Thursday, August 27, 2020

Thank You, Dalla (Carolyn, Philip & Ann)

Five months ago, The Best Day of My Life So Far put out a call for transcribers for our written and recorded stories. We brought on two wonderful transcribers, Dalla and Devon, and they’re responsible for the stories in most of our blog posts. Yesterday, Dalla announced that she’d been hired for a new job and wants to take a break from Best Day until she gets settled in. Either way, I wanted to thank Dalla for her five months of transcription by highlighting stories that she had transcribed:

Carolyn Boston
Live In the Real
I was just reflecting today about how grateful I am to be alive. During this pandemic I’ve had time to reflect on what life is about and what the purpose of life is, and how much I value life, and how precious it is to me, and how fleeting it can be. I reflect mostly on my mortality, and the mortality of others. And it is a glare in all of our lives – we realize how dangerous others can be with their lives. If you don’t know the purpose of a thing, you’ll abuse it, and that’s a quote from a pastor I knew years ago. And I see so many people abusing their lives. I also see there’s a tremendous amount of fear- a thread, maybe a cord, not a thread but a cord of fear that is running through all of this nation and literally the world because of this pandemic. The thought of death is something—before this pandemic, we used to think about if there was a death in the family or we had a funeral to go to of a friend or a coworker. We thought about those things, we thought about death when we attended those funerals. But when we left, we went back to our lives and we didn’t think about death that much. However, now with this pandemic we not only hear about it, but we see it every single day.
And then there are issues with murders, violence ending in death, and suicides. Sickness ending in death. So every day I know myself, I think about my mortality, as I am sure many others do. Death has never been more present, or real in our lives now. I believe that the bizarre and erratic behavior – other people that we see on television – they’re acting out of the fear of the unknown, because they don’t know what’s coming. They don’t know what’s going to be. So that fear has fueled a lot of bizarre and erratic behavior of the people that I’ve seen on TV. Those that are congregating in clusters, and not wearing masks, and not wearing their gloves- it appears that they’re taking everything in light of the pandemic . I remember very clearly seeing a young man say, “Well if I die, I die.” And I thought about the quote of one of our famous forefathers and one of the things he said is “Give me liberty or give me death.” So when I hear people say “Well my liberty is being from me because I have to wear a mask, and I am an American!” And I thought about that quote- “Give me liberty or give me death”, because many may end up in death, but they chose liberty.
So I see this so much and some have put their heads in the sand and said “There’s nothing going on and I’m going to continue to do as I did before,” but nothing is the same anymore, and it never will be. We have to embrace the fact that all the changes we’re going through are going to be with us for quite some time and they’re going to evolve into something I think perhaps even better (especially with the technology.) But with the fear of death, with the fear of dying, if we don’t know why we’re here, what the purpose is for our lives—what we need to be doing to help others, to strive to not be selfish as we are in this country (and that’s my personal opinion), and be arrogant about it. It’s not going to get us to wholeness, it’s not going to get us to unity. And I have gotten up every day and been frustrated, and I would not sleep, because my concerns were the people who had gone out and just behaved as it was two years ago. It isn’t, those days are gone.
The most important thing is to live in the real, to stay in the moment and understand this is real. And we will get through it. But we have to be focused on “What can we do to help other people live.” So we’re living in a very perilous time. What we decide to do, the decisions we make, will make a difference in other lives.


Philip Pai
Story About Money
I have a friend who come from Taiwan. She told me she worked hard and saved some money for her children. She expected someday her son have good education and become a senator or president. One day I met her husband. He point to his son and said This young kid will be a command in chief in the country. Both of them love their boy very much.
In order to help their son to study in the United States. Even buy a house for their son, but their son didn’t study as well or work. The couple very sorry for their child. When they talk about their son they always cry!
Meanwhile I saw a lot of my friend when they come to United States. They were very poor, but their kids work hard and they also study hard. Years later, they have their own business and get Masters or PH degree. Every year they earn money and send to their parents who were in mainland China. The parents they are very proud for they have such a good child.
Sometimes I think money can make people happy, proud or make a family cry. It depends how you use it.

