Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Announcement!!!

Today was a class like no other. I announced to my senior buds and our visitors that... I'm pregnant!!! Went awesome - I started crying, and the only words I could really get out was, "I'm pregnant!" I actually don't get nervous about much in life, but on my way to class I was so nervous to tell my favorite buds, I don't know why! I think it's because this was the moment I had been waiting for, for a long time. One of our volunteers, Thelma who is herself 79 years old, told me, "This baby is gonna be great-grandmothered and great-grandfathered to pieces." Oh yes, I am pretty sure Thelma's right ;)

The seniors' reactions? Oh, we've got that on video for you of course!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Norman (My Friend the Volkswagon)

No offense to sleek car commercials, but here is a tough little piece of leather we can all fall in love with!

This is a story about a special car, yes, about really it’s also a story about family, friends, and a special guy.

Norman is always paying attention to what others need, helping to get chairs for the ladies in class, helping Joe who can’t see get in and out of the elevator, making sure our young visitors are having a good time. Every time I glance over, I swear, he is helping someone else with something. Helping me is no exception. He stays after class every week to let me know if I’ve done ok that day leading the group. The pep talks he gives me gives me the energy to carry on through next week. And he’s quiet and modest about it, he just hangs out and chats with me while helping me scan his peers' handwritings and straighten up the room. He is not doing anything for attention or credit. He just does things. He is cool like that.

To me, this story is so Norman.  Like his friend the Volkswagon, he too is quietly super-fantastic, no matter whom you ask.

Norman Cain
My Friend the Volkswagon

In 1968 I bought my first car, a dark blue with white interior Volkswagon from Townes Motors at 45th & Walnut Street.  I got it for a good deal.

It cost $1,950 and had three years to pay for it.  My monthly payment was $550 and my insurance was $145 per year.

My mother was amused with my car, my sister was noncommittal, and my younger brother, to my dismay, simply loved it.  And my father, like my friends, called my car a washing machine in jest, thought I should have purchased one of those almost limousine long automobiles that were in vogue at the time.  My wife, who convinced me to stop pinching pennies so hard and get a car, was elated.
After a few days with my car, a problem arose.  I let my brother (10 years younger, whom I had spoiled) take my car to school—Overbrook High, where he was on the football, basketball, and baseball teams, and the president of the student council.  The car would be the icing on his name as one of the “very important people” in the high school world.

He had a wreck, not too bad.  My insurance man was furious. 

As far as my friends, who laughed at my car, they had a change of heart when they saw how easily it maneuvered through things like snow and how it was excellent on gas mileage.  Gas mileage was the primary reason I was able to often take my family to New York frequently.  I also took them to Springfield, Massachusetts once. 

As far as my friends, they thought the car was theirs.  We went to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and New York.  My car was tough.  It got the job done.

It was really tough when its body was totaled in an accident.  My mechanic, who had actually worked in the Volkswagon factories in Germany, placed a 1954 body on the 1968 engine, and it still pushed on.

After five years with my car, I reluctantly sold it and moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

My Volkswagon, to use an old vernacular: “A little piece of leather, but well put together.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bernice and Joe (The True Kind)

Today, amid bright poppy red cards, cupcakes, outfits (and big red flowers… for those of us who like flowers in our hair… you know from our Facebook pics that our senior bud ladies and I are obsessed with those, right?) we celebrate the most precious kind of love. The kind the lasts forever and forever beyond entire lifetimes. The true kind. Happy Valentine’s Day – considering sharing this story tripledecker with your true love to remind them how much you love them today!

Bernice Moore
My First Date

My husband was my sweetheart. We went to movies and parks and some days we went dancing. The best movies were Cowboys and Indians, and Gone with the Wind, and a lot of army movies. Going downtown and looking in the stores. Going to the zoo and looking at the animals. We did that too. I lived in South Philly. The movies were playing on North Broad Street. There was a drugstore we stopped on the way to get ice cream and cake. We met other guys and girls. Everyone was nice to one another.

PS. When the war came a lot of the guys went to the war. Some got killed. That was sad. My husband and I were married 60 years. He died Jan 1, 1993. I miss him very much.

Joe Garrison
This Time of the Year

On the way to the Center today we picked up a passenger and we took her to the building where Debra used to work.  I haven’t been to the building since 2007, and it got me thinking about her.  July 28th was her birthday and she would have been 59 this year.  I am 69, 10 years older, actually 11 years older because my birthday is October 30th and I will be 70 this year. 

I get sentimental around this time of the year because things always remind me of her.  She passed away in November of ’08, four days before Thanksgiving.   Even the smallest things about our relationship still linger with me—the way she would hum a tune, the silly things we said to each other to make each other laugh, the places we would go, the hopes we had for our future together. 

Even when I dream about her, I remember her “seeing eye” dog.  (She was blind like me.)  Even animals can sense love between two people.  Her dog really liked me and I think it’s because it knew Debra and I were in love with each other.

