Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Reason to Write to People (Ann)

One of my favorite things about Best Day is that you get to meet lots of new people with lots of different perspectives. Even after ten years, I'm still learning lots of new things from the older buds. For instance, last week I learned that Elliot only had one birthday party in his entire life. And he even told me that he hadn't realized how important birthdays were to most people his age until it came up in conversation. If you're interested in transcribing for older buds, and learning something new about them in the process, email us at for more info. Transcribers get to read our stories before anyone else, and they get to do it for a great cause. Like this story below about Ann meeting her English pen pal in person:

Ann Von Dehsen

During the early 1960’s when all things British were the rage, my family experienced our own joyful British invasion in the form of Vanessa Sapsford.
My sister Ellen and Vanessa had been pen-pals since elementary school. Now both 18 years old, Vanessa wrote to say she was coming to NY on holiday and hoped she and Ellen could spend some time together. Of course, my hospitable mother insisted she stay with us and Vanessa graciously accepted. We met her at the airport carrying her photo. Vanessa was also armed with photos of the 4 of us. From the photos we had, we knew Vanessa was quite attractive.
We watched and waited a the passengers disembarked. A man behind me said to his wife, “Wow, look at that gorgeous young woman. I think she’s someone famous,” as other people began to look at her too. I knew it must be Vanessa. She was wearing a pink linen suit with a silk blouse, patent leather shoes and purse, perfect hair and a permanently beautiful face. She would have been the definition of sophistication except for the fact that when she spotted us in the crowd she yelled, “Ellen, Ann, is that you?” did a little dance with arms in the air as she ran over to engulf all 4 of us in a dancing group hug.
On the way home from the airport, Vanessa was awe shocked over the largeness of everything – the TWA airport pavilion, the size of our car – which she called a “yacht on wheels,” the lights of the city, the George Washington Bridge. We talked and laughed all the way home and by the time we pulled into our driveway, my family had fallen in love with Vanessa’s warmth and joyful spirit.
When I showed Vanessa my room, she of course noticed my many Beatle posters, starring George Harrison. Did I mention I was just about to turn 13 and was pretty sure I would marry George Harrison someday?
Continuing to look at the posters, she casually said, “Good choice, Ann. George really is the nicest of the Beatles.” “Excuse me? You know the Beatles??” Turns out she finished high school at 16 and began working at a PR firm that represented the Beatles in the early days of their fame. As she put it, she often “partied in their social circle” adding they were very nice pals. For once, my self-absorbed 13-year-old self was speechless. The magic of Vanessa continued to spread during the week.
My father was never one to voluntarily go into New York City – too much traffic, too expensive, no place to park, etc. etc. But suddenly, he was taking time off from work so we could show Vanessa everything – the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Wall Street, Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village. It was a whirlwind of a week and through it all, Vanessa was appreciative, amazed, and often downright silly – she worked on her American accent by calling us “you’s guys” and singing “Wild Things” and “Dirty Water” as we traveled. Our family suddenly began drinking more tea and referring to everything as “quite lovely..”
Now, my father was a big NY Yankees fan. Vanessa didn’t know much about baseball but did know who Willie Mays and turns out Willie’s San Fransisco Giants were playing the Yankees on the last night of Vanessa’s visit. So, surprise! My father suddenly came home with 5 tickets to the game. After outfitting Vanessa in a Yankee’s cap and tee shirt and a borrowed pair of my sisters cut off jeans, off to Yankee Stadium, we went.
It took Vanessa about 1 minute to get into the spirit of a ball game. She spent most of the game on her feet, rooting for both teams in her best American accent (“Hey, batter batter batter) But she saved her best for Willie’s at-bat – when he got a hit it was “Atta boy, Willie!” If he struck out – “Next time, Willie!” I’m sure if the jumbotron existed back then, Vanessa would have been the star. As it was a young woman came up to her and asked, “Are you a famous model?” As Vanessa drank her beer and chowed down on a hot dog, Vanessa responded, “Nope, not me!”
As the teams exited the field, Vanessa slipped back into her British hammers and yelled to each team, “lovely game mates, lovely game.” We sang “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” all the way home.
All good things must come to an end and all too soon we were driving Vanessa back to the airport. The ride was unusually quiet and by the time we got to the gate, we were all in tears as Vanessa hugged and thanked each of us.
A pilot walked by and said to my mom, “It’s hard to say goodbye to your daughter, isn’t it?” To which my mom really lost it. Vanessa promised she’d return and she did eventually with her husband and then with her daughter.
This friendship and love lasted for several decades. There is more to be told so I will continue this story at another time.

If you can't volunteer in person, but want to send us stories from an older bud (or if you're an older bud with stories to share,) you can send them through our portal right here 
And if you're just plain passionate about supporting older buds and ending senior isolation, there’s a lot of ways to show your love. You can like us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, and share links to your favorite stories.

Thanks for reading, and have a good day.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Valentine's (Elliot)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! If you’re passionate about supporting older buds and ending senior isolation, there’s a lot of ways to show your love. You can like us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, and share links to your favorite stories. If you or an older bud have your own story to share, you can send them through that very same portal right here.

We’re also looking for people to transcribe our stories, so if you’re interested and live in Philadelphia or Greater Philadelphia, please email us at Transcribers get to read our stories before anyone else, and they get to do it for a great cause. I wonder which of our transcribers got to read this one ahead of time:

Elliot Doomes
Merry-Go Round
My life seems like I'm on a merry-go-round. Maybe it's the circles that I travel in, but I seem to be meeting the same people everywhere I go. They seem to aspire to the same things, but are doing nothing to achieve those goals and aspirations. Mostly, they describe what they want and aspire to what they want and neglect what they need. "Gimme, gimme, gimme, can you let me have." That's what I hear the most. And its embarrassing to me to have able-bodied people whose means are equal or greater than my own and their financial situation is either equal to mine or better. Some people don't seem to think I need my cane and I walk up and down the stairs without it. And then, because of my vision, most the time I use my cane for distance so I don't bump into things. I did walk into that door downstairs one day. That automatic door closed on my left side before I went through and I didn't see it coming and it smacked me in the face. It seems that the people that I meet have so many problems and some have exaggerated problems. And they try to involve me as if I have a solution to their problems. Sometimes I offer advice, even unwillingly, although unwillingly. If I could just make up my mind, say what may seem cruel, "It's your problem. Not mine. Deal with it!" I am not smarter than they are and if I had a solution, so do they also. I have learned not to take nothing and make it something that it ain't. 

Thanks for reading, and have a good day.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Stages (José)

Last week, the older buds at Best Day had a great idea. After all the times I’d plugged The Moth, a few of them thought that we could do our own story slam at Best Day. We’d pick a topic, put everyone’s names in a bucket, and each older bud would tell a five minute story based on the theme. Older bud Eleanor even volunteered her alarm to keep us from going over the time limit.

On Monday, I went to a Moth story slam with older bud Joyce and her son Hakim. Hakim wasn’t able to stay for the whole show, but he liked what he saw and seemed interested in learning more. Joyce enjoyed everyone’s stories, but she wanted more time to practice and prepare her story before going onstage. I wonder if she’ll go onstage after a Best Day story slam?

And on Tuesday, I bumped into none other than older bud Nouria! I hadn’t heard from her in over a year, because she was in Paris, France with her two twin baby granddaughters. We met by chance at the Wilma Theatre’s “Describe the Night,” and she might be submitting some stories through our web portal pretty soon...

If you or an older bud have a story to share, you can send them through that very same portal right here. If you want to keep Best Day going for another ten years, then like us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And check out this story by older bud José:

Jose Dominguez
Oh No, Why Did You Tell Me?

This last Sunday, I went to the Michener Art Museum at Doylestown. My most important experience there was when John, a very kind artist, invited me to attend a silent view of a painting, so I went and visited some other 10 persons. John was a very good facilitator and introduced us to an expressionist work of art. As you can imagine, he selected one [that] had all colors arranged in a kaleidoscopic mixture of light, form, and movement. He did not tell us what was the idea of the painting and purposely he declared, “You can make your own story of what you are looking at because I’m not going to tell you nothing.”
Well, I liked his statement and faced the enigmaticness that obviously represented the painter’s feelings. So at that moment after some minutes of frustration trying to find structure, form, or meaning, I decided that the only meaning I will put to work was my own point of view. So I engaged myself in a pleasant struggle to fantasize whatever I suppose or feel. I don’t have to say, but it was fun. After some minutes, John was in charge again of the facilitation, a few of us participated, sharing their own ideas but John decided to tell us the painter’s idea and told us: “You know, this is a jazz composition and there are 3 musicians. Can you find them?” And the fun was over, back to reality! Everybody was trying to find human figures in the mess of colors and figures and they were found! He asked for my opinion and I said, “I had so much fun wondering that I didn’t enjoy to know the real meaning of the painting. I would prefer not to know it and continue with my fantasy.”
Thanks for reading, and have a good weekend.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri