Sunday, December 20, 2015

2016, We Are Ready for You!

Can’t believe 2015 is coming to a close soon! Looking back, I am so grateful for our local team of facilitators, Jana, Cassie, Hannah and Jen, for taking turns leading our weekly storytelling sessions, and doing such a good job – my older adult buds keep me posted on these things ;) For the first time since I started the group in 2009, I am feeling, in the best way possible, that I can simply be an assistant in the context of the group. By stepping back as the group’s leader, I can enjoy it with fresh eyes and a refreshed passion, and I can be a better leader for our national organization as a whole.

Today, for the final blog post of 2015, instead of an older adult’s or volunteer’s story, I thought I would share my vision for our organization.

My vision is a world where people come together, listen to each other and respect each other despite differences in age, background or opinion, where ordinary days are made extraordinary because of the friendships that are made and nourished, where past and current struggles are confronted and replaced with a new courage to face the future, where the experience and perspective that comes with age is a source of inspiration, where life is not measured by the number of days lived or days remaining but its quality, where community is made up of love, laughter and life lessons and is something you can feel deep in your heart.

Thank you so much for your support as a blog reader, and together, let’s make big strides in 2016 towards a world filled… not just filled, beyond that, a world that is totally bursting… with love, laughter and life.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Liz (Two Birds)

In the previous blog post, Jen introduced this parakeet story as one that really spoke to her. Me too, Jen!! Liz's story is so funny yet so heartbreaking, so simple yet so intricate, the way real life and true love is. Two little love birds showing us simple humans how to live and love.

Liz Abrams 
Two Birds 

Adam and Eve parakeets, the children’s intro to the wild life. 

Yes she henpecked him 

At night he would pick the lock on the cage, ease out of the cage cove 
Out he would fly-  

He hung out all night 
Day in and day out 

She always squaked, squabbled, nagged
And cleaned his feathers 

Each night, he made his grand escape 

Before returning home in the morning to his cage 
He, Adam, would fly to each room
And pick our hair, our cheek
And wake us for the new day 

Then Adam returned home to his henpecked environment 

This ritual continued for almost a year 

Our family commented one day,  
One day, we are going to find Eve, flattened out
And Adam will be out of his misery 

And then, it happened 

One night, Adam and Eve, both out of the cage, walking on the living room floor and conversating 

She fell over and died 
The next day the children shoe-boxed her, buried her in the backyard facing the kitchen window 

Adam stood duty on the kitchen window facing Eve’s grave 

Never moved or ate anymore food- 
Just looked out daily, without movement 

And one morning, Adam lay on the kitchen floor, dead of a broken heart 

A henpecked man does not mean an unhappy man if shes the Love of his Life. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Jen (A Volunteer's Reflections)

And now, as promised, reflections from another member of our awesome team, whom I am lucky to be able to call a new friend – Jen McGhee. I received Jen's reflections over email yesterday. I was all smiles as I read it on my phone and laughed out loud during the part about her reuniting with her middle school best friend Cara through Best Day. And these parts right here, these give me a lot to think about, and mean the world to me. Meet my awesome friend Jen, who has a special way of making me smile, laugh (so much!) and think every single time we chat.

"The depth of beauty, insight, and pure poetry that comes from a sheet or two of paper exquisitely written in the span of 30 minutes is stunning… Who knew that a short story about a group member's children's pet birds could leave you with tears in your eyes?"

"Two of my overarching goals in life are to effect social change on a macro level and create opportunities to share our humanity on a personal level. Best Day accomplishes both of these in a real and lasting way… The Best Day of My Life So Far provides a place and a space where people across generations can connect on a deeper level that can be tricky to find in our super busy, hyper-productive society, especially for seniors. For an hour each week, we get to come together to laugh, write, and share stories about our human experience or whatever happens to be of interest to us that day."
Jen McGhee

Growing up, my two favorite places were the home of my grandparents, Gramagee & Grampagee (a hybrid of gram/p and our last name, McGhee, which inexplicably lost the H when combined) & Aunt Ellen and the library. Time spent with them in their old Victorian home and reading made my young world go round. I was the kind of kid who'd trail behind my mom in the store, tears running down my face as I finished the last pages of a particularly poignant story. From conversations with my grandparents to books to documentaries to podcasts and radio shows, I became enamored with the ability to experience another's narrative.

I've spent the past few years reflecting on this power of storytelling as a medium to transform self, others, and society as a whole. One night, while having one of these introspective moments, I simultaneously decided to research volunteer opportunities. On the first page of the first website I went to, Storytelling Facilitator for The Best Day of My Life So Far was listed. Up until that moment, I had no idea such a thing existed and was intrigued by the serendipity of it. I emailed Benita right away to express my interest and heard back from her almost immediately.

After our initial conversation, I did some research on Best Day and in keeping with the theme of 'bests', discovered that my best friend from middle school, Cara Scharf, was on the Board of Directors and head of the Development Committee. When I mentioned the connection with Cara to Benita during our first phone conversation, she responded that she was literally supposed to be on the phone with Cara at that exact moment and had to call her as soon as we got off of the phone. While we laughed about the serendipitous connection, we decided to confuse Cara by having me send her a text out of the blue to tell her that Benita would call her soon. From the get-go, things clicked and the energy within the organization was great.

I've been working with the group for three months now and feel grateful for the existence of Best Day and for the opportunity to work as a facilitator and development officer. Two of my overarching goals in life are to effect social change on a macro level and create opportunities to share our humanity on a personal level. Best Day accomplishes both of these in a real and lasting way. Each week, I am blown away by the words shared by the seniors. The depth of beauty, insight, and pure poetry that comes from a sheet or two of paper exquisitely written in the span of 30 minutes is stunning. One of the stories that sticks out from our most recent session was a story about parakeets. Who knew that a three minute short story about a group member's children's pet birds could leave you with tears in your eyes?

The Best Day of My Life So Far provides a place and a space where people across generations can connect on a deeper level that can be tricky to find in our super busy, hyper-productive society, especially for seniors. For an hour each week, we get to come together to laugh, write, and share stories about our human experience or whatever happens to be of interest to us that day. Around the same time that Best Day came into my life, and partially influenced by the organization, I made the decision to stop letting my busy life get away from me and rededicate myself to spending quality time on a regular basis with my grandma; there is no one else like her on earth and as the old song says that she lovingly sings to us time and time again, we belong to the mutual admiration society. I'm excited to be a part of Best Day and look forward to watching our organization grow and impact the lives of countless seniors and their communities.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hannah (A Volunteer's Reflections)

The entire Best Day of My Life So Far program, I am convinced, is a magnet for the kindest hearts on earth – from our seniors, donors, volunteers, to our readers near and far like you. As we enter the holiday season, I want to shine the spotlight on our volunteers. We have become a nationwide team of about sixty people but what keeps it real is the kindness that radiates from each and every single one of their hearts, and the week-to-week work that they do on the local level.

I have my own good days and bad days, but when a volunteer writes me a personal email to tell me what inspired her to join our team or how Best Day has changed his life, it means so much to me. I am revived and reminded of what Best Day is all about… and it turns any day into a personal Best Day for me all over again.

Today, I introduce you to the awesome Hannah Pigeon, a 23-year-old college student who shows up with dedication and passion every week to help run our original group, and who behind the scenes also organizes the local team’s shared schedule. In her reflections below, she shares about her inspiration for volunteering – her beautiful grandmother. In the next blog post, you will get to meet Jen McGhee, another one of the kindest people on this planet. To Hannah, Jen and every single person on my nationwide team, thank you for being the awesome you!!

Hannah Pigeon

My grandmother passed away almost two years ago. She was the only grandparent I had that I really had some opportunity to get to know as I grew up. She was the strongest person I ever met. She had twelve kids. I am one of seven, and I have more cousins than I care to count. She was always quick to ask us questions about how our lives were progressing. She wanted to know what jobs we would get, whether or not our current boyfriends/girlfriends were good enough for us, what schools we would go to, what grades we had, what our current hobbies were, how they would impact our future. She was always travelling. She always had a project going on. She would knit potholders at red lights. She would drive across the country and sleep at truck stops. She was part of a bowling league well into her old age. She returned to college when she was in her fifties, and shortly after receiving her degree, she went into real estate. She was someone to be easily intimidated by. It’s not every day that you meet someone who is constantly, down to the minute, working to make a better world. She was that person.

She always knew all the family and neighborhood gossip. She loved seeing people, and she loved knowing their stories. She would always say, “Never be afraid to ask anyone anything about themselves.” I know that she is a big part of the reason why I’ve grown to love meeting people and learning their stories so much. When she was alive, going to visit her and tell her my whole life story seemed intimidating. She was not someone who was easy to impress. Now that she’s passed, I sincerely miss having someone to talk to who instills so much drive in me every day.

Spending time with the Best Day of My Life So Far seniors every week really does help to bring that back into my life. Their stories are incredible, and I only hope that I can live to accomplish a fraction of what they have (so far).
I started coming to Best Day of My Life So Far sessions in September. I graduated from Tyler School of Art of Temple University in May 2015. Since then, I have been working as an assistant manager at Capogiro Gelato Artisans and doing some volunteer work with nonprofits on the side. I have always been an avid reader, and writing creates a soft spot in my heart. However, between school and work, I haven’t had the chance to do it as much as I would have hoped.

This is why when I learned about The Best Day of My Life So Far, I was anxious to join the group. All of the seniors I have met are remarkable people with stories that are so interesting. They are so worth knowing. They inspire me to write more, and to be a more caring, compassionate person. That is what learning someone’s story is all about. Coming to our group each week is truly something I always look forward to. There is always a smile on my face when I tell people about how I’ve been welcomed by all the volunteers and seniors that participate.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Joe (Why I Like Autumn)

Summer has always been my favorite season but Joe is definitely persuading me to consider autumn as a close second. Stop and smell the burning leaves, through Joe’s story I mean ;) Happy autumn!

PS – I have some surprises for you guys coming up in the next blog posts. Hint: mini videos… tell you more soon!!

Joe Garrison
Why I Like Autumn

I was about 5 when I started recognizing the seasons.  What I miss about autumn was the smell of burning leaves – you used to be able to.  Autumn was a sign that winter was coming.  It was a reminder that school was about to start and winter was approaching.  The new experiences coming – the new school year, the new teachers.  My birthday is also in autumn.  Believe it or not, it was also a sign that Christmas was coming.  It was fall when I started falling in love with Debra.  It was the autumn of 2006 that I started falling in love.   That particular autumn is very special to me.  Just the idea of walking through the leaves and hearing the crunch of the leaves when you walk through them reminds me of autumn.  And it’s the start of the football season and end of baseball season.  It’s time to break out the winter clothes and its proof that the hot weather was on its way out.   Even though I had no sight, my friends and I would go down to the car dealership to see the next models coming out.  The other kids who came had some sight and would describe the cars to me.  Fall is the time for new adventures, like a new beginning.  I really believe if our calendar was like life really is, we would celebrate New Year’s in September.  Because it just seems like it’s a turning of the page, a new beginning.  It’s more of an honest depiction of the New Year than January is.  It’s time to turn a new leaf.  Even though I’ve been out of school for years, I still feel the same way about September.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

In Memory of Bernice and Helen

Grieving is the last thing I want to be familiar with, but I have come to accept that I have to be. Facing death is a reality of having a beautiful circle of senior friends in my life.

It was only one blog post ago when I shared with you about the passing of Gogo; I recently found out that two more of the seniors I have held the closest to my heart have passed away, Beatrice and Helen. They started telling me their stories in 2009, back when I started this group as a little six-week workshop during my lunch hour. Beatrice was there on the first day. Helen joined soon after and was the person who looked me in the eye and asked if we could keep the group ongoing because all of us loved it so much and couldn't imagine it ever ending.

There are many lessons that I have learned from the content of my senior buds' stories, but there are also lessons I have learned from simply being in the room with them and soaking in their presence. Beatrice was one of the funniest people I know I will ever meet; Helen was one of the most graceful people I know I will ever meet. I will never be half as funny as Beatrice or half as graceful as Helen. To me, in very different ways, they were rockstars. It made me feel cool just being around them.

There are many stories I have loved of theirs and many moments I have loved sharing with them. Here are some that will always keep their presence alive for me.

Bernice, I miss you.

Meeting Bernice

Black and White Grits

Different Like Flowers

My Aunt Massengill

On the Bus

Helen, I miss you.

Meeting Helen

One of the Happiest Moments of My Life

My Lovely Parents

I Have Happiness

Letter to Our Readers

Monday, October 19, 2015

Joan (Foolish Superstitions)

Halloween is just around the corner, and yes, we have a fun little black cat (among other fun things) story to get you in the mood! Oh, and don’t forget to answer Joan’s question! Tell us what superstitions you remember or believe in at: Can’t wait to hear from you!

Joan Bunting
Foolish Superstitions

Yesterday the Skip-Bo players were playing Skip-Bo (a card game) and while we were talking, the subject of superstitions that people believed in came up.
Do you remember some of these, and do you still believe in them?
  1. If you spill salt you throw some over your left shoulder.
  2. If you step on a crack in the pavement, you’ll break your mother’s back.
  3. A female is not allowed to whistle in the house.
  4. If someone is sweeping and the broom accidentally touches you, you will end up in jail. (When I would accidentally touch my husband with the broom, he would spit on it. That was what you were supposed to do. So one day the broom touched him and he spit on my broom. Of course I was furious. When I fussed with him he said he didn’t want to go to jail, so I told him that if he were to go to jail he would have been locked up long ago because that was about the fourth or fifth time I had touched him with the broom. I had no more trouble with him spitting on my broom.)
  5. Do not let a black cat go past you from your left side or you will have bad luck. (Well, one day when I was a pre-teen this black cat tried to pass by me and I chased that cat for about a whole five or six minutes. I can’t remember exactly what happened but I think that cat got tired of me chasing and ran another way.)
  6. If two people are waiting together do not walk between them, especially if they are married or dating because it will break up their relationship.

After I chased that cat is when I realized how foolish superstitions are. If you need to believe in something, believe what the Bible tells you. In other words, believe in God and you can’t go wrong.

Monday, October 5, 2015

In Memory of Gogo – A Life of Mirth and Joy

Gogo means “Grandmother” in Swahili and it’s what Jenny Williams always wanted to world to know her as. Gogo had been in and out of the hospital for a while now and I am sad to share that we said goodbye to her last week.

It means a lot to me that her granddaughter, Amber Llewellyn, reached out to me right away, and co-wrote this blog post with me. We had never met or talked before, but my senior buds’ families are truly my extended families, and despite the sad reason that brought us together, it is a blessing to be connected with a young woman who loves her grandmother so much.

It makes me so sad to see one more of my closest senior buds pass away. But with every death I have experienced, I have grown stronger and more determined to give the seniors I still can spend time with the absolute best time of their lives. With every passing, I find peace in knowing that one more senior's voice will live on forever through the stories shared in our group, that one more family will have these stories to hold on to as the senior's legacy.

Every single time I saw Gogo, she always greeted me with a laugh, a hug and a sparkle in the eye. It’s true what she wrote, that she’s been given a gift – a life of mirth and joy. Sparkle on, Gogo. I love you and miss you.

Amber Llewellyn
Tribute to My Grandmother
My grandmother Jenny Williams (Gogo)  honestly meant the world to me. I always knew she had a gift for writing and I received confirmation through reading her writings. I can still hear her saying, “Amber get on that site and look at my stories!” This was truly her passion, writing and storytelling. One of the pieces that stood out to me the most was “ Let Go and Love”. I was overwhelmed with tears as I read that beautiful piece. Gogo and I almost always debated on forgiveness. Despite how people may judge, treat, abandon you…you must FORGIVE! You don't have a lot of time to hold bitterness in your heart but instead let go and allow the love to flow as she said in her writing. It means so much knowing that Gogo lived by her own words. I was truly blessed by her wonderful spirit each and everyday. I have spent the last two years caring for her and one of her biggest goals was to get back to the senior center. She loved being there every Thursday with friends making memories. Seeing her happiness through the pictures made me smile.  Miss Jenny Williams did not go in vain. She loved and cared for all of you! I want to personally thank all the people she has touched for accepting her bright, beautiful spirit.

Gogo Jenny Williams
Let Go and Love

Advice and wisdom from someone who has lived several decades:

No… I don’t reside up in the attic among used relics and such… you will not find me in my bed under a blanket scared and afraid of vampires and witches.

I love children and find myself more patient with yours than the ones I raised.

So what of this great wisdom? I do so want to impart the key word is “live”.

Time, especially in this modern age comes in running. When you are young, time is a deceiver and waits for no one.

Oh yes, advice and wisdom. You must stop and take assessment of what is going on around you…don’t take people too seriously…let go of things that weigh you down. Forgive parents, siblings, friends, and foes. Let go and allow love to flow from your heart…

Gogo Jenny Williams
Out of the Mouths of Babes

Every day when I wake up—first I’m so thankful to see a new day, as I’m growing older my expectations are growing.

If you see me there is not much to see, a short grey-haired lady.  Kind of round for lack of a nicer word than my hospital charts say.  This self-assessment does not bother me.

I’ve been given a special gift, along with thankfulness, expectation, there is mirth and joy or, to sum these last two, laughter.  Even when trouble and sadness pay me a visit, something deep down inside that tinkles and bubbles and escapes in spite of me. 

Today at my senior center, someone shared a story about one of her grandchildren—she said, “Grandma went to daycare today.”  After the laughter died down, we decided, yes, we get to hang out with people our own age, we go way back.

We are well taken care of, a safe environment, good food to eat, even when we complain.

Gogo Jenny Williams

The exciting thing about getting older is adjusting to changes. After hitting the legitimate age of adulthood (21), there are many changes. Becoming a wife and mother was an unexpected change that, for me, was unlike the books and movies I’d seen. There were no scripts, there was no one to map out scenes and prepare me for the next scene. No longer answering to what my parents expected of me, now my life and daily experiences molded and shaped me into a person I did not recognize. How strange: when did it happen? The extrovert who grew up as she guided and loved her children; the woman who burst from a cocoon of traditions and taking charge to one who embraces life, who is not afraid of change. 

Gogo Jenny Williams
My Best Days Are Now

I meet people daily who are overwhelmed with the complexities of life in the 21st century. People are rushing around like a colony of ants without the intent and purpose of ants. Ants know where they are going. What’s wrong with me? I sometimes wonder. Aha, that’s my predicament, wonderment, the excitement of the moment. Each day is a new day, when I wake up it does not yet appear where it will go.

Gogo Jenny Williams
The Best Thing I Have Learned in My Life

It took many years and it seemed that I kept butting my head against hardened walls. I learned that you can begin again; you can forgive, turn around, pick up the pieces, and learn from your mistakes.

Bad decisions – I’ve made a few. Missed opportunities – yes, I’ve missed a few. Trusted the untrustworthy – yes I did. Experiencing encounters the 3rd and 4th kind made me a better human being – the so-called failures became stepping stones to my success, the backbone that enabled me to stand up and face life, not hide in a corner when it seemed that my world crumbled.

What a chain breaker. What a feeling of empowerment.

The process may be quite fragile. It might be missing people and components that were so very important to your life. But if you are still breathing, you can begin again.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Greta and Amber (The Best Day of My Life So Far)

The best day of my life so far is every time a senior or a visitor shares that our time together is the best day, or a highlight, of their lives. Cheers, everyone! Let the good vibes go on and on! Want to read more about my inspiration for calling our storytelling groups “The Best Day of My Life So Far?” Check it out here: and drop me a note at to share how our time together here, virtually, feels to you. I hope you are enjoying it here because I really do love hanging out with you ;)

Greta Adams
The Best Day of My Life So Far

The Best Day of My Life so Far is any Thursday that I can attend the writing class and can remember something worthy of sharing with the class. I also enjoy seeing the other members of the class and hearing their stories and sometimes getting to see the son of our teacher, who was born during the time I have been in the writing class. He acts like he is a member of the class, he blends right in with us at such a young age.

During the summer, I am away a lot. I will be attending a relative's 100th birthday celebration, August 22, 2015. I am looking forward to that. It should be quite exciting – an out-of-town family reunion.

Amber Nelson, Visitor
Thank You

Thank you all for allowing me to sit in and write with you. Visiting this storytelling class weekly has been one of the highlights of my summer. Your stories have inspired me to write more and to encourage others (my second grade students, my family members, etc.) to write as well. You've made me laugh and made me think and most of all showed me that everyone has an important story to share. Oh, and special thanks to Ms. Frances for donating books to my classroom. I'm excited to see how the young readers grow as a result of your generosity.

With school starting, I'm not sure when I'll be able to hang out with you all again, but I'm truly grateful for this experience.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Loretta, Joan, Brenda (When I Was a Little Girl)

Today, we celebrate childhood in all its complexity: happy, funny, but also at times confusing or sad. May the good memories last a lifetime. May the funny memories make us laugh as hard as we used to as children. May the bad memories make us stronger every time we relive them!

Loretta Gaither
When I Was a Little Girl

I used to stutter. I went to a special ed class for my stuttering. I could read and write, but my mother didn't want me to read or write. She didn't want to pay for special ed classes and wanted to keep the money my father gave me for her own expenses. That's the reason I got married young – to have a better life. I didn't. My husband got killed by drugs. I got a job doing the laundry for a hotel, but God showed me I could do more. I made a better life for myself by drawing, acting, sewing, making artwork like a wooden shoe covered with flowers, and being here, telling my stories. I love this writing group. May God bless the people in the writing group and at the senior center and everyone reading my stories.

Joan Bunting
Music in my Bones

I just left the closing of the Senior Center Choir’s get together/luncheon/brunch/whatever for the summer. While we were brunching or whatever the subject of singing at the table was brought up. We all agreed that singing at the table was bad manners. I think the subject came up because while I was eating I was singing along with the smart phone that someone had placed on the table next to where I was sitting. They weren’t just any songs, they were gospel songs.

It was then mentioned about how we were coming up as children. Not only were we not allowed to sing at the table, but in some situations we were not allowed to even talk at the kitchen table. When I was a young girl, I’d better not sing at the table. Accept when my sister Doris and I were moved to be joined with our three other siblings, and it would be just the children at the table, and we were allowed to talk with one another. Of my siblings, I was the most talkative one and had to be told to shut my mouth.

I’ve always loved music, and now as an adult whenever I hear music even while I’m eating I have the tendency to sing or hum. And if I don’t know the words to a song I’m either humming, rocking, or tapping my feet. (note I said feet not foot) Music is just in my bones.

Brenda Scantlebury

I often think of the times of my childhood days, when children had fun really playing. I remember when I, my brothers, cousins and friends used to build things. I remember when we used to build go-carts. What we would do was find, or go to a grocery store and ask for crates. Then we would find old pieces of boards. For whatever reason there were always some around. We had a lot of empty lots in the hood. A lot came from abandoned buildings. In my time when I was growing up skates were almost a must as a youngster. If you didn’t have any or too much to play with, the first thing to have for fun was a pair of skates. We would take one of the skates, or both If needed, and take the skate apart. We also needed nails. We would take the crate and nail it on a tall piece of board, then nail another piece of board on the bottom of the crate. We would nail the skate that was taken apart in two pieces; one up front then one in back of the bottom board. And then we had our go-cart. It was so much fun. When I look back I can see how smart and creative I was.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Joe (I See with My Ears)

I was texting with one of my awesome co-facilitators Jana this week and thanking her for not 1, not 2, but the gazillion things she does for our seniors and our team (including organizing our first inter-group volunteer mixer this weekend which I am super super excited about!!) She texted me back in typical Jana fashion, "Lol no problem, you treat people how you want to be treated :)" I just want to share that to say that Best Day is nothing without my fearless, selfless army of volunteers, and to say that our seniors' bottomless wisdom may just be rubbing off on our volunteers ;) Jana's note reminds me of Joe's recent story. Let's really start to treat each other like we want to be treated.

Joe Garrison
I See With My Ears

A few years ago, I told a story called "Vision," once again, I feel the need to share my feelings about language as it pertains to being sightless. There are still people who think that a sightless or blind person should never use words like see, watch, or saw. A few days ago, I asked if I could watch a certain television program. My roommate is always reminding me that I can't see or that I have no vision. It offends me. I feel as though I function very well in the sighted world. I do the best I can. I find nothing wrong with saying I watch television or I saw so and so yesterday, or, it's good to see you. To me, it is a normal patter of speech. I believe that if I am in your presence, I see you. If I witnessed something, I saw it. I have expressed before that the word "see" also means understand or observe. And you do not need eyes to understand or observe. My ears are my eyes. I don't feel as though I have to change my way of speaking. To me, hearing is seeing, and there are countless blind people who think that way. I feel hurt when I am called crazy or stupid when people don't understand why I see things this way. This is my final word on this subject.

Click here to revisit Joe’s story, “Vision,” and a brilliant story sharing the same title by a special young lady, Olivia.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Frances and Joan (Thank God for Life)

Today, two stories about survival, a lighthearted one by Frances, a heavy one by Joan, both reminding us to be grateful for this big, crazy, amazing thing called Life. Speaking of which, happy weekend... live it up!

Frances Bryce
Surviving Early Childhood with Four Brothers

I was born in a home that had four brothers. As was the custom in many black families, the oldest was in charge when the parents were away, and did most or saw that most of the chores were done. The oldest boys were glad when I was born, now a girl would do most of the things they had been doing.

My nemesis was the one that was two years older than me. He was the kid that would brush up against me, because there was no hitting the girl (me) in the family. He teased me when he had the opportunity, which was often. One day, he ran after me with a garden snake on a limb, of course my parents were not home.

