Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Moth from a Distance (Rochelle, José, and Eleanor)

Our older buds have been to The Moth a couple of times, so when I heard that The Moth was doing their story slams remotely, I let all the older buds know. Of course, technology is always a bit complicated, and most socially distant things take a few tries before everyone's able to join. Eleanor and I joined a slam last Monday, and we had a great time. There was a new intimacy that came from everyone telling stories on screens mere inches from our faces and speakers mere inches from our ears. Since everyone muted themselves out of courtesy, it felt like each storyteller was speaking directly to each listener. Of course, The Moth still provided a room full of applause for each storyteller, captured live from their story slam in March. Eleanor chose not to tell a story that night, but the format isn't much different from Best Day's. I'm looking forward to seeing more older buds on The Moth's virtual stage, and for theme to have one-on-one storytelling moments with people all over Philly (maybe even the world.)


 

I don't have any stories to share from The Moth, but I've sure got plenty of stories to share from older buds who had gone to The Moth:

Rochelle Tynes

03.05.2020

She Is My Sister and She Is My Friend

I am fortunate because my friends said there ain’t no such thing as luck, but mainly I think that I am blessed. I grew up crazy. We were in foster care from that time I probably they gave that book up to my mother and I didn’t come back until I think it was about 10 to stay with a stepfather who was sort of nuts. I wasn’t really…my sister and I were together was my two brothers who died, my sister and I, and I had other sisters in this life. They’re dead. The oldest one is alive, the youngest one is alive. And I was never really…I was close to Pat, who died. I met up with her because I used to hang around the barbershop and they thought that was terrible and then I was hanging around the soda fountain and that was terrible because we moved all over the place. So I met up with Pat and I sort of got myself together but I’ve never really been close to women. I do not like women, I’m telling you all. I tolerate people, I treat you the way you treat me. But, I’m afraid of women. That’s why I don’t like them so much. My mother left us, gave us whole story, and I live with that, but that’s why I’m not crazy about women, okay?
But I have a friend Delores. We met in college, a hundred years ago. Delores is my, I’m blessed. I am truly, truly blessed. When I asked a question if I’m wrong girl you better get it together, you know that ain’t right, or you know you’re absolutely right. She doesn’t tell a bunch of lies, she is my sister and she is my friend and I think I am fortunate enough to have met up with her. She was sitting down when we were in college in this bench, on the end of a bench, and she had this hat on and I said, “That’s the funniest looking hat,” to myself and I kept looking at her. She said, “Oh this is my uncle his name was Pete,” and they used to call my father Pete, and I said, “Oh, my father’s name was Pete, my real father.” We started talking and we talked ever since. She now has cancer and I’m gonna lose my friend, but I had the best memories, and I’m still going to be asking her questions when she go and I expect an answer.

 

José Dominguez,

06.13.2019

One Experience Two Perspectives

I'm amazed about how an early experience can be so permanent and how at the same time, the person involved in it can be so distant. When I was 7 years old, even being almost a total introverted kid, I loved to visit my neighbor friends. On this particular day, my mother gave me as a present, a Mickey Mouse clock. Oh it was so neat! It surpassed all my worldly possessions that were some marbles and some plastic little trucks and one ball, . So happy I was with my MM clock that I decided to visit my friend Marino Rios who lived 2 blocks away. He was impressed about my clock and suddenly he went to his room and returned bringing a shoe box full of plastic toys and told me, "Pepe, I change you my toys for your clock, think about it." Playing for me, was more important than counting the time so I accepted. So proud, I immediately showed my mother the super acquisition and explained the big deal I just made and the fun those plastic toys will give me. "You have been robbed!" She responded impatiently, almost mad. "But it will give you a less of the value of things." She explained to me a huge comparison of prices, money, dollars, and fairness. At the end, I felt more like a stupid kid than a happy kid. But later I felt that such experience was funny and I spoke about it freely. Until one day 67 years later, I found Marino Rios again, now a prominent physician. Believing he would remember the Mickey Mouse of my infancy, I tried to make a deal to refresh his memory. He told me, "I have no idea what you are saying." I looked at his face and he was uncomfortable being spotted and ended, "I think you are confusing the person. I will never take advantage of nobody" specifically an innocent kid. 

 


Eleanor Kazdan

08.08.2019

Paris

Planning a trip to France to celebrate a milestone birthday in October has gotten me reminiscing about my first trip to Paris.
It was 1969 and my friend Kathy and I had gone on our first trip to Europe for 3 ½ months, backpack and Eurail Pass in hand. We landed in London, spent a week there before heading to Paris. Kathy and I were both Francophiles and made a pact that we would speak only French in Paris. Getting off the train we were walking on air through this exotic station where everyone seemed exotic and romantic, smoking Gitanes and drinking espresso. In those days there was a Kiosk in every train station where you could book a hotel. We easily got one on the Left Bank for $5.00 a night.
The hotel was run by a cute older couple. Our walk-up room was on the 4th floor. Every morning at 7:00 there was a knock at our door and Madame delivered a tray with big bowls of coffee, fresh croissants, and homemade jam. The hotel doors were locked at 11:00 PM. But the cute couple slept by the door so they could let people in after hours. They warned me and Kathy not to let guys up to our room.
One night Kathy and I went to a discotheque where we met 2 French guys. My guy and I really hit it off, and walked around the streets of Paris for hours. When I looked at my watch it was midnight. I felt embarrassed to go back to the hotel so late, so my petit ami and I stayed out all night on our romantically innocent escapade. Kathy and I met up in the morning. She and her petit ami had stayed out all night as well!


((PHOTOS))

You can help share our older buds future histories, biographies, and memoirs by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. If you want to volunteer yourself, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. And if you know older buds with 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, August 6, 2020

A History (Norman)

One of the top reasons older buds come to Best Day is because they want to improve their own writing. It's pretty common for someone to already have an idea for a memoir or history they want to publish and to read a chapter of it aloud. Norman's one such older bud. I'll let him explain below:

Norman Cain
07.16.2020
Prologue to A Brief Introduction of Afro-American Basketball in Philadelphia

Yeah, I can go next. I will probably not read all of it, because it’s rather long. So maybe I’ll read some and just move along with it. And it deals with a story that I told and that you were gracious enough to write several weeks ago about my experiences at the camp up in the Pocono Mountains. And I was on the basketball team at the camp, and there was a fellow there. He was on the basketball team, he became a sociologist, and he was published several times. And I saw him several times as a referee at what was known as the Charles Baker League, which is Sonny Hill Basketball League, which was famous in Philadelphia, was a part of. So it’s very, very long and I don’t think I’m going to do it all right now because I’m really going to have to work on it. Because I did a lot of research, one thing led to another, and my research basically deals with Afro-American basketball history in Philadelphia. And as a matter of fact, I think I’m going to ad lib because when I first came to 509, my purpose was to use the computer lab which was in the basement. And I was doing a historical thing on a history of African Americans in basketball from 1897 when it began, I believe, up until 1970. I haven’t worked on that project for years, but I still have that material. I stopped that project because I felt that if I was going to write, that I needed experiences getting actually back into the mechanics of writing, where Best Day came in. This is about, uh let me just start here…

Norman Cain
07.16.2020
A Brief Introduction of Afro-American Basketball in Philadelphia

In 1960, William Randolph Hall, who was commonly and fondly known as Sonny Hill founded Charles Baker professional basketball league in Philadelphia. Throughout the fifties and sixties the National Basketball association had a player (by nationality) quota system. Only a limited amount of Afro Americans could be retained on their rosters. As a result many pro level Afro Americans were denied the opportunity to play at a professional level. AS a result of that quota system many professional level African Americans found themselves on the outside of the fortified walls of the NBA. Thanks to the great organizing ability of Sonny Hill many Afro American professional level basketball players embraced a platform that allowed them to exhibit their skills. Initially the games were played on playgrounds throughout the city, specifically Moylan Center, a recreation center at 25th and Diamond Street. Eventually games were held inside of the Moylan Center thanks to Charles Baker, a basketball enthusiast and city commissioner who pulled some strings to have the center gym opened. Mr. Baker’s intervention was appreciated and just instilled to Charles Baker a basketball league. By the late sixties the league found a home in the Bright Hope Baptist church at 12th and Columbia Avenue, now Cecil B. Moore Avenue. The professional contingency that played there was the Charles Baker League. The Sonny Hill sectors included three divisions: the Bill Cosby Future Division, which was middle schoolers, the Walt Chamberlain High School Division and the Hank Gathers College Division. Games were played in the summer four days a week, beginning in the afternoon starting with the various levels; the middle school first and ending with the professionals whose teams were sponsored by Philadelphia area businesses like Gatton’s Real Estate, Duckie’s Dasherie, Tim Bates’ Rebar, Nate Ben Reliable and Spike Trophies. While the various levels of teams had players from outside of and beyond Philadelphia, the college and pros sectors had players who would migrate from areas throughout the country. Their player base was fast and filled with spell-bounding athletic feats and dribbled with flow that made spectators scream. Some of the greatest players in the nation showed their skills, all Americans filled the bench while playground players shined. The Baker-Sonny Hill games were carnivals, extraordinary; after the games the bars and clubs thrived and house parties blossomed. Eventually the league played their games at Temple University McGonigle Hall until 10 or 15 years ago. I would be remiss if I did not mention that they eventually added a female component. Rev. Sol Murphy, who was a co-worker of mine at the West Philadelphia Boys Club at 35th and Haverford Avenue, was the commentator. He is the best sports commentator that I have ever heard. On 7-22-2017, a filmmaker Tony Paris debuted his film “The Baker League Story” and I was there and I got a chance to see all of these older basketball players my age, and their sons who many of whom became pro basketball players and coaches. And that’s just a story that really has to be written about, and it has been, but I think at another level. One of the things that I’ll say about Mr. Sonny Hill is that he kept basketball alive in the city of Philadelphia. He’s not that tall, I saw him play in his youth but he was a great basketball player. He was twenty-eight years old before Detroit called him up and I guess he was too short and a little bit too old, but he was amongst the best that I’ve seen. Outside of being a basketball player he was color commentator for the 76ers between 1973 and 1970, and he was also a color commentator I think for NBC for quite a few years. And even though he never played professional basketball on the courts, he did receive in the basketball Hall of Fame because of his input in the game. So here I go again, I guess I’ll have to go to my storage and pull out the old papers and start reigniting my old project. Now see, what’s been happening, I just wanted to do a short thing, and I kept going, and I kept going, and I kept going. And it’s been taking a lot of time, a lot of positive time.

