Thursday, April 19, 2018

Rush (Elliot and Delores)

Everything’s in full swing at the Philadelphia Senior Center. Everybody’s coming back with the warmer weather, Norman’s working on his W.E.B Du Bois symposium, and I’ll be going to a volunteer appreciation luncheon on Friday. Last week, we were asked by the Milestones newspaper for short essays by seniors about the topic “Diversity in Philly.” The only hiccup was I only heard about this opportunity last Wednesday, and the deadline was that Friday! We only had Thursday to write a 300-500 word essay, but you know how good we are at writing substantial stories in a time crunch. Suffice to say, we made that deadline.

I won’t put the stories on this site yet, since I know newspapers can be stingy about where else their stories get published. But we do have some selections from some of the older buds who did submit their works.
Elliot Doomes 

Today is the anniversary of the day my birth, February 16. Today, I am 79 years old. 
And I have no living, immediate relatives. Everyone would have been order than I that passed on. 
These years have been very good to me. I have experienced the love of my father, mother, brother. I have even known the love of my dearly beloved grandmother. I have experienced the joy of experiencing the seed of my sperm come forth from the walls of a woman’s womb. I have never been wealth. I have never possessed silver or gold. But I have had a very rich life. I look back upon the years. I have had some grit, but I wouldn’t change a thing. For the experiences I’ve had made me who I am today. 

Delores Wilson 
Think about Someone Else 

There was a period in my life when everything was black and white. All about me. I thank God I have grown past that. 
My mom would say to me and my siblings “Think about someone than yourself.”
During the duration of the Vietnam War, I was critical of the soldiers would that were fighting in the War. 
The climate was very intense between the soldiers and the civilians in this country. 
When there was a release from arms forces, it was done at 12 midnight to avoid the protestors. 
My brother was a marine, did an extra 4 or so that my younger brother would not be drafted. 
When they finally had a parade for the Vietnam vets, I was an attendee to thank my brother and all who served the country. 
I am now grateful to God and for those who have served service in armed forces of the United States of America. 
Hate war, love the people who have fought for this country.
We promise that our older buds won’t forget all you readers and rebloggers out there when they get their big break.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Spontaneity (Elliot)

One of the things I like about Best Day is how hearing other people read their stories can spark an engaging, workshop-wide conversation! After everybody read their stories, one of the older buds, just remembered something from her own life. Frances, Joan, Delores, Eugene and I got to talking, and before we knew it we were talking about the controversy with Facebook, school shooters, screen time, subliminal suggestion, changing standards of safety, parties they didn’t go to as kids, parties they wouldn’t let their kids go to...and out of that came three brand-new stories from Joan and Delores.
I didn’t get the chance to write them down or record them, because I was that engaged in the conversation. But next time I’ll ask them to write them down for us to put online.

Elliot Doomes 
Making Money in the Old Days 

(Note: This story changes in tone halfway through, since it was written over the course of two weeks.) 

I was working twelve hours a day and four hours a day on weekends. I’d be so tired that I’d come straight home and fall asleep. Sometimes, I’d have fallen asleep in the bath tub and my wife would have to put me in bed. Rich people don’t know about that. Sure, they lose money, but they’ve got friends to take them in and raise them up. But when I got out of school I had to go straight to work. And I worked before I even got in middle school. I was shining shoes and working the paper stand. And then, wouldn’t you believe the conditions where I was living in 7th and Lombard. It’s called Society Hill, but when I lived there, we had one room and a kitchen. We had a cot in the kitchen, we would have to flip up to go to sleep.
You see, these rich people that have no idea what it was like to have real hardship, to live like that. But I don’t regret it because it thought me how to fight. Not physically, but mentally, to grab what I needed.
I used to carry coal and wood. I worked in the wood cellar, and that was an after-school job going around selling baskets of coal and wood. Because back in the day, people had what I used to call coal ovens. And the coal and wood were for the ovens at night. And people had to do what I call “baking it off.” First, they’d light up the stove with wood, then they’d add coal and overnight they would “bank it off” by turning the damper so the coal burnt slower; so it would burn all night and keep the house warm. And that way, you could heat up water in a pot over the stove overnight, so you could wash up before school with warm water. Nowadays, you can get warm water straight from the faucet, but back then, that was the only way to get warm water.
I also sold shopping bags for a nickel to shoppers at the Italian Market. On a weekend, I could make two dollars and I could even get tips by carrying shoppers bags to their cars. And two dollars wasn’t nothing to sneeze at! You could go to the movies for just ten cents. Nowadays, everything got more expensive. There’s no such thing as penny candy anymore. And the bags I sold used to be just paper bags. There were no plastic bags then, but there’s only plastic bags now. Everything’s plastic nowadays, even the bottles. They used to be glass and that was another way I made money back then. I would collect empty bottles and return them to the corner store or any store where those products were sold. There were deposits on those bottles back then. The stores who sold those products would pay you 2 cents for each empty bottle. And beer bottles! I sold a lot of beer bottles! Five cents for a quart bottle and 12 ounces was 2 cents. They didn’t have 16 ounces back then.
Back in the day, any kid who was inclined to could make enough money to buy tickets to the movies or sneakers. Like I said, movies only cost a dime and I could buy a new pair of sneakers for $4.95. You could actually get a new suit for $27.95. I don’t know why they always put up sold things for something – ninety-five or something ninety-nine, but everyone was doing it back then. And a new haircut was 25 cents and if you went to Barb Devine, it would be 10 or 15 cents.
And that’s about it.
It’s true what they say, You can learn a lot by listening.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, April 5, 2018

April Fools (Joan)

This past Sunday was both Easter and April Fools Day. A celebration of spring and new beginnings, but also of false-starts and spring loaded snakes in peanut cans. And few things can make a better joke than random twists of fate. April 1st was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, the kind of day you associate with Spring in the month that Americans typically associate with Spring. The morning afterward, it snowed. It snowed enough for it to accumulate on roads and trees; just when we thought we were done with snow. Then it stopped just a few hours later, and the sun was shining once again. April Fools, people of Earth!
Joan Bunting 
4. 9.2015 
Celebrating Easter 

My Easter celebration began on Palm Sunday by attending church. First we have Sunday school, then praise and worship, and immediately after we hear a dynamic sermon which usually consists of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. After the service palms are given to those who want it.
What really excites me is Holy Week. From Monday to Friday a number of Baptist Churches have a different pastor preach a sermon leading up to Good Friday. On Good Friday, all the participating churches come together. Seven preachers are chosen to give the last seven words that Jesus spoke while hanging on the cross. 
  1. 1. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. 
  1. 2. I thirst. 
  1. 3. Woman 
  1. 4. Son 
  1. 5. My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me? 
  1. 6. It is finished 
  1. 7. Into your hands I commend my spirit.
After all said and done you feel revived.
On Easter Sunday I would attend another dynamic sermon.
I hope you had a Happy Easter yourselves, filled with eggs, chocolates, ham, and feelings as warm and fuzzy as the Easter Bunny itself! If you or your loved ones have any cool holiday stories, please send them to info@bestdayofmylifesofar.orgWe’d love to hear from you!

Curated Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Snow Days (Mo)

This last month has been a whirlwind...or should I say blizzard? We’ve that big snowstorm during the first week of March, and it feels like we’ve had a snow day a week afterwards. March came in like a lion, but it ate the lamb. But March has also been a blizzard of activity for the people of Best Day too.

Joan’s rehearsing for yet another concert, Eugene’s selling his book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Norman’s setting up a symposium for W.E.B. Du Bois, and Nouria is in Morocco catching up with her family. And on top of that, Easter, April Fools’ Day, and Passover are just around the corner. So here’s a story to warm your soul, if not your body.

Mo McCooper 
Our Best Hat 

The other day I complimented a lovely lady on her attire which reminded me of a sailor suit. It caused me to remember the US Navy sailor hats which were popular for all ages of boys and girls and men and women. 

A round hat with a rim that could be pulled down in cold weather, it was a year-round companion. We used to fold the hat to form an imitation football which could be thrown to each other in the street; touch football games which could be very competitive. Sometimes it was legal to use parked cars as obstacles to the defenders. We took timeouts for the rare passing cars.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Spotlight (Mike, Eliot and Dolores)

I don't usually talk about myself on this blog, because the focus is on the older buds; but every rule has an exception. Last Saturday, I joined a 24 Hour Playwriting competition where 6 groups have to write, rehearse, and perform a short place within 24 hours. I'm a member of the organization that sponsored this competition, so I knew how important ticket sales would be to the future of this event. I asked everyone I knew to come to this play: friends, family, co-workers, even the older buds and volunteers of Best Day. I knew that not everyone would make it, but imagine my glee when I saw none other than Dolores Wilson and Michael M. Tsuei! And they each brought one friend! And she got me this beautiful bouquet for the show! Best Day Volunteer also showed up for the show, so naturally I started taking senior selfies!

As a thank you to both of them, Mike and Dolores' stories will be in the spotlight this week, along with Elliot Doomes. I've included Elliot in this week's post because both he and Mike have asked me to feature their stories on this blog so their families can read them. Ask, and ye shall receive.

Michael Tsuei 
Declared Independent 

Recently in the world news, most talk about the Catalonia State. Declare independence from Spain. The Constitutional Crisis in Spain had shaken the common currency and his Spanish stock and bonds. I am today against the idea of Catalonian-self declare the independent with no policy for after the independence. The economy, mentally, socially, how to take care of their so-called counting Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said earlier he would ask the regime’s parliament to declare independence following the poll, which the Spain government own Constitutional Court say was illegal and in which only a minority of Catalane voted; in fact only 42% vote out of the population. Even 90% voted ‘yes’ for separation from Spain but 58% did not vote for independence from Spain so by my opinion, it's very wrong for any group of people and any areas fill to point from the country should never be allowed for the inside, the Puerto Ricans have been asking for independence from US group Seperator. Trying very hard to get their ideas thought the people, how after the recent financial crisis, Puerto Rich facing bankruptcy. Now the several hurricanes hit the island very hard, 95% of fields and the power facility all wiped out by the hurricane. Now, Puerto Rico said the US did not help them like they did for Texas and Louisiana, no one talks about independent instant majority people want to join the US to be a statehood so centuries of change with circumstant change. When the reality hit you right on!!

Elliot Doomes

People are always saying things like “When I die” and this and that, but I can’t see myself dying; Ever. I have a beautiful daughter and four lovely grandchildren. My daughter Cynthia has four children: Angie, Dante, Asia, and Amber. And these children are part of her and she is a part of me. So everything that derived from her is a part of me. And everything that derives from her children are a part of me still. A part of me lives in all of them. As long as they exist, and everything that derives from them is a part of me also. So how can I die when I live within all of them? So death, where is they sting? I will never die.

Dolores Wilson 
Back to the Future 

I’m in awe of the artifacts that I saw at the American African Museum. I was taken back to the future.
The story of our journey to America and in America, was empowering for me. 
Once again, I was reminded, no person, place or thing, defines who I am, but God. It witnessed many diverse attendees that were captivated by what they hear and saw.
I feel a need to revisit the museum again to embrace the beauty of our Black history.

Finally, as promised last week, here is Stephanie's Senior Selfie!

Thank you so much to everyone supporting me, this blog, and The Best Day of My Life (So Far.) We couldn't have done it without you!
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Year of W.E.B. duBois (Norman)

This past Tuesday, I gave older bud Norman a call asking for details on a future blog post. When he picked up, he apologized for missing the last and current week of Best Day...because he was working on a symposium devoted to W. E. B. Du Bois! For those of you who don't know, W. E. B. Du Bois was a sociologist, historian and civil rights activist during the early 20th Century. He's know for having popularized Frederick Douglass' phrase "the color line," co-founding the NAACP, and writing lots of books and studies on the Black populations of America. One of his books, The Philadelphia Negro: Past and Present, is the focus of the symposium Norman will be attending. I mention this not just because of Norman's involvement, but because the Philadelphia Senior Center is based in South Philadelphia. Many Southern Philadelphians, including members of the PSC, had grandparents who lived during W. E. B. du Bois' study of Philadelphia. So they'll be going to this symposium to share their grandparents stories as well! Also, Philadelphia will be hosting events in honor of W. E. B. Du Bois for the entirety of 2018. Click here for more information.

Norman, we'll miss you, but we know you'll have lots of amazing stories when you come back. In the meantime, here's an absolutely incredible story Norman wrote back in January. Brittanie Sterner from the Free Library of Philadelphia will recognize this one! 

Norman Cain 
The Young Jail Birds 

One pleasant afternoon in the Spring of 1953, when I was 11 years old, my crew and I at the suspension of this guy Benny, decided to leave our neighborhood and walk ten blocks to “Father Devine’s Mission” to play basketball in the mission’s gym. The idea was not a good one for two reasons: (1) we had to go through several hostile neighborhoods; (2) The guys Bunny (who was 2 or 3 years older than us) behaved as if he was our boss. He should have been associated with guys in his age group, he was always leading us into detrimental situations.
After walking, long, long blocks, we reached our destination without incident. However, the gym was closed. On our way back to our neighborhood, we had to cross an overpass above a railroad yard. On the edge of the overpass were several crates of 1-qt milk bottles – all glass. Remember, this story took place in 1953, years before the advent of plastic containers designed to hold liquids. The guy, Bunny, who like I said was years older than our crew and who was the one that subjected our journey – began to pasture.
He just had to demonstrate his mistaken intelligence. He began to count the bottles. Before he finished, we saw a police car turn the corner. Although we had done nothing wrong, we ran. Being a slow runner, I was at the end of the back. After we had run ¾ or less of a block, all of the guys, except me, jumped under a car. I kept running, only to be picked up by the police and placed in the car with the other 4 members of our crew. It was an adventure gone awry. When the policemen asked Bunny why he was counting the milk bottles, he replied, “You know how boys are.” I think Bunny had been influenced by the television sitcom, “Father Knows Best” and the characters and situations found in Archie comic books. 
We did not ask what we had done to be in police custody. We silently huddled in the back seat of the police van wondering what the outcome of our adventure would be. We realized that we were en route to the 39th district police station at 39th and Lancaster Avenue. 
When the police car passed Lancaster Avenue and Aspen Street, which was within the boundaries of our neighborhood, we tried to shrink – make ourselves invisible, we did not want to be seen by those who knew us; we would have never been able to eliminate the stigma of being in the custody of the police
When we reached the 39th district, we were placed in a cell. We still did not know what crime we had committed. Incidentally, we had been jokingly placed by a group of good humored police in the exact cell a year earlier during an open house event which commemorated the opening of a new 39th district police precinct. This was different; however, we did not panic, actually we were in a jovial state. Within 15 minutes, one of the arresting officers came to our cell and asked us who was turning on the fire ply in our neighborhood? We told him we didn’t know. Why tell on yourself? Especially when you are in a jail cell. The officer said we were taken to jail because we had been suspected of throwing stones and milk bottles at the trains from the overpass from which the officers first spotted us. We were allowed to go. When we got back to our neighborhood, we vowed to never tell of our scary adventure.

P.S. We did take a senior selfie this week, but one someone else's camera. I haven't gotten the picture yet, but I should have it by next week!

Curated by Caitlin Cieri