To be continued…

Joe Garrison
This Time of the Year, part 2

Even though Debra isn’t here physically anymore, I feel like because I write about her so often, that she is a part of this class…

In my previous story, I told about how we did little things to make each other laugh. I remember when she told me a dream she had, that I was driving her home from work. I, myself, have also had dreams about driving in a car (A lot of other blind people have told me they have had dreams of driving too.) In Debra’s dream, we were the only ones on the road. We both got a huge laugh when she told me the dream. I said I was driving Miss Debby. I don’t want to bore everyone with too many stories about Debbie, but I do want to make the point that what we had was not an affair, but a loving romance.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mr. Robert (Valentine's Day from A to Z)

Valentine’s Day is only a couple days away, and our senior buds are so excited. Last week when I saw them in class, they broke into song, singing “Goodnight Sweetheart” at the top of their lungs.

They also invited me to a Seniors’ Valentine’s dance this Thurs, and that – I am pretty excited about. They are determined to me the Twist both ways, the kind where you swing your hips a little, and the kind where you really “just go for it.” Oh boy, they are so silly ;)

Well, what are we waiting for? Let our Valentine’s countdown begin – from A to Z!

Once we’ve shaken our silly bones, stick around for stories from Bernice and Joe about the most important word on the whole list. Love!

Robert Mitchell
Valentine’s Day from A to Z

A-    Always and forever; A Cruise;
B-    Boyfriend, best thing that ever happened to me;
C-    Candy, chocolate;
D-    Diamonds, dinner, dancing;
E-    Entertainment, engagement ring;
F-    Flowers, fruit basket;
G-    Games, girlfriend;
H-    Husband, happiness, hugs;
I-    I love you;
J-    Joy, jealous, jewelry;
K-    Kisses;
L-    Love, loving you;
M-    Music, me, you and him;
N-    No means no, not tonight;
O-    Oh girl!!!
P-    Puppy love, poetry;
Q-    Quality, quote: “I’m not your daddy, I’m your ‘MAN’”
R-    Reasons that we’re here;
S-    Spontaneous, soul mate;
T-    Teenagers, the hunters;
U-    Under the moon;
V-    Victoria’s secret;
W-    Wife, wine, wedding day;
X-    Xtra Special;
Y-    Young and in love;
Z-    ZZZZZ (when the note is over)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Donnell (Talk to History)

“Engulfed in a room full of positive energy and rich story-telling, I accept that there is no turning back once you are surrounded by history. I hope that one day, more people from my generation will join forces and visit our seniors.” - Donnell Powell

Our seniors are not only blessed with all you fabulous blogreaders and Facebook + Twitter fans, but also with dedicated visitors like 22-year-old Donnell who show up week after week, often with friends and colleagues, to listen to our seniors' stories face to face and share their own in response.

Our seniors have found the courage to open up through stories because younger listeners like YOU and Donnell have shown them how much you care. Just as the seniors are your inspiration; you are theirs too. You’re more awesome than you know. There is no real story without you. YOU, are our unsung heroes. And for that, thank you all. And thank you so much, Donnell – I can literally see it week after week, I know for a fact you light up our seniors’ lives.

Donnell is the Executive Producing Assistant at our superbuddy organization Philadelphia Young Playwrights. The seniors love seeing him and all our PYP friends ;)

Huddle up around our story table no matter where you are. Come on, all you unsung heroes don’t be shy…
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From: Donnell Powell
Date: Sat, Feb 2, 2013 at 10:08 AM
Subject: Blog Entry

Engulfed in a room full of positive energy and rich story-telling, I accept that there is no turning back once you are surrounded by history.

A multi-generational learning lab is the how I perceive this bunch of articulate and intellectual people.

After time flies, I don't mind being the youngest person in the room.

I see it as a plus, reaping the benefits from free educational and social lectures from historians that have lived it all.

There is one particular person I anticipate seeing, Beatrice.

This beautiful, humorous woman fills the room with joy and happiness with her consistent presence.

Every time she talks about how grandchildren do not visit or communicate with their grandparents, it pinches my heart.

She is the reason I appreciate my grandmother who I talk to on a regular basis.

I hope that one day, more people from my generation will join forces and visit our seniors.

Drop the history books, and talk to history in person, is my motto.

These are the best days of my life so far.

Donnell Powell
Freedom Day

January 21, 2013 – 5:45 AM.
Location – The National Mall.
Occasion – President Obama’s 2nd inauguration.
I stood there on this cold, brisk day.
6 more hours of standing.
Tens of thousands of people gather.
To honor 1 MAN.
History has been made again,
Children, teens and adults.
African-Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians. Multigenerational atmosphere.
It was a beautiful thing to witness,
As Republican public figures filed in, there was a canon of boos.
When Beyoncé and First Lady Michelle walked in, I almost fainted.
Their beauty was like cherries in my eyes. 11:45 AM. Obama’s left hand raised, while his right is placed on the Bible. He did it AGAIN!
Best Day of My Life SO FAR.