Norman Cain
07.16.2020
Epilogue to A Brief Introduction of Afro-American Basketball in Philadelphia

I used to play. I got into the game late because when I was coming up, I was baseball and football, too thin for football. But then I discovered basketball in the 7th grade, made the junior high school team, made junior varsity in high school, didn’t make my college team but when I got into the Army I played at a very high level and for at least a third of my Army career, I was on like a traveling team. So it kept me out of trouble, and I love it. I coached twice at a Boy’s Club in North Philly and the one in West Philadelphia. Then I had a neighborhood team, and these kids were abroad, they didn’t understand but they had the ability and they paid attention to me. And they took the championship. And the important thing about that was that years later when these kids got to be like forty-five and forty-six, and they would see me with their sons and they would say, “This is my coach.” They called me coach, and I saw the power and giving back. When I came up, there was that kind of giving back, you see. Because we had a coach—I don’t want to take up too much time, and I have to mention him—he, no matter what you did, the fellows in the neighborhood, if you were a boxer, if you were a singer, he was a part of that. And YMCA, he was a coach for a couple years, and then what he would do, if you got in any trouble, he would actually come to your house. Then later on in life, he lived in my neighborhood and I was able to, you know, talk to him each and every day. There has to be a completion, it has to go one generation to the next generation. That’s the way it used to be.

Norman's been with Best Day since the very beginning, and he's provided us with incredible stories of summer vacations, school trouble, military service, neighborhood "standoffs," and sports, sports and more sports. He has a wonderful voice, an easygoing demeanor, and he can make friends with anyone. He's a staple of Drexel University's Writers Room, and had his own chatbook published by The Head & The Hand. I've heard people talking about how they're going to use the lockdowns and quarantines to write their next great book, and I know Norman will write that book by the end of the pandemic. More updates as his stories develop.


You can help share our older buds future histories, biographies, and memoirs by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. If you want to volunteer yourself, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. And if you know older buds with 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, July 30, 2020

Hawaii and Red Soil (Frances & Carolyn)

A few weeks ago, I took you all on a trip to the Poconos and Ontario through stories by Norman, Eleanor and Ann. This time, I'm going to take you on a trip to Hawaii, courtesy of Frances and Carolyn, with a rest stop in Georgia. This is another example of older buds telling stories, responding with similar stories, and having a conversation that turns into something completely different; eating dirt in this case. If that's not your bag, then scroll to the bottom after Carolyn's story "My Trip to Hawaii."
Frances Bryce
07.09.2020
Return to Paradise

The pilot brought the plane to a smooth landing. I was filled with joy. The brilliant red color of ginger and phosphorous, bright yellow and orange birds of paradise, showy protea, trees of mango, guava, breadfruit, pineapple and banana plants danced in my head. Fifteen years had passed since my last trip to the island of Maui. I had named it my paradise. The van driver loaded my bags. I was excited to begin my back to nature trip. We had gone only a short distance when a big K-mart superstore had popped up before my eyes, then a Burger King, Longs Drugs and other chains that darted the mainland. What happened to your beautiful isle?
“What have they done?” I said aloud. The driver offered no reply. He was bobbing his head to the pulsating beat of reggae music. Didn’t he know that Hawaiian music should be playing? The driver stopped and left a few minutes to let me view the outdoors market with a few native sellers. My mind returned to years past local merchants were selling hand-painted island T-shirts, wood carvings, painted scenes of seascapes, surfers, flowers, and other handcrafts. In the area that looked like a small clearing in the forest a basket made from bamboo leaves caught my eye. It was marked $15.
“Will you take ten?” I offered.
“How about twelve,” he countered. Sold. Probably should have gotten it for ten, but the enjoyment of the haggle was worth more than the reduction in the price. I snapped back to the present as we passed Denny’s. Soon we were on a road lined with sugar cane on the sides. All had not been lost, I thought. The landscape quickly changed again: hotels, motels, condos, and private homes stretched as far as the eyes could see. We reached the entrance to the resort. The lushness had been preserved here- palm trees, ferns, and exotic flowers were abundant. The greeter placed a lei around my neck. This was all make-believe, like Disneyland. The real thing would yet to be found. The next day I set out on the west side to find my lost island. Instead I found a mall with many designer shops: Chanel, Versace, Gucci, Christian Dior, and other stores and restaurants were there. Hawaiian dancers in plastic grass skirts provided the entertainment.
In the souvenir shop, I voiced my surprise in the changes over the years. The sellers said, “lots of growth and progress has replaced the local merchant. However we have 50% less sales this year. The lack of Japanese tourists have left a lot of these stores without customers.” Undaunted, I boarded a tour bus to Hana, still seeking the beauty of the images that swirl in my head. The tour promised fifty-four miles of unspoiled natural wonder. I regarded with the forest flushed with trees, guava, breadfruit, mangoes, pine, and rainbow eucalyptus, red and blue ginger plants, ferns and the richest green imaginable. Bamboo plants seemed to create their own forest. They were so thick as if designed to prevent any intruder. Four hundred feet waterfalls cascaded down the mountain with a thunderous roar and foam. We got a refreshing feeling from the spray as it bounced off the rocks below. The sunlight caught the droplets of water and the most magnificent rainbow with an array of colors presented a picture that the finest artist would probably not be able to reproduce. The winding roads gave me more to delight in each turn except for the tourists. It seemed that man had spared one of the most awe-inspiring spots on the island. Perched 50-100 feet above the ocean on a two-lane road more suited for one lane of traffic with very little area between the bus and the long drop down was both scary and exhilarating. The driver stopped for us to get a view of the ocean and I expect to promote a little fear. A voice from the back yelled, “Okay! We’ve seen enough, let’s go! Let’s move right now!” and we gave a nervous laugh. I was pleased that someone had voiced my feeling. There were more waterfalls, trees, and beautiful flowers to see. We saw wild goats and cows grazing near the narrow road. As we ended our tour the driver said, “The cows and the goats can be caught and kept by anyone on the island.” After the trip to Hana I discovered that my paradise had been reduced to a few places in Maui, but a guided tour helped me find one of those that was still left.
Carolyn Boston
07.09.2020
My Trip to Hawaii

When I was living in California I had the opportunity to go with one of my coworkers. She was from Hawaii and I stayed with her family on Oahu. We went to the pineapple plantation, we went to the beach; it was amazing. We went on a tour of where King Kamehameha is buried underneath the hills. It was beautiful and I had a wonderful time except for the flying cockroaches. It’s really an amazing place and the one thing that struck me was the soil is red. In the tropics, the soil is red and it was beautiful but I had never seen anything like that. I just had a fabulous time and I would like to go to Maui if ever I get the opportunity to go back.

Frances Bryce
07.09.2020 
Re: My Trip to Hawaii

Carolyn, I just want to say there’s a place in South Carolina where the soil is red on a bank, and there was a young woman there at that time who ate some of that soil and there are people who do that. I’ve forgotten the proper name of that you call for people who eat different kinds of things that we don’t normally eat. It’s Pica, yes.
Well, this one woman would go to sort of the bank in South Carolina and chip away the red clay to eat. She also ate what was called Argo starch. I don’t even know if they use that anywhere. She ate those things, I just remembered that. I thought it was so strange that people eat almost anything. I was born in the South and there was a lot of things still I hadn’t heard until today about tar, never heard of tar. Even when I was doing parent class there was a little kid who ate deodorant and stuff, by that Pica. And that was right here in Philadelphia.


Carolyn Boston
07.09.2020
Re: Re: My Trip to Hawaii

Now, when I was young they had Argo starch and people did eat it for whatever reason, I don’t know, maybe there was something in it that was healing? I know that in the South there are a lot of people, years ago there was tar, they would eat tar. T-A-R. They would eat the tar off of the roads. Yes, they did! The tar is supposed to clean your teeth and keep them white. There’s a lot of things that they do in the South that is very interesting because they really believe that the earth has a lot of properties in it that we’re just ignoring today. But it’s a reality that’s what they do. Oh my God.
Well, I have to make a confession. When I was little I used to go out in the back yard and eat dirt. So I was one of those kids that would eat dirt. In the South, too, I used to eat clay, too—clay and dirt. I’m still here to tell about it, though! It is what it is, you know. We all have different tastes though, you know; some like bark, some like clay. I’m a dirt fanatic.



You can help share our older buds stories by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. If you want to volunteer yourself, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. And if you know older buds with 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, July 23, 2020

"Show the World That We Have Money” (Sallie-Elizabeth and Frances)

In March of 2018, I wrote a post about a Black History Month concert where the pianist Christopher Gambrell was celebrating Marvel's Black Panther both because he grew up with Chadwick Boseman, and that the movie's financial success “showed the world that we have money.” Like I said in that post, one of the most pervasive stereotypes against Black people is that they're poor. This can effect their ability to get loans, homes, medical services, secondary education, or anything requiring a payment plan. So to combat that, I'm making today's stories all about wealth and two classic symbols of wealth: the fur coat and the diamond ring.


Sallie-Elizabeth Clayton 
05.14.2020
One of the most Exciting Days of My Life and Unique Times of My Life

