Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our Published Authors (Norman, Eugene, and Frances)

It's no surprise that our authors are getting published. Many of you already know about our book The Best Day of My Life So Far, featuring the stories our older buds wrote during the first five years of our workshop. However, some of our seniors have been published in other literary magazines, and some have their own books. Norman Cain has had his works published in the Drexel Writers Room Anthology 2 collection and is working on a new publication, and Eugene Carrington has already published his short collection of stories and poems Messenger Blues, among other things. Here's some content form the both of them, available exclusively at Best Day.

Norman Cain
Father: The Railroad Man

My father, an amiable, quiet, lean, tall, bald, well-proportioned, copper-skinned man, was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was a quiet man He rarely spoke. We communicated through physical activities. He took me to see the Brooklyn Dodgers where I was amazed by the athleticism of Jackie Robinson. One of the most memorable times that I spent with him was catching a baseball in an empty lot. We would spend hours  wallpapering, painting, and laying linoleum on the floor of the kitchen. When I was around five years old, he told me that I was a Highland Geehiee. Years later, I learned that the term Geehiee was derived from slave that inhabited the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia (around the Ogeechee River) who maintained many of African cultural traits, as they did not come to the main land for more than a hundred years. Those who were not from the low lands were known as Fresh Water Geehiees or High land Geehiees. He rarely took off from work; however, then a relative or friend or someone from his South Carolina township died, he took the train wherever the further was, up and down the East Coast.

He took advantage of his entitlement to free train tickets to various locations on the eastern seaboard. My family periodically visited relatives in Washington, New York, and Baltimore during the weekends. I was no stranger to the rails, I became accustomed to traveling on trains, recognizing landmarks in my travels during these journeys. During these junkets, he would be well-dressed: two-toned shoes, tailored suit, blocked hat. However, during the week, he was attired in the uniform required for a janitor at the 30th Street Station.

There are many mores stories that I can tell about my father, who was, in my opinion, a man amongst men. Those stories will follow. 

Eugene Charrington
Global Warming

Is it real or is it a hoax? Many conservative business people and politicians including President Trump feel that global warming is a joke. However, most of the world, top scientists, have stated otherwise. Every year the temperature of the atmosphere reaches a record high. And sea levels have been risking. For example, coastal areas in the southeastern United States have experienced the decline of beach fronts and severe flooding during storms. Caribbean islands have also suffered from torrential rains, flooding, and the encroachment of rising water levels along their costs. Storm winds at times have reached nearly 200 mph. Hurricanes have been arriving with more frequency, generally leaving a trail of death and destruction when they touch down.

Those who want to deny this change, global warming, or climate change, really need to wake up. Especially President Trump, before we all find ourselves under water, and human life on our planet is no more. 

Also, one of our newest members, Ms. M said she was going to have her letter to Dr. Martin Luther King published as well. Her publisher said her story wasn't to be "edited, distributed, or forwarded," so I will refrain from posting it until after its publication. Instead, I will be posting a story by Frances, the woman good enough to introduce Ms. M to Best Day.

Frances Bryce
Face the Mirror

I looked in the mirror,
Behold, I did see
A much older person
Staring back at me.

Who I standing in my space
Blocking my best view?
I wish she would move
Then, I too could see.

Someone with lots of wrinkles
Entered through the door
Face so familiar
My best dress, she wore.

I faced the mirror again
Cautious as could be
It’s useless to deny
The person staring back at me.

Days flew and the months rush by
The years take their toll
Beauty lives inside
Whether you are young or old. 

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lots-O-Laughs (Elliot)

The First Thursday sessions in the computer lab are always a change from the norm, but last week's session was especially funny. A few new buds joined us today, and one of them, Bettie, read a ghost story she had written. It was about a classroom with a haunted clock whose hands would move in places that never matched the time. As soon as she finished, Frances started reading her story...and the door swung open all by itself. And a few minutes later, it opened by itself again. "It's the ghost!" I said.

Second, I have a practice of making sure every guest and regular gets the chance to read, even during First Thursday. When I asked Ms. M, who Frances had brought to the class, this interaction happened:

Caitlin: Any friends of yours whose stories you want to read?
Ms. M.: No.
Caitlin: Not even Francis?
Miss M.: No.
(Everyone laughs)
Ms. M.: We're classmates from way back. I've heard all her stories already!
Francis: Just for that, now you have to hear me read you something you've already heard!
Ms. M.: Oh, I have a poem to read!
(Begins scrolling through her phone trying to find the story.)
Francis: Shall I read something while you find it?
Ms. M.: YES! Please DO!

And I figured I'd cap off this entry with Elliot's final story about the characters from his neighborhood. This one's a little more sad than his last two, but we've never shied away from sad stories at Best Day.

Elliot Doomes
Unforgettable Characters Pt. 3

There was an elderly gentleman who lived two door down from me. Every morning when I was on the way to work he would be standing on his porch and he would shout to me, "Top of the mornin; to you, me boy, and the rest of the day to meself." I would laugh every time he said that and I still laugh today when I think about it. And the first conversation that he had was after his dear wife passed away. He told me that he could no longer live in that house. I don't know the day he moved but one morning I looked for him and he wasn't there. Although I realize that he wasn't there anymore, I couldn't help gazing at his porch each morning.
I fondly remember the all the days that he started my day with a laugh. I missed him dearly and I wish him well wherever he may be. Thank you for all the laughter that you contributed to all my days, Mr. MacGuire. We never had a long conversation before he said he could no longer live in that house, even though he and his wife had been liging there for years; and I'd known him for ten years beore then. I never knew her that well, but her husband was very sociable. He was one of the few people in my neighborhood who was. The wife was a very quiet lady; though. I never heard her speak. I guess opposites really do attract!
But I want to wish you well wherever you are Mr. MacGuire. I still don't know what you meant, but I still laugh when I think about you.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Cup Runneth Over (Kara and Joe)

At Best Day, I usually facilitate the workshops alongside Neha and Hannah, but both of them had gotten a little busier lately and can't make every workshop. Fortunately, my friend Kara said she had some free time and wanted to see what The Best Day of My Life So Far was all about.

Turns out, Kara picked the perfect day to come in. The class was packed, with nine older buds and one extra volunteer, and we took up the entire table! She wrote for Joe (which is always a treat), heard everything the older buds wrote that day, and even stayed for our usual friendly post-reading discussion. This week, I've asked Kara to write about her experience at Best Day, and I'm posting the story she transcribed for Joe as well.
Kara Naklicki
A Great Day at Best Day

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of joining Caitlin at the Philadelphia Senior Center for Best Day of My Life So Far. I know she had been volunteering there for years, but I was finally able to see what it was all about. I had a great time! We got there early to set up, and she showed me around. We weren't sure about the turn out as the weather had been acting up a lot that week, but thankfully that wasn't a problem. We had a full group in, all ready to write and chat. I helped Joe write down an essay on his thoughts about artificial intelligence. It was great to have a conversation with him and hear his perspective. Caitlin helped a few others with their stories, and then it was time for everyone to read and listen. I loved all the different stories. Each person wrote about something personal to them, including memories of family, the effects of global warming, tales of a silly cat, and upcoming vacations. Everyone gave feedback and had conversations about the different subjects, and before we knew it time was up. I could see that everyone enjoyed writing and sharing with each other, and it was clear that this program was a huge success. I look forward to coming back and hearing more great stories and developing new friendships with everyone. It was a wonderful experience!
Joe Garrison 

We all marvel at new technology, but how much do we want done for us?
Years ago, I wrote a story titled, “With Folded Hands.” It was a sci-fi story about a very advanced technological society. Humans had no function because robots would cook, clean, and babysit their children. There was a humanoid factory. We are getting closer to this future.
From “smart” phones, “smart” robots doing surgery, everything is automated or tech-based. It makes us question things like religion. I’m not afraid of admitting it. We’ve created a technoGod. People can’t live without machines. I saw a commercial about a restaurant where the waitress said, “the people care more about wi-fi than forks and knives.” We need a wi-fi free zone.
Technology has killed social interaction. It’s a sad commentary on human existence. I wonder in the future if our species will even have a function because machines have taken over.
Technology has a built-in blessing or a curse. No one thinks there is a downside. Phones are toys, not used properly. Everything is a gadget. Face to face human interaction is important!
People seem sicker because they are not exercising. Kids want to play videogames, not sports. We’re not utilizing our bodies.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Backwards! (Elliot)

I just realized that I did things a little topsy turvy last week! I posted a story from Elliot called "Unforgettable Characters Part 2" and I didn't even put up the first part. Well, wait no longer, dear readers! You get to go back in time and read the first part second, including an introduction to Dr. Squeeze, who you met last week. And they say time travel isn't real...


Elliot Doomes
Unforgettable Characters 
There’s a gentlemen in our neighborhood. We lived on a small street called Nardane.
Every morning, he would come out and his first words would be, "My name is Cotton, and business is rotten." Usually, he would be half-high or on the way to getting drunk. I used to laugh at him all the time. He was like the joke of the day. I prejudged Mr. Cotton until one day I heard him arguing with one of his drinking constituents. And the guy talked about his family, his sisters, his brothers. I even remember him making derogatory comments about his mother. And I asked him, I said, "He’s talking about your mother like that and you’re not getting angry or mad?"
And he looked me straight in the eye. He said, "In order for a man to make me mad, he has to be smarter than me. And a dumb S.O.B ain’t never made me mad."
Needless to say, my opinion of Mr. Cotton changed right then. I had pre-judged him as a drunken bum, and my whole opinion of him changed right there and then. Next week, I’ll have to tell you about Dr. Squeeze!

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lazy Summer Days (Liz and Elliot)

I've been feeling a bit lazy the past few days with the summer hear. I'm actually on vacation this week posting this from my aunt and uncle's farm in York Haven. So in honor of that, I'm posting stories about other lazy summer days.

Liz Abrams 
Summer Vacation 1946 in the Country of North Carolina 

Today, Summer of 2017, I write of summer 70 years ago, when it was a ritual of black families in the 30s and 40s to send their school age children to the South (NC), that is those families who made the diaspora to Philly from the sluggardly farm lands, tobacco/cotton fields and sharecropping…

THE RITUAL: Send me to my relatives down south for the summer

My first exposure to country life, my grandmother, poor but dignified lived in a 3 room wooden elevated house, no indoor plumbing (meaning outhouse) and no electricity (meaning oil lamps at night) ughhh 

My first morning, I heard flies and bees buzzing, loudly, outside the screen doors, my grandmother slamming the screen door pumping the water pump for the days supply of water, WHAT?????? 

She left treats on the porch table of a box of frosted donuts and sunning green tomatoes for dinner, yummm, my grandmother dipped Peachtree snuff, my grandfather smoked a corncob pipe. I’m walking around outside investigating. I was put on the run from the flies and bees and gnats, stepping on caterpillars, and a lady bug landed on my arm, I’m screaming BLOODY MURDER, as I almost ran into a tree, slapping my arm wildly, and she (the bug) held on like glue.

After my hysteria ended, I realized I lived in another world of the animal kingdom. A neighbor boy demonstrated how to use salt on a snail shell to come out and show his head. Tadpoles and frogs, dancing, hopping noisily, hiccuping up to the front porch. 

My grandmom always carried a switch to swat flies and me (if or when I got out-of-hand). Sundays came around. She walked me to a catholic church. I had to sit in the back (Jim Crow) maybe?

Weekdays, grandma would rise early and leave the house to walk down the train tracks. Curious, I followed her to the clearing. Surrounded by tall trees, her head and hands uplifted, for a long time. I realized later she was worshipping in her own very natural way. At night, a new attack from the deadly giant-sized mosquitos, which caused my grandpop to fire a smokestack near the house to keep them away, and he always checked the lightning rod outside the bedroom door for height and erectness. Oh, that OUTHOUSE was a horrible experience, particularly at night, carrying a flashlight to find the shack. Inside – worried that I would fall in the hole (it was made for adults). Moths, spiders, and every other crawling insects lived in that shack, of course, I didn’t get much business done there, plus the fear of falling into that deep hole of hell. Another nightmare grandma, cooked a chicken and cooked him whole, feet, eyeballs, heart, butt, and all… BOY WHAT A FIRST SUMMER VACATION!!!!!   

Elliot Doomes
Unforgettable Characters Part 2

Dr. Squeeze didn’t have a degree in anything, but for all intents and purposes, he was a doctor of sorts, heh, heh, heh! There was something called Sterno that women used for their hair preparations. It came in a can, tin cans, and the doctor would light the solution and melt it down and they would either add some solution which I think was water and after they melted it down, it would be pure alcohol. And Dr. Squeeze would take this special rag that he had with him at all times and dip it into the solution and squeeze out the alcohol that would be left in the rag. And he would come up and mix water with the alcohol he had squeezed out of the rag. And this became a potent alcoholic drink for him and his buddies. And they would all be high and merry. On these days, Dr. Squeeze became a neighborhood celebrity to speak. Kudos to Dr. Squeeze! 

Now the next one was Bicycle Jimmy. Bicycle Jimmy was for all intents and purposes legally blind. Living in a dead-end street, he could successfully ride his bicycle. The most amazing thing about this, is he would ride it backwards! Now us kids and pre-teenagers, we had never seen anybody ride a bicycle backwards before. It was great fun to see Jimmy ride. One day, his social worker arrived when he was riding. And lo and behold, this day when he was riding around backwards, she came up to visit him and saw him riding his bike. Needless to say, she terminated his assistance I guess he got it back, eventually. And it was a great treat to see Jimmy ride. 
 Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Happy Birthday Benita (Loretta G. and Liz)

Benita has just celebrated both her birthday and her 12 year anniversary of marriage to Jason Cooper. And Jason, being the gentleman that he is, surprised her with a limousine trip to a fancy restaurant. Does that make her wedding a birthday present? Did Jason come to the altar in shiny wrapping paper and a bow? Either way, I thought it only right to celebrate with stories of Benita and stories of...well, celebration.

Loretta Gaither
Mission Impossible Story
I went to the clinic last Friday and I was playing with the baby. My youngest son had a new baby and he’s about 3 or 4 months. I learned how to play pattycake and made the son laugh. They asked me if I wanted to move in with him, and I said no. I want to live with a senior partner but I’m glad I had my son laughing. Across the street from my church is Annie Thomas. I have a lot on my mind, but I do not give up, I just like people. I’m thankful for you, the volunteers, Loretta, and Joe, and this writing group. I’ll be 74 next month. I miss Benita, but I know she’s raising her sons. I like coming here for the arts. They try to make me upbeat, but I know we need to act like adults, not children, so I pay them no mind.
Signing off, Loretta Gaither. I love the Senior Writing Class, God Bless Benita and this class.

Liz Abrams
Treating My Older Sister Like a Kid
She said to me, a lady my sister of 60 -- That the circus was in town. I've never known my old sister, who was old before her time, a caretaker of everyone. I had never sen her play, she was a tomboy, 6 years older, never watch her play with dolls, jacks, but she liked jump rope.
My husband bought front row seats she got to sit up the front -- I bought her cotton candy, we bought popcorn, and watched my older sister, a person who intimidated me all my life -- cheered and clapped like a little girl.
When the show ended, she walked ahead of us, and she was crying softly with balloons in hand that we gave to her and we ask her why was she sad. She said not sad, but happy -- This was the first time anyone had taken her to the circus and gave her a balloon. Happy Days are here again we sand on the way home. 5 years she went to bed and did not wake up to go to work.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Independence Day (Joan, Hattie, Loretta)

This weekend is the Fourth of July, the day our founding fathers declared that the original thirteen colonies would be colonies no more. But in this warm, lazy summer it's also a time to fire up the grill, watch the fireworks, enjoy the weather and relax. Here's a few stories to put you in a summertime mood.

Joan Bunting 

Holidays, holidays, holidays. You anticipate the holidays, get all excited about them, and before you know, they come and they’re gone. Well the Fourth of July just past. The picnics, the cook-outs, the family reunions. Last but not least – the fireworks. 
My sister Doris invited me to join her Saturday to go to her oldest son’s house in Mount Airy. 
My oldest daughter had planned on having a gathering at her home in Collingdale Saturday as well. The weather forecasters announced rain on Saturday so my daughter had her cook-in on Friday. It was lots of fun with some of my grandkids and great-grandkids. 
The next day (Saturday) when it was supposed to rain, we (my sister Doris and I) were picked up by her son Albert, whom I hadn’t seen in years and were driven to Mount Airy. It’s very beautiful there and their house is awesome. 
Oh, I forgot, her youngest son, Richard, was with us and I also got to see one of Doris’s 
daughters – Linda – whom I hadn’t seen in years. 
We had a great time and guess what? It hardly rained at all. Which allowed my sister and I to enjoy Friday and Saturday. 
Beware, our next holiday will be here and gone before you know it. Labor Day. 

Hattie Lee Ellerbe 
I Love The Summer 

Even though it is raining today, it is a good day. It is almost the first day of summer 
and I am looking forward to it. I love the summer time. I am looking forward to all 
the fun time activities summertime brings. 
Cookouts are one of my favorites. You see people you haven’t seen since last 
summer. The conversation and the food in a word "delightful."
The days are longer and you seem to do more fun things. It’s as if you have more 
time to really appreciate family and friends. Most of my family prefer winter and 
fall...give me the good old summertime. 

Loretta Dotson 
The Real Philly Fanatic 

I was once a sports fanatic. Thank God I am now a nicer person. If you didn’t like my 
team or you disagreed with me concerning a player or a score, look out. I continue to 
love all my home teams, the good the bad and the terrible. If you didn’t like my 
choices, too bad. I was a smoking hot mess. Now often many, many years of self-
training, I am able to listen to others and not let my train run off the track. I might 
smile and say "You don’t say," then change the subject. I am now a nice, calm, sports loving person with age I have mellowed. I hope. 

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Birthday Surprise (Kathleen, Sean, Aidan, Liam, Patrice)

Mo had told me he was expecting his daughters to pay him a visit this past week. But what I wasn't expecting was that they would also be bringing his four grandsons! So Kathleen, Patrice, Aidan, Liam, Sean and Ian met the seniors and they all wrote stories together. Eugene was delighted by them, Frances was joking about the kids having to write even after school ended, Mike regaled them with a Japanese folktale about a farmer trading a bag of onions for a bag of gold, and Mo was introducing everyone to everyone and being his sweet self with his kids and grandkids. One of the kids was a little shy about sharing his story, so here's what the rest of Mo's family has to show off.

Kathleen McLychok

There were five kids, a Mom, a Dad, and a dog named Muffins, packed into the car heading north to the Pococnos on a warm summer day.
Back then, there were no cell phones, iPads, or laptops - so the radio or our own voices were our only way to pass the time on road trips. My Dad liked to sing, all the time, so the radio rarely came on. On thses trips, we all took a turn snging our song. Irish folk songs, pop songs, Johnny Cash - you never knew what was coming! My favorites when I as young were "I've Been Working on the Railroad" or "Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder?" - I never knew which one to choose but we usually got to sing more than once so it was never a problem!
My Dad's voice was always the loudest, the boldest and the most colorful - but we were learning from him as we winded around every curve, through every tunnerl and past every mountain peak we passed.
The Pennsylvania countryside was alive with song - as the Mawhinneys made their way north. 

Sean McLychok

The date is the 22nd of June, 2017, and earlier today (1 AM) I flew into Philly. I was there to visit family and have a fun time. The moment I got to my grandma's house I went upstairs and fell nto my bed. I slept until 10:00 AM and when I got up I was happy to see a familiar dog sitting on my legs, Allison. After walking downstairs and seeing my grandma, I was startled by my cousin who was standing right behind me. We all went to the local Wawa to get breakfast sandwiches which we would eat on the train to downtown Philly. After getting off the train we were greeted by the loud city sounds and mesmerizing sights. We walked for ten minutes to meet my grandpop at the Philadelphia senior center. After my grandpop we went into the center to write a story about something exciting. And now I am just writing to fill up space on this paper so that's the end of the story.


Aiden Curedale
The City

I think I'll write about today. We had flown out to Philadelphia from California the night before. Our flight was quiet and uneventful, but our cousins were delayed eight hours. We arrived and were picked up by our gradnmother I wanted to stay up and wait for our cousins to arrive, but I dozed off in minutes. I was woken by my cousin talking downstairs and I crept down and surprised him. After everyone woke up, we went to Wawa, which we don't have in California and all of us got hoagies and donuts for tomorrow's drive to the shore. We got home, and were rushed to the train station to get to grandpop's writing group. As we stepped off the train we were greeted by the sights and sounds of the city.
The amount of people was mesmerizing, and the art was beautiful, leaving the station, it only got better, the building styles of the past 200 years loomed on either side. We walked down the streets and arrived at the building and met Grandpop. As we walked in I admired the art covering the walls. And entered the class.

Liam Curedale

It was a bright sunny day in the summer of 2013 as a gust of wind rustled a pile of leaves and a child's laughter filled the air. A second later, the laughter stopped and the back wheel or a bke disappeared behind a bump seperating a cliff from the road where there had previously been a child on his bike. A few moments later a frowning mother emerged from the top of the road and began to call for their child. Then as if in answer the child's face poked over the previously mentioned bump, climbed up and ran to his mohter, the child explained what had happened to him. He explained how he had flown over the cliff, dropped his bike and run back to his mother. Unfortunately, that child was me.

Patricia Curedale
Mo's M.O.

I am over the moon to be here at Best Day of My Life So Far. I have been wanting to come visit for years. Why? Because my dad is Mo McCooper and I live in Los Angeles and this group does just what Benita wanted - it inspires my dad to shae his stories with us, and with his grandchildren. We read stories on the blog and we have a copy of the book on our coffee table.
Perhaps just as important, my dad has made SO many great friends at Best Day. And since he's often been called "the happiest man in the world," The Best Day of My Life So Far has been Mo's M.O. for a very long time.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Grand-Daddy of Posts (Mo, Norman, Joe, Frances, Robert, and Dorothy)

Since Fathers' Day had just recently passed, I decided to devote this post to the fathers and grandfathers of Best Day; and their fathers and grandfathers.
Mo McCooper
The City

When I could walk even a little bit, my Dad would take me all kinds of places to meet all kinds of people.  People who worked at auto factories, truck manufacturers, railroad car plants elected my Dad to represent them to the owners of the companies through managers and other non-union workers.

As soon as I went to school, I would add union comic strips and books to the Batman and Red Rider comics I could trade. Dad did not push the information, but it was an interesting part of my early education.

There would always be a movie, circus, fair, sportsmen show, rodeo, auto show, or church fundraiser during that day.  I loved the city.

Some of my mother’s aunts and uncles lived in West Philadelphia, where many white families had moved out to the suburbs.  It opened up a whole bunch of new kids to play tennis, baseball, touch football and games I forget.  Their families were wonderful.

My Dad’s brothers and sisters were in the northern districts of the city.  Grandpop bought some farmland in Bucks County on a beautiful creek, but he lost the property to prohibition.  More to follow…

Norman Cain
Baseball, My Father and Action Speaks Louder than Words

My father was a quiet reserved man who never missed a days work. Before we awoke in the morning he would be at his job. He was a custodian at 30th Street Station. He would return in the evening, eat and immediately go to bed. While there was definitely love between us there was little interaction.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words. There were two small events that occurred between myself and my father that I will forever contain within my mind.

The first event occurred when I was around twelve. My father came home with two baseball gloves and took me to a nearby lot where we engaged in an extended lively game of catch. I never knew my father could play baseball. He was good. Each time the ball thudded against our glove it echoed love.

The second action between my father and I that spoke louder than words also had to do with baseball. This event took place when I was around 14 years old. One day we were both practicing with our respective teams at Belmont Plateau in Fairmont Park. I was with a youth baseball team and he played for a Penna Railroad  Team.

We did not know that our practices were at the same time. When we noticed each other we left our teams, walked towards one another and shook hands without uttering a word. Two events involving baseball between us spoke a multitude of words.

So actions do speak louder than words, especially when love is involved.

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.
Frances Bryce

In 1965, I was living in Phila, Pa and went to visit my father who lived in a small town in South Carolina. I accompanied my father for his annual checkup to his doctor’s office. Two waiting rooms were still in use; one had been used excessively for white patients – the other for colored people. The outlines for the signs were still visible over the doors.

The large room was paneled with checkered red and mint green. Baskets of flowers and plants aligned the tables and the cabinets. A beautiful fern plant cascaded over the receptionist’s desk. The latest editions of Life, Family, Ladies’ Home Journal and Parents’ Magazines were neatly lined on a table. Bright lights illuminated the room. There were plenty of comfortable seats. This room was formally available to white patients only.

The other waiting room was small and windowless, dimly lit, and painted a drab gray. Ten dog-eared copies of Life and Ebony magazines sprawled out on the table. Draught-backed chairs lined the wall. This room had been the waiting room for the colored patients.

I entered the cheerful room, my father hesitated, and then reluctantly followed. I was not too surprised to see that most of the colored patients gravitated to the room that they had been required to use before desegregation.

My father said, “This room is nice.”

“Dad, you have never been to this room before?”

“No, Baby, I just always used our waiting room.” He thought for a while and then spoke again. “You know I never thought about using this room.”

I reached out for his hand and patted it gently. I spoke to no one in particular. “The signs have been removed from the doors but they have yet to be removed from the mind.” We picked up a magazine to read and waited to see his doctor.

Robert Leung
Lucky Day

Today is my lucky day. My friend Mike and I came to visit this nice senior citizens center, and were fortunate enough to meet my new Chinese friend Benita on her birthday. She is a wonderful lady. She looks and speaks just like my daughter Dorothy.

I’m so very glad and happy to meet her, and all of our new senior center friends.

Forever friends,
Robert Leung
July 8, 2010

Dorothy Leung, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Copy Editor Insight

I used to receive at least two to three letters a week from my dad.  His notes became so frequent and predictable that I neither realized nor appreciated being the recipient of his kind words.  That is, until those letters stopped coming.  A couple of years ago, my dad stopped diligently taking care of himself, and I noticed a decline in his mental and physical health.  When I moved him from California to Philadelphia, my sister and I were worried that he may not have a community of friends, so it was a pleasant surprise when I learned he was attending a "writing club."

When I attended the writing workshop and presentation last year at the Philadelphia Free Library and learned of the depth and breadth of this wonderful class, I knew that I needed to support it in any way I could.  I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be on the copy writing team.  I am able to read about and learn from some remarkable seniors whose stories are touching and honest and so funny!  I love having the chance to "listen" to the lessons from those who have lived through incredible challenges, those who still have little materially but whose hearts are richer than most.  And, I especially love when I am assigned my dad's stories, to know that he is once again lifting that pencil to the paper and expressing himself through words.  I don't think I will ever get him back to the vibrant way he once was, but I do see - through his slanted, all-caps writing - the spirit that still wants to shine.

I don't always know how my dad keeps busy on most days, but I never have to worry about where he is on Thursdays.  I love being able to log onto the blog and see his smiling face among the many people in the class.  It's exciting to see him excited about his friends and the wonderful volunteers who make this possible.  Although he doesn't write as frequently anymore, in many ways the weekly stories are even more meaningful than any letter of the past...and these stories are ones I will surely not take for granted.


Dorothy Leung, 29

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine,
Director, and New Mom

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Young Buds (Mo, Loretta, and Kyear)

The week before this one, Julie Nelson, the center manager, came to me with a request: start a correspondence between the older buds, and some students from the Dr. Tanner G. Duckrey Public School. Since Best Day is all about bridging generation gaps, I was more than happy to do this.

One week later, I met up with Julie and she gave me five letters decorated with crayons in every color of the rainbow. A few of them even had drawings on the back. Since we ended up with more than five older buds in our class today, a lot of these kids got letters from more than one senior!

Every single third grader wrote about their hobbies, favorite school subjects, and a detailed list of their favorite foods. And pretty much every senior responded with a list that was just as long! It's true what they say: Everyone loves to eat!

