Thursday, January 27, 2022

Walking Blues (Norman & Jewel)

Today, we have two stories about the walking blues. One by Jewel, written in the style of the walking blues song, and the other by Norman, about how he can’t walk as much as he used to thanks to the lockdowns:

(NOTE: Posting this on the go. Photos pending.)

Norman Cain

03.04.2021

My Love for Walking and the Pandemic


I love walking, an endeavor that I enjoyed and perfected during the various stages of my life. As a child growing up in West Philadelphia not too far from Fairmount Park, my friends and I were constantly hiking through the interior of what has been know as the largest landscaped park in the world. When I last checked France has the largest park in the world and Philadelphia was the second largest park. 

When I went to South Carolina each summer I constantly walked mile upon mile to fields, to town and to play with friends. While as a student at Bluefield State College in West Virginia I had to tediously walk to various locations throughout the mountainous terrain. And then there was the Army, each day our feet and resolve were tested as we balanced heavy backpacks on our backs and almost equally burdened rifles on our shoulders, as we trekked insurmountable and endless miles during our 2-month basic training period.

Walking had become a second nature with me. In fact, my peers, especially during my senior year, marveled at my love for hiking the Wissahickon trail and being able to walk great distances throughout the city. While my walking for the sheer pleasure, that beloved hobby of mine, had dwindled during my senior years, I still was quite active in that activity. 

In order to maintain my schedule at the 6 Senior Centers that I faithfully attended before the pandemic, I had to walk on the average of 12 blocks a day to unite with public transportation. During the year-long shutdown caused by the pandemic, I of course was not walking but rather sitting down all day. Non-activity caused my knees to tighten. The few times I would go out each week caused a chore. I had to find some where to sit after I would walk a block. 

There are 2 incidents that occurred when I had to walk because of business. The first occurred when I had an 11:45 Covid injection appointment at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, 39th and Woodland Avenue. When I debarked from the trolley at 40th and Woodland I had to walk an extremely long block to 39th and Woodland, make a southward turn and walk another long block to the entrance to the hospital.  

When I arrived, I was told that the entrance was closed and that I would have to enter at another locality, which was located another long block away. Once inside the hospital I had a long walk to the injection area where I had to do some extensive standing. After my injection I had to repeat the same laborious procedure. 

The second incident concerning long tedious walks occurred recently. I went to Columbia Commons by way of the 79 bus, whose route is Snyder Avenue, to get a headset at Best Buy. Columbia Commons is right by the Delaware River and I had no idea about where Best Buy was and that gigantic shopping mall. I first walked 2 and a half blocks in the wrong direction, then 4 blocks before I reached my destination. Then there was the return trip to catch the bus to take me home. 

The hospital and Best Buy trips taxed my knees, but those hardships paid off. When they open up the city again, I will be able to get some but not all of the kinks out of my knees. I will continue my beloved walking with care.

Jewel Grace

06.25.2020

The Pandemic Quarantine Walking Blues


Does anybody know what the walking blues is? There's a way of singing and it's called the walking blues and someone will have an instrument, be playing an instrument, and it has words but you don't have to follow any particular melody while you’re singing it.

So I was in a chorus and there was walking blues and I had to ask somebody what it was. I said they're not singing it right. She said “Yes they are, because you just sing along whatever, you sing words but you just sing along whatever pitch you want to sing.” This is called The Pandemic Quarantine Walking Blues.

The river rises to what avail

horseflies and mosquitoes are biting

as we go on fighting

Virtual reality has become the new normality

Life is waiting, prayers are coming

Friends may be lingering while hope is diminishing.

the blues is just a bad dream waiting to be transformed. 

We're taking a sorry ride on a river that keeps flowing. 

Nobody is knowing what tomorrow may bring

Sadness or gladness, 

if today is our moment or hope to begin

Now is our minute as change come rushing in

Rise up all you people, let's gather and sing it.

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 or the older buds need to sing the blues, then you or they can submit stories 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, January 20, 2022

Martin Luther King Day of Service (Norman, Helen, Beatrice, Hazel & Loretta G.)


This past Monday was the Martin Luther King Day of Service, and you know I spent that day on Best Day. Organizing stories, prepping blog posts, checking in on transcribers, keeping our Zoom session running smooth, etc. Norman took the opportunity to write about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during our Tuesday session, and while that's getting transcribed, I wanted to look back at some of our past MLK Day stories. Read some of our classics below:


Norman Cain
7.18.2014
Defending and Respecting Dr. Martin Luther King

During the fall of 1967, when I was a cadet at the United States Army military police school at Fort Gordon, Georgia, at least 70% of the training consisted of classroom instruction.

One day, a 2nd L.t., who was teach a civics class told the class: "Martin Luther King is a communist, an enemy of the United States of America.

Believing that he was not aware who Reverend King was and what he stood for, I immediately arose from my desk, stood at attention, and sharply saluted the L.t. Then I began to speak.

"Sir, with all due respect," I said, "Reverend King is not a communist. He is just trying to get the rights that the Negroes are entitled to."

No one said anything. There was silence. After a while, the L.t. proceeding with his lecture. I assume that my statement had been respected.

Several days after the preceding incident, I was assigned to Kitchen Patrol or K.P. Now this was unusual because I had already served my required one time on K.P. I surmised that the company was short-handed, I was wrong. My being assigned to extra K.P. wasn't just for a day.

I was assigned to K.P. for ten straight days. I was awakened at 4:30am. I reported to the kitchen at 6am. I peeled potatoes, and sliced onions, shucked corn, and made salads, washed dishes and mopped floors and did a variety of other tedious tasks until at least 9pm. For sixteen hours a day, I had to toil unmercifully. And if that was not enough, I had to endure the harassment of the mess sergeants.

For ten days, I missed military police training. My superious refused to give me make-up work for my missed classes. It never dawned upon me that saying Dr. Martin Luther King was not a communist was the cause of the dilemma that I was experiencing.

I was dismissed from my K.P. duties the day of the final examination. Although I had missed ten days of instruction, I felt that I had, at least, barely passed the test. However, I was mistaken. I was informed that out of the 300 cadets in my class, I had ranked 298 on the final exam.

I had flunked out of military police school. I was devastated. I did not know what the future held for me. I was worried. Several days after the test, I was informed that the company commander wanted to see me. I had something else to worry about.

Attempting to maintain my composure, I entered the company office. Inwardly shaking, I faced and saluted the captain, a tall lean wirily individual who was quite the dandy. His boots were brilliantly shined and his pants were sharply tailored and pressed. He, unlike the other personnel, wore a battle helmet and carried a swagger stick (tip down). He drove throughout the post in a red convertible that always contained an attractive blond. He was meticulous, not vain. He was likable, a trait that most commissioned and non-commissioned officers lacked.

"Private Cain" he barked in an unfamiliar hostile voice. "Are you trying some trick?" He stared me down. I could read anger in his eyes. This was not the likable and cool company commander that I had grown to know.

"No sir." I answered, wondering what he meant by assuming that I was trying to be tricky.

"You got the second lowest score on the final examination." By his tone I knew he wanted a verbal response.

"Yes sir" was all I could think of to say. I was literally shaken up inside.

"I think you are trying some kind of trick and I am going to get to the bottom of what you are trying to do." He said, "When you first got here, I recruited you for officer's training school, explained to you that there were too few black officers in the Army. You said that you were going to sign up, but you didn't. I didn't give you a command but I thought we had a gentlemen's agreement. What do you have to say for yourself?"

"Sir," I said, "When the recruiting officer opened the door and saw me, he slammed the door in my face."

The captain's stern look softened for a second. "What about this low test score of yours?" he asked. "You finished college, was in graduate school part-time, taught school and was accepted by the Peace Corp. How could you flunk the final examination?"

"Sir, I did not go to classes for ten straight days."

"What, why?" he asked. By the tone of his voice I could tell he was astonished.

"I was on K.P. for ten days." I answered.

"You were on K.P. for ten days?"

"Yes."

At that point, the captain called for the first sergeant, who was directly responsible for the "day-to-day" activities of the recruits to come into the main office. When he arrived, the captain directed him to stand at attention.

The captain began to spiel x-rated language to the first sergeant. He definitely let the sergeant known that he had been irresponsible in the performance of his duties. Finally, the captain dismissed the first sergeant. He then told me that I still had to respect the first sergeant, and he assured me that I would be sent to another company for three weeks and thereby, be able to fulfill graduation requirements. He sincerely wished me luck.

When I completed the three additional weeks, I was told that I had received the second highest grade on the final examination. Perhaps I never flunked the first examination. Perhaps I had received the highest score in the class on the second examination. Only the army personnel involved knew.

By troubles, which started when I proclaimed that Reverend Martin Luther King was not a communist did not end with my graduating from the military police academy. Seemingly, my pay records mysteriously disappeared and for my first six months in Panama, my permanent duty station, I was not paid.

I survived by depleting the $400.00 I had saved in Philadelphia's Continental Bank. To say the least, my experience in military school was prejudiced to core. It was initiated by my defending Dr. Martin Luther King, something I have no regrets for doing something I will always do; He gave his live for his dream of unity and freedom.

(To Be Continued)

Helen H. Lahr
1/20/11
MLK Day           

It was on Martin Luther King Day that I sat in front of my television looking at a large group of junior high school students working together in an apparently closed school.  For some time, they were using either very bright or white paint on the walls.  Others were using hammers and nails on the walls and floors.  It was so interesting to see how conscientious and friendly they were with each other.  For you see, they represented black, white and Asian races.

I neglected to say that there had been a fire in the original school of some of the students.

As I looked through, I thought about how in the past that scene would never have occurred.  What a wonderful world it would be today if people would live together like that.
Beatrice Newkirk
1/20/11
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday

As a tribute to Martin Luther King, our group went to the YMCA on Christian Street. We talked to the younger generation. We enjoyed talking with the kids. We ate lunch with the kids. There were over a hundred kids.

We were given shirts to put on that had Martin Luther King, Jr.’s picture on it. Everyone had a good time.


There were kids there of different races. We talked of lots of things. I spoke to a little girl. Her name was Sayorah. She understood what I was talking about.


Hazel Nurse
1/20/11
Lucille’s Wisdom

It all started several years ago when I received a phone call from my mother inviting me to come to hear a speaker in Atlantic City.

Having just moved into another home a few months earlier and bearing the responsibilities of a wife and working mom, I refused.  She, on the other hand, insisted that I would miss listening to him tell America a few things.  She said “He has something on the ball”.

Out of respect for her, I reluctantly got my pregnant self together, grabbed my seven year old son and boarded a train to meet her. After his speech, we went and shook his hand, at the Atlantic City High School, in 1958.

Little did Mom know that a national holiday would be celebrated in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Loretta Gaither
1/20/11
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

I was 12 years old when I first heard that Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. I was very sad then and I make a point to remember him and always do volunteer work every Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year, I worked at the YMCA on Christian Street. I enjoyed talking to the young people and I “adopted” a young girl, Denkera, as my granddaughter. She helped me write a card and then gave me a card she had made. The card read, “Ms. Loretta, You inspired me as my grandmother. May God be with you and bless your heart.” She drew two hearts on the card – two hearts beating as one! It really touched me and made me feel good. I donated can goods and enjoyed lunch with the other volunteers and young people.

We have good activities in this senior center (Broad St. & Lombard St.). I enjoyed a class here a little while ago where I decorated dress shoes. I decorated two shoes: a “Cinderella” shoe with blue beads and sequins and a “Wedding” shoe with white flowers. The shoes are going to be in a show at a museum later this year. Yesterday, I enjoyed a concert in the auditorium.  I really enjoy this writing class and helping me write my stories.



Norman Cain
7.24.2014
Defending and Respecting Dr. Martin Luther King (Part 2)

In 1965, I defended Dr. Kin's honor, when as a cadet in the military police academy in Fort Gordon, Georgia, I corrected an officer who said that Dr. King was a community. I never regretted the dire consequence the Army gave me for defending Dr. King's name.

Ten years after the Fort Gordon affair (1975), when I was living in Atlanta, Georgia, an incident occurred that prompted me to respect the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. The incident in question began one spring night when I injured my left wrist, which I assumed was sprained.

When I arrived at Grady memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta, four doctors attended to me. Because I had been employed as a surgical and orthopedic orderly at the Middlesex hospital in Middletown, Conn, years earlier, I had knowledge of orthopedic procedures.

I felt that only two (not four) doctors were needed to attend to me. After looking at my wrist, the doctors huddled, conferred and then returned to me. One doctor yanked my wrist. My entire left arm was set in a cask.

I had the feeling that the four doctors had conspired to experiment on my wrist. Like, I said I had worked as an orthopedic orderly. I had often held appendages in certain positions when doctors placed plaster on patients. I remained in Grady Memorial hospital for a week.

After being discharged from the hospital, my arm itched constantly, but I was unable to scratch because of the cask that covered it. I couldn't work. I had to worry about eating and paying the rent on the efficiency that I was renting. I went to the Unemployment office to file a claim, but was told that I didn't qualify for benefits; because those on unemployment compensation were required to seek employment and if an ailment or physical situation would prevent one from being hired by a prospective employer, unemployment compensation was out of the question. I was told, however, than an overdue Philadelphia claim that I had initiated months earlier would be activated. I accepted the disheartening/good news without an argument; however my calmness soon evaporated.

When I was on my way out of the Unemployment office, I overheard the case worker who had interviewed me tell a co-worker my situation. They laughed. How can people, especially those who held a position to help others, be so insensitive? I lost it, I read the culprits the "Riot Act." They called for security. I was not in the position to remain in the office, so I left.

What was I to do? In addition to being broke and hungry, I was worried about paying my rent and could not scratch the constant itching of my arm because it was covered with the plastered cask. That night, I decided to go to the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King to meditate. When I arrived, no one was there. I sat on a concrete bench which was in front of a pool. Dr. King's tomb (which set behind an eternal flame) was located in the center of the pool.

The inscription on the base of the tomb read: "The eternal flame symbolizes the continuing effort to realize Dr. King's ideals for the 'Beloved Community' which requires lasting personal commitment that cannot weaken when faced with obstacles."

I could not be weakened because of the obstacle that I found myself in. I could have gotten enough money for a decent meal to quench my hunger, for resting at the bottom of the pool were an array of coins that visitors had thrown in for "Good Luck." But, I could not weaken when faced with obstacles.

Although I was broke and hungry, I did  not think about wading in the pool and confiscating some of the coins. I stayed at the tomb for two or more hours. My mind was clear. It was not burdened by my problems.  It was the realm of a spiritual Peace. I had never experienced the feeling of serenity that had overcome me at Dr. King's tomb. That night, I developed a plan that I instantly knew would solve my problem.

I knew that men were not given welfare in Atlanta in 1975; however, the day after the night that I had meditated at Dr. King's tomb, I went to the welfare office anyway. I was interviewed by a nice caseworker who showed sympathy. She told me that unemployment caseworkers should have sent me to see her and while men did  not get welfare in Atlanta, she was going to make an exception in my case.

She game the some paperwork and instructed me to go to the welfare office in my district. Ironically, I was sent to an office that was named after Dr. King's name – and which was located within a block of his tomb.

When I arrived at my destination, I was greeted by another nice caseworker who not only informed me that my first check and food stamps would arrive within a week, but gave me enough money to purchase a meal as well. Things were looking up, but there was still another obstacle facing me.

A month after receiving my welfare grant, I reported to the hospital to have my cast removed. The same four doctors that were present when the cast was placed on my arm were present. As the cast was being removed from my arm, I intensely studied each of their faces. When the cast was removed, I saw that they were deeply disappointed. Their experiment (at my expense) had failed. They did not give me an appointment to have the pins removed from my wrist. They just left the room without uttering a word.

I spent the next month constantly going to the hospital to have the pins removed from my wrist. I was always given the "run-around". I chose not to return to Philadelphia for the operation. I did not have insurance and the Philadelphia General Hospital, which had been a public hospital, was closed. Finally I was given an appointment to have the pins removed from my arm.

When I entered the operating room, I immediately felt at ease, for the orthopedic surgeon and his two scrub nurses projected an aura of peace. I was not put to sleep during the procedure; I was, rather, heavily sedated. During the operation, I had a heartwarming conversation with the young doctor. He was from Brooklyn, New York, was familiar with Philadelphia landmarks, and spoke fondly of Foo Foo's Steak shop, that at the time, was located at 52nd and Locust Street.

Several weeks after my operation, I received my long overdue unemployment checks and returned to Philadelphia. I truly believed that if I had taken money from the pool that housed Dr. King's tomb, my ordeal in Atlanta would have been prolonged. Taking money from his tomb would have made me a grave robber.

I will always respect and defend the legacy of Doctor Martin Luther King.

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 or the older buds have holiday stories then you or they can submit stories 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, January 13, 2022

Early Memories (Jewel, José, Eleanor)

Best Day is all about using storytelling to remember your past, solidifying it through writing, and passing it down from generation to generation. Today's post is all about early memories, and the impact memory has on us and the people around us:

Jewel Grace

08.13.2020

Tales From My Grandmother's Place

My family took many vacations to my maternal grandparents’ farm in Northern New York. There had been cows there and I would sneak into the area where the cows had been formerly daily milked. My grandfather had a tractor and once he let me ride with them. The barn was filled with wonder, hay, and that's how I experienced it full of wonder.
There was a huge tree across the road. I told my mom I wanted to have a picnic there. She said, “That tree is so far, far far away, it only looks close;” and you know what she was right. There was a raspberry patch right across the dirt road and a chicken coop too.
In our old time home movies, I saw myself at around 3 years old kicking a ball with my left foot. That's why I call myself left footed and left handed. The farm house was magnificent, a porch on the front and on the back. On the back porch, my grandmother would do the wash in an old fashion wringer washer. You had to feed the clothes through the 2 rolls of wood while cranking them to make them turn. This was fascinating to me.
There was an old outhouse in the back yard. I thought my mom had told me there was a sink hole back there and not to go there, but eventually she said she that didn't say it. In the front yard there was a hazelnut tree also called filbert. These tasty nuts we liked were called junk and my mother just had to sweep them up and take care of them. So they were junk to my mother's family; I guess they never tried one.
There also was a huge bush with a bird's nest in it; mom and baby birds too. They would get pushed out of their nest by their mother and I knew not to touch them, but I couldn't help myself. I went to scoop them up then let them go. They were so cute.
Winter at my grandparent's house was a magical time. I wanted a horse so bad, one of the neighbors had come by and let me ride the horse. I actually made a horse out of snow to ride on.
I was lonely sort of like I imagine my mom was there. When grandma was in a good mood, she invited me into the pantry and gave me a spoonful of molasses. I love molasses till this very day. Another fun part of being there, was sneaking into the attic room. There was a number of old dusty treasures there surrounding an old iron bed. My grandmother made the most beautiful coarse bread and we toasted it in the oven. Also my grandmother told a story about a dog who had ran away and came back with his nose full of porcupine needles.
I always enjoyed being at my grandmothers place.

José Dominguez

05.06.2021

Some Child Play, Some Play Incidents

When infant, playing was the chance to find free space to do what pleased me the most. Sometimes were repetitive games, sometimes were unique opportunities to wander. At the age of 6 I ventured into the jungle (our back lot of the house), where those tremendous predators dwelled (our dogs Payaso y Azabache), I knew they devoured brutally any human being at will, but I, armed with my deathly magic sword (a broomstick) opted to give those vicious animals a lesson to vindicate all the hardships they had caused to those humans who dared to cross by that risky trail (the corral in which they lived.) Not surprisingly, the poor dogs didn’t want to fight with the landlord’s son and retired to a corner, confused, producing light grunts that were more indicative of surprise than defiance. Even when I incite them to fight they decided to take a nap, frustrating my warlike instincts. Nevertheless, in my mind I close the case as if the two beasts, scared and overwhelmed by my audacious bravery, decided to quit and rest. In this way they kept their lives as a grace granted by me.
On another occasion my adventurous mind decided to have friends to play and socialized with neighborhood kids. Our block where I used to live was small and on the street that ran behind our house lived Marino Rios. Equal in age I used to play with him several times until one day I did the biggest transaction of my life: I traded my new Mickey Mouse clock for a little box full of plastic small cars, trucks and one or two tiny horses. My mother was truly disturbed and I thought, “Oh, those adults do not know how to appreciate the true value of things!!” The fun was over since my mom didn’t liked his way of wheeling and dealing.
Another form to have fun came when our house was summited to a total renovation and I discovered, thanks to my familiarity with the construction workers, that all the front of the main building was previously a very old house and between the wooden floors and the earth existed an empty space three feet high. Of course there was no light and that precisely triggered my craving for adventure and eagerness to explore. So, I began a series of inspections in the dark helped by a flashlight. To enter I had to lift two heavy metal doors, then descend to the basement through a cement stair and enter the underground using a small window. There, in the total darkness, I felt that some strange eyes were fallowing my movements, so I had to be very cautious to look around again and again just to prevent the tragedy of falling in one ambush of the forces of evil. That’s why I always took with me a small crucifix to throw away spirits or any other creature of the nether regions. I crawl under all the rooms, always trying to guess what furniture or what space of the main floor I was experiencing from my subterranean perspective. I never found something important in my search except dust, spider webs, and one or two insects. However, each time that I initiated another inspection my heart was beating and I thought: ”Perhaps this time I will find something, or…. perhaps something is going to find me.”
I think some of my conducts where in the category of “good behavior” since one Christmas I received an Indian bow with several arrows and a silver revolver with a plastic case and in the upper part six blue wood bullets were accommodated in a row. I walked to my mother’s room big mirror and practiced, many, many times, how to draw the pistol as fast as I could just to be prepared for a nasty and bloody encounter.
The few rains that fell in our city allowed us to have extra excitement. In front of our house there was a not so high terrace covered by decorative tiles and when it rained, the water over the surface served as a super sliding spot. One day after after a rain, I took off my shoes and began to slide at high speed over the wet floor. All was ok until my running resulted too fast and ended incapable to stop landing in the garden with my left arm as a shield. One broken bone was the result. After the medical attention of my injuries my father gave me two presents: one basketball so I could take it to school to play and the installation of a punching-bag. The basketball had to wait for my injury recuperation and personal growth since at the beginning even when I used all my strengths the ball didn’t reach the ring. For me it was easy to wait, it was a matter of patience, but in the mean while I ended surrounded always by guys who wanted to play with me, or more properly with the ball. The use of the punching-bag was another thing. The ball was so big that I had to punch it with good strong hits if I wanted to make it touch the upper part of the wood installation. I dedicated some time hitting the ball and later bragged with my classmates my sport accomplishments and how surely I will develop in the future tremendous muscles and boxing skills.
For sure my best toys were all those plastic soldiers that little by little integrated my personal army at my disposition to enter in combat as soon as I gave the order. Some were Mexican infantry soldiers marching gallantly in a fantastic parade. Some of them were mounted on brown horses, others were in combat positions pointing their guns, throwing grenades or firing machine guns. Later I increased my collection with Indians, cowboys, American GIs and a group of English Jerrys. I had also four Second World War tanks, two of them in full fighting capacity and two with no turret at all, two torn boats and some cannons. I didn’t need more than to spend hours playing around the house mostly in those places with little circulation. In my mind I designed a strategy and gave trending orders to be fulfilled unconditionally. The opponent party were the bad ones, of course. They were less powerful and less brave but compensated their weakness with evil tricks sufficient to destroy any adversary. I displaced my figurines through the rooms as if they were moving offensively or defensively. My mother was surprised of my solitary struggle between the good guys and the bad guys and gave me the nick name of the “lonely wolf.” My plastic army had to face different hard combats when playing with Victor, my two years older brother. In one large room that we called the “storeroom” he displayed a row of his soldiers and opposite to him I also disposed my own. We took turns to throw marbles as if they were real bullets. At the end, the victory was for the most aggressive and sharp marble thrower that defeated all the opponents. It was fun.
My list of incidents is too long so I decided to continue in another time. Just want to say one thing I learned from all these trials … now, if Sofia, my granddaughter, speaks alone with her doll, it’s ok…if she doesn’t want to share with me her magic ring I understand …… or if she asks me to play with her dolls I don’t have any problem….I close my eyes and enter into the magic world of make believe.


 

Eleanor Kazdan

08.20.2020

First Memories

So this memoir is about first memories and I was inspired by Norman and also Jewel who talked about their first memories in early childhood so here it goes with my earliest memories.
I learned in my child language development class that we have no memories before the time that we can verbalize so that explains why my first memory is from when I was 2. I was the firstborn of 4 children. My parents and I lived in downtown Toronto in what they called a semi-detached house. We shared a front porch with our neighbors, separated by a wooden lattice. My very first fleeting memory is of me and my parents walking down the street. I was in the middle holding their hands and jumping up and swinging every few steps. I felt completely happy and protected.
Another memory from this age is of me joyfully jumping on my bed. A little boy named Ian lived in the attached house. When we were both about 3 he started coming over and finger painting with me.
Also at age 3, I went to preschool which wasn't very common in the early 50's. We sat in a circle and sang songs. The teacher's name was Hannah. She played a piano that was painted blue.
My family moved to a new house when I was about 3 1/2. I had a little brother by then and my mother was pregnant with twins. I remember her lying on the floor and bleeding. She had to have an emergency C-Section and all turned out well. I was so proud of my tiny twin brothers.
My early childhood was carefree and happy. I'm pretty amazed to look back and remember these long ago snippets of my life at age 70.
 

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 or the older buds have holiday stories then you or they can submit stories 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, January 6, 2022

Attics and Hope Chests (Frances, Ann, Jewel, Eleanor & Norman)

I love when one person's story encourages another person to tell a similar story, and my favorite types of stories are ones that inspire an entire room to tell similar stories. One case was a fictional story Frances wrote about hope chests or cedar chests: used to hold the clothes, linen and objects a future bride would take into her new home. Listed blow are several different stories about hope chests and the attics they were stored in. We hope you enjoy them:

Frances Bryce

09.10.2020

Attics and Hope Chests

You know sometimes I write what's going on and sometimes I use my imagination and if I can think of something I can relate to. I do some fiction. I try to mix it up. Even a little bit of poetry.
We didn't have an attic in my house, to tell the truth. We had no attic nor a basement in South Carolina. Not even a spring cellar. I guess its called a ranch style sort of place but no. We never had a basement in our house in California. There is an attic space, but not an attic.
I didn’t have a hope chest. My mother had a chest where she kept the silver and all that stuff that you only got out when you had company, and the special table cloths. Usually the young women, matter a fact a girl that was engaged to my brother, she had a hope chest. It was all the things she was saving for when she got married and all this kind of stuff. Although they didn't get married but that was what she had in her chest. A lot of people have hope chests before they get married. Young women at one time did that. I know in South Carolina they did that. They were engaged or hoped to be married, they put all of the stuff that they thought they would like to have in the hope chest, and they were hoping that they would get married.
  

Ann von Dehsen

09.10.2020

Attics and Hope Chests

Did anybody else remember, like in real life, going up into the attic their house. Because you made me remember, my sister and I used to kind of sneak up there and pull out boxes and find secrets of our parents. Like a hope chest? My mother had a hope chest they called them. You know like way back when people were engaged they saved certain things and it was a hope chest. I think more like linen, tablecloths. I mean my mother still had one when I was growing up and in there she kept a christening dress after you get married I guess then you begin to store some things. She had some of our baby clothes and things and then afterwards. And actually it was in this long hallway, my sister and my rooms were up in actually what used to be the attic and they changed it to rooms eventually and it was in this hallway that was very dark and I was about 5 or 6 when our rooms changed to go up there. And my sister used to tell me it was a coffin, so I thought that they were bodies in the chest. And then I told my mother and my mother was of course yelling at my sister. I was scared to death of that thing. It looks like a coffin actually. 

 

Jewel Grace

09.10.2020

Attics and Hope Chests

My grandmother eloped to get away from her family. She was about 14 years old. Her husband was older. I never knew him. My mom had a box and she just called it a cedar chest because it was made of cedar and she put winter stuff in there and she put mothballs in there so moths wouldn't get in there. So it wasn't a hope chest it was just a cedar chest.

Eleanor Kazdan

09.10.2020

Attics and Hope Chests

Well, I never had an attic, and it was a big disappointment because I'd read these stories about attics and no my family never had an attic. Nor have I ever had an attic. I mean not that kind, it was an attic with a fan in it but no storage. The other thing that sounded romantic to me were these big chests, like cedar chests where people would put their treasures in and that also caught my imagination although there again I never had one of those. But I loved the idea of opening the chest and going through it. 

Norman Cain

09.10.2020

Attics and Hope Chests

I tell you what, I can't recall my mother having a hope chest but I remember how the females that were going to get married, they would have hope chests. I don't know if you talked about that or not but they would definitely have hope chests; because things were different then. The the lady met the fellow’s family and vice versa and you had to meet the whole families and you had to go through a real ritual.
The only hope chest that I knew about was like my best friend back when we were in college. He knew that he was going to marry his wife in their freshman year so she collected stuff for 4 years and they got married the year after they graduated. She had 5 years of stuff.
I also remember when we went down South and stayed with my grandparents on their farm during the summer, and of course my cousin Delores was 40 years older than me and she would have boyfriend—they eventually married—come over and they'd be out on the swing, but it was highly chaperoned: once a week and then you had enough time and you got up out of there.
And so those were the traditions of yesteryear, but it’s not that way anymore. Things are something else. You know those memories, I go back into the memories, you know? And that's where I'm at. Comparing to what's going on today. We have to move on but maybe a little bit of both. That's what I'm saying.
 

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 or the older buds have holiday stories then you or they can submit stories 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, December 30, 2021

Season’s Greetings (Ann, Brenda & Liz)

The New Year is right around the corner. We at Best Day hope you had a good holiday season, and we have a few more holiday stories to curl up with before 2022 officially starts:

Ann von Dehsen

11.30.2021

The Santa Secret

This year my 7-year-old grandson Max is having serious doubts about Santa’s existence. Back in October, he questioned me about the actual mail service to the North Pole and the likelihood of Santa ever really receiving his letter. Apparently, he’s been testing his theory out by writing to Santa 5x’s addressed simply: to Santa, North Pole, and putting them in the corner mailbox. Last week he came downstairs after playing in his room and said to his mom, “I don’t think Santa’s real- I was looking at my toys and games and they all say, ‘made in China.’” At this writing he has not actually asked his parents if Santa is real, but I’m sure he’s still doing his own undercover detective work. His mother, my daughter Kerry, was much more blunt about the Santa question when she was in 2nd grade. And it was asked one of the most stressful days of my life. It was moving day to a bigger house. The forecasted snow flurries turned into a major snowstorm, my then husband ended up in the hospital with kidney stones, the movers were 5 hours late and quite drunk as they slipped and slided on the icy, now dark driveway and laughed as we all watched my dryer slide down the hill into the woods. With the help of my brother-in-law and his wife we unpacked the essentials and put the beds together. Finally, I was able to get the kids to bed and had just plopped down on my own bed when Kerry came down the hall and announced, “I don’t think there is a Santa and I want you to tell me the truth right now.” And so, I did, then I cried thinking I probably should have discussed this more. But Kerry was fine and said, “Thanks! I knew it” with a smile. Then she climbed in my bed, and we fell asleep together. My daughter Rachel’s sons are 5 and 2. Both are all in for Christmas. However, last year, Paul, the 5-year-old had a temporary lack of faith. No in person visit with Santa were possible during COVID, but Macy’s offered a 1-1 visit with Santa and 2 elves over Zoom, so Rachel scheduled a visit. Paul was very quiet but eventually told Santa and the elves that he wanted a cement mixer truck. After the visit he turned to his mom and said, “I don’t think those guys were real.” Rachel assured him that they were, suggesting that maybe they just looked different on the computer. Paul seemed to forget about it, but on Christmas morning, the first toy he opened was the cement mixer truck and he joyfully exclaimed, “They were real, those guys were really real!” Rachel found out about Santa courtesy of her older sister who told her the tooth fairy wasn’t real. My future statistician/math specialist daughter used her powers of deduction to realize there was no Santa or Easter Bunny either. She recovered quickly when we assured her that yes, there would still be presents. As for me, my overly sophisticated 1st grade friend told me point blank there was no Santa and I was a baby if I still believed. But even today I still believe in the magic of Santa as witnessed by the chills and smiles I experience when Santa appears at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. I’m convinced he is the real Santa.

Brenda Scantlebury

12.07.2021

Lunar Eclipse

About 4 AM on the morning of November 19, 2021. My niece, a friend and I were riding down Highway 95 South on our way to Virginia. Hampton, in fact. My niece’s son who is in the United States Navy, had been promoted. His new position is now Chief Petty Office. All of the candidates that were promoted were to be honored in a pinning ceremony. A call came to NeNe’s cell. The voice said, “look up in the sky, a lunar eclipse is occurring right now!” We looked and saw the moon overshadowing the sun. It is said that this kind of thing doesn’t happen very often. My mind looking back, remembering the Blood Moons that occurred not that many years ago. These wonderful events and occurrences speak to us. This is not just acts of nature but is what God the Creator has orchestrated to let humanity know that there are some things that God can make happen!

Liz Abrams

11.23.2021

The Mutt

My favorite pet, besides my German Shepard, security dog Pal who was on the job during the day when Grandmom babysat me (that story was submitted some time ago titled The 3 Musketeers). The Mutt became a family member when, mom waling home to 19th and Diamond from Broad and Lehigh factory job—Cohen Bros—the Mutt decided to be an unpaid escort. During those days my mother attracted many males who offered to walk her home. She shunned them, but for some reason she allowed Mutt to act as escort that day. Mutt walked her home to the door and went away. The next day and following days he became my mother’s official escort. My dad said, “Why you let that smelly mutt walk with you? He is dingy.” From that day on my mother brough the mutt inside, bathes him in our bathtub and fed him scraps from our table. Me, my sister and dad accepted him as a family member since Mutt was so loyal to all family members, especially me, since I was a poor eater of nourishing food prepared mostly at dinner. After several scoldings from my parents to “clean my plate,” the Mutt and I became partners in crime. I secretly fed the Mutt my dinner. All was happy, especially the Mutt and I became the Mutt’s official Mistress. And the Mutt never gave our secret away. I hope to see you in Heaven, Mutt. You were the only real friend I had in my adolescence. With Love, Liz

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 or the older buds have holiday stories then you or they can submit stories 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