Thursday, March 28, 2019

Scramble (José, Eugene, Joan and Delores)

The older buds of Best Day are always eager to get to their workshops and events, and even more eager to stay afterwards to catch up with friends. Unfortunately, things happen that keep them from coming and staying as they please. Some of them have doctors appointments, others have broken heaters, some have unexpected family issues, and others still are held up by public transit. Some older buds are completely reliant on SEPTA's Customized Community Transportation, or CCT, which has a bad habit of picking up riders far too early or way too late. And if you don't come when you're called, they just drive off. Many older buds get mixed up in these scheduling kerfuffles, but we're sure you won't lose track of your favorite writers.

José Dominiguez
For Mother Dear

I knew you days were numbered. You lay bedridden in that horrible hospital and when I   
came to visit you barely recognized me your son of 43 years. You knew that my love 
for you was steadfast, never failing through thick and thin. 
Still, you knew your time on earth was ending and so I did too. You left the hospital only to  
return quickly.  And return I did to your side, your cheeks were pale, your legs weak, so much so that you could barely venture to the bathroom. Your head gray, gray from life’s trials and tribulation. Yes, I knew that time, your time was winding down. I held your hand and kissed you good-bye not knowing how many days remained

Eugene Charrington
Professor Gates and Me – Something in Common 

One spring morning in 1970, I unlocked the door and entered into the house I had and had just purchased, in the Fern Rock section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the G.I. Bill. Before I could close the door, a policeman entered and demanded an explanation for my being on the premise. I explained that I had just purchased the house and was awaiting the arrival of a utility person. To solidify my claim, I produced the deed to the home. In spite of my explanation and evidence that proved that I was the owner of the property, I was taken to jail, where I spent three hours before being released.
In 2009, approximately 39 years after the incident that occurred above, renowned Harvard University professor, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, attempted to enter his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but disconnecting a jammed doorknob. A neighbor reported a burglary. The Cambridge Police Department intervened. Gates was arrested and booked. The arrest created controversy throughout the nation. President Obama contended that the arrest was stupid, and that Latinos and African Americans were arrested disapportionately in America. He received criticism for his statement by law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S.A. When I heard about the incident, I was not shocked. 
I could relate to his predicament, understand his frustration with the United States criminal justice system. My deed was not proof of home ownership. And Professor Gates whose credentials speak for themselves proved that prejudice in this nation was alive. Gates was an honored scholar, but his color placed him in a profiling category. Harvard’s campus has hosted numerous prejudicial episodes over the years. The Gates incident just happened to reach national proportions.
An article entitled, “The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates,” by Mark Lineman in the Atlantic Magazine on August 12, 2010, stated that he had interviewed a Caucasian woman in Cambridge, Massachusetts who claimed she had gotten assistance from a Cambridge officer when she had locked herself out of her home. Arresting office, Crowley, who had conducted Sensitivity Training Seminars throughout the New England area for ten years, evidently did not practice what he preached. Professor Gates and I were arrested for being in the wrong neighborhood while being Black. But we both had a right – property ownership – to be where we were. 

Joan Bunting
Infamous Tomboy 

I was older than my older brother by 9 months. My youngest brothers, he was two and a half years younger. We called ourselves the three musketeers. 
Everything my brothers did, I tried to do it better. I played bottle tops, cowboys and Indians, jumping over the roof of tops of houses, jumping from the school tower, racing, etc. etc.
Wresting and boxing was out because that was a contact sport. They would show me how to box by posing me in the position and telling me where and how to hit them. 
One day my older brother sprayed me with a water gun. I became very angry because I had just gotten my hair done and it was slightly wet from the water gun. In return I threw a soda can at my brother. 
In those days, I played a dual part.  Earlier part of the day I was a tomboy, and in the afternoon I was Miss Prissy Prissy. I wore dresses and played girly games. I think the water gun put things into perspective for me. Two weeks later I overheard my brother jokingly say, “Well Eddy, I guess we lost our big brother.” 

Delores Wilson

The bus I usually take (40) on South Street stops at the corner of where I live. With construction, that seems like it began ages ago at 23rd and South, the bus is now detoured to Pine and 21st for me.
Today, as I was seconds from the stop on Pine Street, I saw the bus pass, now I knew a long wait would be in store for me. I thought maybe in the next 15 minutes another bus would be there. Finally, after waiting long time, I hauled a cab. As soon as I entered the cab, I noticed the seats were soiled, and the floor was dirty. I told the driver about the condition of the passenger seating and the dirty floor. His remark was that it was because the previous rider caused the dirty condition. I replied that this was an accumulation of trash, not left by one passenger.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get the driver’s number and that I gave him a tip. My tip should have been: “If you are driving people around, you need to check the condition of the cab when the passengers are riding.”
Today really made me appreciate the bus I usually take on South Street. 

Don't lose track of the older buds in your life! Share your love for the older buds in your life by submitting their stories here:   
And if you need a refresher on how to submit stories to “Joy Starts Here,” check out this handy-dandy link:
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, so check them out.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

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
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
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
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: 
And if you need a refresher on how to submit stories to “Joy Starts Here,” check out this handy-dandy link:
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
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 
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
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: 
And if you need a refresher on how to submit stories to “Joy Starts Here,” check out this handy-dandy link:
Curated by Caitlin Cieri