The fact was that no one else could do mean things to me at school, playground, or anyplace else. He was very protective. When I was old enough to date, all my older brothers decided who could come to the home to see me.

An incident that was most entertaining was one afternoon a boy was on the way to my home, when one of my protective brothers asked where he was going. When he replied to see me, he (my brother) said, “No you are not,” and sent him on his way.

I did manage to get a stamp of approval of a couple of boys. I learned that the guys that my brother knew often were aware of their character because they had been traveling in the same circle. They taught me what kind of girls that were respectful so I learned a lot about males from them. What enabled me to make decisions about chasing the ones that were character driven, with morals and ethical values.

Joan Bunting
Thank God For Life

Do you ever wonder what happened to people you grew up with or attended school with. I do. Many of the girls I knew (and boys) are gone. And I mean they don’t inhabit this earth any longer.

I am so very grateful that God has kept me here this long.

I often go back into my past and truly realize the things that have caused me not to be here and it’s very scary.

I’ve had a gun pointed at me twice, point blank. God protected me from what could have ended my life.

I came very close to getting hit by a car but God said, it was not my time yet.

When you’re young and have not really come to know fear, you take lots of foolish chances, dangerous things or even fatal outcomes could have overtaken me but God blocked it. That’s why I’m still here.

I thank God everyday and night for keeping me from all hurt, harm and danger. I’ve also learned not to take life for granted.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Elliot (What I Fear)

You know what Elliot’s stories remind me of? The powerful summer sun. Whenever I am looking for a life lesson to illuminate my day, I can always count on my bud Elliot. I love that his stories tell it like it is, shining a light on life’s bumps and twists and complexities. But the real twist is, even when he talks about his fear of the darkest alleys, it’s his bright mind and piercing wisdom that we really see.

Elliot Doomes
What I Fear

I have heard people say
That they fear nothing.
People who fear nothing
Scare the hell out of me.
They disregard danger signals and pay no attention to their senses which often times sends us warnings in times approaching danger.
I fear dark alleys and strange neighborhoods. I tell myself that I'm just being cautious, but I'm really afraid. I fear crowded subways when school lets out. Them teenagers rage in the subway, they have no sense of responsibility. They push and shove, swinging heavy book bags. Once a teen broke a girl's nose by punching her because she kept hitting him with her book bag. I fear big dogs walking without a leash. People will say "Oh, he won't bite" when the dog is bigger than me. I asked a man does his dog eat meat because if so, he needs a leash. I am alright with my fears as long as they remain reasonable.

Elliot Doomes
I Always Had Money

I can remember when I was a child. We lived in a 2 room flat. The kids slept in the kitchen. I remember never having enough to eat or clothes. I worked for a man named Mr. Arder, tying bundles of wood and baskets of wood. I always had money. I would sell wood on 9th St. I would shine shoes on Locust Street and on 8th & South I made a lot of money shining shoes. People said we were poor because of the way we lived. But we didn’t know. Maybe my parents knew, but us kids didn’t. We would collect paper and glass bottles. I always had change in my pocket. There was no allowance, the radio was better than TV, we had nothing, but we were happy. We never complained. People complain too much today. People can get by today on what they make, but they complain anyways. If I came into money, I would not buy property in the South. Definitely not in Philadelphia. Like I said, we never felt poor. We didn’t even know we were poor. We played kick the can, hide and go seek. We made our own fun. We didn’t live with a lot of fear.

Elliot Doomes
Lost Children

When I was a young kid growing up, it was about sports and dancing and school – it was about social activities. There was always something to do. Kids today don’t have those options. Today kids are interested in money and getting it as fast as they can. And the vast majority of them are dropping out of school with no occupational skills. Making an honest living is out of the question for a lot of them. So where do they go? They deal drugs. It’s fast and easy with no labor put into it. They’ve closed down all the social places I used to go. I seriously believe we’ve lost a whole generation of our children, could be two. Instead of institutions of higher learning, their final destination is one of 3 things: jail, mental institutions, or death. But I can say that my grandchildren are all graduates. All of them. Two of them are working and earning a living. The third is looking. And the youngest is in 9th grade, and already had a summer job as a cashier. She wants to go to college. And she’ll go.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Mo (The Most Wonderful Gift in the History of Birthdays)

In my years of working with seniors, I have seen many of them muster up the courage to repair broken relationships with long lost family and friends – those are spectacular, groundbreaking moments. But the quieter moments take my breath away too, like when I realize that they have been slowly and steadily deepening the relationships with these family and friends.

Every first Thursday of the month, our group puts down our pen and paper and get on the computers instead, to recall stories that we, and our friends in satellite groups, have written. Each senior scrolls up and down this blog and our satellite blogs, and takes turns reading a friend’s story out loud. Yesterday, Joe picked out this story from Mo’s from 2010, which got us to go onto Youtube to look at this unforgettable video that the story was referring to. Mo works and has to arrive late some days. He walked in almost right when the story ended, and we thought it was so funny.

But what made us gasp was when he pulled out a book from his tote. The cover has a black and white photo or a child and the words, “A Boy Named Skippy.” Skip is one of his many ;) nicknames. Turns out that his daughter Kathleen, the same daughter who was in the Youtube video that we had just happened to pop open, made him this book recently for his 80th birthday. It contains the stories that he had written in our group, so far ;) Mo had tears of joy in his eyes the whole time when he was showing it to us.

As the story of Mo and Kathleen continues to deepen, I feel like it’d be fun to do a lil’ throwback. Click here to read Mo’s story “Only Child” and my blog post in October 2009 about the Mo I was just getting to know. It’s been six years, but it feels like just yesterday when he told me, "I've never done this before. Writing or anything like that. Not even in school. This is my first time."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Norman (Things My Mother Said to Me)

Norman wrote a story about his mom recently. It’s so moving, because you really see what a great mom she was in every single phase of his life. There’s probably no higher honor a mom can ask for than a story like this from a son. When I read it, I was reminded of another equally moving but different story he wrote a while ago. I had to dig it up. When I put the two stories together, I felt like the original story instantly became a hundred times more precious. Talk to a senior in your life and hear what they’d like to share about their mom! Tell us about it here:
Norman Cain
I Feel Good

I am far away from being egotistical but there are times when compliments make me feel good. 

I felt good when my father said, “You are a man.”

I felt good when my mother told me that I did an excellent job as the emcee for a family reunion.

I felt good when my uncle (a South Carolina Farmer) who I worked with told me that I was dedicated.

I feel good when the neighborhood guys in their forties call me Coach.  I had them as a champion basketball team when they were 15.

Norman Cain
Things My Mother Said To Me

My mother was a short giant of an "absolutely no nonsense" women whose self proclaimed position of boss was never challenged. She would tell anyone (no matter the time and place) to do something, and what she demanded was done without resistance. For instance, I've seen her break up many corner crap games; likewise, I can recall several instances when she actually went into the streets' gambling den and told the hardened card players to curtail the vile noise that the entire street could hear. And they complied.

She did not waste words on idle gossip, trivial matters or to hear herself talk; to the contrary, when she spoke it was for a relevant reason, and those who were within hearing range definitely listened. Including myself. I listened to her – partly, because I did not want to encounter her anger, but mainly because of my respect for her and her information, advise guidance, dictates, etc. that she dispensed.

Over the years, in her discussions that she has conducted with me, she has issued mandatory mandates, rendered perceptions, engaged in serious discussions and has given me tons of well needed counseling. I will never forget those sessions. She could be quite the disciplinarian. I can remember coming into the house after a pleasant day of playing and immediately being the recipient of the whipping that I was promised earlier, a whipping that I had escaped my mind.

Between the painful licks from the belt and my pronouncements of I-ain't-gonna-do-it-no-more, my mother would say didn't I tell you not to? Those whippings hurt, but there was something called a "Good Talking To" that would have me sobbing from the soul, boo-hooing with pain. The "Good Talking To" would consist of phrases like "I'm ashamed of you" and "You know better."

I remember my mother religiously lining each of my four siblings up and staying in a stern voice "What do you say when you speak to a grown person?" We would chime "Yes Sir" "Yes Ma'am." And during the holidays when children were required to say poems (which were called pieces) in church, she would line us up (my four siblings) and urge us to use our hands, eyes, hesitation, pronunciation and enunciation for the best presentation effect.

My mother also had a humorous side. When I received the award for being the top student in my sixth grade special education class, she said "If Norman is the smartest kid in the class, God help the rest." Before breaking out into a prolongued uncontrollable laugh. Whenever she had to inform me about something she knew would be disappointing news for me, she used a love filled gently voice. "Sissy's house caught fire last night. Sissy is dead." Sissy was the first girl that I had ever been romantically interested in. I have never forgotten her untimely death; however, there were more romantic interests.

Once, when I was a teenager, she looked me in the eyes and said, "I know what your problem is – girls." And she was correct. A few years later, when a serious heart break had me in a state of depression, she said to me, "There will be other girls." She was right. When I became older and seemingly a veteran of heartbreaks and homeless separations, my mother adamantly said "Get your own place." She was right.

When I left my parents' home on the morning of July 5, 1965 to report to the army, she urged me to hold my head up and a year and a half later when I came home on leave, she touched me and said with a tone of relief in her voice, "You came home." During what I surmise was my mid-life crisis era, my mom constantly told me to not throw away my gifts.

And when I told her about a dream I had about her father, mother, and uncle, she said that they were urging me to keep the faith. During a period in my life when nothing was going right and I was making wrong decisions, my mother would constantly tell me to not discard my gifts. When I told her that I had had a dream about her parents and her father's brother, she said "They are telling you that you can do it." If one did a wonderful deed, my mother would not necessarily congratulate them, as she felt that they were doing what was expected of them.

So whenever she told me "You did a good job," it meant a lot to me and encourages me to strive as hard as I possibly could. There are of course many other things that my mother said to me, and everything she said to me was in love, and if the tone of her delivers were sometimes harsh, it was merely to display "Tough Love" and to leave an everlasting message.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Helping the Elderly

It's hot beyond belief here in Philly – hope it's cooler where you are! If you've been with us here on the blog for some time, you know about the elementary school essay that I go back to once in a while – it completely predicted my passion for working with seniors almost two decades before I knew it, and I first shared about that essay on this blog back in January 2011. Today, hanging out at home (in fully pumping AC), I got thinking about how significant that essay is. Check out my reflections here and tell your Best Day story here if here you agree that a world with "really, very happy" seniors is worth fighting for!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hattie (Watching My Family Grow)


POW!, as Hattie says, life moves fast. How did I suddenly grow up? And how are my kids growing up so fast? Today is my husband’s and my 10th wedding anniversary (woohoo!) and tomorrow is my 35th birthday (yay!). Can’t call myself “young” after this week ;) which is perfectly fine because you all know I am a senior-wannabe. I think age is an awesome thing – the bigger your number, the more awesome you are. Got your own story or one that a senior in your life has told you about how “growing up” feels like? Share it here:

Hattie Lee Ellerbe
Watching my Family Grow

It’s amazing how I remember just being a little girl, minding my own business, playing kiddie games and learning the facts of life. Then “POW!” I grew up. This was in spite of the fact that I wanted to stay a child and play-play-play. Needless to say it has been wonderful watching my three children grow up. They have given me:
•    8 grandchildren
•    8 great-grandchildren
•    3 great-great-grandchildren
Boy what a life. In all my 82 years they have brought me much joy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ordinary Moments, Extraordinary Lessons

From a debate over paper towel placement (you know what I am talking about… we’ve all had those with our roommates or spouses!), a short Shakespeare poem, a bible verse, a conversation with a neighbor, our seniors’ stories remind me that life has a way of handing us extraordinary lessons through ordinary moments. If a senior in your life has shared an extraordinary life lesson with you, tell us about it here!
Frances Bryce
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

During the Christmas Holidays I usually visit our home in California where my son, daughter and her husband live.  I have shortened my time which was usually from the months of November to March; now it is when the school is out for the holiday because I am a Reading Buddy for students in one of the third grades at Greenfield which I enjoy. 

A conversation arose one day during the holiday about the placement of a roll of paper towels.  My daughter noticed that the roll was placed from front to back after her husband had put the roll on.  She thought it was on the wrong way.  He asked me about the paper placement.  I replied that the direction of the roll was an option.  When they left, I replaced it the way she usually has it, so as not to make an issue of such an unimportant thing.  Her husband had stated that he didn’t know there was a right or wrong way.  I reversed the towels later as we talked she said that she had replaced the order of the towel as her husband had placed it. We had a good laugh about pleasing the other person and not getting bogged down in insignificant things.

Norman Cain
Be True to Yourself

To thine own self be true,
and this must [follow], as the day the night
thence thou cannot be false to any man

It took me a while to adhere to the message in the preceding poem by William Shakespeare. I was victimized by peer pressure; therefore I was not being true to myself. I was allowing others to dictate my lifestyle. I constantly worried about what they would say about me – in and outside of their presence. After many hard-learned lessons I abandoned denial about how many members of my clique were self-centered and manipulative. At that point I began to follow the path I laid out for myself, which made me feel at ease. While I did not abandon my peers, I certainly did not allow their opinions to dictate my life. To thine own self be true.

Brenda Scantlebury
Live Each Day to the Fullest

The Bible describes one’s life here on earth as a vapor! A Vapor can be a substance made of moisture, of steam, or smoke. None of these substances last very long. So with this in mind…

There’s a scripture that declares: “Work while it’s a day, for when night cometh, no man can work!”

So . . . live each day to the fullest! Make the very best of it! If life gives you lemons – make lemonade. If it brings honey – do like the bees who make it. Thank the Lord God and keep on living, keep on working. Amen.

Joan Bunting
Think Before You Act

As a young girl, I’ve always enjoyed listening to older people. Even when I was in my thirties and forties I had neighbors that I would visit and they would tell me stories about their lives. Listening to older people has taught me a lot.

I used to hear some of them say how salt can cause your blood pressure to rise, even to the point where you might have to be on medication for the rest of your life. When I got older I stopped using so much salt and am now trying to use hardly any at all.

There was one lady probably in her eighties about how she came home from work one day. One of her sons had welts on his body. He had gotten a whipping from his father. She said, she was so angry, she went to her husband’s job to kill him.

When she arrived she asked to see her husband. She said it took so long for him to come that by that time her anger had ceased. She just looked at him and walked away. He never knew that she had come to kill him. The son nor the father never mentioned why the son was whipped.

She ended her story by saying, “When you’re angry take the time to cool off before you react.”

To me that’s a great lesson to learn. There are lots of people, I believe, are in jail

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jana, Loretta, Rochelle and Dolores (Stories of Love and Laughter)

Following her personal story in the previous blog post, Jana handpicked a few recent stories by our seniors to put a smile on our faces - thanks Jana!

I chose these stories because I felt like they shared a similar theme of love and laughter. Stories that you most definitely could tell to your children or grandchildren years down the line.  They are precious memories we take with us. Hope you readers enjoy! – Jana

Loretta Dotson
The Traveler

I love to travel. I visit so many paces almost daily. In London Big Ben was as amazing as huge. The Great Wall of China was astounding. It is extremely cold in Alaska but the fishing was great. The volcanoes in Hawaii are exciting and potentially deadly. Jamaica, Jamaica so beautiful the people pleasant and colorful and so accommodating. They love the American dollar, don’t we all?

Haiti is still struggling but still hanging in there. There are so very many places to visit and enjoy. The White House, the oval office, a spectacular room of course. Ah, Italy, great pasta, pizzelle and wine. In Germany and Switzerland beautiful chalets and mountains. But, for me, the clocks, the watches and the wrist and pendants variety are unique.

These places mentioned, you may enjoy also – just pick up a book! You can visit any place, stay as long as you like and revisit, no parking, no reservations. I’m revisiting New Orleans, the French Quarter. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

Rochelle Tynes
AKA 20/20

I drew a blank and couldn’t think of anything to write about.  In fact I really started not to come but I had said in the beginning of the year that I was going to try and come every week.  So I basically gave my word, I didn’t want to go back on it so I came.

I guess I’ll just sit here and enjoy the stories that other tell today.  The stories are always so very interesting and bring to mind things that occurred during out young years.  They are often pleasant memories of people and times that have long passed but should be returned so the younger generation can have a better outlook on life to appreciate what they have and not be so anxious to have everything immediately and move on the next needed “right now thing” and to know that an education is a thing to be honored to achieve instead of taking it so lightly and leaving school.  And taking care of oneself is a goal and not someone else’s responsibility.  Anyway, I was just gonna listen.

Dolores Malone
The Day I Stopped Eating Watermelon

When I was seven years old, I hardly minded where infants came from. I just cared that they were here to be played with like dolls, to be coddled and kissed. I also worried little about the origin of the adults in my world. In fact, I worried little about how people – babies, teens, adults – come to be because I had developed my own theory about their genesis.

My seven-year-old imagination, combined with Bible stories, determined that God put each fully-formed person on earth at a specific age. And those people matured from that point forward. God, for example, made mom 30-ish; Cathy, two weeks old; Uncle Jay, 40-something; my oldest sister 4; and most of my friends between 3 and 7. Adults, already old at birth, bypassed infancy, childhood and other early maturation milestones. I figured that I was actually a little over two when God made me for my parents – no matter that folks told stories about my existence before then. To put it succinctly, I theorized that God crafter humans as completely developed babies, children, or adults.

So it was that I was surprised at seven to learn that my theory of birth was flawed. I was sitting on my front steps with my sisters, a few teenagers and young adults, when I noticed a stranger, a lady walking toward my steps. I looked her up and down. I was captivated by her shiny, black hair, presumably oiled with Royal Crown Pomade before being pressed straight with a hot comb and then curled into a page-boy, with evenly-spaced finger waves complimenting her hairdo. I was also mesmerized by her bright red lipstick – the color of which “is only worn by Jezebels,” according to my Mom.

But what shocked me more than anything else about the lady with the fancy hair and painted lips was her bulging belly. I had never seen anything like it. Her stomach stuck out so far that I thought that somehow she might have been concealing something enormous like a basketball beneath her loose-fitting dress.

As the lady, who looked no more than 20, wobbled toward the group, she greeted a teenager sitting on the top step. (Neighborhood protocol dictated that the youngest children sit on the bottom steps, the oldest people on the upper ones) The lady groaned as she climbed to where her friend sat. All the while, I couldn’t take my eyes off her huge stomach. I was speechless.

Finally, when the lady was seated, I whispered to my sister, “What’s wrong with her? Why is her stomach so fat?”

“I don’t know,” my sister replied, “ask her.”

So I did. And what a shock I got. “I swallowed a watermelon seed, and now I’m gonna have a baby. It’s growing in my stomach,” the lady said.

I could hardly believe what I heard. I asked, “You mean a baby comes from a watermelon seed?”

“Yep, so don’t ever swallow one.”

Hence, on that day and for the next few years I refused to eat watermelon. I feared germinating a baby inside my wee, wee belly.    

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jana (A Volunteer's Reflections)

Jana and her Granny
Jana listening to our seniors' stories
We all know the seniors of Best Day are inspiring, but no less inspiring are the voices of volunteers who work so hard to help our seniors find their voices. Today, I have invited volunteer and my friend Jana to tell her heartwarming Best Day story!

Greetings Readers,

Let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Jana Henry. I am a group facilitator here at Best Day of My Life So Far. By day I work for an awesome church in Philadelphia and by night or any other free time I have I write. Being a writer at heart is one of the things that drew me to Best Day. Currently I and a few other facilitators have been helping with our weekly classes while Benita spends time loving on her new baby boy who is the cutest little thing ever.

I started with Best Day back in 2013. I was actually taking a stroll through social media as we often do in this day and age and I saw a peer of mine hanging out with a group of seniors. So I asked him what Best Day was all about. I had recently lost my grandmother and was yearning for a relationship like the one we had shared. What I had found is that it’s hard to replace those bonds but doors always open to make new ones. Long story short I was connected to Benita and I just jumped right in.

Best Day for me has been many things. It was a break from the hustle and bustle of school as I finished my undergraduate degree. The seniors were my cheering section when I finally finished school and a great encouragement as I searched for a full time job and thankfully found one later that year. I have enjoyed a walk through nostalgia every week as the seniors share what they write. I admire the wisdom that I have been blessed to be in a room with. I sometimes feel bad that the world doesn’t know just how awesome this program is and I make it a point to talk about our class everywhere I go.

In the recent weeks class has been a helpful reminder to slow down and live in the moment. I am grateful that Benita and the seniors have entrusted me to join in on their weekly storytelling. I feel blessed. Check out some of our blog posts and it is my hope that you may find joy to take with you throughout your day today!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dolores (A Character Building Ditty from the Past)

This story by Dolores is Rough and Tough! Consider yourself warned – don’t mess with Dolores and her friends ;) If Dolores’ story here reminds you of a ditty that you and your friends came up with as kids, tell us about it here:

Dolores Malone
This story by Dolores is Rough and Tough! Consider yourself warned – don’t mess with Dolores and her friends ;) If Dolores’ story here reminds you of a ditty that you and your friends came up with as kids, tell us about it here:

Dolores Malone
A Character Building Ditty from the Past

Many seniors remember some of the childhood ditties that helped mold them into upstanding citizens.  For the most part, adults including parents, teachers and ministers taught these ditties.  Yet, I learned some of my favorite character-building ones from peers.  I recall one such ditty – a counterintuitive one – that still creates waver of joy within me whenever I explore the past.

I was a tween then – a youngster between 10 and 12 – in the 1950’s when a group of five girlfriends about my age sat with me on the front steps of the home where I lived in a poverty-stricken, gang-ridden section of North Philadelphia.  As evening neared, we girls were bored, presumably having exhausted every game we knew.  But the newest girl in our group taught us not merely a new game, but a bonding ditty of feigned bravado.  While chanting this ditty, we six girls linked arms, puffed out our chests, and marched shoulder-to-shoulder up and down the sidewalk on my side of the block, leaving little room for passerbys and scattering like cockroaches whenever someone approached.  Loudly, in unison, we chanted:

“We are rough; we are tough.
 We are the girls who don’t take no stuff.
 If you don’t like us, you can smell our feet.
 ‘Cuz we are the girls from Berks Street.”

Contrary to what appears to be merely a gang-related chant, the singing of the Rough and Tough Ditty, along with the requisite posturing and boasting, was an exercise in character development.  While assuming a sense of false bravado to conquer the fear of gang intimidation – especially intimidation involving coercion to join one of the two rival girl gangs in the neighborhood, I learned the importance of courage, loyalty, cooperation and friendship.  Saliently, thanks to my experience then, I also learned the value of making the right choices of choosing to chant and bond with gang-free friends rather than actually join a gang, a gang of thugs.

That’s all Folks!!!  …Until next time.

Many seniors remember some of the childhood ditties that helped mold them into upstanding citizens.  For the most part, adults including parents, teachers and ministers taught these ditties.  Yet, I learned some of my favorite character-building ones from peers.  I recall one such ditty – a counterintuitive one – that still creates waver of joy within me whenever I explore the past.

I was a tween then – a youngster between 10 and 12 – in the 1950’s when a group of five girlfriends about my age sat with me on the front steps of the home where I lived in a poverty-stricken, gang-ridden section of North Philadelphia.  As evening neared, we girls were bored, presumably having exhausted every game we knew.  But the newest girl in our group taught us not merely a new game, but a bonding ditty of feigned bravado.  While chanting this ditty, we six girls linked arms, puffed out our chests, and marched shoulder-to-shoulder up and down the sidewalk on my side of the block, leaving little room for passerbys and scattering like cockroaches whenever someone approached.  Loudly, in unison, we chanted:

“We are rough; we are tough.
 We are the girls who don’t take no stuff.
 If you don’t like us, you can smell our feet.
 ‘Cuz we are the girls from Berks Street.”

Contrary to what appears to be merely a gang-related chant, the singing of the Rough and Tough Ditty, along with the requisite posturing and boasting, was an exercise in character development.  While assuming a sense of false bravado to conquer the fear of gang intimidation – especially intimidation involving coercion to join one of the two rival girl gangs in the neighborhood, I learned the importance of courage, loyalty, cooperation and friendship.  Saliently, thanks to my experience then, I also learned the value of making the right choices of choosing to chant and bond with gang-free friends rather than actually join a gang, a gang of thugs.

That’s all Folks!!!  …Until next time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Joe (Summertime)

Who else here loves summer besides Joe?? I do, do you? How did you spend your summers growing up? If Joe’s story here reminds you of one of your own, tell us about it here:

Joe Garrison

I guess I really started enjoying summers when I was 6 years old. And it was the first time I had ever heard of Memorial Day. I went to a special boarding school for the blind where we went home on weekends. Sometimes I stayed in on weekends and one day I was listening to a song on the radio called “Cruising Down the River” on A Sunday Afternoon. Also, it was the 1st Father’s Day I remember and that stood out because it was the first cake I remember my mom making. It was a coconut and pineapple cake and she said it was a special Father’s Day cake for my dad.

Usually my summers were spent eating watermelon, playing with the neighborhood kids and going to Vacation Bible School for 2-3 weeks at the Community Center. Sometimes, on the 4th of July we’d either visit my grandmother (my grandfather’s birthday was on July the 5th) or going to the park for a picnic.

My teenage summers weren’t that memorable. The most memorable summers after that was when I was 20 and 21, volunteering at a work camp to remodel the community center. I even painted a house. And there were activities for all the kids there, like lawn games and basketball, baseball and badminton. Even though some of my summers weren’t especially memorable, summer is my favorite time of the year.

Summers are always beautiful to me.