Thursday, February 15, 2018

Black History Month (Elliot and Frances)

I wanted to do something special on this blog for Black History Month. I went looking through posts that Benita wrote for Black History Months past, and I saw this line: "The way history books tell about civil rights is big and ceremonial; the way my senior buds tell about it is personal and complicated." If you haven't lived through the movement, or if you haven't lived through racism, the Civil Rights era looks like  marches and speeches and Martin Lither King. If you have, it's about your school, your neighborhood, your police force, your boss, your family; an entire lifetime that leads to speeches and marches.

For the entire month of February, I'll be posting stories about the Civil Rights era, the Black Lives Matter movement, and about racism in general. Even in last week's post about the Eagles, one of the stories was written by a former Black Panther. I'm doing this because it makes sense to hear about the history of our Black older buds during Black History Month.
Elliott Doomes
09.15.16
I Wonder Why

​I wonder why I have no home country. I wonder why I have no language. I wonder why I have no culture. I wonder why I have no flag. I have no music. I have no history. As far as history goes, as a people, our history started 400 years ago. Everything was given to us by our former slave masters.
You can trace our history all the way back to the Mayflower and before. We were taught that we were nothing and never would be anything but a slave. The emancipation proclamation was supposed to free slaves, which only meant we were supposed to assimilate. I think we took on the worst of our ex-masters. Like the Native Americans were given alcohol, we were given guns.
We now have children killing children. When will it end? They see on television the police that are supposed to be protecting them are killing them. Everyday you see on the news that a policeman has killed an unarmed person or child with a gun. No one is held accountable for these crimes. Our young people think it’s alright to take a gun and go kill somebody because they never see consequences of these actions.
They see these kinds of actions as power. They have not had proper education. Education is a very expensive commodity in America.
They see people who are good at committing crimes end up with the cars and the houses and the pretty girls because they have money. Money is the violent force behind most of these young people killing each other. That money is derived from selling drugs. Since they have no education this is what they do. They sell drugs. They believe that what they do isn’t a crime. They don’t see it as anything wrong. It’s supply and demand. People want this so we’ll give it to them.
I remember one young man said to his Father, “How can you tell me what to do; I make more money than you.” He’s dead now, but his Father is still living. I have an idea for a solution to the problem of violence in our community. If the kids had something to occupy their mind and their time, they wouldn’t be in bad places. We have to show them there’s something else they can do.
It’ll be a hard time, but somebody’s got to do it. Most of these kids are angry. If we don’t give them something to occupy their mind and their time, we will lose them.
​I’m not worried about myself. I’ve lived my life. I’ve got children and grandchildren. They don’t know about the 60’s and the Civil Rights movement. They don’t know how we had to fight to go to school and vote. We already fought these battles. We shouldn’t have to fight them again.
If anything happens to me, the first thing I’m doing is buying a gun. I’m not talking about our streets. I’m talking about our judicial system.
Justice is for those who can afford it. I remember they used to burn flags in the streets and there was no uproar. Now it’s un-American. People are just protesting. It scares people that other people in the world aren’t right. When politicians go around the world, they tell people they need to straighten up their own backyards, and then they can come here.
That’s what we need. We have to straighten up our own backyard.

Frances Bryce
1.11.2018
Southern Reality

Living in the south during times when segregation was a way of life, in the small town where I was born, as well as others in both the north and the south.
We learned early how to live in a town where we the People did not include people of color.
One of my experience living in the segregated city of Lauren, S.C. occurred when my high school was leveled by fire. I can’t recall how long the building of the new school took. We were housed in one of the Black churches until the completion of the new school. Soon the seats from the White school were placed in the new school (the ones that was permanent, that we moved to the floor and the new seats were sent to the White school.)
Old uniforms from the same school was given to the Black school (mind you they were not the school colors and the purchase of new uniforms were made available to the White school.
There were charges made after parents were given the choice of attending the Black school or the integrated (former all White school; a number of kids and parents opt to stay in their previous school.” I persuaded my brother to send his kids to the integrated school because I knew the resources would be in the school that was integrated and thus getting the best of what was offered to the education system.
Things have changed there in only one high school in Lauren, since the laws that were already implemented were now honored, not easily, but successfully.
 
 
If you enjoy these stories, then please share them with friends, family, or anyone else who loves storytelling. Happy Black History Month.


Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fly, Eagles, Fly! (Loretta G., Joe, Hazel, Doris)

All the Philadelphian readers already know the Eagles won the Super Bowl. I'm pretty sure everyone in the world knows the Eagles won the Super Bowl. But unless you live here you probably don't understand the significance of this win. The Super Bowl itself was established in 1967, and the Eagles hadn't won a single Super Bowl since its founding...and they were around since 1933! There were diehard football fans who lived their whole lives without seeing the Eagles win a Super Bowl. In fact, after this win, all sorts of Philadelphians were saying things like "This is for you, Grandma," or "This is for you, Uncle Tony," or saddest of all "This is for you, mom;" I heard that last one from a 24 year old.
 

The Philadelphia Senior Center is closed for today's Broad Street parade. And even if they hadn't, I'm pretty sure all the older and younger buds will be too busy celebrating this historic win anyway. So here's a collection of some Eagles and football themed stories to get you all in the spirit! We weren't wearing silver and midnight green in these pictures because they were taken last week. And just because we were wearing red and blue didn't mean we were rooting for the Patriots, either! ;)



Loretta Gaither

3.16.2017

I Had A Lovely Day Today And The Snow Had Left (Thank God For That.)



I had a lovely day today and the snow had left (thank God for that.) And I had fun sitting with my young teacher and we had so much fun talking with her. And I am so glad that she was chosen to be the teacher of this workshop. God chose her to be the leader of the workshop; it was a good choice. She’s much less nervous too. And I’m glad Benita was my teacher too and she made a good choice for a new teacher. Maybe one day she’ll visit us today.

It was a pleasure to have my son drive me to the center today. He’s my power of attorney and my nurse’s aid and a good son. There must be something wrong with my apartment, because my son’s going around and taking pictures. And the manager came up to inspect the apartment, but my son showed him the pictures so he knew I kept it clean. The manager of the complex where they fix things lied to me more than once. He said he got his work done, but he didn’t fix anything in my place since 2013. And I prayed to get everything sorted out, and it did! Now the manager doesn’t speak to me anymore and he got caught. I hope I’ll get moved to a better apartment soon.

Whenever we write, I hear the music from the other room, while they were doing their dance class. And I loved listening to music while I write so I just dance in my chair.

I was a Black Panther when I was a young girl. Loretta Gorham, yes I was. You can look down at the website at the Black Museum downtown, look up Loretta Gorham. You know Morona Africa? She came out of Munchie Prison and she was a friend of mine. And I was with many more and (I’m laughing because my writer can’t hear so well!) You don’t believe me, look in the Black Museum in Black History.

I put God first and me second. I’m laughing with these people in the class. May God bless the readers.

I have a dead man taking care of me and this is what I get. My late husband Rob Gaither, related to Omar Gaither who went down south with the Sixers, with the Eagles. You always get caught when you try to get wise.

I always laugh with them in the class. And teacher, always be aware of people who laugh. I smile upside down, I’m going downstairs to wait for my ride. Over and out, God bless the readers. Signing off.
Joe Garrison 
9.22.2016 
Untitled 

All through my life, I have heard about how kids can’t stand school, they want an endless summer holiday.
When I was 10 years old, I also started counting the days before the beginning of the school. I always thought that I had enough holidays and began to look forward to going to school. I usually enjoyed going to school.
Even during summers, I dreamt amused in school at my class with my classmates. I missed them. I became a football fan when I was 17 years old. We used to play “kicking the ball” without running.
There was a show on the radio named “Children’s Hour” which came on Sunday morning during summers. Thy used to sing certain songs about certain seasons of the year. Right around the fall, they would sing this song “Mr. Touchdown USA” and another one as well. The only reason I remembered the other song was because it went like this “You have to be a football hero to get along with girls.” 
Football is the only game I used to think about during autumn. I liked the smell of air and think about the smell of burning leaves.
Just like in spring, I can always identify the season because of the smell of DDT.
I guess autumn is the favorite time of the year and my birthday is also in autumn, October.
I guess even Humpty Dumpty’s favorite time is autumn because he says he had a great fall. Ha Ha Ha. 


Hazel Nurse
10.24.2013
Football Addict

Years ago, when my husband and I were working full time jobs, Saturday was always welcome.
Although it meant grocery shopping, house cleaning, and family time, there was a “toss-up” as to who would have time off for fun.  Would it be him or me?
This particular day, I was able to join my card playing club for a few hours.  After which we proceeded to enjoy a fantastic repast at a restaurant.
Returning home at early evening, as I opened the door, the television was blasting.  My three-month-old son, securely wrapped under his dad’s arm, was sound asleep in the easy chair.  A squad of about five empty nursing bottles was on the floor by the chair.
I grabbed my child and let the popular football game continue to traumatize my husband.

Doris Lang
8.11.2011
Chance Encounter

Twenty-five years ago, I had a store in Center City. A young woman came into my store.
I said, “You remind me of another girl that came into my store.” She said, “You say that every time. My husband plays for the Eagles and I live across the street. Here is my phone number. Call me when she comes in.”
When she came in, I called her and she came in.
They started to scream. I found out they were roommates in college and didn’t know where they were located after school. They looked nothing alike and could not believe I put them together.


Until next time, E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, February 1, 2018

One Book, One Philadelphia (Nouria)

Last week, Brittanie Sterner, The Free Library of Philadelphia's Director of Programming, came to Best Day laden with books and events calendars. Benita Cooper, our fearless leader, also dropped in to publicize the Free Library and introduce Brittanie to our workshop. Best Day and the Free Library of Philadelphia already have a strong bond, because the Free Library was the very first organization to host a Best Day reading. Our older buds were especially interested in the Free Library's future events, and Brittanie wanted to know how the seniors thought the library could be improved. 
Then she read a few excerpts from Another Brooklyn about the mutability of memory and what people choose to remember. It fit Best Day pretty well, because we know how powerful another person's memories can be; in written or oral form. After that, each older bud read Brittanie one of their most recent stories and we took a senior selfie. And I took a picture of Benita taking a selfie of us, and Benita took a picture of me taking a picture of her taking a selfie of us!

 

So thanks a billion to Brittanie and the people of the Free Library of Philadelphia for checking us out, sharing their books, and listening to our stories. Brittanie, if you're reading this then you've heard the following story already. But I wanted to share one of the stories that were read aloud but not yet featured on our blog.

Nouria Bennouna 
11.29.2017 
Two Weeks With An American Family 

Back in 1999, my oldest daughter (Ghada) graduated from highs school in Casablanca, Morocco, and she wanted to come to the United States, Florida for the university. I came with my three other kids to prepare for her arrival. 
One time I was driving with my youngest daughter (Emma) by a church and I saw that they were giving classes. I stopped and began to write the schedule at this time a minister (Gary) came. He told us that they didn’t give English classes (what I thought) but bible classes. Then he asked where we ere from, what language we were speaking. When he knew we spoke French, he was excited because his daughter (Heather) who was the same age as my oldest daughter Ghada, just began a French class in high school. He then called her and asked her to come meet us. She came and after that, he invited us to have dinner in his house, he called his wife Tammy and told her to make dinner. "We have guests" he said. He came with me to the motel to tell my other daughter (Sanaa) and my son (Amine). We had a good time at dinner, he took us to visit every corner of his big and beautiful house. Downstairs, they had attached to the house, a little apartment where his mother-in-law used to live. 
After dinner, he asked me how long I’m going to stay in the US. I said two weeks. Then he said, what do you think about living with us these two weeks in the little apartment. I was very happy and accepted his suggestion. He gave me the keys of his house and we went the same night to the motel to take our stuff. We spent two weeks with them. 
After dinner the 2nd or 3rd day, I asked him, how did he know to trust me at this point, to give me his house keys the same day we met, even though he didn’t know anything about me or my family. He didn’t have any proof of my background. He said that he worked with a lot of people and could know the sincerity of someone after talking with him.
Brittanie also wrote about her visit to Best Day on the Free Library of Philadelphia's blog. You can read her post here.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Read A Book (Eugene and Dolores)

It's a few weeks into the new year, but I thought I'd make this post about a classic New Years' resolution: reading more books. If you're looking for a few new books to read, then I suggest Messenger Blues by our own Eugene Carrington, a collection of poems and short stories based on his life as a bike courier. I also suggest reading our own book The Best Day of My Life So Far, with a nice assortment of stories from workshops past.
 

 
Speaking of books, we're teaming up with The Philadelphia Free Library for their "One Book, One Philadelphia" program this week. Their featured book is Jacqueline Woodson's "Another Brooklyn," and every older bud gets  a free book. I'm looking forward to reading it and talking about it with the Best Day gang. But for now, enjoy this selection of literature-themed literature. How meta can you get?
Eugene Carrington 
3.16.2017 
My First Real Book Party 
 
It took place in Brooklyn, New York on a frigid February day. I got off the A-train at the Clinton-Washington station, dragged my suitcase one block to Vanderbilt Ave. Then, I waited in the biting winds for the B-69 bus; after ten minutes or so, it finally arrived. I entered quickly, glanced at the Avenue, which had changed so much since I moved to Philadelphia. After 12 or 15 minutes, I stepped off and began the five-block walk to the Brooklyn Ethical Society. Alas, I arrived, stepped up the dirty white granite steps, into the antique-stained hardwood hallway. I began to struggle up the stairs; inside, I observed a small podium and chair lined up in front of it for the visitors. I was a bit uneasy, since I hadn’t done a book party in a long time, and was introduced to the ten visitors and members of the Brooklyn Writer Society. Three people readied their cameras, for me it was my golden moment, a bit of Hollywood, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Dolores Wilson
11.02.2016
Marriage Over Twenty Five Years - Write a Book

As I watched the 55 couples that renewed their marriage vows of 25 years at my church, I was awestruck. Not only at the beauty of the festivity. It dawned on me that it takes time and work. The first step is acquaintance, casual, personal, and intimacy. Nowadays, few marriages gravitate to intimacy. The couples that have longevity realize they must invest and work at it. When I am conversing with married couples over 25 years, I jokingly say "Write a book. The generation following you will benefit from it."

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Days of Service (Nouria and Elliot)

Martin Luther King Day has passed this week and the second Women's March will be happening this Saturday. It only makes sense to use today's post to encourage the feelings of empathy and dedication that define both days. Between the cries of "Me Too," "Black Lives Matter," and all the other groups rallying for justice, it's easy to forget how much of a problem ageism is in our country. It's easy for people to ignore the elderly or dismiss them as senile or curmudgeonly or old-fashioned. It's easy for people to lose touch with an older relative when they're in a retirement home. It's easy for people to treat their complaints as part and parcel of old age, even when their concerns turn out to be valid. A few of my older buds have to leave Best Day before it's barely begun, just to accommodate their shuttle service's schedule. I heard it used to be the other way around, but the older buds put up with it because "It's better than nothing." Every older bud deserves much better than "better than nothing."

For today's post, I wanted to pay tribute to both Martin Luther King Day and the Women's March by featuring a Black writer and a female writer. Of course, we have plenty more to choose from than just Nouria's and Elliot's writing, and we encourage you to read the writings of Joe, Norman, Eugene, Frances, Loretta D., Dolores, Joan, and Hazel in honor of both days.



Nouria Bennouna 
11.29.2017 
Two Weeks With An American Family 

Back in 1999, my oldest daughter (Ghada) graduated from highs school in Casablana, Morocco, and she wanted to come to the United States, Florida for the university. I came with my three other kids to prepare for her arrival. One time I was driving with my youngest daughter (Emma) by a church and I saw that they were giving classes. I stopped and began to write the schedule at this time a minister (Gary) came. He told us that they didn’t give English classes (what I thought) but bible classes. Then he asked where we ere from, what language we were speaking. When he knew we spoke French, he was excited because his daughter (Heather) who was the same age as my oldest daughter Ghada, just began a French class in high school. He then called her and asked her to come meet us. She came and after that, he invited us to have dinner in his house, he called his wife Tammy and told her to make dinner. "We have guests" he said. He came with me to the motel to tell my other daughter (Sanaa) and my son (Amine). We had a good time at dinner, he took us to visit every corner of his big and beautiful house. Downstairs, they had attached to the house, a little apartment where his mother-in-law used to live. 
After dinner, he asked me how long I’m going to stay in the US. I said two weeks. Then he said, what do you think about living with us these two weeks in the little apartment. I was very happy and accepted his suggestion. He gave me the keys of his house and we went the same night to the motel to take our stuff. We spent two weeks with them. 
After dinner the 2nd or 3rd day, I asked him, how did he know to trust me at this point, to give me his house keys the same day we met, even though he didn’t know anything about me or my family. He didn’t have any proof of my background. He said that he worked with a lot of people and could know the sincerity of someone after talking with him. 

Elliot Doomes 
11.16.2017 
Beulah May
My grandmother was strong too. Everybody called her Miss Beulah. That’s how strong she was. She weighed two hundred and forty-four pounds and she wasn’t fat neither. She was broad in the shoulders and powerful. She worked when she was eight and there wasn’t easy work for her back in the day. They wouldn’t even let you go to school until after the farm work was done. She could read and write and count. 
You couldn’t cheat her out of money, that’s for sure. They just didn’t let kids go to school much in the South. She was next to the youngest out of four daughters, but she was the leader of the family. All the ones who migrated to Philadelphia went straight to her, that’s how I knew them. I never would’ve met them otherwise; I didn’t know anything about the South.

If you want to keep our older buds visible and audible, especially older women and Black seniors, please take a moment to visit our front page and see all the different ways you can keep Best Day going. You can buy our book here, make a monetary contribution here, spend some time at one of our workshops, or even just share our stories with friends and family. Thank you, and good luck.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Winter Cleaning (Joe and Mo)

If you live in or near Philadelphia, then you know that we've had some nasty storms lately. Nasty enough to close down the PSC because the streets and sidewalks would be that unsafe. But while I don't have any new stories this week, I do have some older ones. Sometimes after an older bud finishes their story, they'll either go into more detail or a conversation will pop up around it. Either way, it'll be so interesting that I write it all down and save it for a rainy day. Here's a few of those stories to warm you up during the winter storms.
Fair warning, Joe's stories uses the word "Negro" to describe Black people. It's in the context for the 40's when that word was commonly used, but I figured I'd give a heads up just in case.



Joe Garrison

02.18.16

Black History Month: Jackie Robinson



Joe: And the reason why I chose Jackie Robinson is because, well number one I like sports. Number two, I used to like baseball, I used to follow baseball when I was younger. We call baseball America’s Pastime, and ever since I read that the game was invented in 1869, but the first organized baseball leagues were started, believe it or not, in 1883. And up until 1947 it was an all white sport. You didn’t have any, any people of color playing. Oh, they played but they weren’t accepted into the organized um baseball leagues that we know today; that is the National American League. Then in 1945, Branch Rickey, who was president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, had gone down to watch the players from the—what’d they call it—the Negro leagues back then. And there was some very, very famous Negro ball players that participated in that league. There’d be like Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige—In fact, Satchel Paige played baseball, believe it or not, all the way up into his mid-fifties.

Well, Branch Rickey discovered Jackie Robinson and he liked his style of play, and he came back that year and he told some of the other owners about this great find. And he would’ve liked Jackie to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1947, Jackie finally did break the color barrier, and he was the first Black American to play in the national leagues. But his first couple of years that he played, there was a lot of ill will against him, a lot of prejudice against him. In fact there was particular instance that I don’t remember but I heard about it, and I really believe that it actually happened. That somebody in the stands released a black cat onto the field and yelled out to Jackie Robinson, “Come get your brother.”

Elliot: That would be in Philly.

Joe: Oh, it was! Yeah, that’s right.

Elliot: That person was right here.

Joe: Yeah, because the Phillies were a very prejudiced team back then. However, one of the first baseball players to really accept Jackie Robinson as an equal was Peewee Reese, a White ball player. But he encouraged Jackie to keep the faith and keep on with his dream. And he did and in fact, everybody who knows baseball knows Jackie Robinson’s number, they know what he did on the baseball field, and he is revered by most baseball players. And again I say I decided to do a piece of Jackie Robinson because he really was a part of Black History.



Mo McCooper

12.01.16

Pick-Up Trucks



Mo: Thinking of having a young lady in there just was considered too dangerous. Even a tomboy like Joanie couldn’t have…Well, you know.

Anyway, you girls have gotten some short shift…shrift, I guess is the word. And um you’re still getting some in a sense. And it’s changed, but not enough.

Frances: Well, not all of us even had any desire to ride in the back of a truck.

Mo: Well, that’s because you hadn’t seen me and my cousin Johnny or Frankie! (laugh)

Frances: Well, they would deal with the…in the back of a pick-up truck maybe.

Mo: They had more fun! Every time we passed a car, we’d holler, “Get a horse!” We thought we were big shots. But there was a certain freedom being back there.

Frances: Out there.

Mo: Yeah.
Thanks again for reading, and I hope you're enjoying the snow when it's safe to do so, and warm and cozy indoors when it's not.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri