Thursday, January 25, 2018

Read A Book (Eugene and Dolores)

It's a few weeks into the new year, but I thought I'd make this post about a classic New Years' resolution: reading more books. If you're looking for a few new books to read, then I suggest Messenger Blues by our own Eugene Carrington, a collection of poems and short stories based on his life as a bike courier. I also suggest reading our own book The Best Day of My Life So Far, with a nice assortment of stories from workshops past.

Speaking of books, we're teaming up with The Philadelphia Free Library for their "One Book, One Philadelphia" program this week. Their featured book is Jacqueline Woodson's "Another Brooklyn," and every older bud gets  a free book. I'm looking forward to reading it and talking about it with the Best Day gang. But for now, enjoy this selection of literature-themed literature. How meta can you get?
Eugene Carrington 
My First Real Book Party 
It took place in Brooklyn, New York on a frigid February day. I got off the A-train at the Clinton-Washington station, dragged my suitcase one block to Vanderbilt Ave. Then, I waited in the biting winds for the B-69 bus; after ten minutes or so, it finally arrived. I entered quickly, glanced at the Avenue, which had changed so much since I moved to Philadelphia. After 12 or 15 minutes, I stepped off and began the five-block walk to the Brooklyn Ethical Society. Alas, I arrived, stepped up the dirty white granite steps, into the antique-stained hardwood hallway. I began to struggle up the stairs; inside, I observed a small podium and chair lined up in front of it for the visitors. I was a bit uneasy, since I hadn’t done a book party in a long time, and was introduced to the ten visitors and members of the Brooklyn Writer Society. Three people readied their cameras, for me it was my golden moment, a bit of Hollywood, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Dolores Wilson
Marriage Over Twenty Five Years - Write a Book

As I watched the 55 couples that renewed their marriage vows of 25 years at my church, I was awestruck. Not only at the beauty of the festivity. It dawned on me that it takes time and work. The first step is acquaintance, casual, personal, and intimacy. Nowadays, few marriages gravitate to intimacy. The couples that have longevity realize they must invest and work at it. When I am conversing with married couples over 25 years, I jokingly say "Write a book. The generation following you will benefit from it."

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Days of Service (Nouria and Elliot)

Martin Luther King Day has passed this week and the second Women's March will be happening this Saturday. It only makes sense to use today's post to encourage the feelings of empathy and dedication that define both days. Between the cries of "Me Too," "Black Lives Matter," and all the other groups rallying for justice, it's easy to forget how much of a problem ageism is in our country. It's easy for people to ignore the elderly or dismiss them as senile or curmudgeonly or old-fashioned. It's easy for people to lose touch with an older relative when they're in a retirement home. It's easy for people to treat their complaints as part and parcel of old age, even when their concerns turn out to be valid. A few of my older buds have to leave Best Day before it's barely begun, just to accommodate their shuttle service's schedule. I heard it used to be the other way around, but the older buds put up with it because "It's better than nothing." Every older bud deserves much better than "better than nothing."

For today's post, I wanted to pay tribute to both Martin Luther King Day and the Women's March by featuring a Black writer and a female writer. Of course, we have plenty more to choose from than just Nouria's and Elliot's writing, and we encourage you to read the writings of Joe, Norman, Eugene, Frances, Loretta D., Dolores, Joan, and Hazel in honor of both days.

Nouria Bennouna 
Two Weeks With An American Family 

Back in 1999, my oldest daughter (Ghada) graduated from highs school in Casablana, Morocco, and she wanted to come to the United States, Florida for the university. I came with my three other kids to prepare for her arrival. One time I was driving with my youngest daughter (Emma) by a church and I saw that they were giving classes. I stopped and began to write the schedule at this time a minister (Gary) came. He told us that they didn’t give English classes (what I thought) but bible classes. Then he asked where we ere from, what language we were speaking. When he knew we spoke French, he was excited because his daughter (Heather) who was the same age as my oldest daughter Ghada, just began a French class in high school. He then called her and asked her to come meet us. She came and after that, he invited us to have dinner in his house, he called his wife Tammy and told her to make dinner. "We have guests" he said. He came with me to the motel to tell my other daughter (Sanaa) and my son (Amine). We had a good time at dinner, he took us to visit every corner of his big and beautiful house. Downstairs, they had attached to the house, a little apartment where his mother-in-law used to live. 
After dinner, he asked me how long I’m going to stay in the US. I said two weeks. Then he said, what do you think about living with us these two weeks in the little apartment. I was very happy and accepted his suggestion. He gave me the keys of his house and we went the same night to the motel to take our stuff. We spent two weeks with them. 
After dinner the 2nd or 3rd day, I asked him, how did he know to trust me at this point, to give me his house keys the same day we met, even though he didn’t know anything about me or my family. He didn’t have any proof of my background. He said that he worked with a lot of people and could know the sincerity of someone after talking with him. 

Elliot Doomes 
Beulah May
My grandmother was strong too. Everybody called her Miss Beulah. That’s how strong she was. She weighed two hundred and forty-four pounds and she wasn’t fat neither. She was broad in the shoulders and powerful. She worked when she was eight and there wasn’t easy work for her back in the day. They wouldn’t even let you go to school until after the farm work was done. She could read and write and count. 
You couldn’t cheat her out of money, that’s for sure. They just didn’t let kids go to school much in the South. She was next to the youngest out of four daughters, but she was the leader of the family. All the ones who migrated to Philadelphia went straight to her, that’s how I knew them. I never would’ve met them otherwise; I didn’t know anything about the South.

If you want to keep our older buds visible and audible, especially older women and Black seniors, please take a moment to visit our front page and see all the different ways you can keep Best Day going. You can buy our book here, make a monetary contribution here, spend some time at one of our workshops, or even just share our stories with friends and family. Thank you, and good luck.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Winter Cleaning (Joe and Mo)

If you live in or near Philadelphia, then you know that we've had some nasty storms lately. Nasty enough to close down the PSC because the streets and sidewalks would be that unsafe. But while I don't have any new stories this week, I do have some older ones. Sometimes after an older bud finishes their story, they'll either go into more detail or a conversation will pop up around it. Either way, it'll be so interesting that I write it all down and save it for a rainy day. Here's a few of those stories to warm you up during the winter storms.
Fair warning, Joe's stories uses the word "Negro" to describe Black people. It's in the context for the 40's when that word was commonly used, but I figured I'd give a heads up just in case.

Joe Garrison


Black History Month: Jackie Robinson

Joe: And the reason why I chose Jackie Robinson is because, well number one I like sports. Number two, I used to like baseball, I used to follow baseball when I was younger. We call baseball America’s Pastime, and ever since I read that the game was invented in 1869, but the first organized baseball leagues were started, believe it or not, in 1883. And up until 1947 it was an all white sport. You didn’t have any, any people of color playing. Oh, they played but they weren’t accepted into the organized um baseball leagues that we know today; that is the National American League. Then in 1945, Branch Rickey, who was president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, had gone down to watch the players from the—what’d they call it—the Negro leagues back then. And there was some very, very famous Negro ball players that participated in that league. There’d be like Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige—In fact, Satchel Paige played baseball, believe it or not, all the way up into his mid-fifties.

Well, Branch Rickey discovered Jackie Robinson and he liked his style of play, and he came back that year and he told some of the other owners about this great find. And he would’ve liked Jackie to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1947, Jackie finally did break the color barrier, and he was the first Black American to play in the national leagues. But his first couple of years that he played, there was a lot of ill will against him, a lot of prejudice against him. In fact there was particular instance that I don’t remember but I heard about it, and I really believe that it actually happened. That somebody in the stands released a black cat onto the field and yelled out to Jackie Robinson, “Come get your brother.”

Elliot: That would be in Philly.

Joe: Oh, it was! Yeah, that’s right.

Elliot: That person was right here.

Joe: Yeah, because the Phillies were a very prejudiced team back then. However, one of the first baseball players to really accept Jackie Robinson as an equal was Peewee Reese, a White ball player. But he encouraged Jackie to keep the faith and keep on with his dream. And he did and in fact, everybody who knows baseball knows Jackie Robinson’s number, they know what he did on the baseball field, and he is revered by most baseball players. And again I say I decided to do a piece of Jackie Robinson because he really was a part of Black History.

Mo McCooper


Pick-Up Trucks

Mo: Thinking of having a young lady in there just was considered too dangerous. Even a tomboy like Joanie couldn’t have…Well, you know.

Anyway, you girls have gotten some short shift…shrift, I guess is the word. And um you’re still getting some in a sense. And it’s changed, but not enough.

Frances: Well, not all of us even had any desire to ride in the back of a truck.

Mo: Well, that’s because you hadn’t seen me and my cousin Johnny or Frankie! (laugh)

Frances: Well, they would deal with the…in the back of a pick-up truck maybe.

Mo: They had more fun! Every time we passed a car, we’d holler, “Get a horse!” We thought we were big shots. But there was a certain freedom being back there.

Frances: Out there.

Mo: Yeah.
Thanks again for reading, and I hope you're enjoying the snow when it's safe to do so, and warm and cozy indoors when it's not.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Good Luck in 2018 (Norman)

Usually there isn't much going on at the PSC on the week of New Years' Eve. Either the cold weather's keeping people in their homes, or the older buds are taking a holiday break. I came in regardless, and I got to spend the day with Eugene and Norman. Eugene's been hard at work selling his book Messenger Blues, which you can buy yourself right here. Norman's in several different classes and programs, including the Drexel's Side-By-Side Program and Writers' Room. He has just joined a year-long photography course, along with several younger buds, and will be doing a photography project before the end of the year. He's diligently reading up on all sorts of different photography techniques and tutorials, and he's even taking inspiration from his family's photos on Facebook.

I can't wait to see his final project! So let's wish Norman Cain, Eugene Carrington, and all of the older buds and volunteers of Best Day, good luck in 2018.
Norman Cain
Family Portrait Night

Tonight, September 21, 2017, I will be attending a writer’s workshop. It will feature two groups: The Mighty Writers, a Philadelphia based group of young wordsmiths and the group that I have been a member of for 3 years: Writers Workshop, a community based writing program hosted by Drexel University. The workshop will be held at 39 Lancaster Avenue.
The theme of the workshop is “Family Portrait Night.” We were encouraged to bring snap shots of our family members and will more than likely be required to write narratives about them.
In preparing for the workshop, I found several pictures:
  1. Genesis Wilson age 6 and the youngest of my 7 grandchildren.
  2. My Grandmother
  3. My Mother
  4. Two pictures of myself: (a) at age 17; (b) at age 71
  5. And several pictures I extracted from my high school and college year book via cell phone
I am looking forward to the workshop and must say that looking at the pictures that I had not seen in a while took me down a pleasant memory lane trip.
The photos used for this story can be found in this post. And finally, on January 25th, the PSC will be getting books and calendars from The Philadelphia Free Library for their One Book, One Philadelphia program. Their featured book for 2018 is Jacqueline Woodson's "Another Brooklyn." I'm looking forward to reading this book myself, but I'm especially looking forward to seeing how the older buds like it. It'll be like a Best Day book club! So, there's lots of exciting stuff coming up this year.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri