WATSONVILLE—When health officials on March 16 laid out new orders for all Santa Cruz County residents to stay at home as a precaution against the spread of the novel coronavirus, it was meant for everyone. For some Pajaro Valley seniors, the blanket 24/7 rule has meant a closer—or different—look in the mirror on how to ride out their time.
Ron Haedicke, who has operated Freedom Media Services for years in the Pajaro Valley, said his days have been an interesting mix of hunkering down, catching up, staying active and resting.
He said that now that his hip replacement surgery is behind him “I can move much easier now and get around, so I’m reclaiming my yard; it’s beginning to look like a yard again. I’ve been doing a lot of things that I’ve been putting off a long time; it’s different mainly because I used to be constantly on the go; I’d be up early and start right in on my day. Now it’s more like whatever happens just happens. I’m realizing that there is more to life than go, go, go—and I’m enjoying more of what is around me.”
Haedicke, who turned 70 recently, said that even small drives into the redwoods on Hazel Dell Road can be refreshing and a welcome change.
“I’ve taken a couple of these short drives and I’m learning to see the trees and things around me in another way,” he said. “I find it is well worth the change. But I’m almost at a point where I don’t want to start back up again.”
He did, however, say that his video business has taken a huge dive during the pandemic. He typically videotapes special events or helps produce such events as fairs, parades, Chamber of Commerce affairs and more.
“There just aren’t events to video right now; we’re just not getting the venues,” he said. “But that’s okay, it’s serving me quite well right now.”
Haedicke said one of his favorite trips is south to Moss Landing to his favorite produce stand for fresh vegetables, including artichokes.
“Of course, there are days where I want to go out but, the truth is they are advising not to,” Haedicke said. “I don’t really need to go out, so I save that for simple trips to the produce stand. I’m sorry to see the fairgrounds sitting empty and I miss gatherings and dining out. We’ll see how it goes; it’s a different pace from earlier times.”
Haedicke said he is learning to “redirect his energy.” He is reviewing cookbooks and recording cooking shows and taking a deeper look into kitchen culture.
One of his favorite take out eateries is Monterey Bay Caterers on West Lake Avenue in Watsonville, owned by Ken Schwan.
“His meatloaf sandwiches are fantastic,” Haedicke said. “And now I see they offer a beef and mushroom Wellington or a chicken Cordon bleu that you cook at home; I’m definitely going to preorder for that. I’m like this newfound life of enjoying what’s around me.”
Mas Hashimoto, a former teacher at Watsonville High School, described himself as a “super senior,” at 84.
He said that since he has lung problems stemming from being a field worker in his youth and having been around sprayed pesticides, he and his wife Marcia now have to be extra careful in the world of Covid-19, which largely attacks the lungs.
“I get tired easily,” he said. “Coronavirus can have a serious impact on older people so Marcia and I are being super careful. She takes great, great care of me, so I’m safe.”
Hashimoto added that Marcia has been diligent in making phone calls to “many seniors, including Japanese-Americans, to make sure they are OK. Many of these are women living alone and it’s important to check on these folks.”
Hashimoto said he and Marcia renewed their passports just before the pandemic hit.
“Now we have nowhere to go,” Hashimoto said. “We have been really fortunate to have been around the world twice and around the U.S. and Canada. So we really appreciate the travel we’ve done, experiencing different cultures, food and ways of doing things.”
Long time Watsonville resident Esther Herrera said she is “bored being home my whole day in the yard. I’m actually losing weight. Yesterday I spent five hours in the yard.”
She said that since she doesn’t “even know how to boil water,” the cooking falls into her husband’s lap.
“I have three palm trees in the backyard and a lot of wild poppies,” she said. “On one side of the house I plant anything I want—lilies, purple flowers and I am planning on planting tomatoes.”
Herrera said she has been going to the food bank distributions at the fairgrounds.
“You don’t have to wait because the National Guard has so many people there,” she said. “You just open up the trunk and they load it up.
She said that staying active is important.
“We just keep busy. You pull the weeds but next week they keep coming back,” Herrera, 77, said. “We’re in a nice neighborhood; we’re lucky.”
Hererra added that she has been a longtime visitor to the Watsonville Senior Center, which has closed their routine daily events.
“On Friday, Katie—the new director—gives out Gray Bear bags of food,” Herrera said. “She’s so young; once you get to know her she’s so kind, soft-spoken, and friendly; I feel comfortable with her. She’s good.”
On Mother’s Day, Herrera had a big surprise: A Watsonville Police Officer knocked on her door.
“My granddaughter found me upstairs and said there was a police officer at the door,” she said. “I thought something was wrong. The officer asked me if I was Esther Herrera and I said yes.”
That’s when the officer said, “Well then these are for you,” as he presented a huge bouquet of flowers to her.
Herrera said WPD was helping her church, the Church of Nazarene, and other organizations with such missions to distribute flowers and other goods.
Herrera told the officer, “You made my day; I am so grateful.”
The officer replied, “That’s what we wanted. Happy Mother’s Day.”