Here's a letter from one of the kids, and here's a few responses from our older buds:

Dear Senior Citizen

Dear Senior Citizen,
Hello my name is Kyear. I'm 9 years old.
My favorite school subject it Science.
My favorite book is Lion vs Tiger.
I like to watch TV and movies after school.
I would like to know old are you.
What do you like to do?
Please write me back!
Your friend,

Mo McCooper
Dear Kyear

Dear Kyear,
My name is Mo McCooper. My age is 81. My favorite school subject is History. My favorite book is Huckleberry Finn which I read in third grade. I like to play sports at the playground or on the street after school. I like to go to the movies with a lovely lady or have a meal with her or better both. Please write me back.
Your Pen Pal,
Mo McCooper

Loretta Dotson
Hello Kyear
Hello Kyear,
I am a senior at Phila. Senior Center 509 S. broad St. I am a member of the writing class "The Best Day of My Life So Far." We write about our adventures and experiences. I love the programs here. When I was in school my favorite subjects were English and Gym classes. I love reading Romance, and a good mystery was my choice.
I am in my 80's. I love to crochet. I taught members here how to make small items. I am mother of one, Grand-mother of one, and Great grandmom of six. We have lots of fun watching SpongeBob, Peppa Pig, Paw Patol, T-Rex also. Please keep in touch. I really enjoy writing to you. Be good, be careful, study hard. Make me proud of you.
Loretta Dotson
509 S. Broad St.

Quick Note: We here at Best Day prefer to use the term "older buds" than "senior citizens" when writing and blogging...but the kids didn't know that. ;) 

 Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Forever Young (Joe)

This past week was the First Thursday of the month, which meant we all went to the computer room to read our stories from our website. Sometimes there are still other people lingering in the room right up until the workshop starts. When we have the room, I invite them to stay and hang out with the rest of the older buds, in the hopes pf introducing them to our workshop. One such senior, Bill Wittmer, got to listen to us reading stories and poems and got inspired to read a poem himself: the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Forever Young."

If you've been reading this blog as long as I have, then you know that Joe is our resident Bob Dylan fanatic. And you know he was tickled pink when he heard those lyrics. For the rest of the workshop, in between stories, they were both talking about Dylan, the Beatles, Rock and Roll, and all their musical tastes. I told Bill about our usual workshop and he sounded interested. I know not all the people I find in the computer room become members of Best Day, but if nothing else Joe's found a new music buddy.
Joe Garrison

National companies – every city in the country. Sirius Radio, every time something goes wrong, if they had an office in Philadelphia, it’d be easier. Settle on sports or something on Phila radio. I also like classical music. And 60’s rock. The Beatles are my favorite. I heard about Bob Dylan in 1963 before I even heard him sing. I heard Gene Shepherd before The Christmas Story came out. He was a humanist and satirist but got serious. After he died, a woman claimed to be his daughter and bad things, but I never paid attention, maybe because I liked him.

I read a few books before they became popular movies. Live and Let Die, Lonesome Dove, I’m Cold Blood, and monifictor, Lyndon B Johnson, Joseph McCarthy. Sugar Rae Leonard, the prizefighter. Ray Arabe Robinson was Ray Charles real name.

Funniest thing ever is Bob Dylan’s new album singing shoe tunes. I couldn’t picture it all. He didn’t sing off key on anything.
A friend of mine and me used to think of unlikely people singing unlikely songs like an opera singer singing "Twist and Shout."

The only opera I sat through was The Flying Dutchman. Richard Wagner. I can listen to that and still love the BeeGees. I even like country. Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. I even give Elvis Presley credit – he could sing. I didn’t like what he sang about. I liked, "I’m the Ghetto." I like social commentary.

I wanna commend Frances for her story, for her comment on the cavalier way we celebrate Thanksgiving. Do people sit down and give thanks? I agree we take it as a gateway to shopping. If I were king of the world, I’d make Thanksgiving no where near November. 2015 hasn’t been a good year but I give thanks to my family for getting me through
my little problem.

My gripe against Thanksgiving is we’ve made it too much about food, it should be a
time where we all can reflect on the year. NYE should also be a day of Thanksgiving,
but since we do have a Thanksgiving Day…

One of the reasons I was against MLK is mercantile communities would take over.

However, I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday and give thanks for the group itself which gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri