Thursday, December 3, 2020

Giving Thanks (Carolyn, Beatrice, Norman)

A lot of us weren’t able to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family and loved ones this year, so I’d like to invite you to Best Day’s table by sharing some Thanksgiving stories from our older buds:

Carolyn Boston
11.19.2020
The Little Drumstick Boy

Several years ago I was at my great niece’s home for Thanksgiving and we always looked forward to going to her house because she is an awesome cook. So it was with great anticipation that I and the rest of my relatives joined each other on Thanksgiving. We were all starving as we sat in the living room for the announcement that the food was ready and we could come to the table. The smell of the food was just setting us in a fit, and finally we sat at the table. Her little son Alex, Alex’s dad said the grace and we were ready to start eating and she announced, “we can now all eat.”
Before anyone could take a breath, Alex, who is either three or four, ripped off the Godzilla-sized drumstick and started eating. Everyone at the table was in shock. Little Alex ignored all of us as we burst into laughter. His teeth sank into the meat and ripped it off like a Neanderthal. We all laughed so hard that we were crying. Alex was totally unflustered by our laughter as he consumed gargantuan-sized turkey drumstick, and the funniest part of it was that the drumstick was almost as big as Alex. He had to be either two or three, and it just looked like this huge drumstick with this little body behind it. We laughed and laughed and laughed. We also took pictures so that we could never forget that moment. This is just a short story, but I can remember that picture with that drumstick to this day and laughing. It was just an amazing sight.

Beatrice Newkirk

11.29.2012

Having a Nice Thanksgiving Dinner

Having a nice Thanksgiving dinner, I went to my daughter’s house. She lives in Southwest Philly. We had so much food. I saw some of my grandkids and great-grand kids. My grand-daughter came here from Texas. She came by train and plane – her first time. I was so glad to see her. She has a good job in Texas.

We have so much to be thankful for. I think about the storm named Sandy. She did a lot of damage. God knows how much we can bear – my 29th great-grandkid was born last night at 9 o’clock. A boy, 7lbs 4oz. My family tree, still growing.


Norman Cain

01.23.2020

Ancestral Tree

When I was born my forbearers presented me with the key to the avenue of the straight and Narrow, where opportunity laid waiting. I Casted it to the wind. It landed on Bacchanals Wide, Wild Boulevard. I cared less. For to me, the key was nonessential to my chosen Destiny at that time: tenure in the dens of inequity, where I reveled hardily and drank Abundantly-starting At Sun-up to well after sun-down-from the vessels of Wantonness, Which caused me to taste the bitterness of defeat, feel the Painful clutches of despair squeeze lifelessness out of my ethereal core, leaving me in the vise of self-destruction.
One night, I in the clutches of drunken slumber, encountered, thru vision vivid, three ancestors, silently walking in a single file across the long dusty road. On each side of the road there were tobacco, cotton and corn fields. At the head of the procession was my great uncle Charlie, the oldest of the Cusack clan. He was dark, short and keen featured. He was a farmer and recluse. He was followed by his my paternal grandparents: his brother Lexington, a ebony hued, short stature, Congolese Featured man who was a farmer, educator fraternal leader, business man and his wife, Virginia, an olive Skinned, keen featured house wife.
When I told my mother, who had taken me, because of my transgressions, from the head of the dinner table when my father died, of the dream, she without hesitation proclaimed: “They came to tell you that you can make it.” This vision caused me to remember the time when I traversed the same dusty road that appeared in my dream during the scorching south Carolina summers (in the days of my youth) when I, a northern boy, was sent south to my grandparents farm after school was closed for the summer.
Then I would be barefoot, shirtless, wearing a straw hat and trudging to and from my grandparents’ tobacco field. The dream conjured memories of the house that Uncle Charlie, the first in the procession that appeared in the dream occupied. It was the house that was fronted by humongous, fully leafed cloaked tree, stretching towards the heavens and whose strong roots would not allow it to be moved, in spite of elimination four of the eight rooms that housed the family of my paternal great & their 1 children.
Each day, me, my sister and, Delores, my older cousin, who was raised by my grandparents in their house down the road, would visit Uncle Charlie, who briefly lived at 40th and Market Street during the 1920’s. There was a family portrait Upon the South wall of living room. It included my maternal Great grandfather George Wainwright Cusack who was seated and dressed in a black suit. Standing to his right and dressed in white was his wife, Nancy.
In the background stood the 11 children of the family; Charlie, Emma Georgia Lexington, Spencer Beatrice, Amelia, Lorenzo, Suzan Ellen, and Maggie. The house was like a family museum. Upon the floor lay the instruments that the Cusak Band played specifically during Juneteenth. Among the instruments were a snare drum, bass drum, tuba bugle and piano. Uncle Charlie would play the instruments and tell us folklore and ancestral stores.
The dream induced me to recalled how my grandmother, who when I contracted, on consecutive summers, the chicken pox and measles, physically healed me by applying the suave of roots to my infected body. The dream further induced me to, shortly after having it, visit my grandmother at the homestead in a futile attempt, to elude the sinful temptations Philadelphia. During that visit she bestowed healing, wisdom encouragement and family history upon my shattered soul.
The dream allowed me to recall how my maternal grandfather, who taught me how to shoot a rifle and handle mules, order me to kill as snake. He periodically told me about the time he and my paternal grandfather, Dan Cain, rowed a man, who was sought by the Klan, across the Pee Dee River and into of North Carolina. The man resided safely in North Carolina. He returned once to South Carolina. Then he attended his wife’s funeral. He avoided detention because he was dressed as a woman. After the recollections.
That Vision Vivid Dream had me experienced a common sense epiphany, which led me to seek/retrieve the key that my forbearers had given me. I unlocked the door to the straight and narrow Avenue. And I, consistently with opportunity in tow, transverse it to my genealogical tree, where I beseech. And greet my ancestors Legacy, rendering sincere “Thank Yous” and bowing before it in humble reverence.


 

If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. You can also share our older buds' adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And if you know older buds with Thanksgiving stories, then you or they can submit them through our portal right here. We're especially interested to stories from Black older buds, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.
 

 
 
And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.
 
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving Delay

Hi everyone. I’m busy prepping Thanksgiving dinner, so today’s Best Day post will be a little late.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Running For your Health (Eleanor)

Philadelphia’s already starting to lock down gyms, pools, community centers, and restaurants, which means we’ll need to discover alternate ways to keep ourselves happy and healthy. We’ve had an unusually warm Autumn, which gave us extra time to take walks, dine outdoors, and have open-air socially distant functions. But the weather’s getting colder, and the heat lamps that once promised untold months of al fresco dining are being scuttled inside. Can we keep up with the fresh air and fitness routines that kept us physically and mentally healthy?

Perhaps we can take a hint from the humble jogger: up and running at the crack of dawn during sunny days or rainy days or heat or snow or sleet. All before the pandemic, even.  One particular jogger will be featured in today’s story: older bud Eleanor’s mother. In fact, she was one of the first people to start jogging for health. Read the full story below:

Eleanor Kazdan
09.03.2020
My Mother Has a Nervous Breakdown
 
In the 1950’s and 60’s, people used the term “nervous breakdown” when a person because irrational, unable to function, or lost touch with reality. Today, there are many other medical terms and diagnoses to describe this state of mind. In 1967, at the age of 47, my mother took a solo trip to visit her parents in Montreal. She had done this many times before. She had always had a difficult relationship with them, especially with her domineering, imperious father. As the only girl and oldest in a family of five children, she was expected to cater to her brothers and go to work at a young age to support her family while her brothers pursued their lofty careers.
When my mother returned from this trip, something seemed off. She smiled inappropriately and her eyes appeared glazed. She said strange things. Soon, my mother took to her bed and stayed there for three weeks. She called my father a “chicken” and made clucking sounds. I was 17 and sat by her bed day after day, holding her hand. My father wanted to call the doctor, but she adamantly refused. I didn’t tell anyone what was happening. It was very strange and it felt somehow shameful. After three weeks, my father finally called the family doctor. He gave her Valium. My mother got out of bed and resumed a normal life, but she never seemed quite the same. Many years later, thinking back with much more knowledge of mental illness, personally and society in general, I believe my mother had a psychotic episode and perhaps would have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She never had a full-blown episode again, but for many years, occasionally said things that seemed irrational. People didn’t really talk about those kind of things back then as much as they do now. People just didn’t know what to do. It may be a good thing that she didn’t go to the doctor, because she might have ended up being committed to a mental hospital.
Not long after the episode, my mother took up long distance running, becoming a marathoner, until the age of 80. This changed her life.
That’s my mother in her 60’s with one of her many medals for marathon running. She was unbelievable; she ran 37 marathons from the age of 50 to 80 and won many medals and trophies because first of all there weren’t many women running marathons in those days. Even now, for a woman in her 70’s, to run marathons is pretty unique.
She started running, and in fact, it was right after that so-called nervous breakdown. She started running at age 47, I think I have a memoir, and maybe I’ll read it another time about her running. She and my father both started running. It was really unheard of for adults to run, but my brothers had a track coach in high school who had the idea that adults should run, and so he encouraged the parents of his students to start running. I remember they couldn’t run at all at first. They tried to run around a quarter mile track. Our whole family started running, including me. I started running when I was 17, and I still run. I still run like a mile- it’s kind of an addiction. But in no time at all, I remember my parents coming home and saying, “We ran two miles,” and then “We ran five miles, and then “We ran ten miles.” Then they ran marathons all over the world. They were members of the Canadian Master’s Association and even got funding for running in New Zealand, Korea, Japan, you know they ran all over the world and had an interesting life. It changed my mother’s life. It made her a much happier person.
I’ve never been a long distance runner, and even my father had a lot of problems when he did long distance running and he had to give it up. But my mother seemed to be built for long distance running, she barely had any problems. I mean, with me at one point I used to run five or six miles at a time. I was always laid up with something- knees or back, so it just wasn’t my thing. But I’ve always run like short distances.
People didn’t really talk about those kind of things back then as much as they do now. People just didn’t know what to do. It may be a good thing that she didn’t go to the doctor, because she might have ended up being committed to a mental hospital. I don’t have a lot of good memories of my mother, so that’s the reality.
People used to make crude comments on the street. If you ran on the street in the late 60’s, people would like laugh and they’d make awful comments. Now, you just see people running on the street, you’d never even think of making a comment, except put a mask on.



If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. You can also share our older buds' adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And if you know older buds who revolutionized physical fitness, then you or they can submit them through our portal right here. We're especially interested to stories from Black older buds, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.
 
And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.
 

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Veterans' Families (Delores, Frances, Theresa)

I only realized when Veterans Day was by the notification on my phone. Every holiday feels a little weird now, and Veterans Day feels especially somber because of the untold number of veterans who lost the battle with COVID-19; including my grandfather. I've regularly posted in honor of Veterans Day on the Best Day blog, but this year I'm interested in the families of veterans. Here's a few posts from a few older buds with relatives in the military, along with a poem from my Gigi for her veteran husband (then fiancé.)

Delores Wilson

11.14.2019

Vietnam Day

What a difference time makes. I who was anti-war and one of the voices of protestors against the Vietnam War that started before I was in my teens. As my perception change, and realized not to blame the soldiers, I began to appreciate what they had done. Whether I was in agreement with the war or not, the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives so I could enjoy the freedom that I once took for granted.
My mother’s younger brother served in the Korean War and next to the oldest died with wounds afflicted from the World War II War. My brother did four years in the Marine Corps and we learned later that he did an extra 4 years so that my younger brother would not be drafted. I recall when the soldiers were discharged from the Vietnam War, they would arrive at midnight so they would not have to face the protestors. I’ve repented of my wrong attitude: I’ve asked my brother to forgive me for acting like a “hickey head.” When the country finally gave the men and women that fought in Vietnam War a parade, I made certain that I had that day off so I would attend. From that day to now, when I encounter men or women in the military I express appreciation for them for laying down their lives for us by thanking them and letting them know I appreciate what they have done.

Frances Bryce

03.05.2020

A Lucky Feeling

The subject that was suggested was feeling lucky, and I had never thought about feeling lucky until I thought about maybe, I had something to be lucky about if I thought about the past. So that’s what I started doing.
I am one of seven children who was born in the segregated South. And when I say “segregated South” I mean schools, busses, but we didn’t even have busses because there were only about ten thousand people in the whole town. And my grandmother worked for a rich family (a Caucasian family of course) and she had to go to the house by the back door. And then she could go the front door, and sweep off the steps. So that was a part of being in a segregated city.
So one of the things that happened was in our family of seven the oldest person in the family was with a boy cause there was five boys and two girls, and the first four were older than I, and I was the first girl born. So my oldest brother was thrilled, cause that meant that he would no longer, when I got old enough, have to do the girl things.
So that was the part that began and ended when I got old enough, because then I took over some of the duties. And which meant doing whatever. And so my oldest brother was in the Navy, and he got there because during that time most of the black young men were sent to the Army. So my grandmother worked for this white family, so she was able to get him in the Navy, so he never had to go in the battlefield. And when he came back he said to me, and to the rest of the family, “The important thing is getting an education, and getting out of Lawrence.” So that’s what we did.
The oldest person helped the next in line and that was the way it went. And when I went off to school, with the help of my oldest brother, and another brother, the thing that happened I met my husband, which was a lucky break for me. He was generous and kind, and we had a good life. He is no longer living, but he worked for General Electric and NASA. And I worked in various places.
But to me, I don’t think of it so much as luck, but having great parents and having a goal in life gives me a lucky feeling. That’s me.


 

Theresa Cieri née Griffith

Unknown

Take a Heart

 

Take a heart and fill it with love,

As true as the blue skies high above,

Make it as shining as the gold sun,

And this heart no one will shun,

The sadness or the sorrow of a pearly tear,

 Will never enter this heart so fair,

The height of the sky and the depth of the sea,

Can contend with this heart, but very humbly,

Take the brightness of all the jewels in the ladn,

But still more jewels are in demand,

The beauty of the flowers on a summer day,

But even this cannot mar the way,

The biggest clouds, the stars and all,

The towering mountains and trees so tall,

The heart hold more love than this,

More than can be told in the magic of a kiss,

You ask "Can there be a love so true?"

Yes Sweetheart, the one I have for you.

If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. You can also share our older buds' adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And if you know older buds who were in the military, then you or they can submit them through our portal right here. We're especially interested to stories from Black older buds, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.
 
And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.
 
 

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Día de Muertos (José and Denise)

Last Sunday was Día de Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration. It’s a time to celebrate the lives of our deceased friends, family, and loved ones through food, offerings, and sharing their best stories so they will be remembered with joy instead of sorrow. One of the most important aspects of Día de Muertos is passing stories and traditions to younger generations, and older bud José did just that for a friend of mine.

My friend’s great grandparents came to the United States from Mexico a while ago, back when teachers would beat children for speaking Spanish in the classroom. For generations, her family refused to pass down their traditions and language because they feared it would keep their children and grandchildren from succeeding in the United States. As a result, my friend wanted to honor her family through Día de Muertos, but didn’t know how to do it accurately. I introduced her to José who introduced his friend Francis, and Francis hosted a night of sharing her own traditions and stories to a new generation.

In honor of Día de Muertos, we’re sharing stories of celebrating the deceased in our lives:
 
José Dominiguez
10.15.2020
Behavior in Funerals
 
Being in funerals is not of my favorites, nevertheless I want to relate several personal experiences related with such happenings. Age has nothing to do with dumbness so was the case when at my 25 years of age I said innocently “My compliments for this occasion” to a sobbing widow instead of expressing my condolences, obviously my greeting come from my unconscious as a honest remark or from my dense neurons as an stupidity. Years later I went to a funeral house because a 12 year old son of a dear friend passed away and at the moment I faced Manuel my friend, the only thing I could say with trembling voice was “Manuel, I don’t know what to say” but he understood my silliness and embracing me said: “Thank God I was blessed with the presence of my son for 12, years”. When my father died I was so close to him that some one asked “How come you are not crying for your father” and I answered:” “When in life I try to be near to him, I knew his feelings in regard to death, and I can tell you he was waiting for this moment as something dear, now that he is dead I know that this is what he was expecting with patience and equanimity.” With Ramon, my second oldest brother I learned how powerful it is to say farewell words in funeral conditions. I saw him at least 4 times when in funerals he always stressed, and in a very dubiously manner, how that he had witnessed in the dying persons their conversions to Jesus. Many years later when I experienced my wife’s death I become totally silent, astonished by her loss, unbelieving what had happened, because until the end I was waiting for her recovery; after her death I painfully fall in a twilight suspense because I didn’t knew what kind of solitude I was going to embrace without her. But my main story in this essay is related to Anita’s funeral. In 2013 at El Paso, Texas, Anita, who was married with my nephew Robertito, died after suffering many years of lupus. Maria and I went one February Saturday night to the funeral house. The big room, where the open coffin was exposed, was almost full. At the end of the room was a big stage. At the right was Anita, at the center a podium with microphones and to the left, hanging from the ceiling a large screen showed continually photos of her family pictured in past happy moments. From the speakers Beatles’ songs emerged swinging through the atmosphere; very clearly I heard those words of: “Let it be”. I decided to tell personally my farewell since I loved that girl as a beautiful human being full of love and kindness. Before arriving to the coffin I noticed that several women were around her praying in a very intense manner; at the same time they touched her with force, then, lifting up their arms insisted in something I quite didn’t understood. I approximated in order to press the ladies to leave because there was a line of persons with the same intention as I. Being near to the group I noticed that they were a group of Christians praying with the hope that in a providential display God will give Anita her life again. I decided to address to Anita a few words from my heart at the same time that looked her peaceful and smiling face. Then I disappeared leaving the group in their intense effort of resurrection. After waiting a few minutes the Christian Church Minister opened the celebration of her death. Maria, my brother Roberto, and myself were perhaps the only non Christians in the gathering. Several speakers took the podium and praised Anita’s virtues and elevated their prays to God in many different ways remembering her as a true righteous Christian. The most outstanding of the speakers was Roberto Jr, Anita’s oldest son who did a remarkable resemblance of his mother embellished by copious biblical cites spoken in such emotive and wise way as if Jesus himself was inspiring his words. After him the minister told us: “Well in case that I need a substitute in our church I know that Roberto will be my best pick” and then invited us to participate. Maria asked me to say something so I decided to take the micro. I was not feeling sure about that because my discourse would be by all means quite different and the public will catch immediately the words of an infidel. Nevertheless, my words, I thought, will be not to please them but to honor Anita’s memory. So I told the audience: “I’m not a person acquainted to the Bible, so please I beg your forgiveness for my omission of the Holly book that is out of my comprehension, I just want to say words that come from my heart. Since I met Anita at the University Of Texas at El Paso before she married Robertito, I always believed that he was a very lucky person because Anita was an exceptional human being, full of joy and compassion. Since then till now for me she has been always a sweet memory, a joyful experience, a permanent melody, like the shine of a smile, like the flight of a butterfly.” I ended my discourse and downed the stage stair feeling happy about having the chance to meet Anita in my life time.
 
 
Denise W
10.25.2020
I’m Not Going to Have a Sad Day
 
Well basically next Wednesday, October 14, would be six years that mother went to be with the Lord, and so I’ve decided to celebrate this year with things we did that were fun. I’m going to try to put in my heart that I’m not going to have a sad day. Why would I have a sad day? I want to remember my mom and I want to remember the fun things we did. And one thing she loved to do was to travel. We spent a lot of time in New York. She also loved plays, Broadway plays. So she said, “Denise we gotta get a ticket to Lion King.” I said, “Okay, sure.”
So I bought a ticket to Lion King in New York and we stayed at the Hilton Town Square because we arrived in the afternoon, we had lunch, and the play was at night. So she really truly enjoyed the Lion King, the music, particularly the song ‘He Lives in Us.’ She was singing it over and over and over and over. She saw that song from a very spiritual point of view. And another play we enjoyed was Aida. She loved Aida. Aida was very different. We did see that here in Philadelphia. I think it was Walnut Street if I’m not mistaken. Then we saw Beauty and the Beast. She enjoyed Beauty and the Beast. We also saw concerts such as there was a lady could sing like Mahalia Jackson, and so the play, I think it was called ‘Mahalia,’ so we went to see that in person. James Cleveland was another gospel singer that she loved and I loved. We went to see that play. We also saw most of the plays in Lancaster, PA. Lancaster, PA Sight and Sound Theater, that has religious plays based on the Bible, so we enjoyed those plays too. But, next Wednesday is the anniversary, it will be six years.
One thing we did, I’m originally from West Philadelphia, and when I was a young lady, about six or eight, a little girl, we would go to a place called a Jamaica Inn in West Philadelphia. There we would have my favorite meal, which was egg foo young. While dining there, I would hear in the background Diana Ross’ music. Diana Ross for example the song ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ and that era. Diana Ross- I mean the Supremes. That was before she became Diana Ross. So, I decided, long story short, to recreate next week. I want to have egg foo young, and play Diana Ross on YouTube and then maybe play some of the music from the showtunes of Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, et cetera and Aida of course. And I thought I would remember her in a way that was uplifting and just kind of recreate some the things that we did and enjoy. And I guess that’s what I love about my mother. She was always going to, I mean she always took me to Ice Follies when Ice Follies were popular, a circus when a circus was in town. Whatever was in town, or the zoo, of course we went there a million times, but whatever was in town or a play or some cultural event, my mother would be sure to take me. And I enjoyed that part of her, and that’s the part of I want to recreate next Wednesday, God willing. That’s all.
 
 

 
 
If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. You can also share our older buds' adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And if you know older buds who want to celebrate their friends and loved ones, then you or they can submit them through our portal right here. We're especially interested to stories from Black older buds, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.
 
And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.
 

And if we missed you last week, Happy Belated Halloween! Enjoy our costumes!
 
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Halloween (Carolyn, Elliot, Ann, José)

Happy Halloween, everybody! Today we’ve got a collection of tricks and treats from the lives of our older buds. Just a heads up that Ann's story features a teacher being a creep to his eighth grade female students. If that bothers you, you can hit Ctrl+F and skip to José's story "Supporting Traditions":

Carolyn Boston
10.31.2019
Dressing the SPHYNX’S

Today is Halloween. Memories flood my mind about experiences I had during the Ghoulish holiday celebration. A friend of mine had two Sphynx cats Icky and Boogshie. She made Halloween costumes for the cats. She dressed one like a Hawaiian dancer complete with hollowed out coconut shells for a bra, grass skirt, lei and pikake flower for the cat’s head. (The flower was on a headband on the fur kids head). The second cat was dressed as a pirate—patch over the one eye, boots, pirate’s hat and an accompanying sword! I’m telling this story because I saw the snapshot of the cats in their outfits. I wish I had them to attach them to this page. The expression on the faces of the cats was hilarious. If they were able to talk I could hear how much they hated being dressed up and how thoroughly disgusted they were. Both cats were scowling—their faces were locked in a frown very few humans could mimic. Tears of laughter started rolling down my face, because I knew if those disgruntled cats could have beaten her up, they would have. It was a sight I’ll never forget (remember, Sphynx’s don’t have hair). She was serious about the costumes the cats were in.
 
Elliot Doomes
10.24.19
Childhood Days I Remember
 
I could never fool anybody at Halloween. It never mattered what I put on. Everybody always said, "Come on, Elliot. We know its you." I guess I had a distinctive walk or something. One time, I dressed up as a cowboy with a mask, but I didn't fool anybody. I had a devil costume with a hood to it, and I still didn't fool nobody. Sometimes, I would just put on some old clothes I had out grown and cut some holes in them, put on a floppy hat and old shoes with iron on the heels and tips and put soot on my face and dress up as a hobo. And, I'd have an empty wine bottle with tea in it and stable and stagger down the street like I was a drunken bomb. That's what people called you back in the day when you were a consistent drinking. It didn't matter if you were a working many with a steady job. If you got drunk on the weekends, they'd say, "There he goes again, that drunken bum." People didn't use as much profanity back in the day as they do now. Nowadays, they'd call you much worse. The biggest par about Halloween was pretending to be someone else. That was a big kick for me.

Did we get a lot of candy on Halloween? Yes, we did! We got everything. We got packets of candy corn. We got miniature Hershey's; we got potato chips, we got those sour jawbreakers. Sometimes, we even got apples. I never liked the jawbreakers because they were hard. I used to trade them off for chocolate kisses. Once in a while, one of my friends mom would have a little party where they'd put apples in a tub and we'd try to bite them.

We had pretty safe holidays back then. We never had candy with razor blades in them or pills that looked like candy. And we had an area we went to and we never went past there. And by 8-8:30, we were exhausted and ready to go home and go to ed. It was easy back then. We didn't need to be chaperoned by an adult to make sure we were safe. And we used to brag about. "Oh we got this," or "I got so many of that" and it was fun. But Halloween is not fun today for most kids in certain sections of the city. It's not safe or fun. I mean you have to tell your kids to inspect the candies they receive and make sure they're in a sealed package, and make sure they never go alone and only in large groups.

Children today don't remain children for very long. Childhood ends before their time and I think children have to grow up real fast in this society in which we live today. They grow up real fast. I wonder one day if we'll have no children, if the circumstances and conditions forced upon the at an earlier age now a days. I mean, we expect children today to be little adults. We don't want them playing, we don't want them to get their hands dirty. I mean we played baseball in the dirt, we wrestled each other and played football without helmets and all that stuff. We caught the ball and they would tackle us and our shirts would get torn in the dirt and it would be all in good fun. But kids nowadays are not allowed to remain kids anymore. I'm glad that I had the experiences of being a child to explore my curiosities, to try and attempt to do things that I was told not to. I still agree that we learn through our experiences. I remember reading with a question asked of a man how would you describe the sum total of your life. And he answered, the sum total of my life is my experiences.

Ann von Dehsen 
10.31.2019
Scary Teacher

In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve decided to write about the creepiest teacher I’ve ever had. His name was William Maier and he taught 8th grade science and math. He was about 40 years old, tall and skinny, and, in true psycho fashion, still lived with his mommy. He wore the same tweed jacket and skinny knit tie every day, along with thick horn rimmed glasses. His yellow teeth matched his yellow stained fingers, the result of frequent trips to the teacher’s lounge for a smoke. To disguise this habit, he constantly sucked on a Sen-Sen breath mint which only clashed with the scent of smoke. 
Every morning, my friend Carolyn and I walked to school in fear chanting, “Please don’t let his car be there” as we approached the teacher’s parking lot. But that little gray Volkswagen bug was there every day because Mr. Maier was famous for never-ever missing a day of school. Mr. Maier’s teaching philosophy was to instill terror in his students. His method was to walk up and down the aisles speaking in a monotone about 8th grade science subjects like engines, pulleys, levers, climate, and suddenly stop in mid sentence as he put his icy yellow fingers on the back of some lucky students’ neck who was supposed to complete his sentence without missing a beat. He often grabbed my neck after saying “and the 4 cycles of the combustive engine are” and when I or anyone else got the question wrong we’d be sent out to the hall to find the answer in the dreaded “display case.” I think the display case was meant for school trophies and awards, but somehow Mr. Maier had taken control and filled it with graphs and charts and encyclopedias. Carolyn and I spent a lot of time out in that hall with a few other regulars which was actually a nice break from the anxiety of the classroom. About once a month, Mr. Maier would pull out an ugly gray flannel bag filled with questions about things we had learned in the month before. If we answered correctly he would robotically say “go back to your seat,” if you got it wrong would say, “see me for extra homework.”
The man never ever smiled, but once in a while he would say very strange and inappropriate things to us girls, like, “You look good in that dress” or “I like your hair that way.” Somehow we made it through his class without developing permanent stomach issues. I do however freeze up if anyone touches the back of my neck. Even as I write this, my anxiety level has increased but I can also tell you that the 4 cycles of the combustible engine are intake, compression, power and exhaust. A fact I have never needed but also have never forgotten.

José Dominiguez
11.07.2019
Supporting Traditions

Halloween is out of my repertoire nevertheless I usher myself in the understanding and experiencing the joy of an extra holiday in my long list of holidays. 
The first thing I learned is that is proper to say Happy Halloween day! It’s related with something, I heard, about the crop day, something about witches flying but nothing serious and precise. The only precise thing was that my granddaughter Sofia was dressed as Sleeping Beauty and her face radiated joy as it was a real princess. Poncho my son was in a big hurry taking her out of the house to be in a candy path gathering with a huge orange plastic pumpkin in his arm. Before leaving he approached me asking: “Are you going to be around.” 
“Why?” I asked. 
“Because we have a pumpkin full of candies but if the people that go by the street does not see the candies they will not knock the door.”
“In that case, I replied, “I prepare to be outside and to give away personally the candies!” 
“OK” he said and to accommodate myself in the front stairs holding the pumpkin on my legs. Our street is not so domesticated so I had to be patient, productive and cheerful, I guess. In Mexico I used to be a street sales person so I did not feel shy or limited. My first customer was my neighbor across the street, Paul, a very conservative and affluent person of a few words and limited gestures, but he was going to give me 2 small chocolate candy bars and conspicuously said: “These are for Sofia, if you please” (I thought to myself: Thanks that he mentioned Sofia otherwise I had devoured those candies)
Well I took very seriously my task and decided to trace each pedestrian trying to do eye contact, later wave my hand saying Happy Halloween and if the response was positive I will stand up and walk towards the group offering with a big smile my pumpkin and once their hand was on the stuff, I will say “You can take as much as you want.” Well 2 French families cross by the empty street and each one took a single candy in a very polite and joyful matter, I thought well at this pace I will need 500 families to end my candy load. Some families turned to me saying “No thank we do not eat sweets because they cause dental cavities.” My pumpkin was full and some kind of anxiety was building in me. 
But some family groups of other neighbors arrived with wild outfits as Batman, robots, spiders, and generously took half of my load. At the end I finished with half of my pumpkin empty and with the satisfaction that I offer to each of the trick or treaters a chance to enjoy not only my candies but my wishes of a very Happy Halloween.
 
 
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And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.
 
 

Curated by Caitlin Cieri