Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mille, Hazel, Norman (Here's to 2014!)

Here at The Best Day of My Life (So Far), it's the best day every day not because we only celebrate the happy moments, but because even in the sad or scary ones we discover humanity and meaning. To round out another year of diverse stories, and to celebrate the full spectrum of emotions that our seniors have so generously shared with us, here's an unlikely bouquet of stories: an intense one by Millie, a 
lighthearted one by Hazel, a sweet one by Norman. Here's to 2014 and another year of stories to come! Have a great time celebrating tonight!!

Millie Lily
Slow Motion

The town of Fairbanks, Alaska was an hour west of Eielson Air Force. On Sunday, weather permitting, the family traveled by car to a church. On the way back there was a snowplow facing us clearing the road on the other side, and behind the plow was a yellow full-size school bus. There was one car in front of our car.

The bus was going slow, but when the driver braked the back of the bus started swinging from a 12 o’ clock position to a 3 o’ clock position. We watch as in slow motion as the bus continued to swing until it smashed into the front of the car in front of us.

There was a man & woman in the car. Then woman was unconscious and injured with a gash at her throat. Her husband and my parents got her into the backseat of our car with my Mother applying pressure to her wound. My brother in the front side, my sister and I squeezed in the corner. There was another car behind us, the driver was saying he had to be somewhere and would not take the husband to the hospital. My Mother asked him if he was crazy since there was no room in our car. He took the husband and turned around toward the hospital.

It was very cold. My sister and I were in the waiting room, our legs and feet very cold from wearing Sunday shoes, when the husband came up to the desk asking about his wife. He then fell down to the floor. He had internal injuries.

Watching that bus make that slow progression was an extraordinary thing. It seemed like such a long time as it rotated across the road. I am sure the people in front could not believe what they were seeing. There was nowhere for them to go, the sides of the road were piled high with snow.

Hazel Nurse
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.

Norman Cain
My Friend Jimmy and I

When me and my younger sister were children we would be sent to South Carolina where we would live with my maternal grandparents on their farm.

The trip generally took place on  the evening of the 24th of June…the last day of school and would end two days before school started.

When we boarded a cab to take us to 30th Street Station, our friends would gather to see us off and when we returned in September, they would be gathered to cheerfully greet us back to the neighborhood.

Leaving the neighborhood for the summer was always a happy, yet, sad occasion. I loved South Carolina, but hated leaving the recreational activities of the street and my friends, especially Jimmy, who was my main pal and next door neighbor.

In South Carolina, we did farm work during the week, went to town on Saturdays, went to church on Sundays, and often visited relatives.

During the middle of August, my mother would come for several weeks. My sister and I missed her very much and anticipated her arrival. One summer day, when she arrived, I got the surprise of my life.

My mother brought Jimmy, my special pal with her.

I vividly recall our galloping towards each others, hollering and tightly embracing. It was a “Kodak moment,” one of the best presents I’ve ever received.

Jimmy was two years older than I. He was my mentor of sorts. He took me to various neighborhoods to meet his relatives, introduced me to jazz, showed me the ins and outs of sports, kept me entertained with riddles and jokes, showed me dance steps and kept me informed about what was happening with the crew. He had more freedom to travel about then I. I had to be in the house at seven while he could roam until ten or so.

Jimmy loved animals, especially horses. He arranged for us to rent ponies and we made decent change selling pony rides on the Northeast streets of West Phila. I had learned a lot from Jimmy. His visit to South Carolina gave me a chance to repay his mentoring by showing him how to maneuver in a new environment.

I showed him how to feed the goats, cow, mules and chicks, how to chop wood, and use a hoe sickle and rake. I also showed him how to hitch our two mules to a wagon, shuck corn, and how to take the goats out to pasture. From my great uncle Charlie, he heard Uncle Remio’s stories and he was able to meet a host of relatives on both sides of my family.

I taught him how to recognize the constellations on dark, bright nights, how to recognize what snake prints were visible on the dirt road, and how to distinguish the sounds of the various birds in the area.

It was a pleasant summer. When we returned to Philadelphia, our neighborhood friends cheered us back into the community.

Each time Jimmy and I met in later years, we would always reminisce about our experiences in Philadelphia and South Carolina.