Back in 1990, I was working as a counselor in a program that serviced untraditional colleges and universities, and I was working at Peirce College at that time. My boss said to me, “I want to send you on a conference, a Black colleges conference that they had annually, would you like to go?” and so I said, “Yeah I would like to go!” He said, “It’s going to be held in Washington D.C. We will pay for your expenses. You’ll probably meet a lot of people there from Black colleges, administrators and everything. It’s a really good weekend.” I got on my train and rode myself right into Washington D.C., and we stayed at the Washington Hilton or it was a big Washington hotel that they have a lot of conferences at. Anyway I checked in and you know I didn’t go with anybody- we had a small staff at the college so there wasn’t any other staff people who could go. So I made my way through all the exhibits and freebies and learning about people and meeting some new people.
Well one night, I think it was the Saturday night, they have the large dinner and things going on, they had students from various colleges throughout the United States, African American students and other minorities and they did their thing, and they’re playing bands and showing things that they have learned in college. I came downstairs and I tried to buy a raffle ticket. I didn’t have money on me, it was earlier on the day, and I said, “Can I put this on my room tab?” And she was so mean to me. She said, “No you cannot. If you don’t have the money, I won’t be able to give you a raffle.” So I said “okay”. I went back upstairs, I ran back upstairs. I don’t know why I was so intense for being a raffle, they have them all the time. I ran back up there and got some money, I said, “I should have never come down without money,” and I bought the raffle and I looked in her face to say, “Nah nah nah nah, I do have money!” so I bought the raffle. Time for this event to start the event that night, and I came down and I sat at a table where I didn’t know anybody and there was this couple there from some college and we just talked and chatted, we were watching what happened. It came time to do the raffle. I said, “I’m glad I got this, I’m going to win tonight!” They outlined the prizes, and one of the prizes was a mink jacket stole, that was the third prize. The second prize was a trip to the Bahamas for a weekend, and the first prize was a full-length mink coat for a woman at the worth of $5000. They lady sitting next to me with her husband said, “well, I’m going to win this prize,” and I said, “I don’t think so. I’m going to win the prize.”
And we were just laughing and chatting, and all of a sudden, the lady won the stole and somebody won the trip to the Bahamas, and they said, “Now here we are everybody. This is the first prize. And we’re going to give this to some wonderful person, and hopefully they’re sitting down here tonight. We put our raffle out so we could see it and we didn’t think we were going to win anything. And so we were just laughing and wondering who was going to win it, and they called my raffle. And all of a sudden, everything in body kind of stopped working, and they repeated the number so the person could come forward. “We’d like the person to come forth, we’d like the person to come forth if they’re here and they have this number,” and they repeated it. So I touched the lady and I didn’t say anything, because all my senses were trapped- I was like a mute. I touched her and I pointed down to the ticket. I couldn’t speak, and I kept pointing down to the ticket, and she realized what I was doing and read it off. She screamed, “Oh my god!” The lady got up, ran to the front, ran all the way around the tables and everything. They said, “We have a winner! We have a winner! We have a winner!” She said, “Not me! I’ll show you, come with me!” She took all these people back to our table and pointed at me. Here, I’m sitting here, still mesmerized, can’t speak, can’t walk and these people gathered around me, pulled me up from the table, and said, “Here’s the winner everybody!” And it was me. They took me up to the front. Now, I’m not talking about a petty raffle, it had bin like you see on ‘The Price is Right’, that huge, and out of all those thousands of raffles, I was the winner. I’m still not over that after about twenty years. I still have the coat but I have not experienced anything like that before in my life.


Frances Bryce
05.21.2020
One Ring and Two Daughters

I know what I was going to talk about: My mom, and one of the things she always wanted was a diamond ring and a fur coat, right? So after she died I learned that my niece had recorded her wishes I guess. The memo was she had one ring and fur coat so I wouldn’t need a fur coat because I lived in California. I have a sister so she was trying to decide who she should give it to and that wouldn’t work, and then I had a brother who had two nieces so that wouldn’t work. So y youngest brother had one daughter, so she got the ring.
And then when I found out I said, “I never wanted the diamond ring and so why did you think I may have wanted it,” and I thought it should have gone to my sister because she was the one who stayed with my mom, you know the last day. So, to fast forward it I found out that when my mom was staying with me for a while and she didn’t have her ring and I said, “Well why don’t you wear your ring?” So she called and sent it, so she thought maybe I was interested in the ring, which I have never been interested in a diamond ring or fur. That’s how the story ended up, and I told my brother who has the youngest daughter, one daughter so she got the ring. And I said, “You should let her know that the only reason she got that ring was because my mom thought I may have wanted it and she didn’t want to give one the ring and not have,” and so he never did and she never did. So that was the end of that story, but I always felt heavy about it because I knew my sister would’ve appreciated it. She loved rings and diamonds, and I didn’t. So that was my story.
Well, my mom was about the size of my sister, and of course she lived in the place where they had a different climate. So in South Carolina, you ain’t have a real winter and a summer. So it just made sense that she got the fur coat, which would’ve been too small for me in the first place, and was totally something I didn’t want, and the season didn’t permit me to wear it. So she got the fur coat, but she should’ve gotten the ring too because she really gotten the ring, and it would’ve been a great thing because she spent most o f the time with my mother. And my mother only made that decision because she didn’t want to give one, she didn’t want to decide if I should get the ring or my sister should get the ring. And there shouldn’t have even been that question aroused. It’s…know that I didn’t want it. So that’s how things go. And I said, “One ring and two daughters.”
And my niece had made the video of how she was anguished because she couldn’t decide who to give it to. And so she finally said to my niece who was recording it, “Oh. My youngest son. He has only one daughter, so that would settle that.” But I thought if my brother had said to his daughter that, “Your aunt should’ve gotten that ring,” she probably would’ve done it.

You can help share our older buds' stories by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. If you want to volunteer yourself, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. And if you know older buds with 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. This drawing is copyright of Jett Cooper

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Summer Camp and the Poconos (Norman, Ann & Eleanor)

Something incredible happened during our Zoom session a few weeks back. Norman was the first to tell his story, about working at Camp Joseph and Betty Harlam, a Reform Jewish summer camp in the Pocono Mountains. It was gorgeous and detailed, and it felt like I was right there in that lush mountainous camp instead of hunkered down in front of my computer. And then, Ann said that she used to work as a waitress in the Poconos, and she talked about how much it had changed since she and Norman had been up there in the 50s and 60s. And then, Eleanor told her story about being a camper at Jewish Y camp in northern Ontario. I always love when the older buds build on each others' stories, but these stories showed us how connected we were in unusual ways.

I'm going to post all four stories here, so we can all take our own summer vacation someplace with a little more sun, a little more fresh air, and a little less coronavirus:



Norman Cain
06.11.2020
Camp Joseph and Betty Harlam

I thought that I would give a story verbally about my experiences between ’58, ’59 and 1960, when I would work from mid-June to late September at Camp Joseph and Betty Harlam, which was a Reform Jewish camp in the Pocono Mountains, which was located in a little village called Kunkletown which was about maybe 20 miles (my geography is off) either north, east, west or south of Stroudsburg. And I got the job through my counselor at John Bartram High School; he referred me to the Vice Principal in charge of discipline whose name was Menchie Goldblatt who was a very famous man in Philadelphia and really throughout the United States around in the ‘30s and beyond. If you would go down to Palestra, Penn’s basketball facility and probably the oldest such facility in the nation you could see his picture, because he (Mr. Goldblatt) was an All American basketball player in 1935 and he did a lot to get Philadelphia College, in the early days when it was called Philadelphia Textile, their athletic program off of the ground. Well, it was very interesting working in the Pocono Mountains in those days, because in those days – it wasn’t built up the way it was built up now. It was just beautiful pretty mountains and fresh air, and you had the Pennsylvania Dutch riding around in their buggies and whatnot. And from our school to work at the camp we had maybe about eight or nine kids, they would always have two or three girls that would work in the kitchen but they would always have at least one that would act as a babysitter for Mr. Goldblatt’s daughter who was married. We did kitchen work, and I didn’t have to do it but with my best friend, he was in charge of keeping everything at camp together, and so I would help him mow fields (not lawns), paint cabins, and once a week we would go down to Allentown to take the laundry and sometimes we had to go up to Stroudsburg. And luckily the rabbis would loan us their cars and we would take forays into Wilkesboro. It was really a lot of fun. I got a chance to learn how to row, boat, how to canoe. And of course there was a nice swimming pool. We played softball, volleyball, and we had a basketball team. And of course with Mr. Goldblatt being an All American in basketball in 1935, we would play other camps. And that was a lot of fun. And another great recreational activity was the campfires at night. And even though we didn’t know the meanings of the words we got a chance to sing a lot of Jewish folk songs. I think the name of the dance is the Horah that we did. Oh, that was so beautiful. And see we were in our later teens so we got to be friends with the counselors. We had two sessions with the younger kids that would come in and we made a lot of money putting baggage in cars and taking baggage from cars when another group would come in, and then put the baggage in the cabins. All together it was a beautiful experience with the fresh air and whatnot, and the thing was we made $250.00 (well, I did- my buddy, he made more) for the summer, plus the tips we got from assisting parents with their baggage when one group would leave and another group would come. The last group that would come in would be the college students and the teenagers, and that was the best time. And one of our activities was to set up the synagogue. And that was extremely interesting. And for those three years in the spring we would be there for the weekends for retreats of the rabbis- I really, really learned a lot. And then there was a guy named Jay Mandell, he was a good basketball player with us and then later on I would see him as a basketball referee at the Baker Leagues. Sonny Hill was involved in that, that’s something I won’t expound upon but that was during the days like in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, that was actually a professional basketball league. You know, we have 32 teams now, then we probably had about 12 teams. But these fellows, they would come and play at Bright Hope Baptist Church down at 12th and Columbia at the time. Well Jay Mandell—and he was actually a—he didn’t get paid for it, but he was an actual professional referee, and he was a sociologist, and he wrote a book and he had adopted a Black kid that went on to be a great basketball player. So we made a lot of friends; it was a great opportunity for me to be enmeshed in another culture. I forgot to mention – we had a cook, he was from the first world war, an Afro man and he was really, really a nice guy. He was a major cook and he had this assistant cook and he would tell us all of these stories about the first world war and whatnot. And he was very, very good, and the food was excellent. The Jewish food, it was really, really, really excellent. And we came back in better physical shape than when we went up. I miss those days. It was really great because I got a chance to be enmeshed in another culture and see another way of life. And up until that point each summer I was going to South Carolina. Now, you know I write about that a lot, but what would happen would be I would save enough money to be able to, around Thanksgiving, pay my own way to South Carolina. And then because I had the opportunity for the last two years of high school and my first year of college, I had the opportunity to make money so I would go to South Carolina, and I paid my own way. And in closing I would say that once I visited when – I think I must have been in my sophomore year in college in West Virginia- and I went up to see a girlfriend at Penn State, and I saw one of the counselors there, and it was sort of like a reunion. So it’s a great memory, and I had a beautiful time up there in the Poconos. The only thing is that when I go up there now, it’s all different, the building and whatnot, up there and it’s not the same as it used to be.  

Ann von Dehsen
06.11.2020
A Waitress in the Poconos

I used to work as a waitress in the Poconos in the late 60’s early 70’s at one of those, not a huge resort, but it had an inn and cottages around it. We used to travel around to the different inns and stuff, it was all beautiful. And I went back about ten years ago and it’s all—I don’t know—like casinos and these huge resorts with indoor swimming pools and casinos and gaming rooms. So it was horrible. I know what you mean because we used to just drive down on the weekends and see all the pretty, the falls and all, there were lots of waterfalls.

