Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Visibility (Norman)

One of the issues mentioned in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and anti-racism movement is increasing the visibility of Black people in all sorts of fields. In some cases this means promoting the work of Black artists, in other cases it means consciously purchasing from Black owned businesses, in other cases it means electing Black board members. In the case of the PSC's Best Day workshop, visibility has taken a more literal meaning.

That's right! Norman has a brand new Chromebook, complete with a camera, microphone, speaker system, and Zoom app. And that means we can finally see his handsome face after weeks of just his melodious voice. During one of the first workshops, Norman mentioned that Drexel University's Writers Room would be giving him a new computer so that he could make video calls. Each week after that, I'd eagerly ask if his computer came in, but he kept waiting and waiting until last week. Everybody perked up when they saw him on Zoom for the first time, after some lighthearted jabs at his quarantine beard.

There are a few more Best Day regulars who only call in by phone, whether due to lack of internet, lack of funds, or lack of familiarity with conference calling or apps. Many of those regulars are Black, and I want to get everyone's faces visible on Zoom. If the only issue is lack of familiarity, then I take an hour and test out Zoom with an older bud and whatever device they have. That way, they're ready to go by the next Happy Hour. I don't want any older bud with the means to video chat to miss out on it because they had a bad first experience.

In celebration of Norman's new computer, I want to share a story about some lucky times in his life. Enjoy!

Norman Cain
Pieces of Luck
Like any of the folk that preceded me in their stories, they did not believe in luck per se, and I feel the same way. I feel that God Almighty is the one that determines your destiny. When I was about twenty-eight years old, I was really, really, really broke and I found twenty-eight dollars on the ground. Last September, I really and truly needed some money, and that was the first time I had been broke in years and out of the clear blue sky a lady that comes here sometimes, a friend of mine’s, said, “Do you need some money?” How did that happen? Well, she offered a hundred dollars, I accepted seventy-five and paid her back the next week. So I think that that was a divine type of activity. Throughout my life I have been unlucky and lucky. Little boy, I won a cowboy hat at the Saturday movies. Years later, when I was about thirty-five I won a great big bunny rabbit during an Easter celebration in a disciplinary school where I worked in Camden, New Jersey. So, you have bad days and you had good days but again I say it depends to me upon the Creator. 
When I was a young man, I was all over the place, a rolling stone, so to speak, and I have been in situations where I should not be here today, but the Creator snatched me out of those situations. A piece of good luck at first and bad luck that I had when I was about twenty-two years old and I had just graduated from college and I got accepted by the Peace Corps. So I said, “Okay, good luck,” but my draft clerk had other ideas. She said, “No, you cannot go.” I had to go to the army, a place that I didn’t want to go, not because I was unpatriotic, but because I did not believe in the Vietnamese War. And I don’t think, I’m quite sure at the time Secretary McNamara who was Secretary of State at the time did not believe in it because twenty-five years later he wrote a book, attesting to that fact. 
At any rate, I was lucky when I went into the service because I was stationed as a military policeman at the 549th division in Fort Davis Panama, which is on the Atlantic side in the city Cologne. Now when I was there, unlike the regular infantry that had forty and the Bay Area, we had two to a room. We dressed up every day, we drove around in sedans, we didn’t have to go out in the jungle, we didn’t have to go what you call “bivouac” out in the field. 
Another good thing, another piece of good luck came was because the third of the time that I was in the service and I was old there in that particular time, I was able to make the basketball team, something that eluded me in college and in high school. It was a pretty great level, all we had to do was practice and play ball. Also, being in that military police, we did not have to get up at 6 in the morning to salute the flag, we did not have to have revelry which is at 6 o’clock in the evening, we did not have to be back on base at 12 o’ clock at night, we could stay out as long as until we had to go back to work. Here’s where the good luck comes in: when I first got to Panama I was told there was some kind of myth that if you went to the American section what you called the canal zone and you sat on the swing with a girl and you drank some water then you gonna get married. That came to be true because I did meet such a lady. The problem was that you had to go through the service to be accepted, something that I did not do. I went underground, and what happened was I had to go to a draft clerk, a botanist, and I think it was a medical doctor, and that cost me some money. And then when the wedding day came, it was raining, it wasn’t no secret, I could have been in a lot of trouble because the guy that was driving the bus “Ay Cain? Where you going? You going down to get married?” He knew, everybody knew. So the thing was when I got back to the base, it was raining and so this was the last day and so we had what was called retreat, you salute the flag etc., etc. When I got back, everybody was present except me. I had to come inside the back to go upside and get dressed but no officer or sergeant or anyone said anything because they already knew that I had gotten married. I could have been in the stockade for two or three months and my wife could not have ever come to the United States of America. Evidently, they liked me and they let me go so I think that was a piece of my good luck. Best luck I ever had.

There's lots of ways to increase the visibility of your older buds, both in and outside of Best Day. You can donate to Best Day, subscribe to our newsletter, send a note to our older buds, or follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. If you want to volunteer yourself, then email us at And if you know older buds with stories, then you or they can submit them through our portal right here. We're especially interested to stories from Black older buds (In honor of the Black Lives Matter Movement) and LGBTQIA+ older buds (in honor of Pride Month.) And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri