Thursday, September 12, 2019

In Memory of Loretta

Last week, I'd heard that our older bud Loretta Dotson passed away in August. She had been in the hospital for a while last year, but she'd recovered well and was ready to come to Best Day again. Loretta stopped by last January and February, but she stopped calling for a while. I called her back last May and she confirmed that not only would she be coming back to Best Day, she'd bring older bud Joe to visit too. It hit hard when I heard she'd died.

Loretta was incredibly artistic. On two separate occasions, she gave me a hand-crocheted cross, and I saw her crocheting and knitting skirts for Barbie dolls too. When I complimented her on the skirts, she asked me what my favorite color was and when my birthday was, and promised to make one for me as birthday present. It wasn't too long after that that she got her aneurysm and had to go to the hospital. I also remember trying to figure out how to send her the "get well soon" videos I had made for her, since they were too big to send by email. When she'd recovered well enough to answer the phone, Id call her every week to see if she got the videos through the next method I used to send them to her...and the next, and the next. When she was healthy enough to come back in, we both tackled the elephant in the room...the whiteboard listing Best Day's facilitator as Benita instead of Caitlin!

  Loretta's been a huge part of Best Day, and she's seen no less than seven different facilitators when writing with us. You can read some of her stories in our previous posts here:

Have a Nice Day
Stories of Love and Laughter
The Seniors Are Coming
Keep Smiling, Stay Happy
We Are Family
A Sort of Summer Vacation
Independence Day
Young Buds
A Fully Loaded Story Goodie Bag
Mother's Day
Happy Halloween
Are You Benita?

Life is short, so make time to talk to your older buds. Send us their stories through this form. And if you want to do more to end senior isolation, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn. 

And before I go, I wanted to leave you with a few more of Loretta D's stories, never before posted on this blog:

Loretta Dotson 
Senior Centers 
It’s a blessing to have places to visit and congregate with your peers. We really have wonderful conversations. There are so many activities for us. This gives us some place to look forward to attending. The connections with each other brings back fond memories of family, school neighbors, friends. Even when we attended church services, all day with picnic baskets of food. We were all gussied up, sharing this with fellow seniors is so touching. The crafts are simple but memorable. Exercises keep us moving. There’s dance classes, card games, Bible study, health checks, even a barber comes in. The nutritionist helps us make better choices with meals. The social workers give us good advice when needed. There’s a choir, the blended voices are so sweet. The group that puts on excellent plays is the Drama class. Everyone works so hard to do their best and it is appreciated. They also show movies. This is so much better than sitting at home wasting away, getting out doing what we can to keep active and healthy. We also go on trips.

Loretta Dotson 
The Media
We all obtain our news from various sources, some from newspapers, some from the radio, some TV, some cell phones, some by word of mouth. In order to survive comfortably, it is important to stay in the know. The same goes for the weather forecast. It is important to be able to discuss current events and occasionally voice your opinion. This helps us stay sharp and on the ball. It’s really amazing how some folks will say I don’t listen to the news, I don’t care what’s going on. My opinion of this “foolishness” we should all care whether the news affects us directly or not. We might learn of something that we can pass on to help or assist another. The same goes for the weather – coat or jacket, sweater or bikini top “smile” just kidding.

Loretta Dotson 

Araminta Harriet Ross AKA Harriet Tubman. So much history, so much pride. So much bloodshed. I am so very, very grateful for the effort of so many. Just to mention a little about Harriet Tubman, (she took her mother’s name). There were no tracks on the Underground Railroad, neither did anyone hide or travel underground. This was simply a loose network of free blacks and whites in the North who helped slaves find freedom in the Northern United States and Canada. Free black communities, especially the churches, were active in helping to free slaves. 
Harriet was not satisfied with her own escape to freedom; she made 19 return trips to the South. She would drug the babies to keep them from crying – probably sugar tit dipped in homebrew or rubbed their gums in corn liquor. 
She once told Frederick Douglas, “On my underground railroad, I never seen my train off the track and I never lose a passenger.” 
Some called her a Black Moses. Some said her strength came from her faith in God. There was a $40,000 reward for her capture. She was never apprehended. 
There was much singing amidst the suffering. The spirituals kept them going. Can’t you just hear “Swing low, sweet chariot coming for to carry me home” or I’m going home on the morning train, evening train would be too late I’m going home on the morning train” amongst many more. Harriet Tubman made her rescue attempts in the wintertime. If someone wanted to leave and return to “the master” she would hold a revolver to his head and ask him to reconsider.  
Well, she never had to shoot anyone. During the Civil War Harriet Tubman was a scout for the Union Armies. She got info from slaves, nurtured wounded soldiers, prayed and sang spirituals. Harriet helped hem our Mother and Father’s escape. She delivered them from slavery to freedom.  
She spent her later years in Auburn, N.Y. Harriet died of pneumonia, financially poor on March 10, 1913. She had lived life rich in faith and good works. 

Harriet Tubman 
1821 – 1913

Loretta Dotson
Some of My Warm Weather Activities

The warm weather has been overdue, we have hit 90 degrees.
Mother's Day I filled in on my Church Chor, Mr. Hebron. I was very nervous. I made it through, by reading lips and following the choir director. It was fun.
Last Wednesday Starr Harbor had a fashion show and I was one of the models. What a fun day.
On June 5th I will be on a mock jury given by Drexel University. It is lots of fun and very interesting. This will be the second time I volunteered. Also in the month of June I will be in a play held here at this Center in the auditorium the exact date I don't know.
I love this Center, I enjoy the people and the programs that are offered.
I hope to buy another book on storytelling, this one will be for me. I gave away the two copies I bought during the sale.

Loretta Dotson 
Golden Girls and Silver Males 

We are getting older, yes living longer and doing well thanks in part to our country clubs, A.K.A senior centers. The senior centers are comforting places for learning, relaxation, communication and education. At PSC, there is so much to do we never become bored or stagnant. We love sharing our childhood experiences. We have so much untapped knowledge about so many things it's a joy to share some questions I've been asked. What's an ice box? Why did you burn wood in the stove? When did you get coal for your house heater? Why didn't you have a gas heater? So many questions, so much fun to answer them. Some younger people are amazed at our former adventurous lives. We seniors are appreciative of and for all services available to aid us in living the good life. It is indeed a pleasure to have recognition and appreciation from others showing they care and are supportive in and of our well being. For the first time in US history, the number of people over 60 exceed those under 15 years old, a quote from Laura Carstens. Time Magazine states everyone wants to live longer and science is starting to make this happen. But living better will be the real challenge and opportunity.

Thanks for reading, and have a good day.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Oh My! (Elliott)

Good afternoon everyone! I have a bit of news for you all. I wasn't at Best Day last week, because I was in Atlanta, Georgia for Dragon Con, a multi-genre convention for nerds of all types that's been around for over thirty years. The convention itself is sprawled across five different hotels and one wholesale marketplace in downtown Atlanta, some of them connected with sky bridges. About 85,000 people attended Dragon Con, which is the highest number they've ever had, and the convention itself hosted hundreds of panels, talks, contests, parties and other events. Dragon Con is crowded, hyper, and you have to run around the city to see a fraction of everything you want to see, even if you do stick to a specific lecture track, but it was some of the most fun I'd had since I went to Otakon in high school.
  I was lucky enough to see former Stark Trek actor George Takei and take a picture with him. I also got to meet his husband Brad Takei née Altman, who said "Here's your half-second with George Takei." I promised him I'd milk it for all it was worth.

Before that, I went to a Q&A panel hosted by Takei, and he talked a lot about the first Star Trek conventions he'd ever attended. The first was a humble gathering of about twelve fans. He was especially surprised because they still wanted to gather even though Star Trek had been cancelled. The second was a convention in New York. Initially, he couldn't believe that they actually had the resources to rent out a convention center, host him, and feed him (he said he liked to eat.) It wasn't until he confirmed that Gene Roddenberry had also been invited that he decided to go himself.

All throughout the convention were scores of older fans. Fans who grew up with the original Star Trek wearing costumes from the original era. Metaphorical golden girls who literally dressed up as the Golden Girls. Multiple generations attending in costume. Video game panels that talked about controllers that accommodated age-related decline marketed to “Baby Boomers who still want to play games.”

And that got me thinking about nerdiness and pop culture in general. What were once considered useless fads or childish pursuits are now culturally relevant and studied in schools. Neuroscientists bond with their young patients over Super Mario Bros. Our older relatives relate to the Millennial cast of The Big Bang. Parents are introducing their children to Pokémon and Dragonball. People who grew up in the sixties are now in their sixties, and they're celebrating with David Bowie themed birthday parties. The rock music that parents used to think would corrupt their children is now seen as harmless "dad rock." Even the term "nerd" has shifted from insult to compliment through the passage of time. So now I wonder: What will become of nerd culture? How will pop culture change throughout the years? What games, shows and music will become old and lame? It only seems appropriate to make this week's story a musing on the changing trends of the youth, told through the lens of an older pop culture icon.

Elliot Doomes
What's Your Logic?

What I was going to write about today? I was going to use me talking to me as another person.
I have observed some things that seem to defy logic, so I thought the opinion of someone who is remembered for his pure logic, the one and only Mr. Spock. I loved watching Star Trek back in the day. My favorite character was Mr. Spock because he could reach logical conclusions without becoming overly emotional. You wouldn’t want to lie to him.
“Mr. Spock, I have observed individuals, no gender bias intended going through a clothing store and purchase what is known as a baseball cap. The front of it has the bill to protect their eyes from the harmful beams of sunlight. Also, to protect their nose from being sunburned. After making this purchase of protection, immediately upon leaving the store, they put the cap on backwards, so how say you, Mr. Spock?!”
“To make a purchase of something for protections and not use it for the purpose intended is illogical. Illogical and unreasonable. Perhaps, this person is thinking the way his head is turned, possible suffering from premature dementia!”
“There is another observation. I could use your logical interpretation. An individual goes into a clothing store and purchases a pair of slacks, which comes with loopholes for a belt to cinch the pants at the waistline. However, individuals would loosen the belts so the pants fall to just above the hip level showing their underwear and sometimes even parts of their buttocks. How say you, Mr. Spock?”
“Absolutely totally illogical not to use things for their intended purpose. Is not normal and without reason.”
And I said to him, perhaps the socially abnormal has become the norm. They say, ‘be yourself’, but sometimes that’s not good advice. I’m not the same guy I was ten-fifteen years ago. I’ve changed and I’m still evolving. I recently heard that baggy clothes were supposed to symbolize your toughness. That they were supposed to be hand-me-downs, and the bigger the clothes the bigger your brothers. I don’t get that at all. Used to wear hand-me-downs and I hated them!
No answer. He gave no reply. He turned and walked away. Thank you, Mr. Spock for your patience and your exercise in logistics!
See, now I’ll think of one thought and that’ll lead to another one and another one, I should’ve said, I should’ve done, I should’ve thought, and so on and on and on. Things that used to amuse me, I don’t see them worth it anymore.

Do you know an older bud who dressed up for conventions when they were young? Maybe you're related to Paula Smith, the author of "A Trekkie's Tale" who coined the phrase Mary-Sue? Send us their stories (and fan-fiction) through this form.  I myself have posted stories about about targets, guns, potatoes, stubborn babies, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show. And if you want to hear more stories from older nerds, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Groups of students and families (home-schooled or otherwise) can get special rewards for contributing. Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Wildflowers (Iris)

It’s been a while since the last time I saw Iris, and I didn’t have her phone number so I had no idea where she was. Last Thursday, I saw Iris at the Senior Center, decked in scrubs and fresh out of Jefferson Hospital. She looked happy and healthy, and she brought a friend of hers’—older bud Elene—to Best Day to see what it was like. Elene wrote a powerful story about what she wanted to make sure her grandson knew.

In honor of Iris’ triumphant return, I thought I’d post one of her stories.

Iris Wildflower 
The Danger of Silence 
Finding your voice silent no more. The silence of family and friends, I will no longer compromise my peace, my voice, my feelings, for the sake of others who are deaf, dumb and blind who take a deaf ear. Dumb-mounth and blind age to my voice who misunderstand me, persecute me, cast me out, trample on my soul, until I become invisible, so much pain!!! I have a voice, there’s so much danger in silence. I’m silent no more. I know I’ve been changed. The angles in heaven done called my name. Silent no more.

Life is short, so make time to talk to your older buds. Send us their stories through this form. And if you want to do more to end senior isolation, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn. Thanks again, and make today the best day of your life so far.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Danger Zone (Elliott)

If you’re living in Philadelphia, you know about the shootout that happened in Nicetown-Tiago. Fortunately, there were no deaths and the injured cops seem to be fine, but it was a tense standoff and there were a lot of potential victims who either lived their or were passing through. One of those was our own Elliott. He wrote about it too, and I wanted to share it on the blog for you this week.
Elliott Doomes
Toasters Don't Toast!

Where I live, 16th and Erie, there was a shooting yesterday there was a shooting yesterday. One man with one of those guns that will shoot 100 rounds a minute or more held up a army of policeman. After wounding six officers he held off a army of policeman from 4:30 in the afternoon until past 12 at night. They cordoned off everything for blocks. As soon as I got off the subway I heard guns going "Pow pow pow pow pow," I was so scared, I tried to go back down to the subway. There was a policeman there saying "No riders! No riders!" So everyone had to get off. I don't know if they were thinking if some of the shooter's constituents would get on or I don't know what they were thinking. I was at Erie and they wouldn't let me take the westbound bus to go home. There were no buses going east, no buses going north, and no buses going south. so I had to walk west from Erie Avenue to Hunting Park Avenue, and that's a good stretch. There was a daycare center there too, and they put the busses there and loaded up the kids in there to wait until their parents could pick them up. I don't know how long they kept the kids in there either. I've never seen nothing like that in my life. It was like something out of a movie or something. They had SWAT teams, they had two or three different districts, they had at least 100 police officers on foot. 
And the people who were driving there, they had to park your cars illegally. They make them get out of their cars and go "Back! Back! Back!" I don't know how long they left their cars there, but the cops didn't want anyone anywhere near Erie Ave. And most of the people who were angry, they weren't angry at the shooter. They were angry at the police man impeding them from getting to their destination. "That's my baby! My pet's in there! My kid's in there!" t was truly a sight to see. 
Fortunately, no one was killed, although six were wounded. I keep hearing wise and smart people say that guns don't kill, but I remember that there's a mass shooting in Vegas and numerous school children mowed down and this last was in Texas with El Paso. Just within a week's time, 22 people died, by the gun. If guns don't kill, then toasters don't toast! 
If I was to point my finger at each one of these people in the room and say "Bang! Bang! Bang!" how many of them would be dead? If I had a gun in my hand and I pointed to each individual here and squeeze the trigger, the question is how many would survive. 
I sincerely believe that guns do kill. Especially a gun that can fire 100 rounds. you can't use that hunting. The only thing you can help with that is people. that's a weapon of mass destruction designed to kill the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time. without the guns, countless people would be alive today. I don't understand how people can say "Guns don't kill people" and validate that in light of all the evidence.

One of the things I always stress to new older buds is that they can write about anything in their loves: whether it happened ten years ago or ten minutes ago. We can learn a lot of history from our older buds stories, but it’s important to remember that history is being written every single day of our lives. We’re no stranger to writing about current events, and there’s always the possibility one of us will be involved in a monumental event; good or bad.

Life is short, so make time to talk to your older buds. Send us their stories through this form. And if you want to do more to end senior isolation, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Thanks again, and make today the best day of your life so far.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Summer Reading (Eleanor, Frances, Ann)

Remember two weeks ago when I mentioned a whole bunch of stories about school days during one of our sessions? I thought you might like to read these stories for yourself. Consider it your summer reading! And if you get through the whole blog by September first, you can reward yourself with a single-topping personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut* ;)

Eleanor Kazdan
A Very Bad Year

Seventh grade was a terrible year. My life seemed pretty uneventful until then. Junior high – a new school. Sudden interest in boys. Self-consciousness.
I found myself taller than almost everyone despite being a year younger. How I envied those cute short girls. My hair was unruly and frizzy. I put rollers in it trying to coax it into a flip. That was a flop.
I developed a whopping case of pimples.
And to top it all off, I was flat-chested. My mother assured me I would “grow” to be well-endowed like her. That never happened.
My mother also got it into her head that I had flat feet and needed orthopedic shoes. In the early 60s, people were obsessed with and terrified of flat feet. Actually, my feet were quite normal.
Well, I could go on and on about how awful that year was – pimples, flat chested, [and those] orthopedic shoes that I had under my desk.
My mother absolutely refused to let me get a bra and I wore undershirts. I felt embarrassed.
One day after school, I took my babysitting money, went to the Sears store near my house and bought a bra that I only needed for self-esteem.
My mother never said a word.
To this day, I am proud of that small act of rebellion.

Frances Bryce
A Southern Glance

The small town in South Carolina, Laurens, had a population at that time of approximately 10,000 people. Segregation was the rule. I to this date did not and still found it difficult to understand. Hard to imagine white and colored water faucets, fountains all the water from a common source. Black and colored bus stations. Everything that could be separated into white and colored, including restrooms at public places.
I attended school in the colored section of town. My high school was located outside the city. Each day I had to pass by a white high school, near where I lived to get to school.
My second year in high school, the building burned down. We attended school in a church until the school was rebuilt, this meant the new school was more modern than the white school with moveable seats, unlike the ones that was permanently anchored to the floor. The seats from the white high school were then forced to the new colored high school and the new seats were sent to the white high school. Other unbelievable occurrences happened like new uniforms for our high school was not bought and our old ones were from the high school (it didn’t matter that funds were siphoned off to the white high school and the colors were not the school colors of our school.
Living in the south had a lot of things that were positive, hospitality among the positive things. Neighbors were a very important part of my early life, which meant that we had to respect them as well as our parents.
At the end of legal segregation, one high school that everyone attends.