Eleanor Kazdan
06.11.2020
A Jewish Y Camp in Northern Ontario  

Norman, your story really tugged at my heart strings because I was a camper at a camp in Ontario, Canada that was like your camp in the Poconos. Except I was a Jewish camper. So even though I hadn’t planned to talk about it I can’t resist because it was just one of the greatest experiences of my life. I started in—I think it was the same time, in 1959, I started as a camper, I guess I was about 9 years old. It was a Jewish Y camp in northern Ontario on a beautiful lake. I did write a memoir about it, but that was a while ago. It was a very rough camp. We had to walk to a central bathroom, and we didn’t have any electricity. There were people from all income levels, which I thought was fabulous because the camp fees were on a sliding scale. You just had, it was just a very egalitarian group. We did all the things that you were talking about; canoeing, swimming. It wasn’t a fancy camp (some of the other camps had horseback riding and we never had that). But you know, I learned to be an expert canoeist. When I was 15–I went every summer for three weeks and made just fabulous friends—but when I was 15 I became a counselor in training, and stayed for the whole summer. And then after that I went up to be a junior counselor, where by the way I made $35 for the whole summer. Then as a senior counselor in, I guess it must have been 1967, I made $150 for the whole summer. And we also got tips, we got tips, just like I guess you did. That was one of the best experiences of my life—one of the best days of my life so far was summer camp in northern Ontario. Unfortunately the best friend that I made there, Kathy, she died many years ago. So I met Kathy and I met another woman who I sometimes keep in touch with. And the singing…we just got hoarse every summer from so much singing of camp songs, and walking around with our arms around each other, and the camp fires, and the roasting marshmallows, roasting hot dog, canoe trips…well first when I was a camper, we went on canoe trips with- they were called “Trippers”, mostly guys, they were trained to take people on canoe trips in this pretty remote park called Algonquin Park where you can’t get anywhere except by boat and canoe. When I was a counselor I actually was one of the leaders of those canoe trips. We’d go out for four days and camp outside, and just canoe the whole day long. So Norman, your story just brought back all these memories of summer camp! So from the age of 9 until 17 I went to summer camp like the one you described. Except it wasn’t religious, it was secular. We had no religious affiliation. But it was mostly Jewish kids. So that’s my story!

And if you're still looking for more stories, then check out our fearless leader Benita on the Hazard Girls podcast. Hazard Girls' host Emily Soloby (Founder and CEO of Juno Jones Safety Shoes, ) interviews women working in non-traditional fields about their career paths. And Benita's episode is right on their front page!

And as if that wasn't enough, Benita's son Kian illustrated last week's Zoom session. My favorite parts are Carolyn's phone icon, Edwina's paused camera, and the detail he put into everyone's names:




You can help share our older buds stories by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. If you want to volunteer yourself, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. And if you know older buds with 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, July 9, 2020

History (Frances, Rochelle, and Norman)

The Fourth of July has come and went, during a time when American history has been called into question. It feels awkward to celebrate America's independence from the British Empire when this Declaration of Independence only served the White man. I want to honor this past Fourth of July and the Black Lives Matter movement to post stories of our older buds calling our history, laws, and institutions into question, and inspiring us to do better:
Frances Bryce
08.08.2019
Does an Amendment Need an Amendment?

A study of the Constitution often left me unsettled with what was written in some articles and at least one of the Amendments, mainly the second. I often wondered about the decision rendered with the Superior Court of the meaning when it was written and their ruling that was to uphold the stature. I would like to think maybe it should be revisited. My problem with the right of the people to keep and bear arms, now that we have a standing Army, Navy, Marine and now the people do not need to bring their arms for the security of a free state as was necessary when the Amendment was made. Each state has its National Guard for security of its state. The use of Military weapons that have caused mass murders were not available when this Amendment was passed, how can he compare it to the weapons of that day. I am probably like the lovely little petunia in the onion patch. I cry and cry each day. Maybe one day the people will be willing to enforce laws that will protect the masses, since it is supposed to be a government of the people by the people.

Rochelle Tynes
06.04.2020
These Things Aren’t New

I assume you’re talking about these riots and all this stuff that’s going on. These things aren’t new. I met up with someone a couple of days ago who told me that, “I said I don’t see the sense of it. Really I don’t see the sense of it because people are robbing places,” and I said, “Suppose they have children and somebody says, ‘I want some cereal,’ well we don’t have no milk, where you gon’ get it? And then you’re sitting there looking at them and somebody in the crowd or maybe yourself wants a sandwich, tell me where you go and get it because you’ve destroyed these places.” So where do you go and do this if you don’t have this stuff at home? Okay, and then they’re stealing sneakers and they put a curfew out, so you’re home with your flip flops on looking at your sneakers sitting there because you can’t wear them out and show them off yet and you have these T.V.s that use electric when you want to see them, you’re watching these T.V.s and it’s running your electric bill up. And so when it gets so high you can’t watch the T.V., the T.V. gon’ be watching you. What sense does this make? This lady that I was talking to told me that when these things happen, changes come. Well, changes come because lazy people should get up and go vote. That’s my thought. Now it don’t make it right. But violence never settled anything and it only breeds more violence and more hate, and people are disgruntled. And some people are just fed up with all the looting and what does it solve? It means somebody has to clean this mess up. I don’t understand it because people who have businesses and have good sense have insurance that will cover this stuff. It might raise your insurance but they should have insurance to cover this. I think they should find all those people who did all this looting and make them clean it up, you know? And maybe that will do something for ‘em, give them something to do with theirself besides acting a fool. People don’t realize that all of these people who are doing all of this looting and rioters, they’re not all black. They are not all black! Black people have reasons to be disgruntled. I’ve heard stories since I was a kid about the injustices that have been perpetrated on black people. I’ve seen stuff, I’m almost 80, so I’ve seen a lot of stuff, I have lived through a lot of stuff, I know how rotten and nasty some policemen can be and that’s what needs to change, the police structure itself. I can tell you this, I had a grandson that got killed in Virginia for some wrongdoings that him and his friends were doing amongst themselves. The police didn’t do this, and when my son called me and told me, “They killed him, them killed him!” I thought it was the police. I tell you I packed a suitcase with my toothbrush, some junk stuff in it, and some clean underwear because I knew I was not coming back. I knew I could not go down there, have them tell me that some policeman shot my grandson who was laying on the ground with his hands cuffed in back of him and they shot him because he was resisting arrest. My response would be, “Then you need to resist this,” and I would have shot anything in sight and I knew I wouldn’t have came back that’s why I didn’t pack a suitcase because I knew I was either gonna be in jail or dead, ‘cause I think it is just that stuff should stop. How can you kill somebody, go home and go to sleep? How you do that? And them somebody that’s working with you that’s supposed to be your superior that’s supposed to have two cents more than you tell you, “Oh it’s okay,” and send you home? Not tonight. And I’m saying this happened between his peers and I said the Lord protects dummies because I know he was protecting me, ‘cause if I’d have went back there you all wouldn’t be talking to me now. You wouldn’t ‘cause I just couldn’t see the sense. Too many things have happened for too long and people have gotten away with it and that’s why we get this crap we get now. That’s why we get it. And if you live through it you understand it and if you’re not Black you don’t understand it and if you haven’t lived through it you don’t understand it. Some people that are Black have never had this stuff happen to them. Well, I’m saying that if you’re Black you maybe have gone through other things. There are things, a Black situation. When I was living in the projects, most of the people who live in the projects are Black. I had a little house down in Tasker and when they said that there’s a curfew and that the kids had to be in the house, okay. I don’t know how you do that in the projects. Everybody’s in and out of everybody’s house most of the time and kids socialize and whatever. Okay here come the police and they say, “Okay, everybody gotta go home.” Everybody starts walking home so I told my son “Come on and walk with me, let’s go over this way.” And so the police went up…

Norman Cain
05.07.2020
Come Together

  I had an expensive cellphone that my son-in-law bought me several months ago when I was in Orlando, Florida, but it broke down and I got an inexpensive cellphone and it’s working better than the expensive cellphone. There are some problems, but the good thing about it is the fact that I played around with it which I didn’t do with the old cellphone, the expensive one, and I was able to get online and I was able to get to my Facebook, which allowed me to be into Zoom right now with Best Day. Now I’m having problems getting into Zoom with my church, but I don’t have any problems getting into Zoom with my writing group at Drexel University which meets about three times a week but I’m able to do it once a week on Fridays. Hopefully by this week or by the end of this month, I have a computer. It should be coming in any day now and it’s going to be a donation, what I understand, from my writing group at Drexel. But if that doesn’t come through, I’m definitely going to get one at the beginning of next month. Like previous presenters, I’m very thankful that during this dire time that we are getting text message and phone calls, etcetera from people. Now, I’ve been getting calls and I’ve been calling people that I haven’t really talked to for three or four years. Especially with Facebook and what not I’ve been reaching out to relatives across the country and also with the phone here, and it’s really coming in handy this technology, it can be bad and it can be good. Two folk Philadelphia icons in their mid-eighties, Bootsie Barnes who is a jazz saxophonist, very famous, he passed away and just as soon as he passed away, they had all of his, so many of his—on videos—his sessions and what not. And also, there’s a guy who’s about eighty-four who was a great social dancer who’s named Otis Givens, we could follow him ever since his teenage days and he died and they had so much on him. Also, several times I’ve been in the presence of Trapeta Mayson who is the poet laureate of Philadelphia, so I got a chance to see her on television. And I cannot think because of the senior moments are coming in, but there is a fella that was with, or he’s still with the MOVE organization, and he had just came out of prison, and he held on to his liberty for forty-five years I believe. And he gave the true story about the brutality and whatnot that they really had to endure- the true story. There was a first MOVE incident down in Powelton Village, the true story that they held up with this terrible system that we have in the United States, and that’s one of the things that’s disturbing me. We have all of this outpouring of love that’s going back and forth and I can feel it right now over the phone. All of this feeling of love and comforting words and then we have, I have to say it, our government really does not care. When you hear statements that some of us will have to die, you don’t have to say it that way but this is the way it is and this is what we have got to understand. One of the things that I’ve been doing during this pandemic is that I’ve been researching Zora Neale Hurston. Several weeks ago I came back from Orlando, Florida and I stayed with my daughter and her family and I attended the thirty-fourth year anniversary of her festival in the town that she grew up—Eatonville, an all-black town since about 1895 or earlier and it’s still incorporated. And the state of Florida wanted to put a highway through the town and they almost were successful in doing that but then the people rallied and said that the town was worth saving because of Zora Neale Hurston. So thirty-four years ago when they had the first festival you had I think 3,000 folks came. She is definitely a literary figure, a playwright, dance promoter, journalist, anthropologist, a singer, dancer, and you can go on and on and on and on. So the last several weeks I’ve been researching, by the phone again, her work. I knew that she was prolific but I did not know the depth of her genius. So basically that’s what I’ve been doing and I’m so happy that we have been able to come together at this point.



One of the things about Best Day I love is hearing about history from the people who lived through it. It gives me so much more perspective than the same stories in the same textbooks or Wikipedia articles. You can help share our older buds stories by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. If you want to volunteer yourself, then email us at info@bestdayofmylifesofar.org. And if you know older buds with 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