I got in the habit of just fascination and get a cup of coffee likeSo one of the first first changes that I saw was a holiday statement. You know, they responds with coffee and coffee. So then I buy Starbucks cold coffee in the back. Well, I've changed my habits a little bit. So we broke out the coffee maker here and started making coffee here. But that was one of the one of those changes that that's just a little detail of life, but it makes
SC 12:51
um, could you could you speak to the role of maybe quarantine and self isolation and flattening the curve? I know there There are a lot of phrases that are being thrown around right now in the media and and citizens are getting a pretty good understanding of what is expected of them. But how do you see those playing out in the community?
FS 13:18
and one of my sons but so from that point on I really pointed out
Frank Smoot Page 3 of 10 Transcribed by

Well, my thing, yeah, I only have a little bit of anecdotal evidence for this. But some people don't understand why. Like, we've gotten used term social distancing, but for safer home and people, people understand what goes on, but I'm not sure that they understand that I get the idea from people that they think that this is one stop virus. It's not one stop fires. Vaccines seems to be And we're doing this the reason we're doing a distancing these sacred home is so that hospitals don't well die on dying home. It doesn't, it doesn't necessarily lower the total peace. It just means that in so many cases at one time and I don't know that people are understanding that they're taking it serious that is true is that the virus is patient and adaptive. And people are impatientand dismissive. And that's a very bad lesson. Because now when we start relaxing, and especially as the virus leaves all these cities that are In the past important cities, or cities with great concentrations where there's a lot of travel, we know more about COVID-19 a lot of it wasn't actually directly from China, it was Europe. That's why we work so hard because everybody flies work when people open them up somewhere else. And so then you see that the seat that you're on comes into mind Miami museum. And as it's filtering out, we're seeing a big change in what areas will be part of New York. Tremendously, tremendously hard. But a couple of days ago, here, it's What's not stated? Is the so patients are actually going down in New York. It makes it look like it was going down country, New York that so many more cases. But the number of cases has actually gone down 80% of them outside of New York State. I think that's the thing people are understanding is that light often sits creeping out on the bases in the country so, so this area of the country, which is, which we don't think about, because we're live here, but it's actually fairly remote occurs the largest city with 90 miles, it's only 60 pounds. And the next largest cities are typical falls. But I was 15. So we're really quite a rural area. Yeah, it's everything takes longer to come to fashion. There's gonna be and the same is true ofthe pandemic. Yeah, it's gonna get that may not be as bad because we're not. We're not we don't live in you know, because we're already social distancing but doesn't mean
SC 17:43
Yeah, and there There seems to be a some disparities and information. And and you've kind of hinted at this and how people are seeing this and growing impatient as you said, I think it's important that as, as we collect these oral histories we see where where interviewees are getting their information from. Could you could you speak on where you primarily get your sources of information from and what role you see sources and information playing inin, you know, this brave new world?
FS 18:29
Sure. Hi, I'm a digital online subscriber watch. Also addicted to The Guardian was the air
Frank Smoot Page 4 of 10 Transcribed by

times and then I follow some Twitter accounts really, I think responsible account, people who not just the blue checkmark people is insane. But people who are you know, former FBI or health department so I get some of my news on Twitter but I try to distinguish and then I do hit the ground green at home too much because like everybody else, dirt abandoned but I do check a little bit by WWE TV so they aren't small yet. Most of No, I mean I do talk to people too on the phone. They have like, beautiful bride it's not organic and so she don't know what's going on on the ground on Oregon. Like Oregon
SC 20:32
Could you speak a little more about your so with your wife being out in Oregon I know before you had said that, you're you're being impacted and kind of a unique way and that your daily life really isn't changing. How is How is COVID or is COVID changing the way you interact with your family including your wife and How do you what what comes up when you talk about COVID as an experience in Oregon versus COVID or experiencing COVID in Wisconsin?
FS 21:12
Sure. Yeah. That's that's interesting and a little bit sad. With memory, you know, the big change because I bought a ticket some time ago. Expedia, I don't have plans to go out. August 4 through eighth of April 4 through 18. Of course, loads went by the wayside. get on an airplane. Like I'm gonna bring COVID single handedly, Gordon. And so we hadn't seen each other since October. Reading But guys, there's gonna be a, I have two weeks there, we're going to get that cell move back to the west here. And, you know, all these plans. Well, all of that, all of them, not only the trip was put off, but now we're wondering what the future is unranked that chapter of our future we don't know where we're going or what we're doing or, or what we should do next. Everything's just covered stays. And it's not like either one of us particularly bothered by that. We're flexible people. I mean, we'd love to see but and both of us have kind of stumbled one thing to realize so it's Not like not having a plan is due to decades. But this is it is sort of it changes the nature of our compensation conversation. Like Well, you know, she was when she came back to Sturgeon Bay to London, Scotland's best at once if you've ever seen So, no, maybe she lived there. So instead of four times a year seeing each other I can see really, that's all and we don't, we don't notice. It's so bad has changed. Not our blinking too strong we love it. But as soon as the nature of our discourse and what we do With my mom, it's quite different a woman cares what you're going for the handout really love to check out early, which was good, but nobody there has said the parents say, but she's at the point that her cognitive decline that she does not understand. She understands at the moment you're talking than I, I can't visit to them because there's a big virus out there and Oh, wait, but
Frank Smoot Page 5 of 10 Transcribed by

that was sent every day and so every day I would conversation. She, you know, she calls up, right? All right. Well, I don't know why. But you know, I just need you to know that Did I need to be picked up? Get on gun here. Well, you can't go by this time. So I get through that every day, but if you're safe there, I'll tell everybody, you know, where you are on safe, they'll be good, get hurt about 45 so you can just stay there. And the next day, you know, it's snowing. And, you know, I think it's sort of reassuring. One of the things that it took me a long time to figure out was one of the sources of entities it was that you've been the thing that the people that are like new words, and I thought it was that she desperately wanted to get out of memory here in the hall. But she just wanted to know people because she was there that they people might be trouble they might be worried because they didn't work on once I figured that out, and that was a big call. But still, you know, I've been going to hit her transition. I've been stopping hoping early evening after work, get her over there look. I can do their part. So I was quite lucky and she was saying that we had that before for the shutdown, that she could kind of get used to that environment. At home, they're a little disappointed describe what you didn't go in weeks later. Brock's transition go there every day for several weeks. She's not sure she feels out right now but she feels so bad. That is fast. And one of the things about covered it's probably been the most sort of not disruptive but disconcerting is not No way. No some people there on the stand outside the door waving people go out on the river fighter as Peter mentioned, wonder why. So, knowing how to gauge eye behavior to make her feel comfortable what I actually can't do Wow. Grateful, grateful but then the way you explain I mean everything so now that's what's the source of education for her. I don't want her to be education yeah that's that's kind of never really anticipated something like this although history will take you down from the day that three times a week, whatever. But be like I said,
SC 28:55
Yeah, I'm I'm sorry you're in that position. That's But like you said it's good there's there's some silver lining that she's she was there before COVID really broke out and that you understand how to adjust your role to the situation and understand how to meet her needs.
FS 29:21 Yeah,
SC 29:23
I think there is in many different ways a lot of that throughout society where I know just with my my teacher friends, I'm just we're trying to find ways to meet student needs and,
Frank Smoot Page 6 of 10 Transcribed by

and keep it as normal as possible. But the one of the hardest things is identifying those needs and trying to understand how students are experiencing it. But I suppose that yeah, that same thing must be happening, you know, across the social spectrum as far as With with all types of relationships.
FS 30:02
sure, no one when somebody, how do you explain to a four year old audience to explain to a person with a memory deficit? Do you mean for all of us? It's frustrating, but we don't have all we have is a bunch of impatience and solvers. You know, we could understand it if we let ourselves but a lot of people are not in that position. Younger in a place where they can yes looks a lot like you.
SC 30:53
And we haven't we haven't really talked about this much yet, but I was wondering if you could Describe how local state and federal leaders have responded to the crisis and, you know, for better and worse.
FS 31:10
Sure. Well, one thing that is always me I've lived in and around the area or much of my lab so we can't ever seem to really get away. And one of the things it's, it's pleased me in September kick is that for a long, much longer than most countries, City County have declared is that a combined so probably 70 years. So they have a live audience had a very robust response, any prices one of the things that happened, this is this is 40 But there was an outbreak of Legionnaires disease really fairly early. Oh, spike your Auclair hotel it's probably three years after the first outbreak that was actually named Legionnaires disease. And they did a whole tracing of our cake B. This was the first time. As far as I know, this was the first country that actually done contact tracing through credit cards. To find out what these events these people signed up for, where they fought to get food or whatever and found out that they had all been none of them had stayed in this talk. room and then they did contract tracing and found out that the Legionnaires disease can come from water for up on the roof of the city. No. So I mean, it's like CSI Eau Claire. And they've always been that response here. And so that's been gratifying, you get a lot of straight, good news out of they talk to reporters who talk to us. So if you check the links all down to WWE, you can click local news. And the pandemic hasn't been so bad here. So between 25 to 30 cases, confirmed Oklahoma County, more or less the same interpret more or less the same. Which means you know, they're they've been reporting off. But, so I think the local response has been one that but it's clear. I think a lot of
Frank Smoot Page 7 of 10 Transcribed by

businesses are taking cues from local and state governments. And you see, Walmart grocery stores is supposed to take part to add distance between people get on that's coming. And so I'm pleased with that please stay with us that we have done. He's faced a great deal of resistance on all parts of the assembly line. He's hooked on holding his own. I think keeping Wisconsin the safe as long as you can, like every other state in the country, places with higher concentration of populations. They are the places that are really, really hard to think on romance. Really pretty lucky but So I'm pleased with the state response. I think that the states have had to pick up some states. Well, it's not that the reason they've all had to pick up so much slack is because the federal response has been atrocious. It's not only been useless. I'm not surprised, but I'm working on the federal response. It's been it's been grotesque. Yeah. It's been it's losing we have more cases in this company than what else was a federal failure. And it's, it's so I'm I feel lucky. Lucky It's typical, but I think that states Oh, can I see the flag? Test nature
SC 36:24
is as far as the what implications there are for the future. Do Do you see this changing the nature of a, I guess how businesses operate or, or what? what differences do you think COVID might have on how we conduct, you know, our everyday activities.
FS 36:54
Well, as I said, I said the other day, and I'm here origins are sort of loads, try to guess the future. That's not what we do. That's, that's the opposite of what we try to figure out how we got here to the present. So we try to figure out one thing is that the story inspiring is clear to people. Whatever the future they come and interact, I'll try to see what I see is kind of present situation where that might, whether it might take them. I have to be folks, you probably probably the best man in America right now. America believes in societies that there'll be one we're not over this one. As you can see that it also believes that it will be second wave in the fall. And in 1918 the second wave which much first first wave was spam. second wave was absolutely, as you know 20,000,002nd So, yeah, I, I think we're relaxing, or opening up, particularly a lot of states are one of the things that we didn't have the event. We never learning. Americans don't want things blindly on new things.
But, but we have a lot more data, data, surprising places. So so we saw just days ago, Georgia has opened up its business. And there are a lot of locals going into those business. We know that so, you know, some from location, but there are a lot of other states and to Georgia and we know that so that seems like the worst of all that people get the because you're just opening up and other people know what they're coming in they're bringing with them or they're taking all the spreading out. Yeah, we're closing down easily. And people are traveling around. And so, you know, it's, it's like if you dumped by that one,
Frank Smoot Page 8 of 10 Transcribed by

comfortable, but doesn't, that doesn't help, right. It doesn't keep the other half you're comfortable. Not all but we can post disease like that we're not it's American therapy. Always thoughtlessly optimism, that's an American Life. So, so I predict that there will be another way. In the fall, we'll see if I'm right. I predicted to be worse. I predict that our numbers won't go down for the whole country. But they'll keep changing areas. So we'll have 25,000 cases a day and 3000 deaths, but they'll be in different areas of the country, every month until fall, when it's really I think that people are going to be really gun shy for a very long about things that they would point us for one of the things that we worried about a little bit was the idea it might. You might fall victim to a mass shooting not only in school but no big concert on space, but I think this will really especially by the end of the fall it'll be a long time for people go back into a big movie. It'll be a long thing people will slowly start to engage with us. We've got to wade through of glass balls and World War Two away from going into Okay home. And as we got busier as we were doubling families, so we've gotten used to this now. It's something easy way back. So and people are still doing that a little bit, but it also got us going on. I think people will be a little bit scared. One of the changes that I don't know if it's been stable. Yeah, you really is that because the federal government's responses. So you see a bunch of states with a series of North states northeast, states on the west coast, doing that in order to get an economy of scale and all Get protection from the federal government. So you're actually seeing governor who are ordering supplies and 95 masks and tests. And then having to hide them from you commandeered by a store. But they're performing is one request that harkens back way back in the column. And so the progress might be united states from, say the world they can crawl through World War Two and been increasing power isn't part of federal government. Now you I've seen that challenge over and over again. Since everyone saw that talent, different ways in the Vietnam War, this is to allow lighten up and tell them play the space ever lost war. Watergate is a series of deals for the government to be the reagan revolution party and so the idea that the federal government has taken a lot of bodywork since the 60s This may be this may be one I don't want to Want to play a wager? That maybe one that really the federal government really takes it on its knees its power, its influence in the world. Its ability to be a national spokesman for the whole country. Really, I think is is mean. It's seeing an option, that idea, experiment. It's under something something. You've got these. These economies like the companies are big. And if it ends they work in Washington, Oregon, California, Oregon. What is the role of children How does federal government respond to its response? I think that's, I think that's one of those things that that might just pass as soon as the virus but it's one of those things that, that we stand instead of saying, you know, we're all standing for what's gone right a Boston thought all these things were wrong then we think well, that person is going to do it once and so it's mind over the rest. So you guys saw that idea. It's, it's in the air right. Now, I think could be the really, besides the idea that we can be Hard to imagine going back into a ball can be hard to imagine going back. It's gonna be hard to get into a big
Frank Smoot Page 9 of 10 Transcribed by

concert. I think the idea that he fights me is a bigger idea. I don't know how that's I guess Only time will tell and then, you know, it'll be the job of public historians to slowly Oh, yeah. All right. Um, do you have any questions for me or do you feel like we might have missed any areas that you feel we should talk about yet? little hard to get before. It's done. I simply went over most of the same stuff. I think we there's a lot more to say about it. I don't know if I'd said it ever well but but no, this is great. It's great to think about these things. It's what we can't solve it. So yeah, it's always it's always two things to plan to be fun project and I'm sorry your semester took a left turn. I know urban park is but this is a this whole project which you had said the other day was not only campus wide but nationwide, International. This will add to our this area that matters but You know, you think back to that story back, wonder why you wish you had documents more, you'd never have enough. You're going to be part of the
SC 49:18
well, I'm certainly grateful that you participate and provide us with some background into history because that's that that's a huge benefit that you bring to the table. Is that that background and context into, you know, previous experiences of, you know, our American past and I guess we'll have to see how this all plays out.
FS 49:51
No question. No, one thing that I think was Churchill said, so if you're going through hell to go on and on Seems like it's seems like everything else is that funny and smart. Remember that?
SC 50:12
All right. Well, I'll I'll stop the recording.
Frank Smoot Page 10 of 10 Transcribed by

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2020/05/21 8:14:58 PM AST

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