Thursday, June 27, 2019

Summer Schedule (Frances and Norman)

I like to keep The Best Day of My Life (So Far) running throughout the summer. I know a lot of the workshops at the PSC take breaks for the summer, but I also know the older buds won't be away for the full three months. And the most interesting things can happen over the summer, because that's when everyone's taking breaks from their job. Benita dropped by for a visit last week...and a ten-year anniversary interview! Five to six of our older buds were asked about the time they spent with Best Day, their relationship with our fearless leader Benita, and how Best Day helped them in their every day life. We got a mix of older and newer writers, but many of them came to Best Day after Benita's maternity leave. Nonetheless, I can't wait to show all of you the interview!

Another thing that's happening during the summer is storytelling shows at The Moth. Many older buds were interested in telling stories and seeing their friends onstage, but they weren't interested in staying out until dark. Luckily, the days are longer in summer, and the weather's warmer. I plan to take as many older buds as possible to The Moth during their July and August shows, and I'll naturally let you know how those shows went.

Curious about what a Moth story from one of our older buds would sound like? We have a few samples right here!

Frances Bryce
Entrance Without a Key

My car, like most cars, has a remote and a key that are both used to gain entrance, but yesterday I found that was not necessary. I was on my way to my line dance class, when I decided to stop and put something in my car. I noticed on the driver’s side beads of glass. I took little notice at first, then the reality of why the beads of glass were there hit me. Someone had decided to see what valuables were inside and break the back window on the driver’s side. I looked inside to see that all the things that had been in the glove compartment were now scattered on the floor; manuals, registration and insurance cards. The small purse that held quarters was gone. It may have contained three or four dollars.
I reported the accident to police by phone, another person by phone took the information. He was hung up on the exact number of the street, a lady finally took over and knew exactly what the important number he was seeking was. No line dance class, I needed to find a place that would repair my window. I scanned the white pages after my online search. Then remembered to call a friend who knew where I could get the work done after I had called the dealer and learned that the cost would be $300 for labor plus the part.
I finally got the work done for less that the labor cost at the Honda dealer. I was unhappy that I had to miss my line dance class, but very happy to have a friend who steered me to a place that did the replacement at a reasonable price. I wondered why my car was chosen. There were more expensive cars near mine, maybe he figured that a civic owner probably had money in the glove compartment. I wish that I had left the door unlocked for the thief. 

Norman Cain
A Hot Summer Day Back in the Day
Back in 40’s and 50’s when seasonable weather was predictable, the boys in our crew engaged in prescribed routines that would coincide with the various periods of the year.  During the brisk temperatures that accompanied the fall, we gathered on the street each day to play touch football. In the winter, we threw snow balls, built snowmen and cruised on sleds.  During the spring, we played stick ball and skated. During summer, we engaged in an activity that was held dear.
It was as if each day during the summer months could be considered a heat wave, and to make matters worse, air conditioning was years away.  There were no area swimming pools. We could only envision going to the seashore. Hand and electric fans did not generate relief, but there was a way that neighborhood occupants managed to cool themselves off.  We drenched ourselves in water from the fire hydrant which we referred to as the water plug. We turned on the water plugs, it was illegal, but it was traditional. In order to turn on the fire hydrant, a certain procedure had to be implemented.
We would have a boy stationed at each end of the block to watch out for police.  Two boys would emerge from the alley with a double handled hydrant wrench that was kept hidden in an abandoned building.  The wrench would be placed on the valve of the hydrant and the boys would strenuously and rapidly turn the wrench until the water the water began to pour from the hydrant opening.  The boys would then disappear into the alley, and replace the wrench in the abandoned building.
The neighborhood residents, both young and old alike, would then wade, douse, soak, splash and chill themselves from the refreshing water coming from the water plug.  Blankets of arching dense sprays of water, which was created by a boy’s posterior on the opening of the hydrant would rain down on all under the soothing waterfall. Cars would receive a free rinse.  Buckets of water would be thrown on fleeing victims. Females would have on bathing caps and little boys would race popsicle sticks and toy boats in the stream of water flowing beneath the sidewalk – making sure that their vessels did not go into the sewer.  Eventually, the police would come and turn off the water plug.
Pleasant memories.

Also, we only have five months until our 10th Anniversary Celebration! It'll be all day November 8th, and there will be lots of food, fun, and fascinating stories. I've raised a bit of money through a birthday fundraiser, but we still need support from local donors. If you want to make our tenth anniversary the Best Tenth Anniversary of Our Lives (So Far) then go to and make a contribution. We have special rewards for groups and families who contribute, like handwritten stories, family photos, sponsored tables, and free lunch!
And as always, we're still on the lookout for stories from the older buds in your lives. If you have any you think would interest us, then send them our way through Happy Summer!

Curated by Caitlin Cieri 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Juneteenth (Norman, Frances, Elliot, and Joan)

Yesterday was Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the abolition of slavery in the United States. It was established when Texas heard the news about the Emancipation Proclamation, on June 19, 1865, one year and six months after it was signed. As a Confederate State Texas was unwilling to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, but was forced to follow it after the Civil War ended.

Last week, Frances and I had the pleasure of telling some of the other Best Day members about Juneteenth and its origins. I'm honored to have my birthday on this day, so I want to further honor this day by sharing some incredible stories from our incredible African American authors.

Norman Cain 
In Contact with the Ancestors 

While I was not able to attend a family reunion last week in New Orleans, I was not 100% disappointed because it seems that I’m constantly in contact with living and deceased members of my family via actual encounters and genealogy.  

Occasionally I’m contacted with family members by phone, Facebook, or visitations. Because of a genealogy class that I’ve been taking at an adult continuing education facility at Temple University, Pascep. I have been able to trace my father’s  ancestral line to 1812 and my mother’s ancestral line to 1810. That amounts to 205 years ago.  

While I missed my anticipated reunion in New Orleans, I am at least in constant contact with my ancestors.

Frances Bryce
What Does “We the People Mean?” 

My class that I attend after my writing class often revisits the preamble of the Constitution and did it, or was it written to include my fore parents who were slaves at the time it was written. Slaves at that time were considered property and some of them owned slaves.

The facilitator reminded the class that the Preamble stated “ We the People”, which in any interpretation included all persons whether they were considered by state law as property in fact included all persons, property known as people and that no part of the Constitution excluded slaves, and slaves were not mentioned anywhere in the original document.

The debate goes on, but whether we were mentioned, one cannot deny that we are part of the animal kingdom known as people. The Thirteenth Amendment made it clear that slavery, involuntary servitude, shall not exist within the United States or subject to their jurisdiction.

Elliot Doomes 
It’s All Violence 

I had a problem with, it was about police officers shooting kids and kids shooting kids. A six year old kid got shot. The police were supposed to protect people, and yet they commit as much violence as criminals. I couldn’t believe that a six year old boy was shot and killed by a policeman because he thought he had a weapon, and he was in fear for his life. I couldn’t believe it. That boy had a play gun, he pointed it at the policemen and he shot him down.  

It reminds me of that one television show where the officer was talking to his officers and telling them, “All right, gentlemen and ladies, to it to them before they do it to you,” And he was serious. I mean, c’mon. That’s giving them a license to kill! 

And then there was a twelve year old who was shot and killed. Yeah, by the police also. The policeman was exonerated on the same grounds, that I don’t understand. There was a young woman who was stopped by a policeman because her taillight wasn’t working. She was dragged out of her car and then thrown to the ground. She was arrested and they later found her hanging in her cell in the police station. She was announced dead at the scene. 

In my neighborhood, where I love, there were two young men who were shot. I was close enough to hear the shots. The one kid, he fell in front of my friend’s door. And the second shooting was also about 50 yards away from where I was sitting. And no one was arrested in either case. Because no one would admit that they had witnessed the actual shooting. Fortunately, neither of the victims were killed.  

One of the individuals, he was stopped by police – he was sitting in his car, he wasn’t driving – but he was stopped by the police. Another policeman showed up so they approached together as a team and they shot this guy approximately 18 times Who’d have thought? Eighteen times. It was claimed that he was reaching in the backseat for a suspected weapon. And they opened fire on this guy in his seat and shot him to pieces. Eighteen times.  

I got stopped the other day! I was stepping out of the bus and this policeman was running towards me. He said, “You! You stepped out of the bus!” I saidn “Yeah?” He said, “There was a stabbing on this bus and you fit the description.” And I said, “Do I look like I have blood on me? I didn’t do it.” Then he patted me down evidently looking for a weapon and I let him do that. And then he wanted me to take my things out of my pocket and I said, “I’m not going to do that. If you want to di it, you’ll have to charge me and arrest me.” So I saw his female associate across the street so I told her what was going on so I had a witness and I said to the officer, “If you want to search me, you’ll have to charge me and arrest me. But if you do, I will take you to court and I will sue you for everything you have. I don’t t know how successful I will be, but I sure can try.” And then they both let me go and I went on my way to lunch and I know if it happened at night, or if there weren’t any witnesses, I would’ve gotten shot. I saw him reaching for his gun.  

So I want to know where is it safe in the city? Or any big city? I don’t see any protection, anyone protecting us, and above all, whom do you trust?

Joan Bunting 
Singing in the Choir 

I just recently joined the Senior Citizen Center Choir. Already, I participated in a concert given at the center. Being a newcomer I had forgotten all about attending rehearsal last week. Now, mind you, I just joined about three weeks ago. 

My voice is far from being angelic but I enjoy so much singing. 

I started singing in a choir at the Holy Trinity Baptist Church when I was about seven years of age. 

When I was transferred from one foster home to the next, I belonged to another youth choir at the age of ten or eleven years old. 

So to make a long story short I loved singing gospel songs. My foster mother, Ms. Eunice Jackson asked me to join the choir at the Primitive Baptist Church. I would have been the youngest on the choir if I had accepted but when she asked me in my mind I said, “I don’t want to sing with all those old people.” 

As I came into my teen years, I sang with my deceased sister-in-law and her cousin in the fifties when there was groups of singers on almost every other corner. 

I was and still am a back-up singer. 

When I finally joined another church, “Union Baptist” I joined the W. G. Parks. That’s when I discovered I am a tenor. I always thought I was an alto. 

I don’t have the voice I had when I was younger but I still sing in the choir at Union Baptist. 

I’m glad I joined the choir here at the center mostly because they sing a lot of the old gospel songs. 

I get such a joy singing praises and glorifying God. 

Even though my voice is not very good, I always ask God to give me voice when I have to sing.
And He does.

If you have an hour or more to spare, then share an older bud’s story through  
I've posted stories about about targets, guns, potatoes, stubborn babies, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Or if you'd like to contribute to our 10th Anniversary celebration, then donate at
Happy Juneteenth!
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Sincerity Project or To Drexel, Part 3 (José)

A few weeks ago, the people of Best Day went to a writing workshop sponsored by Drexel’s Dornsife Center and FringeArts. Everyone who attended was given a free ticket to The Sincerity Project, a show that was devised by Makoto Hirano, the same person leading the writing workshop. Most of us said that we could see the Saturday June 8th matinee, but life got in the way as it often does. Joyce, for instance, made a point of leaving early so she could drive out there. Unfortunately, her car broke down, and then she took SEPTA and got some bad directions. As a result, she only made it to the show fifteen minutes before it finished. Fortunately, I was able to see the show with older buds Delores and Cara, and Best Day volunteer Victoria, and I even got a quick pic with Joyce.

So the gist of The Sincerity Project is that it’s  one biographical show that gets performed every two years. Each year they give updates on what happened to the cast during the past 2 or so years, and how that changed the show’s direction. One performer’s transitioning from male to female, for instance. One part of the show featured the oldest actor, the youngest actor, and a cooler full of soda. The minute the oldest member could no longer lift the cooler completely over his head, the younger would step in and help him. All in all, it felt very intimate, like you were invited to someone else’s living room.

Here's hoping today's story gives you that same feeling of insight:

José Dominiguez 
There Are testimonies to Testimonies 
A long time ago when posing as a lawyer in México, a testimony was a personal corroboration to establish the existence of a fact. Some testimonies I coached were real, some were half true and some mere fantasy. I didn’t get into trouble because God is great. Some 30 years later I heard my brother’s Ramon testimony. He was a born again Christian after living a disastrous sinner life, according to his public testimony, which didn’t impress me too much — not because he didn’t touch upon those painful days, some of which I witnessed — but because of some [of the] inconsistencies that I identified as pure imagination.Obviously, the testimony changed each time he testified and embellished his encounter with Jesus to dramatize the impact on the public. This was the case when he stated that during his infancy and preadolescence the Bible was a prohibited book in our house and that it was hidden so none of us could read it. Nonsense! Since I have memory, I remember it was the biggest book in our library and because of its size, 2 by 1.5 feet, it was over a special table almost in the center of the room. Maybe he tried to present himself as a victim of a plot so he could not be in touch with Jesus.The next encounter I had with testimonies was when my wife and I become permanent legal residents or green card holders. As soon as we changed our address to El Paso, Texas, we were involved in a Catholic community at the San Martin’s Church at Sunland Park, New Mexico. Maria’s participation on the ACTS retreat was fallowed by mine. ACTS is a Catholic ministry that exists in almost all Catholic churches in Texas, and it’s attended by parishioners interested in serving the church community. For me, and almost to every person that happened to experienced it, the retreat was a very powerful event to change our lives. The central and more intensive part of this event were in my case, the 7 or 8 testimonies of fellow parishioners. They admitted publicly being sinners and described their wrongful lives. They also communicated how much pain inflicted on their families and friends, how regretful they were and how Jesus was the savior and total meaning for their lives. They included biblical quotes in the presentations and ended concluding that Jesus died to clean our sins and that our personal salvation and peace in this life depended on our faith. The testimonies were really impressive, they covered a great range of excesses, betrayals, self indulgences, offenses, violence, avarice, self destructive behavior, etc. Moved by those lives in pain and repentance each one of the 35 participants took the stand to add their personal testimonies increasing the spectrum of wrong doing and sorrow. They spoke about drugs, lives dedicated to money, uncontrolled sex, lying, even homicide.I was reluctant to say anything about me and that made me the last one to declare. It’s not that I did not have sins, of course I have never been perfect! What I did not want was to fantasize saying something simply to agree with the situation. Standing before my companions without haste, doubt, nervousness, or emotion I began to say with calm: “My life has been so favored, and the people around me so caring and I have not been inclined to extreme behavior that I don’t have testimony to give and I will not exaggerate any of my stupidities or wrongdoings to make you believe that I have suffered and that I am repented. Of course I regret not been more loving with my wife, I could always have been a better father with my children, or a could have been a better citizen, etc. For sure my biggest wrong doing has been not doing what’s necessary to find my true self and embrace it passionately. If I had done that, I would not have wasted my time in omissions or nonsense. The pain that I have are for all those things that I could have done and that I have not done only for my own comfort and well-being. Nevertheless, I thank God for the life I have lived and the wonderful opportunity to live.”
If you have an hour or more to spare, then share an older bud’s story through  
I've posted stories about about targets, guns, potatoes, stubborn babies, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Or if you'd like to contribute to our 10th Anniversary celebration, then donate at

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Spring Chorus (Iris and Rochelle)

Best Day has a few older buds who also sing in the Philadelphia Senior Center’s choir: Joan, Rochelle, and Iris. They have concerts every few months, and when they do we take a break from writing to support them. None of them had solos, but both Iris and Rochelle acted as MCs, and they got the audience into it!

And just like last week’s blog entry, we’re combining art with art by pairing these beautiful voices with beautiful stories.

Iris Wildflower 
The Best Thing I’ve Ever Learned in My Life

The best thing I’ve ever learned in my life is there are certain conversations not to have with my mom…because she will send you to another state…
When I turned 18 years old, I had graduated from high school (early 17 years), got accepted at Fisk University, and [worked] at the IRS for the summer. One day, I came home from work and told my mom that I was grown and about to leave for college in August and that I could stop by the bar for happy hour after work…
I waited for the good talking-to or the words, “What’s wrong with you?” but alas, nothing happened. Mom just sat there quietly. “Ok” she stated… Wow, that was easy, I thought I should have done this a long time ago…
For two weeks, I went as I pleased, happy hour, parties, staying out until the sunrise in the sky, even skipped church a few times…
Dad was waiting at the house when I came in hung over and with bloodshot eyes.
My dad said, “See you in church!!” Church? I thought, look at my condition… How?
Dad spoke, “You don’t answer back with a ‘why.'”
“Yes Dad.”‘
So I began to get ready for church. Dad then said, “When I turn around, I want to see you.”
“Yes, Dad.” I was hung over.
Later that week, my parents gave me a one-way ticket to Greensboro, N.C.
The dean’s phoned and advised me to call him and let him know what time my train would arrive. I would be attending Bennett’s Women’s College in Greensboro.
“But why mom?”
“You’re grown, remember?”
“No, I’m not grown, mom.”
“Two grown women cannot live in my house.” Thus I learned there are certain conversations not to have with my mom. She don’t play and will send you to another state. And set up everything for your arrival.
Thanks, Mom.

Rochelle Tynes
The Men In My Life 

First off, let me say that some of the men in my life have been good to and for me and because they were good or bad, some I don’t see or use anymore.
I’ll start with Sir Penicillin, he worked on and off for my ailments for quite a number of years – then I became allergic to him and had to let him go about the wayside. In these later years, I’ve had an affair with Mr. Balm Palm Rub – Mr. Arthritis Muscle Rub, Lord Extra Strength Tylenol, Sirs Melformin, Cilipige, and Sonlodipine. They all seem to be doing well, it’s just that I don’t like taking them because I thought when I went to the clinic for a checkup that I wouldn’t need to have anything new. But low and behold, I was told that I needed a pill to help my bones be stronger, so I now have to introduce myself to Mr. Glucosamine C.
Well, I believe its time for me to get a female helper so that maybe I can let some of these men go about their business and I can be free of at least one or two of these men.
If you have an hour or more to spare, then share an older bud’s story through  
I've posted stories about about targets, guns, potatoes, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Or if you'd like to contribute to our 10th Anniversary celebration, then donate at
And enjoy this random senior selfie from Philip and José before you go!
Curated by Caitlin Cieri