Thursday, March 21, 2019

Multitudes (Jose, Norman, Eugene)

For three weeks in a row, Best Day has had a table full of writers. The warming weather encourages everyone to join new workshops, or return to their old favorites. One of the older buds, Eugene, phased out Best Day in favor of pursuing his dream of photography. He’s been talking about this for a while, so I’m glad he’s finally doing it!
Also, Julie said that some of the kids from the local high schools were interested in volunteering as well. We at Best Day always love student volunteers, and with all the older buds we have now, we could use a few more hands on deck.
And don’t forget to check out the stories from our Philadelphia-based sister group Center in the Park. They’ve got lots of amazing stories, including a few from our very own Norman Cain. And if you’re ever at 33rd and Chestnut, go into the Barnes and Noble, ask for the Drexel Writers Room, and grab yourself a copy of Norman Cain’s “Debates, Defenses and Dreams” from their book vending machine.
We’ve got a lot to look forward to, so I leave you with the stories you’ve looked forward to for this entire post!

Eugene Charrington
02.14.19
Cameras in the Closet

At my best friend’s house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, in the living room there’s a huge antique china closet and oddly enough, this closet contains about 12 cameras plus some photographs.
At times, I would sit there and marvel at these professional cameras, there was a Canon, a Pentax, and even a few Yasekia mats. During the 1990s, I worked as a photographer. I shot demonstrations, architectures and still life. I worked with several non-profits and Impact Visuals, a photo co-op where I had black and whites, plus color slides on file. After eight or nine years of photography, put the camera down, not to start again until 2012 when I taught myself how to use a digital camera.
My buddy in Brooklyn recently informed me that he was tired of the expensive and cold NYC life, and to my delight, he told me I could pick two cameras from the closet for myself.
What a going away present! Thank’s a lot Doug!


Norman Cain
01.17.19
When I Saw Caen
When I was 13 years old in 1955, an amazing thing happened. The news media was a buzzed with the unheralded news regarding Negroes (that was what black folk were called then) who resided in the racial oriented city of Birmingham, Alabama. A lady, Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of a bus. She was arrested. Led by a young Baptist minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, the Negro folk from the city embarked upon a bus boycott, a boycott they insisted would act until Negroes were granted the right to ride public transportation without being required to sit in the back. On November 13, the Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was illegal. The boycotters were victorious. Because I left Philadelphia each summer for rural South Carolina, where I resided with my maternal grandparents, I witnessed segregation first hand. Negroes and whites were not allowed to sit side-by-side in vehicles, there were signs that designated what water fountains and toilets the races were allowed to use, Negroes were required to step aside when directly in the path of whites, Ku Klux Klan marchers were prevalent, the chain gang were disproportionately manned, elderly Negroes were called Aunt or Uncle- never Mr. or Misses, and white youth were addressed by negroes as Mr. and Mrs. Negroes were required to engage in hard labor from sun-up to sun down for little pay. To maintain the environment, Negroes were arrested under false pretenses. There were tales of missing folk and human remains being found in the forest. Twice, I saw Negro women in the white section of town, suckle white babies. Because my maternal grandparents who were land owners and who managed a large farm, I was not subjected to the humiliation or hardship experienced by the majority of the Negroes in the vicinity. I, nonetheless, felt the pain of my people: therefore, when I read about the exploits of those boycotting in Birmingham, I was elated. I definitely wanted freedom for myself and all of humanity. At the time, I hand idea that King had been a seminary student at nearby Chester, Pennsylvania, Crozier theological center in 1949. He met Rev. William Gray, pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church in 1958 at 12th and Columbia Avenue. He also spoke at Calvary P. Church at 41 Brown Street, a Baptist Temple Church at Broad and Berks. His appearances in Philadelphia were steady until February 1968. In August 1965, he came to Philadelphia in conjunction with is northern city tour for "Freedom Now Rally." Over 10,000 people heard him speak at 40th and Lancaster Avenue. There is a mural of him and Cecil B. Moore at the spot as well as a PA Historical Marker and bust of his likeness. During King's 1959 appearance, I was in the Army, thereby missing that historic occasion. However, I did get a chance to see King. But I would get a chance to see him later. As a student a Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia between 1961 and 1965, I was actively involved in the Civil Rights movement. Two of the college's alumnus who happened to have a Philadelphia base would often come to the University to lead us in our demonstrations. They were Cecil B. Moore and Reverend William Gray. They were both King supporters. They had both joined him in his civil rights activities in Philadelphia. When I graduated from college, I became a member of The Friends of The Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, which was located at 58th and Lansdowne Avenue. We solicited money, and books, as well as clothing for needy folk in Mississippi. From August 24th through the 27th, I accompanied the Philadelphia Chapter of the Friends of The Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee to the Democratic Convention National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. For three days and nights, I was on the boardwalk in front of the city's Convention hall at 2301 Boardwalk. There, I mingled with civil rights activists and luminaries like James Forman, John Lewis, Ella Baker , Gloria Richardson, Stokley Carmiceal, Rap Brown, Ralph Abernathy, and Fannie Hamer, among others. On the last night, King, who was hoarse, gave a brief speech in drizzling rain from the third and fourth rung of a step ladder. I was not too far from him and I could feel his spirit. I will never forget that experience.

Jose Dominguez
10.25.2018
My Unique Friend Alberto

When I was 15 years old, Alberto was my best friend I had in high school. He was an orphan and he inherited a small fortune for his age. He could expend money however he pleased and he did things for me that were amazing. He was sexually active and since our city was very conservative, he specialized in brothels and call girls and he invited me many times so I ended up knowing many places in Chihuahua City.
One of those days when we were studying in a Catholic school, I was enjoying my high school studies and suddenly one night, he appeared in the house where I rented my room. He mocked about my wish to study for the test (not proper for most of my young friends of the next day.)
I tried to dissuade him, telling him that the exam was crucial. Laughing, he told me he wanted to invite me for some beers and not to abandon the test. Meaning what? I asked him. It means that you come with me and drink some beers and I will look for girls. What? And my test? Very easy, you take your stupid books with you because I will not go alone and if you refuse, I will stay here in this room and promise to distract you so you will not study… so you decide. Oh my God! Knowing him, I took my book and we both took a cab. We went to a brothel in the area near the army barracks and accommodated myself in the bar drinking one Tecate and studying logic. The girls laughed at me but I did not care. When my friend arrived, I was the joker of the bar and of all of the brothels. My beer was empty and I solved some complicated Aristotelic silogism. Alberto, my friend was very pleased because he found a pretty girl and I ended with an A+ in Logic. Oh my God, I was such a good student!!



Share your love for the older buds in your life by submitting their stories here: http://bit.ly/submit1000stories 
And if you need a refresher on how to submit stories to “Joy Starts Here,” check out this handy-dandy link: http://bestdayofmylifesofar.org/joystartshere/
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Women's Day (Eleanor, Frances, Delores)

Like I said last week, March is International Women’s Month, a month to celebrate the women that make history. Best Day has no shortage of women historians, but imagine my surprise last week to find that our session was made up entirely of women! All the male older buds were either sick or otherwise occupied, so last week the girls were running the world. 




Not only that, but Eleanor’s story was featured in the most recent issue of the Milestones Newspaper. Of course, she read it aloud to all of us before posing, but you can read it yourself over here, along with a nice selection of stories from our women writers.

Eleanor Kazdan
02.18.2019
Tidying Up
 
Like thousands of other Netflix subscribers, I have been watching the series, "Tidying Up." The graceful, adorable, diminutive, upbeat Marie Kondo dances into people's homes to help them declutter and face their piles of possessions. These people are not "hoarders" in the technical sense, but just ordinary people with a lifetime of stuff to deal with. 
My first thought when I started watching the program was that I was way beyond needing advise in this department, since I am constantly throwing things out, even things I need later. I even once diagnosed myself as a "compulsive de-clutterer" after reading an article in the Oprah Magazine. When I moved from a large suburban house 13 years ago, I got rid of a ton of things including most of my furniture. 
After watching 2 episodes - one about empty nesters wanting to downsize, another about a new widow having to face her husband's possessions, I began to realize it was time to take stock. Marie counsels people to only keep items that "spark joy." Other items should be thanked for their service and discarded. She sees meaning in each thing. 
I realized that I was hanging on to a lot of stuff that is cluttering my life. Things that remind me of lost friendships, clothing that remind me I am no longer 35 and don't have a waistline. So, once again, I am facing the passage of time and trying to move forward - trying to declutter my life.

Frances H Bryce 
6.14.2018 
Sailing, Sailing 

Vacation each year, all the places we would like to go requires that a vote is taken to determine who gets their favorite place.
My husband knew I wanted to go to Canada, my kids, Disneyland or some amusement park. He stated that a sailing trip would be his wish with a side trip to Disneyland, he said that he would not vote. I was doomed from the start. With two kids voting for their vacation wish and my one vote for Canada, he did not need to vote in order for us to go sailing with a side trip to Disneyland.
He had already stacked the odds in his favor and also pleased the kids. 
The preparation for the sailing adventure began. We were enrolled in a sailing class with a crew, captain, and five other families that would be a part of the sailing trip from Chesapeake Bay to Florida. Our boat was a 28-foot craft that we learned was unsinkable – a great relief for me, each boat had a motor in case there was no wind to propel us and we were left far behind, we could use the motor.
The captain of our boat (my husband) did not want to think about using the motor, after all, it was a sailboat, trenching the sheets (sail) meant a great deal to him. The boat was equipped with a tiny galley, a place to sleep, and a toilet that required several pumping before a flush was assured.
All of the boats got on the way, heading out to sea. The wind gave us a good start and soon died down, no matter how much trimming of the sails our captain did, we were soon behind the other boats. My son and daughter began telling my husband we were too far behind the other boats and please use the motor to keep up. Finally, my husband relented, unhappy as he was because a sailor uses sails, not a motor.
Our first rendezvous was met with great excitement. We anchored our boat and ran to a restroom, a real live flush.
We saw magnificent ships carrying cargo, other ships that made our boat seem like toys.
It was our first family trip out in the ocean and a desire for my husband and daughter to plan another trip. I am waiting to sail on the huge ships with luxury cabins, and of course toilets that require no pumping.
We all enjoyed the trip to Disneyland. 

Delores Wilson
02.12.2019
Lunch With George Bush Senior
 



When I initially received an invitation to attend a George Bush luncheon at North East high school i was going to decline, however when had my quiet time that morning, I was instructed by the Lord to attend. That was a Sunday morning. That evening i received a call from my son's school. It was the principal telling me to go because the President of the United States of America was going to be there. That was my confirmation for me. i realized if i had lived in a monarch country, it would be the same as being summoned by a king or queen. I was given permission to go by my job. At the time i worked 3 to 11. I'm thankful that I went. I saw for myself that President George Bush is a people person, has a great sense of humor, and handsome. I liked him.
If you liked what you read, then you should check out the stories from Center in the Park. Both of us will be featured on Best Day’s newsletters and social media accounts for the month of March, so take the chance to get acquainted if you haven’t already.


Share your love for the older buds in your life by submitting their stories here: http://bit.ly/submit1000stories 
And if you need a refresher on how to submit stories to “Joy Starts Here,” check out this handy-dandy link: http://bestdayofmylifesofar.org/joystartshere/
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, March 7, 2019

International Women's Month (Joan)

Back in January, I mentioned that Joan told a story about surviving her husband’s abuse. She didn’t finish writing it for another week, and it took a little time to get it fully typed. But with International Women’s Month in full swing, and International Women’s Day just a few hours away, it feels right to post Joan’s story now, and to show how strong a woman can be. Just a forewarning, this story is about domestic abuse and violence.


Joan Bunting 
01.10.2019 
A Living Miracle
Do you believe in miracles? I do. You are in the presence of a real live miracle.
Most people go through hard, hard, terrifying times in their lives, but once that part of their life is over, they never give a thought that it was God that delivered them.The hardest time in my life started at age twenty-two years old when I met my future husband, Billy.
I didn't know enough to leave him once the abuse started. I didn't know what there were signs to have the sense enough to run.
The abuse started with, out of nowhere. I would get sucker-punched. Then the cuttings began. One night, he threw lighting fluid on me, then threw a lit match at me. Just image what could have happened if he hadn't missed. Through the years, I was pushed down the cellar steps, just so he could sue our landlord. One night I was knocked to the floor, he straddled me, then hit me in the head with a handle bar from a bicycle very hard to the point that all the nerves in my body singled. I was scared because I had heard that if you were hit hard enough and got the same reaction that I got (the tingling) that meant you were about to blackout, which I didn't eat to happen for fear he would surely kill me. So I pleaded with him that I felt strange as he raised his arm to hit me a second time.
A lot of other cruel things happened such as calling me out of my name an attempt to belittle me by telling me that if any other man would only want me for sex and last, but not least, if any other man saw my body, the knife scars would let them know that I belonged to him.
The main point in my story is how God delivered me. I have spent many nights and sometimes during the day realizing how I could or would have died. And it also showed me how God protected me.
You know when I was lying on the floor the night Billy straddled me and brought the bicycle handle bar down on my heard, I noticed his hand raised again to hit me a second time, when I looked back on that, I've come to the conclusion that God had sent an angel to hold back his arm after I had pleaded to him (Billy) that I was afraid and that I felt funny.
After all of the violence, I'm not crippled, scared to the point where there's evidence of what I’ve been through.



When you talk to an older bud, and when you really listen to them, you’re offering them an incredible gift. You’re giving them company, understanding, time, and importance. You’re giving them someone new to open up to, to trust, to really talk to. It’s one thing to listen to the fun stories about their youth, but quite another to be there for the tougher moments. Joan didn’t have to tell this story, but she did because she knew we would listen.
This is why we started our ten city tour and “Joy Starts Here” initiative. Our goal is to end senior isolation, and the best way to do that is by listening.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri