Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Gift from the Heart: The Best Day of My Life So Far Storybook

“The words of these stories bring back the past, but more important than that, they fulfill our common need to be heard, to be listened to, to connect.”
- AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson

Here at Best Day, we believe that big things come in little packages. We believe that our seniors' stories are vehicles of inspiration, joy and love. That's why my team and I have poured our hearts and souls into sharing our seniors' hearts and souls in a new gift-ready format with you. In time for the holiday season, we are excited to announce that The Best Day of My Life So Far Storybook is now available on! Whether it's for a loved one whom you see every day, or a friend whom you have lost touch with for a while, this is a gift that will allow you to give a piece of your heart to them, and will warm their heart in the deepest way.

Click Here to pick up a few copies today!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Joan (What is Your Hidden Talent?)

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and I find myself rereading all of Joan’s recent stories to get myself into the mood! Even on ordinary days and bad days, she finds something to celebrate. Every day, she finds a reason to be thankful. Even in sad memories, she finds closure and an eventual joy. I see her thinking about it, looking for it, and always finding it. Joan asks us in her story, “What is Your Hidden Talent?” I feel like hers is not just drawing pictures. Her talent is finding and spreading joy.

Joan Bunting
What Is Your Hidden Talent?

As a little girl – age four or five – my sister Doris taught me how to color without going outside the lines, how to write my name and how to read. When I was in the second grade I was reading at third grade level. Doris also would draw pictures for me. She showed me how to draw stick figures. Doris had and still has artistic talents.

When I started working at the age of forty-three, I worked at a day car center as a teacher aide. One of my jobs was to draw pictures for the class. My lead teacher must have seen something that I didn’t know I had so she started asking me to draw bigger things.

The first large picture she asked me to draw was a Santa Clause part-way in a chimney. I told her I would do my best. I didn’t know whether I could do it or not. When I finished I was amazed. After that, I drew a large tiger that was hung on the wall.

When drawing on tee-shirts became popular, my co-workers asked me to draw on tee-shirts for them. All I could say was, “I’ll do my best.”

I was even doubly-amazed when I actually drew a hand holding five cards, a bingo card and other fascinating pictures. I even made a piƱata for the children and filled it with candy.

One day I will bring some of the work I’ve done. I took pictures; I would have never guessed that I had such a beautiful hidden talent. What is your hidden talent?

Joan Bunting
Rain Rain Don’t Go Away?

Why do people let rainy days and Mondays get them down? Do you remember that song?

Today is a rainy day but I feel great. Rainy days have never stopped me from wanting to enjoy my day. When I was younger rainy days were for enjoying being with my husband and having fun with my children indoors. I love watching the rain drops fall, especially when it was coming down in sheets just like it did a few time this summer.

Mondays seem to give some people the blues. I believe that happens to people that have to start a new working week. But for me Mondays are the new beginning of new experiences, meeting new people and having new fun.

Whatever day it may be remember this: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” There are those who don’t wake up the next day.

Joan Bunting
Was It Puppy Love? I Don’t Think So

I met Gerald Blake in 1949. My sister Doris and I had been living at a new location. From Mrs. Chamberlin Smith to Ms. Eunice Jackson. We were also reunited with three of our siblings: Bernice, Eugene and Paul.

We had been living there about a year when I met Gerald. We were both only nine years old but knew right away that we liked each other.

Gerald was gifted with a beautiful singing voice. He had the prettiest white teeth and was very shy (we both were). We never even kissed.

When Gerald was seventeen years old he joined the army. We would write letters to each other and sometimes write poems.

In one of his letters he asked me to marry him. I had not graduated from high school yet and told him that I was not ready to marry. His mother found out and stopped speaking to me.

When Gerald came home he married someone else. When his cousin Brenda married my brother Eugene, Gerald attended the wedding with his wife. Of course I felt jealous but I got over it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Elliot and Frances (Lives Have Value)

This is a perfect world, when we see each other as people being a part of the whole. I feel like Elliot may be onto something here, do you? It’s a shame that people can view others as a threat without knowing who they are or getting to know them–whether it’s Frances’ example of young black men or other marginalized cultures.

My hope is that someone out there, and hey, it would be awesome if it happens to you, will read this pair of stories, and realize how terrible it feels to grow up marginalized and fearful of being viewed as a threat, and then realize that we each in our day-to-day lives have the power to scrub away a little of that imperfection in the world, just by understanding each other a little bit more.

Elliot Doomes
My Opinion

I get tired of hearing people say, "This is not a perfect world." There's nothing that we need that we can't find in this world that we live in. We have water, we have food, we have sunshine, we have shelter provided by the earth. For me, that makes the world perfect because we have everything we need.

The only imperfect thing about this world is the people in it. The people no longer see each other as people being a part of the whole. People look at the differences between people. We don't perceive each other as human beings sharing this perfect world. We don't think of other people as being a part of you, or a part of us, or a part of me. From human being to human being, what hurts me hurts you, so why do we want to inflict pain on each other?

Most people see differences in people from other nationalities. We all breathe, we all defecate, we all bleed, so where's the difference? Ignorance is the only word I can use. The differences come from our individual perceptions, which are based upon our own ignorance. If I don't communicate with you and you don’t communicate with me, we will never understand each other.

Most times if we understand each other, we will find that we both aspire to the same things. We all want to be happy. We all want to have freedom. We all want to love somebody. We all want to be loved by somebody. We all want to have a loving family. We all want to provide for our family. We all want our grandchildren to think we walk on water. Because they love me and we love them. You and I are the same. The differences are in our minds.

Frances Bryce
Live Have Value

The media that reported the death of a young black male in Ferguson, MO, unarmed, by a white officer caused an uprising between the police and the citizens in MO. We saw the frustration of people who often are marginalized in that and other cities.

The Inquirer published accounts of few Afro-American men about their experiences with officers that are supposed to protect them. This fact was driven home when the above incident happened. They recounted "the talk" that their parents gave them about how to survive in this atmosphere, it was not about the birds and bees. They warned their black males how to speak, move, and behave if they are encountered by police. They told their sons, nephews, and other black males that they are often viewed as a threat without knowing who they are or getting to know them.

One writer had a very positive experience early in his life with a detective who befriended him, when his mother was attacked. So he thought all policemen everywhere were like the detective. Sadly, later he read and witnessed several incidences that showed the brutality when black and Puerto kids were harassed for no reason.

I remember overhearing my father talk to my brother about the treatment that young males are subjected to. At 14 years of age, I had to explain to my son why I refused to buy a utility knife because I was aware that if he had an encounter with another kid, the utility knife could be considered a weapon. I tried to explain how he may be viewed. He didn't understand at that time. Later, when he was older at Christmas, his stocking contained a utility knife. I'm sure it wasn't appreciated as much, but at least his wish was fulfilled.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Janet (I Never Forgot Mr. Riceie)

It’s the week after Halloween… who’s got candy on their minds, on their kitchen counters, and in their bellies?? Well, Janet’s got just the story for us!

Can’t you just smell and taste it all as Janet takes us around Mr. Riceie’s store? Root beer Jawbreakers, Cracker Jacks, Squill Nuts, Orange Slices, Mint Jewel Ups, Peanut Chews, Apple Sticks, Bubble Gum, Turkish Taffys, Peppermints, round and on sticks, Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddy's.

But of course, here at Best Day, even a story about something as silly as candy is really a wrapper of great, important things. This is really a tribute to a great man, a reflection of a changing city, a small but unforgettable slice of a beautiful childhood. So let’s all go back with Janet, and hang out for a little while on Mr. Riceie’s red leather tops and silver bottom stools.

Janet Armour
I Never Forgot Mr. Riceie

Temple College has a football field. The field is located in the 2100 block of North 11th Street in Phila.

The football field covers the whole area, from 11th Street over to 10th Street, Diamond Street to Susquehanna Ave.

The 2100 block of North 11th Street was once filled with three story row homes. The homes were heated with coal. As the years passed by, those homes, most of them were turned into rental apartments.

Diamond, Less, and Goldberg were the owners. The rent was very reasonable. People moved in and stayed. Behind 11th Street was a street called One Knock. Two-story brick row homes line the block.

Each corner had some kind of business. One corner had a Chinese take out. One corner had a bar. The block was quiet even with the bar open daily.

The music coming from the bar that played from the juke box was low. The bar was open 6 days a week til midnight.

10th Street from Diamond to Susquehanna Ave. consistuted of a large factory. The bottom floors manufactured suit cases. The loading docks were wide ones on Diamond Street. There was one on One Knowck Street near Susquehanna Ave.

The factory was destroyed by a fire that burned out of control.

Temple paid for and took over the area. The houses were torn down. The football field was created.

Before the football field came about, the happy times I remember the most was my trip to Mr. Riceie's store. The store was on the corner of 11th and Susquehanna Ave. I loved on 11th Street. My address was 2109. It was my grandmother's first floor apartment. When my grandmother gave me a penny or dime, I went to Mr. Riceie's store.

Mr Riceie owned a three-story store front.

It was during the 1950s – my childhood. Mr Riceie was someone who cared about people. It was a time I traveled alone down my block.

The store was extra clean. The door was always open. When you entered the store, he greeted you with a bright smile. You walked on white and black marble tile floors, no spots anywhere in site. You sat on red leather tops with silver bottom stools.

The counter top was white tile. There were napkin holders and straws.

Mr. Riceie sold coconut pies. He made coffee and hot tea. There were tables and wooden chairs with red and white covers. He sold different types of sandwiches. You could order white bread or rye, even a round roll. Whatever you wanted your sandwich on, he had it.

He made banana splits and milk shakes. Mr Riceie had a milk shake machine. He sold large and small milkshakes. He sold ice cream sundaes with cherries.

Mr. Riceie had a soda case filled with different types of sodas. The sodas were imbedded in an ice case box. He had root beer, Coke, grape, and cream sodas.

What I remember the most about Mr. Riceie's store – it was his candy counter. The candy counter was made of dark brown wood and glass. The wood would shine. The glass was so clean like it wasn't there at all.

The front of the glass counter displayed the candy. The prices were a dime, a nickel, or a penny. He had six shelves filled with many types of candy. Root beer Jaw Breakers, candy popcorn called Cracker Jack's with a prize in each box, Squill Nuts, Orange Slices, Mint Jewel Ups, Peanut Chews, Apple Sticks, Bubble Gum, Turkish Taffys, Peppermints, round and on sticks, Sugar babies and Sugar Daddy's which was made with caramel. He sold these white sheets of paper with candy stuck on it and I called them paper candy. I'm not fooling you, Mr Riceie had these treats for sale in his store.

I remember that I always ordered the prize bag. I ordered the other candy, but the prize bag came first.

The prize bag was a 4 ounce brown paper bag filled to the top with different types of candy. He sold the prize bag for one penny. I still remember the store and Mr. Riceie to this day.

Mr. Riceie was a short man. He always had a smile on his face. He wore black glasses. He wore a clean white shirt with a bowtie. He wore black pants and neatly shined black shoes. He had a wife and children. Everybody called Mr. Riceie, Mr. Riceie.