Thursday, September 26, 2019

Power to the People (Carolyn, Frances, and Ann)

Last Thursday was the first day the Philadelphia Dramatists Center's Constitution Class came back since its summer break. Last Tuesday was National Voter Registration day, an important holiday with the municipal elections coming up in November. While we won’t be voting for Presidential candidates until 2020, we will be voting on State Representatives, state courts, city council members, Philadelphia’s mayor, and Pennsylvania legislature. Older buds Frances and Delores are very involved in Philadelphia politics, older buds Norman and Mike served in the armed forces, older buds José, Philip and Eleanor immigrated to the United States,  older bud Ann’s childhood home was sold to the parents of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and older buds Elliott, Loretta and Joe have extra accommodations due to disabilities. We all have a stake in the upcoming elections, so it’s important to make sure you’re registered to vote. In Pennsylvania it’s especially important to register for a political party or you can’t vote in primary elections. If you haven't already registered, you can do so here.

You loyal readers already know Best Day's all about amplifying the voices of the unheard, so here's a few stories from our older buds. And when you're done, share the link with some friend:

Carolyn Boston
March 21, 2019
The Kindness and Goodness of Human Beings

I used to complain continuously to God about having to use my cane and the struggle I had when I had to take a bus or any other form of local transportation. Crossing a city street (Market Street, for example) was fearful for me and I dreaded having to cross it. Then, I experienced such kindness from people all ages, all ethnicities, that fear left. There has never been a time when I needed help getting off the bus, crossing streets, or going up and down steps, or dropping my cane or opening doors that someone would [not] help me. There were people who would stand in the middle of Market Street and stop traffic until I crossed to the curb. Handsome men, SEPTA drivers, merciful women, teenagers, diverse human beings with big hearts filled with compassion.
I’ve met so many kind and helpful people that I am in awe as everything I’ve experienced -it’s mind-boggling! When someone says people are “mean” these days, I disagree wholeheartedly. Goodness and kindness reign supreme.

Frances Bryce
Not to Worry

My life has been filled with many events that have opened my eyes to see what I never imagined as a problem.
There are people who are very concerned about what others think about them, and how that affects them in their daily lives.
Example: On an occasion when we were standing in a room, where other people were gathered, we were talking and laughing about something of no consequence. She stated, “They are probably wondering what we are laughing about.” Although, they, the other people were engaged with peers. I replied that they are jealous, that they are not having a good time as we are having.
Example 2: We were together and the room was cool to her. She had a sweater, but when I asked why she did not put it on, she said, “No one else is wearing a sweater.” I reminded her that perhaps they were not cold and that it was better to rely on her own body temperature rather than others. That other people probably did not use their time wondering about things and events that concerned others.
I hope she will not continue to worry or be too concerned about the thoughts someone may be thinking. I am aware that it takes a long time to rethink what has become a part of one’s life that does not serve them well.
I never asked her how much time she spent thinking and worrying about others because from previous conversations, [I bet it would be] more time than I wanted her to tell me.
Ann Von Dehsen
Herman the Doorman

When my parents became empty-nesters, they happily moved into a high-rise apartment in Hackensack, N.J. where they were suddenly free of house repairs and yard work.
The apartment building had a wonderful doorman named Herman. Herman was in his sixties and spoke with a heavy Polish accent. Regardless of the weather, he was there every day with a smile on his face. He knew the names of every inhabitant of the 100-unit building including children, babies, and pets. On holidays, Herman took great delight in decorating the floor plants and lobby with white lights. He also wore a flower in his lapel and corresponding holidays hats. A jar of lollipops for the humans and a jar of milk bones for dogs was a permanent fixture on his desk. I was in college at the time and only saw him on school vacations and long weekends. He always welcomed me with open arms and wanted to hear all about college life in Boston.
During one of our conversations, he happened to list his arm as he was speaking and I was stunned to see tattooed numbers on his inside wrist. I knew this was the hideous ID mark of a concentration camp survivor. He quickly pulled his shirt sleeve down and went on with our conversation.
Later, I told my mother what I had seen and asked her if she knew more about it. She confirmed that he was indeed a Holocaust survivor and lost his wife and children in the camps. When she asked how he was able to go with his life in such a positive way, he said that he now considered himself lucky and thought of the apartment building as his home and the people in it as his family.
He believed that part of his job was spread kindness in an effort to combat the hate he had withstood first hand. Lately, I’ve thought of Herman a lot as I visualize him humming and dancing down the hallways. He still makes me smile and gives me a reason for hope.

