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