No matter how the football game between the Reeltown Rebels and the Tallassee Tigers turns out Thursday, it is already one for the history books.

This year marks the centennial of Tallassee football, and Thursday’s game the resumption of the rivalry with Reeltown after a nearly two-decade break.

Typically as we return to school, my Tallassee Tribune column would be all about how I spent my summer vacation. But this year, it feels like we let out for spring break and it just lasted … an eternity.

On Friday, March 13, we left campus thinking we would be back the following Monday. I walked into Super Foods and spent the next six months stocking and scanning and pushing buggies more than I ever had before.

There are things that have happened to us since then that might have seemed unlikely or unthinkable on that Friday the 13th. As a teacher, I’m not really ever shocked or surprised by anything — we’ve literally seen it all — but as we take one last glance over our shoulders at the spring break that lasted forever, let’s consider how these last six months have completely changed our culture and our world.

10. Water turning to blood

Talk about a Biblical plague. Around the time the coronavirus news was taking over our lives back in March, there were some news stories that didn’t get a lot of attention but are worth noting. A body of water in Turkey, Lake Meke, dried up and turned red. In Russia, pollution also turned the Gvozdnya River red. On this side of the globe, in the Mexican village of Chichimequillas, a lake suddenly turned red.

When you add in the water pollution issue in Flint, Michigan, and other places, it’s possible to look at the possibility of water sources becoming undrinkable. Maybe it’s a virus or a chemical, or a drought. But that would certainly be a plague from which we’d have a hard time recovering.

9. West Coast murder hornets

Giant hornets were spotted for the first time in America this year. Beekeepers in Washington and Oregon were shocked to find their honeybee hives destroyed. These so-called murder hornets violently dismember the honeybees, which pollinate the fruits and vegetables we eat. They also kill 50-plus people each year in the Far East.

8. African Locusts

Trillions — yes, trillions — of locusts descended upon Africa in the spring. As in, more locusts than have been seen in nearly 30 years. So, there’s that.

7. Washington Redskins are no more

After years and years of discussions and threats, it finally happened: The Washington Redskins changed their name to the Washington Football Team.

6. Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben finally retire

In a move that I can’t believe took this long, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben will be retired off the products that have carried their names and images for more than a century.

5. Robert E. Lee’s statue comes down and others around the country

This one was probably a long time coming as well and I am a proud graduate of Robert E. Lee High School. Gen. Lee was a great man, the greatest of generals and should be studied as much as any historical leader. When was the statue erected? 1908. When was it moved to 225 Ann St.?  1961 — at the height of the civil rights struggle. What was seen as Southern pride back then is now viewed by society at large as defiant racism. So be it. His memory will be better served in another location. If he stayed on Ann Street, my fear is he would be destroyed.

4. California Firenado

Where else but California? Just last week during another plague, a wildfire, observers were stunned to see a funnel-shaped fire plume. The Loyalton fire was so intense, and wind conditions were just right, to create a firenado. If I had seen that, I probably would have thought to myself: These really are the end times.

3. Iowa Derecho

Last week, 100-mile-per-hour winds pummeled the state of Iowa. Corn and soybean crops were flattened; grain elevators and silos were destroyed; homes, churches, banks, schools and other businesses were leveled.

This was a derecho (de-RAY-cho), a rare but damaging severe wind storm that brings hurricane-force winds and tornadoes. For the people who live in Iowa, they may have thought the end was near.

2. Bankrupt businesses

Earth Fare, Pier 1 Imports, Neiman Marcus, Goody’s, Bealls, Peebles, GNC, Chuck E. Cheese, New York & Company, Lerner Shops, Ann Taylor, California Pizza Kitchen, Catherine’s, Lane Bryant, Stein Mart, Men’s Wearhouse and even J.C. Penney all filed for bankruptcy and/or announced plans to close this year.

1. The word of God proclaimed on every channel

This is what I hope the past six months have taught us. At the height of the pandemic, I saw Bishop T.D. Jakes praying for America through the television on the “Today” show. A few weeks later, George Floyd’s funeral was on every network and not long after, Rep. John Lewis was given a hero’s farewell befitting his historic role in the civil rights movement. All along the way, as preachers spoke and choirs sang, I wondered, “Maybe this is why God has us slowed down due to Covid-19. Maybe we are supposed to just listen to Him.” And those three Biblical words were like a common thread through it all: Love one another.

Michael Bird is a music teacher for Tallassee City Schools and a longtime columnist for TPI.