Everyone's voice deserves to be heard. Use your time to talk to the older buds in your life. 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. Later, gators.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Prep Work (Mo and Joan)

The point of Best Day is to give older buds an opportunity to write and share their life experiences without judgement. We always have lots of pens, pencils and notebooks on hand because we don’t know how many opportunities our buds have to write in their own lives. We encourage everyone to keep their stories short enough to finish in three to five minutes, but we’ll go over the ending time if it means everyone gets a chance to read their stories. Our copywriters’ policy is “never edit the stories,” or the readers won’t be able to hear the older buds’ voices. In short, Best Day is set up with the assumption that this is the one time of the week our older buds have to write. 

Our older buds do not have that same assumption. Some of them will take notebooks home with them because they’re not done writing their story yet. Some of them will rewrite the whole story from scratch because they made too many “mistakes” in the first draft. Some of them come to Best Day planning on writing their autobiography. Some of them bring in a story already finished, eager for feedback, critique, and grammatical advice. One older bud, Philip, refused to come to Best Day the past few weeks until his story was finished. Interestingly enough, once he brought his finished story to the workshop, he had enough time to complete a second story as well. Hopefully, this means we’ll be seeing him on a weekly basis; finished stories or no.

Missouri Grier
Love of Horses

Every day the Bond Bread Wagon would come to my block to deliver bread to the neighbors. I would get on the wagon and take a ride with the horse. The horse would always stop at my door and I would climb in the seat and he and I would go around the block. The man said to my mother, “I can’t understand why my horse likes your little girl, Mrs. Grier, but he brings me here and stops every day.” They just laughed off. I still love horses.

Johnstown, PA
Joan Bunting

Last Thursday, August the 8th, my daughter drove her youngest daughter Raven, Raven’s friend, two of her granddaughters, and myself to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. We traveled there to celebrate her daughter’s, Tauheedah, birthday on the 9th. It was a long ride, but I like riding. I love and enjoy the scenery.
We stayed at a place that Rose had arranged on her phone. I don’t know this cellphone language, but she rented a place for us to stay for the weekend. It had four bedrooms, a kitchen, toilets, one upstairs with a bathtub and shower and one downstairs in what looked like a storage place. Everything was beautiful.
We stopped at Tauheedah’s letting her know that we had arrived. The next day we went to a place called Idle-wild. There was games to be played, rides to ride on, but the biggest attraction was the different water. There were different water attractions. It took me about a half-hour to decide even to put my feet in. The water was so cold. I finally sat down. Every now and then a wave would come and I would let out a loud “Ooh.”
The next day, we went to my favorite attraction. It’s called, “The Johnstown Inclined Plane.” People get on this wooden platform. After you pay for your ticket, (As a senior citizen I got on free) and after everyone boards, we start moving upward. Of course, we were surrounded by a gate. We’re so high the cars look like toy cars. I don’t know how high it goes, but the view is so beautiful.
After you reach the top, you get off and you’re in a park with swings and things. Walking out of the park there’s a beautiful neighborhood. There is also a little shop where you can purchase safe keeps, ice cream, slurpies and lots of other things.
I enjoyed our visit to Johnstown and visiting with my granddaughter and her four children, and looking forward to visiting Johnstown, PA again.

Use your time to talk to the older buds in your life. 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.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

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