Ann Von Dehsen
Sports World

Caught up in the excitement of the US Women’s Soccer Team’s victory, I realized how greatly and positively things have changed for girls and women in sports. When I was in elementary school, long before Title 9 leveled the playing field, we had co-ed gym once a week. It was more like a structured recess than gym – we played a lot of dodgeball and had a lot of relay races. In 6th grade, however, we had separate girl/boy gym classes. Already the lines were drawn as boys had gym 3x a week and the girls had it twice a week. The boys were given t-shirts and gym shorts with the school’s initials on them and we girls were told to wear a shirt with shorts underneath on gym days. We were also given a very new, very young, very male gym teacher, known as Mr. B. I [doubt] if Mr. B’s dream job was teaching a group of 6th and 7th-grade hormonal girls, but it did mean certain advantages for us. For example, we had to “change” into our gym clothes behind the curtain on the stage in the gym. Now, remember “hanging” meant whipping off our shirts to expose our shorts, a move which should take less than 10 seconds. But given the fact that Mr. B was not allowed to step behind the curtain, we stretched the time out until we heard, “Girls, please come out,” then “Let’s go,” and finally, “Girls, NOW!” On days when one just didn’t feel like participating, she would go up to Mr. B and use the universal female excuse of “I have cramps.” After his blush faded, Mr. B would stammer, “Uh OK, uh just go over there and observe.”
Mr. B loved softball and we pretty much played it whenever the weather cooperated. Two of my friends and I often volunteered to play outfield because we enjoyed the peace and quiet, could talk about it, and even look for 4 leaf clovers since it was extremely rare for a ball to get past shortstop. Unless, unless, unless, Muriel stepped up to the plate. Muriel consistently hit over the fence homers (meaning we outfielders still didn’t have to work) and when she pitched, it was inevitably a “no-hitter.” Muriel was a very nice girl who was told “no” time after time when she asked to try out for little league. So finally, Muriel tucked her hair under a baseball cap, borrowed her brother’s clothes and went down to the field for little league tryouts, registering under a false name. No surprise, she hit 3 homers at her 3 at-bats and pitched a perfect inning. When the winning player’s names were announced at the end of tryouts, Muriel’s pseudo mane was of course amongst them. Having a flair for the dramatic, she walked up to home plate, pulled off her cap and shook her long mane of churls as the adults gasped and the kids cheered. In fairness, the adults got in touch with some little league executives but were told the bylaws strictly forbade females in a male sport.
Things improved for us girls in high school as we were exposed to a wider variety of sports. I really liked tennis and archery. There was a tennis team – for boys only – and an archery club for boys only. The only all-girl teams were gymnastics and cheerleading. But over the years, things did change and when my own girls were in high school, they played on the lacrosse team and field hockey team and the tennis team.
Slowly, the women’s tennis championship became more popular than men’s. Upon Women’s basketball team won 11 championships and 13 years own Mo’ne Davis propelled her Philadelphia team to the Little League World Championship.
During the victory parade for this year’s women’s soccer team, co-captain Megan Rapinoe popped the cork on a bottle of champagne trouncing, “I deserve this – we all deserve this!” Yes, they do, but they also deserve to win their next battle – equal pay.
Don't just save the storytelling for the summertime. Our tenth anniversary celebration is coming up during the school year on Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. You can donate here, and groups of students and families (home-schooled or otherwise) can get special rewards for contributing. If you have stories to share from the older buds in your life, please send them through this form.  I myself have posted stories about about targets, guns, potatoes, stubborn babies, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you're uncomfortable with the idea of playing hooky, then don't worry because it's a great learning experience and volunteering opportunity. If you are comfortable with the idea of playing hooky, then stick it to The Man by shedding light on a population that's typically ignored. Fight the power!

As for our senior selfie...José volunteered to take it, but his camera wasn't working. It looked like he had a permanent Instagram filter, and not even the good kind. So he borrowed mine, but my phone case slid around over the camera. So now it's another, different Instagram filter** ;)

*Pizza Hut is not an official sponsor of The Best Day of My Life (So Far)...yet.
**Instagram is not an official sponsor of The Best Day of My Life (So Far)...but who knows?
Curated by Caitlin Cieri