Thursday, May 24, 2018

Memorial Day (Hattie and Ruth A.)

The weather's starting to get consistently warm, and Memorial Day is right around the corner. That means that everyone's got one thing on their mind and one thing only: the beach. All my friends and co-workers are either talking about hitting the shore this Memorial Day weekend or lamenting that they don't know a single person with a beach house. During this time when families, friends, and families of choice head to the shore en masse, it's important to remember your older buds and family members too. When I was little, I used to go down to Rehoboth Beach every year, but one of the most memorable trips was the time we brought my Gigi and Poppop with me. We went to one of those seafood restaurants with outdoor seating right next to the harbor, and even though it was bright and sunny we got caught in a blustering sun shower. We were getting soaked to the bone, but we all stayed outside and finished our meal because "it's just water." That was one of my happiest memories with Gigi.

So don't forget to bring your older buds with you on vacation. You'll make some incredible memories and get some wonderful new stories out of it. And if you want a little reading material for the drive down to the shore, we've got you covered.

Hattie Ellerbe  
It’s So Good To Be Back   
It has been a little over a year since the passing of my youngest son, Keith Lee Ellerbe. My daughter Karen and I are taking one day at a time and still trying to cope. We are surrounded by the love of so many. We still get calls and kind thoughts frequently. Karen was recently chosen to be a deacon at her church, Child’s Memorial Baptist Church. She will have to train for a year before she is officially ordained. I am so happy for her. Her pastor is the Rev. Dale L. Crawley. I am so happy to be back, Benita!!! I am glad to hear we are expecting a “May Baby”…  
Ruth Alsop  
Being a grandmother of seven grandchildren is very exciting. There are three granddaughters and four grandsons. Included in those seven are two sets of twins. Twins have always been an intricate part of my life. My first best friends were twins – Christine and Eileen. We became friends when I was thirteen years of age. We remain friends today. Then there is Jeanette and Jeanelle, we call each other sisters. We have been close friends since I was eighteen years of age and they were sixteen. We remain very close are very influential in each other’s lives and families. Last but not least are Jayce and Joan. They were my coworkers for ten years. We remained friends until 2008 when I retired. Never expected in my life to have twins as grandchildren. How exciting!

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mother’s Day (Frances, Hazel, Loretta D.)

Good afternoon everyone. I hope you all had a Happy Mother’s Day this week. My mom had to work that morning, and I had an event to go to later that afternoon, but we managed to squeeze in some time together. In honor of this past Mother’s Day, I thought it’d be fun to go through the vaults and see what was written during Mothers’ Days past.

Frances Bryce 
Mother’s Day 
The Friday before Mother’s Day, I had the strong feeling that my daughter was going to surprise me with a visit, she lives in California. Nothing she had said led me to this innate feeling, maybe because I had not gotten a card by Saturday which was unusual and no flowers had arrived. 
Sunday came, no daughter or flowers arrived. I received a call wanting to know if 
the flowers arrived. We were both disappointed. She (my daughter) was very upset that she had been assured that the deliver was to have been made by Saturday. 
The day was not lost, my lifetime friend’s son and his wife are like my biological 
children, had a present for me, as well as their mom. We decided not to go out for 
dinner on Mother’s Day. One of the busiest times for Mom’s to eat out and not get 
the best of services. 
I learned that sometimes strong feeling does not always come to fruition.
Hazel Nurse 
Mother’s Best Day 
They say that truth is stranger than fiction. Maybe that is why I look forward to this wonderful class each Thursday. 
It is such a privilege to share our joys, concerns, and experiences, not only with 
senior members, but also with Caitlin, Donnell and many other collegiate friends 
who volunteer their services too. 
Several years ago, with the approaching Mother’s Day, my husband and I planned a lavish Sunday for my mother. First and foremost was a lavish breakfast followed by a church service and later a dinner at a fine restaurant with our family members. 
However, Mom arrived early and when my husband said, “Mrs. Palmer, this is your 
day! What would you like to do?” She replied, “Alvin, I’d like to go fishing!” We 
packed a lunch and spend the entire day with her fishing at Grist Mill. She caught a ton of fish too.
Loretta Dotson 
Some thoughts to ponder. Is there life on other planets? Have or has aliens landed? I really don’t know if there are little green men or big pink ladies or purple pampered children or could they be invisible? Wouldn’t it be amazing if they do exist here and could transform to look and are like us? Does your floor creak in the middle of the night? Do your lights flicker? Does your door bell ring and no one is there? Who turned off the T.V.? Who put the dish cloth in the refrigerator? Is your pipe missing? 
Is your ice cream slowly disappearing? Maybe the kids are telling the truth and they did not touch your stuff. If not them, then who? 
E.T. and family perhaps.

I hope you enjoyed the reads, and I hope you all have several Happy Mothers’ Days for years to come.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Remember Me (Arthur, Jamie, Miss Mo, Gloria, Aileen, Amber, Gogo, Bernice, Helen, Hattie)

I watched Disney Pixar’s Coco for the first time a few weeks ago, and it’s a surprisingly good analogy for Best Day. The main theme of the story is the importance of family and passing down their stories, but the most important characters in the film are the grandparents, great-grandparents, and the great-great grandparents in the Land of the Dead.

The premise is that the deceased live in the Land of the Dead, a world not unlike ours. As long as the living have an ofrenda with a picture of the deceased, they can visit on The Day of the Dead, but if nobody alive remembers them they die for good. There’s one scene that takes place in a shanty town where spirits with no ofrendas live. A dying spirit asks another resident to sing his favorite song before he passes away, and the young protagonist Miguel is shocked to see him fade away.
"Wait, what happened?"
"He's been forgotten. When there's no one left in the living world who remembers you, you disappear from this world. We call it 'The Final Death.'"
"Where did he go?"
"No one knows."
"But I've met him. I could remember him when I go back."
"No, it doesn't work like that, chamaco. Our memories, they have to be passed down by those who knew us in life, in the stories they tell about us. But there's no one left alive to pass down Chiché's stories."
As someone whose mission is to preserve the stories of our older buds, that scene hit hard. Other moments in the film reminded me of Best Day as well: the single mother who worked hard to save her children from poverty, the father who’s desperately trying to find his daughter, the grandmother whose children don't actually listen to her, the people living in projects who only have each other, the list goes on. It's a reminder of how important it is to listen to the people around really listen and engage get them talking to you. In honor of that, I'd like to make this post in honor of our older buds who have passed on. They may be gone, but they're not forgotten.

Thank you for reading, and let someone talk to you today.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Theatre (Mo and Loretta G.)

Back in 2012, I first found out about Best Day from my internship at Philadelphia Young Playwrights. My co-worker Donnell went to their sessions and asked if I had wanted to join him. The first day I went, I’d fallen in love with the group, and I also wrote for Joe for the very first time. A few years later, I convinced Philadelphia Young Playwrights to perform their Young Voices Monologues at the senior center. But the Philadelphia Senior Center made even more theatre connections since then.

You may remember me mentioning a play that Nouria was in back in December. Not too long after that, I saw this poster for Heartfield Home back in March. I missed both of these shows due to work, but I did bump into one of the Wilma’s employees on my way out last week. It’s good to see one of Philadelphia’s prized theatres getting involved with our humble senior center.

Mo McCooper
The Earl Theatre
One of the great places my Dad took me to was the Earl Theatre somewhere in the main business section of Phila.
There was a movie and a live musical stage show.
Pearl Bailey was a star vocalist then and “The Burma Road” may have been the movie. That was a World War II movie probably meant for adults, but I enjoyed it and asked Dad questions later.
Mom wasn’t well enough to share these adventures but she loved hearing about them later.
Pearl Bailey performed all over the world as did her husband, drummer Louie Bellson who was from England and was considered #3 in the world at the time. Pearl was from Philadelphia.
Trips to the circus, the zoo, and the sportsman’s show were also taken.
Loretta Gaither
Love to Dance
Today I heard the music coming from down the hall. I was drawn to where it came from and I went down to see as I danced. My favorite thing is dancing. A short time I danced, then return to the writing class.
My son, Eric, takes good care of me. I am able to take care of myself but because of arthritis, he helped me a lot.
I love the way Neha and Frances talk. And there is a tree up down the street and I love it the way it stood there.
I come in the writing class riding a bus to keep me motivated. I like to have fun in the center with everybody.
Open Community Center, I go there and some students from Drexel University come there for volunteering and its good that they remember me whenever I go there. 

I wonder if I could arrange a collaboration...
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Seniors for Seniors (Elliot and Brenda)

Last Friday, I had the honor of being invited to the Philadelphia Senior Center’s Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. I didn’t work for the senior center proper, so I took this as an opportunity to get a better feel for the senior center. The first thing I learned is that all the meals at the center are cooked on the premises; an incredible feat!

The second thing I learned is that most of the volunteers at the senior center are seniors themselves. I know the older buds of Best Day are self-sufficient enough to run a session on their own, but I was floored by the scope of volunteers. One of them was older bud Brenda, who runs another workshop at another senior center. Another older bud gave a speech about how she learned English as a second language as a child and decided to pay it forward by teaching ESL to the Coffee Cup members. There was even a cafeteria worker, Lepy, belting out “My Girl” by The Temptations; he had the most beautiful voice.

As a non-senior myself, I’m left in an odd position. On one hand, it’s a bit sad that seniors were the ones who usually volunteered at the center. I’m afraid people will assume the older buds have it all handled and use that as an excuse to ignore them. On the other hand, I don’t want to rob them of their agency. The older buds are grown ups, not children, and they don’t need anyone to cut their meat for them, so to speak.* The reality of old age is that there are things you can do, and things you can’t do; and most non-seniors can’t tell the difference.

Elliot Doomes 
(Don’t) Trust Your Doctor 
I’m just fighting this battle to not lose confidence in doctors. One time I told my doctor I was allergic to penicillin so he gave me ampicillin. And I took it because I didn’t know it was a mixture with penicillin. I was young and I was almost 21 and you didn’t question doctors. It was unheard of. We didn’t question doctors because we didn’t seem them that often. We got sick we usually just got well. We usually just had some remedies. Some neighbors would see something’s wrong with you and they’d give you all sorts of home remedies and old wives tales. Eventually, one of them worked. So I took it and then I went to work. A half hour later I was wet all over sweating from head to toe. My boss told me to go home because he didn’t want me dying in the station. 
Then I went to another doctor and I told him about this. So he asked me what he gave me and I said, “Ampicillin.” And then he asked if my other doctor knew I was allergic to penicillin and I said “Yes.” Then he said, “Your doctor didn’t prescribe this to you!” And he dropped it in the trash can. Yes, he did.

Brenda A. Scantlebury
The Great Snowball Battle

I grew up in Harlem on West 117th Street. I lived right down the street from my elementary school; P.S. 184.
I remember the Snow Days when school was closed. Sometimes there was at least (24) twenty-four inches of snow. My friends and I would meet in the schoolyard and divide up into teams…we had a big snowball fight. There were lots of snowballs made and stockpiled so that we could beat the opposing team. Sometimes, we would look for trashcans and use the covers for shields. We also shoveled the snow to make embankments for protection! Sometimes hours would pas before we would tire.
At the end of the battle, the losing team had to cough up $ money to buy candy for everyone!
Ah… Ah! Those were the days. The times I remember, when we were young and carefree. 
The important thing about working with any group is that every single member of the group is an individual person. You can’t use the same practices on every single person. Some people need transcription for their stories, and some can take dictation. Don’t disrespect them by following a script and refusing to make changes.
*There are a small number of blind people at the senior center, and volunteers do offer to organize their food for them. The point is, the older buds don’t need to be babied.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

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