Ann Von Dehsen
Balcony Visits
I don’t know if I’ve had a “best day” but the thing I look forward to the most is something I call “Balcony Visits”. And that’s because I live in a very small apartment, but it has a balcony. My daughters live nearby; they have kids, and they were calling all the time. And one daughter would call me every day as she was taking a walk with her baby in the carrier. So we were talking, and I was inside the apartment but I said “Well where are you now?” And she said “Well come out on the balcony!” So I went out on the balcony and there they were, on the street, waving and all. And she got the baby out of her carrier and put him down on the ground (he just turned a year) and he started walking. So I got to see, pretty much, his first long steps! So it was great, it was just a really nice visit, and that started a whole new theme to this. Then my other daughter started coming over. I’m only on the second floor so it’s not far, but eventually we decided I could come down on the street. We just stood like 6, 8 feet apart so it was a little bit closer. So my 5-year-old grandson began doing things like he came over on a scooter a couple times and showed me how he liked riding on the scooter. And he would sing certain songs, tell me a lot of things… and just in general we’d catch up. It makes a big difference to do it face to face.
So our last balcony visit with everybody was on Sunday. And I was down on the street and Max, the 5-year-old, had a big box. (This is a side street, there’s really no cars on it.) He went out and put this box in the middle of the street and told me “Come get the box Lama!” So I got the box and it just cracked me up, the things in it from a 5-year-old. There were two pieces of chocolate candy (very important!), there were a box of colored pencils and some random crayons, and there were torn sheets out of his coloring book for me to color. There were mosaic chips since he and I worked on mosaics together, so he gave me some mosaic sticks. A glue stick, because I was always running out of glue sticks when he was over. And the first Harry Potter book, because he and my daughter had been reading Harry Potter all through this. So he gave me the first Harry Potter book. And all along I’ve been thinking, I don’t ever really want to read Harry Potter; you know, that’s for kids and everything. So guess what? I’m like almost done with the first book! And they’re coming back on Sunday, so I’ve become a Harry Potter fan.
So that’s a good thing, out of this whole quarantine. So I guess basically I just feel extremely, extremely lucky to be healthy and to be able to see the people that I care about most. And it’s very nice to see everybody today, because I care about you too.

If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at You can also share our older buds's adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. 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, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.

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.


Thanks for everything Dalla, and good luck with your new job.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Wandering (Cynthia and Eleanor)

It's no surprise that I'm drawn to stories of travel to exciting and different places while the pandemic (along with Europe, Asia and Oceania's travel laws) is limiting my travel. So today, we're going to take a little trip to Hawaii and Central America, both because they're a breath of fresh air from social distancing, but because these stories connect multiple members of Best Day's family. I made a point of sending Cynthia's story to a transcriber who grew up in Hawaii, and José and Eleanor had a long conversation afterwards about all the experiences she'd had in Central America; including eating chapulines. The first story is a day in the life, and the second is a family trip, and both of them are a wild ride.


Cynthia Morihara 


A Week In the Life of BC Webber

It was 8 A.M. Saturday morning. Feeling the aftereffects of Friday night at the Vineyard Tavern, BC was walking down the hill towards the Wailuku industrial district. When he approached the shop where he worked Monday through Friday, he noticed that its windows were shaded and its doors were locked. He realized that he had mistakenly thought that today was a working day. BC never missed work unless, of course, he was detained in the County Clink. The shoeless, unshaven BC next dropped a quarter into a payphone and called his buddy Steve. He wasn’t about to do any more walking, and he had to find his car.
“Hey, Steve! Could you pick me up? I can’t find my car.” Steve was an acquaintance of BC of one year and knew of his antics. After a short drive to BC’s spot on the beach, his car, which resembled a topless green army Jeep, was located. It was out of gas but otherwise okay. The next day was Sunday and BC hitchhiked to Kihei for the 3 P.M. happy hour at La Famiglia Restaurant and Bar. By 6 o’ clock he was smashed and needed another ride home, but he had lost his T-shirt and could not hitchhike in his condition. He called John, a sympathetic older man who also liked to frequent La Famiglia’s Sunday happy hour.
“John, I can’t find my T-shirt! Could you pick me up and give me a ride?” John not only gave BC a ride home but gave BC one of his T-shirts.
Monday was a working day for BC and he appeared as usual at the Na Ka’oi Body and Fender Shop to sand and bond/hold. Body work was his life. He had studied body and fender in a Community College in Marin County, California, and he was one of the best in his field. It took an incredible amount of perseverance and patience to move his arm back and forth all day. It was no fun, but BC rarely missed work. He lived for pay day, which was every Friday. The Monday was passed on the Barrel. Usually on Tuesday BC was already out of money. He had to pawn off his friends for a meal or a ten-spot. His money lasted only because he had the office drawer hold $100 of his Friday pay until Monday when he would be broke from his weekend of heavy drinking which he did religiously every Friday and Saturday night. After all, a guy that worked as hard as he did, deserved a little fun, and drinking was what he liked to do best. BC wasn’t the type to buy all of his liquor from the grocery store. He liked to go to the bars, and this was expensive- so expensive, that he didn’t have any money to spare for rent, car, or food for the latter part of the week.
He was pau hana at four, and it was Wednesday afternoon. BC had $1.95 in his pocket. He bought a bag of sunflower seeds and a Millers at the minute shop and headed for his spot at the beach, slurping the Millers while it was still snug in its brown paper sack. When he reached the beach he sat down and began to work on the bag of sunflower seeds. After he had enough of those, he scouted the beach for branches and discarded lumber. He was going to have a fire tonight. It was one of his rituals. He would enjoy it more than usual tonight because of the chill that was beginning to settle in the air. BC was alone as the sun began to set. He was used to spending time alone. He sure had done enough of it in jail, but being on the beach, his fire was like heaven compared to twenty-four hours in solitary. BC was an optimist and always looked on the bright side. He had incredible resilience and could bounce back from every episode of his life without a sign of nervousness or regret. He was one to get on with his life. Life for BC was a drink of booze if he had the money. If he didn’t he would wait patiently, sometimes a little impatiently, until pay day. It looked like rain, so BC got the pup tent out of the Jeep and set it up in the light of the fire. He set his wristwatch alarm to go off at 6:30 A.M. and went to sleep.
Thursday was a good day for BC. After six months of working in the sun, his boss offered him a spot in the garage. One of the other men at the shop who had a riff with his boss, gotten cocky about his pay or something, and lost his job. One thing about BC: he could smooth up to people real well. He could get along with everybody when he was sober. When he was drunk it was another story. People could misunderstand his attitude for belligerence. The guy was like night and day.
On Friday BC’s stomach was growling at 10. He was really ready for his $400 pay. He had gone the last two days without eating anything except the remainder of sunflower seeds and a cheese sandwich he had bummed off Paul, his coworker. He had also been without substantial alcohol in his system, and he was ready to get back into his high again. When he went out to check his car at 12, he found a parking ticket on it. It said: for failure to register vehicle, $15. BC took the ticket and shoved it in the glove compartment with the six other tickets that were there. He didn’t care because the car didn’t belong to him anyway. The expired registration was in the name of Sook Quac Mac, a Vietnamese refugee who had abandoned the vehicle at the body shop when he had left Maui for the mainland. The immigrant had been commuting in the seven-year-old Jeep, a VW thing and found it too unreliable to carry him back and forth steadily to his place of employment in Lahaina. BC adopted the thing because he had lost his license back in California, he was never able to register in his own name. For BC the thing was an ideal beast car. Although it had battery problems at first, it was working alright now. The thing had one setback: it couldn’t go into reverse. Now with the tickets on it, BC had second thoughts about using it anymore. He decided just to leave it in its parking place outside the body shop and let the police do whatever they wanted with it. Walking was so much healthier anyway.


Eleanor Kazdan


Magical Central American Adventure

We set out on June 3 2008 to visit Adrian, that’s my son, on his journey through Mexico and Central America. He has been traveling for 5 months, loving the nomadic life and its adventures, hardships and people, following his passion for visiting Mayan ruins and expanding his knowledge of their culture and spiritual life. Every day was a new adventure, and Adrian was an amazing guide, translator, and inspiration. He is lean and muscular from the traveling life, daily rigorous yoga practice, and a Spartan diet. He converses in Spanish with the locals. There is an atmosphere of energy and excitement about this rugged beautiful part of the world. The landscapes, villages, and towns are endlessly interesting and colorful. For me it was reminiscent of traveling in Europe in the 60’s where everything seemed captivating, unknown, and far removed from North American culture.
June 3 we arrived with our backpacks at the Mayan village of San Marcos on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala in the middle of tropical storm Arthur. Dusk had set in. Stood under a rough shelter at Las Piramides, the meditation center where Adrian had been staying for a month, waiting for him to finish a class. We were soaked and cold. It is the rainy season. Two Guatemalan boys tried to get an exorbitant sum of money from us for carrying our bags a few hundred feet. Luckily we had brought flashlights since there were few lights. Our cabin was a simple wooden pyramid with shared bathrooms. Made a chamber pot out of a milk jug. Started to have flashbacks of summer camp! It rained for 3 days, as we sloshed to yoga, meditation, and esoteric teachings classes given by the beautiful Guatemalan owner of the center, Chaty. Met people from all over the world, ate breakfast (Adrian cooked us oatmeal and we made coffee in a saucepan) in a rough outdoor kitchen. Started to feel like 19 again, or at least 30. In the town we ate some really good dinners for prices like 5 or 6 dollars each. The culture is a combination of European and Mayan.

Colorful Mayan markets a boat ride away in Panajachel. I buy a big scarf to keep me warm! What was I thinking bringing all those warm weather clothes? Chaty takes pity on me and gives me a big bulky sweater.

We decide to go south and east to get to warmer climes. Arrive in Antigua Guatemala, a lovely colonial town. It is evening and we show up at a very popular hotel without a reservation. By a miracle they have a room for 3. All the rooms face a fantastic tropical courtyard where we have breakfast. The room and breakfast is only $72.00 for the 3 of us. I of course buy colorful scarves at the market. The graceful Mayan women wear very beautiful hand woven clothes, as do the little girls, and effortlessly carry heavy baskets of goods on their heads. People are very friendly. Everyone is trying to sell something. Adrian goes out in the evening to play his guitar in the zocalo (town square)

On our second day in Antigua, we decide to hike up an active volcano at 2 in the afternoon. The brochure says this hike is “not hard”. Am I old or what? This hike is just about the most grueling I have ever done. Straight up the mountain for about an hour, then traversing about a half mile of volcanic rock to get to the top, where a river of molten lava was running bright red. The smoke was intense, and it was hard to breathe. My rain poncho caught on some rocks and melted! Right under my feet were little rivers of lava. I’m feeling a tad nervous. It starts to thunderstorm, and pours all the way down the mountain. My guidebook, which I cleverly read after we have finished the hike, says not to hike up the volcano in the afternoon, as there is a risk of lightening, and a Canadian man was killed a few years ago. As with everything in Guatemala, the hike takes at least two hours more than we were told.

We leave Antigua in the afternoon to go to the remote Mayan village of Lanquin, supposedly about 6 hours away. As there are no shuttles running at that time, we hire a private car for quite a lot of money. The car shows up an hour late (at 3 PM), and instead of the mini-van or 4 wheel drive I was expecting, a very young guy shows up in a really beat-up Toyota Corolla that looks like it’s from the 80’s. The front window doesn’t close properly, even when the driver got out and pulled it up manually, so I have to wear a rain poncho in the back seat. It was a grueling 7 hour drive in the rain and fog, feeling every bump on the road. I was praying we would get to Lanquin. Just when I thought we must be almost there, we get on to a dirt road for another hour. Luckily I couldn’t see in the dark that we were driving along the edge of a mountain. We arrive at 10 PM, and luckily find a nice room. The next morning we discover a beautiful backpacker’s resort set in the tropical hills overlooking a river, so move there. We have a lovely thatched roof bungalow near the water, with a hammock, for $20 a night. Meals are eaten communally, so we meet some interesting people. There are all kinds of travelers, mostly a lot younger than us, and many like Adrian – very idealistic about living a non-materialistic more spiritual life close to the earth. The town is authentically Mayan, with a local market and school kids giggling at the Gringos when we say “hola”. They are friendly, though. I think most people have never been out of the area. The women wear colored lace shawls over their tops. We take a walk down a laneway, and meet a Mayan family on their front porch. The man is interested in asking us about the US. Luckily Adrian can speak Spanish, and we converse for a while.

There is no ATM in the town (closest one 2 hours away), and nobody takes credit cards. This scenario is common in Guatemala, and you always have to remember to have a lot of cash with you. Food is amazingly cheap in Lanquin. A big bag of mango is 15 cents, bananas 3 for 15 cents, tamales are 15 cents each, as is a traditional drink of chocolate and rice. And by the way, the Mayans make these incredible chocolate bars! I no longer have to worry about being too cold – it is HOT.

We decide to trek up to the magnificent Mayan ruins at Tikal in the north of Guatemala. Stop at the quaint town of Flores for the night where we have an idyllic dinner overlooking a lake. Next day we go into the jungle at Tikal. I feel like we are in the Congo. Huge tropical trees, mosquitoes everywhere, clothes never dry. We take a sunrise tour of the ruins at 4:30 AM. Climb up one of the temples and watch as this ancient Mayan city slowly comes into view. The temples are huge and majestic, deep in the jungle. Adrian plays his bamboo flute in the resonant Great Plaza. Later in the afternoon we return to Temple V, which we climb via steep wooden steps. Adrian sits on top meditating for about an hour. At night we go to sleep with the eerie moans of howler monkeys.

Where to go next? Young newlyweds Josh and Kaitlin tell us they are taking a 5 AM shuttle to Belize. We were thinking of going there anyways, so – why not? In the morning we find out that these two have absolutely no money, because at dinner the night before, as we were about to eat, the hotel (most expensive in Tikal, and one of the few on our trip that took credit cards)) informed us that we had to pay cash for dinner since their phone lines were down. Luckily we were able to give our friends the $1.50 each to exit Guatemala, since there are no ATM’s in Tikal. The road to Belize is one of the worst we have ever driven on, mostly dirt and potholes.
The bus drops us off at 8:30 AM in San Ignacio, a town in the interior of Belize. They speak English in Belize, but only to tourists – the local language is Creole. It is market day. After a quick coffee where we telephone a place we found in the guidebook to make a reservation, we head with all our gear to check out the market. A woman with a captivating smile and British accent invites us to sample her granola. We later notice that she is a Mennonite. We check into the Maya Mountain Lodge where we have a charming thatched roof bungalow in a tropical paradise. The lodge is owned by American ex-pats and old hippies Bart and Suzi Mickler, who have been living in Belize for 30 years. They serve delicious meals on their beautiful patio. That afternoon, as we are walking into town, a woman waves and calls to us. Turns out it is Janet the granola lady from the market who has a small farm across from Bart and Suzi, and has also lived in Belize for over 30 years. She invites us over for tea in her English tropical country garden where we meet another American neighbor, as well as 4 of Janet’s 8 strapping Creole-speaking children (of course they speak English too with a low gutteral accent). Janet has quite a story. She was married to a German man, Manfred, until his untimely death 4 years ago. As a teenager in the late 60’s Manfred left home and traveled all over India and Asia with no money (he had everything stolen in Morocco at the beginning of his journey). At one point he was marooned on a desert island for 4 months (yes, really), when he had a falling out with the captain of a ship he was sailing on, and the man dropped him off on this island. There was a big article written about Manfred’s adventure in a German magazine. After he and Janet married, they traveled with 2 young children, until they settled in Belize where they had 6 more children. He became a tour guide, and worked for Bart and Suzi. Janet and Manfred wanted to sail off into the sunset together after their children were grown, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Our second day in Belize we canoe through Barton Creek Cave with a guide and 2 other people. It is completely dark except for our lights. We pass by Mayan pottery embedded in the walls, as well as a real skull. Very eerie. Our guide, Andy, has two brothers who live in Edmonton, but he can’t visit them, as the Canadian government has stopped issuing visas to Belizians because of some scandal involving forging of Belizian passports.

We decide to return to Guatemala rather than head to the coast of Belize. After a taxi to the border, we take the Guatemalan version of Greyhound to a town called Rio Dulce. The seat cushions are shot, and of course the bathroom is not functioning. I think all the trashed buses in the US end up in Guatemala. I have never seen so many decrepit vehicles. And many old American school buses end up in Guatemala as brightly painted “chicken buses” (regretfully we did not get to try one of these). The bus driver tells us the bus is leaving at 1:00, but it doesn’t leave until 2:30! That’s Guatemalan time. Rio Dulce seems like the Jersey Shore of Guatemala, filled with resorts and marinas. Our second day we take a two-hour boat ride to Livingston, a town on the Caribbean that has a Jamaican flavor. We spend most of our time there at a local restaurant eating their fabulous traditional seafood stew.

Where to spend our last 2 days? After some debate we decide to venture into Honduras to visit the Mayan ruins at Copan. Once again, we arrange private transportation, since there is no convenient shuttle. This time, though, we get a fairly modern van, and a lovely helpful driver named Carlos. Copan turns out to be a quaint, charming touristy town (definitely not what I expected in Honduras) – sort of the Honduran version of New Hope or Niagara-on-the-Lake. There are lots of cute cafes and gift shops, and we have our first really good cup of coffee on the whole trip (apparently Central America exports most of their good coffee). We stay in a charming family-run hotel right in the center of town where we pay $25.00 for 2 simple but clean rooms. We eat traditional pupusas (filled tortillas) at a local restaurant where our entire bill is about $6.00.

The Mayan ruins of Copan are not as grandiose as those of Tikal, but very beautiful and interesting. It is amazing that there are still so many ruins in both places that haven’t yet been unearthed. Temples with huge 500-year-old trees growing on top. In the afternoon we decide to take the advertised “2-hour” horseback ride to visit 2 other Mayan sites. Our guide Eduardo, a kindly man in his 60’s who speaks only Spanish but really over-articulates so we can understand much of what he says (with Adrian translating the rest), shows up with 3 decrepit-looking horses. We set out, with Eduardo trudging beside us on foot. These are (luckily) the world’s slowest horses. I am a bit horrified when we start out along a highway with trucks whizzing by. The horses seem to know where they’re going. After a while we get on to smaller roads, and soon tie up the horses so we can trek up to a site where we see houses where athletes slept and trained. As we set out on horseback, we are once again on the highway, this time facing traffic. My horse seems a bit frisky, and the trucks seem about 2 inches away from us. I totally freak out, yelling for Eduardo to help me, so he runs up and leads the horse, then we cross the highway so we’re going with traffic ( I admit I wanted to end the horseback ride right there, but was persuaded to keep going). Luckily we get off the highway onto country roads that wind through beautiful hills, and we stop at a hacienda for a cold drink. Then we see one of the most interesting Mayan sites – the place where women gave birth. At first it looks like a bunch of lichen-covered rocks, but as our guide speaks, we see the frog carvings (symbol of fertility), the seat where the shaman sat, and the seat where the woman sat. There is also a graphic life-sized carving of a woman giving birth.

We get off the horses in town, and head for the most expensive restaurant in our guidebook for the last night of our trip. People are wearing shorts and flip-flops at the charming Twisted Tanya’s, an open-air restaurant on a second floor. We hit happy hour -- the cocktails are 2 for $3.50. The fixed price menu is $18.00. Our meal is fabulous from beginning to end, and Gary tells our waiter that the food is as good as any New York (or Philadelphia) restaurant. Turns out the waiter grew up in New York.

It is raining for the first time in a week as we head back to the hotel. A lot of the power seems to be out in town. We enter our hotel in total darkness. Once again, thank goodness for those flashlights we brought!

The next morning we have a nervewracking 40 minute wait for our ride to the airport (a 5-hour drive). The travel agency is closed (it is 7 AM) and we have no cell phone number. Finally the guy shows up, and we get to the airport safe and sound.

My mind is still filled with the sights and sounds of Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, and of course our time spent with Adrian. I hope I have conveyed some of the magic of this wonderful adventure!

You can help share our older buds's adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following 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, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.
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

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Moth from a Distance (Rochelle, José, and Eleanor)

Our older buds have been to The Moth a couple of times, so when I heard that The Moth was doing their story slams remotely, I let all the older buds know. Of course, technology is always a bit complicated, and most socially distant things take a few tries before everyone's able to join. Eleanor and I joined a slam last Monday, and we had a great time. There was a new intimacy that came from everyone telling stories on screens mere inches from our faces and speakers mere inches from our ears. Since everyone muted themselves out of courtesy, it felt like each storyteller was speaking directly to each listener. Of course, The Moth still provided a room full of applause for each storyteller, captured live from their story slam in March. Eleanor chose not to tell a story that night, but the format isn't much different from Best Day's. I'm looking forward to seeing more older buds on The Moth's virtual stage, and for theme to have one-on-one storytelling moments with people all over Philly (maybe even the world.)


I don't have any stories to share from The Moth, but I've sure got plenty of stories to share from older buds who had gone to The Moth:

Rochelle Tynes


She Is My Sister and She Is My Friend

I am fortunate because my friends said there ain’t no such thing as luck, but mainly I think that I am blessed. I grew up crazy. We were in foster care from that time I probably they gave that book up to my mother and I didn’t come back until I think it was about 10 to stay with a stepfather who was sort of nuts. I wasn’t really…my sister and I were together was my two brothers who died, my sister and I, and I had other sisters in this life. They’re dead. The oldest one is alive, the youngest one is alive. And I was never really…I was close to Pat, who died. I met up with her because I used to hang around the barbershop and they thought that was terrible and then I was hanging around the soda fountain and that was terrible because we moved all over the place. So I met up with Pat and I sort of got myself together but I’ve never really been close to women. I do not like women, I’m telling you all. I tolerate people, I treat you the way you treat me. But, I’m afraid of women. That’s why I don’t like them so much. My mother left us, gave us whole story, and I live with that, but that’s why I’m not crazy about women, okay?
But I have a friend Delores. We met in college, a hundred years ago. Delores is my, I’m blessed. I am truly, truly blessed. When I asked a question if I’m wrong girl you better get it together, you know that ain’t right, or you know you’re absolutely right. She doesn’t tell a bunch of lies, she is my sister and she is my friend and I think I am fortunate enough to have met up with her. She was sitting down when we were in college in this bench, on the end of a bench, and she had this hat on and I said, “That’s the funniest looking hat,” to myself and I kept looking at her. She said, “Oh this is my uncle his name was Pete,” and they used to call my father Pete, and I said, “Oh, my father’s name was Pete, my real father.” We started talking and we talked ever since. She now has cancer and I’m gonna lose my friend, but I had the best memories, and I’m still going to be asking her questions when she go and I expect an answer.


José Dominguez,


One Experience Two Perspectives

I'm amazed about how an early experience can be so permanent and how at the same time, the person involved in it can be so distant. When I was 7 years old, even being almost a total introverted kid, I loved to visit my neighbor friends. On this particular day, my mother gave me as a present, a Mickey Mouse clock. Oh it was so neat! It surpassed all my worldly possessions that were some marbles and some plastic little trucks and one ball, . So happy I was with my MM clock that I decided to visit my friend Marino Rios who lived 2 blocks away. He was impressed about my clock and suddenly he went to his room and returned bringing a shoe box full of plastic toys and told me, "Pepe, I change you my toys for your clock, think about it." Playing for me, was more important than counting the time so I accepted. So proud, I immediately showed my mother the super acquisition and explained the big deal I just made and the fun those plastic toys will give me. "You have been robbed!" She responded impatiently, almost mad. "But it will give you a less of the value of things." She explained to me a huge comparison of prices, money, dollars, and fairness. At the end, I felt more like a stupid kid than a happy kid. But later I felt that such experience was funny and I spoke about it freely. Until one day 67 years later, I found Marino Rios again, now a prominent physician. Believing he would remember the Mickey Mouse of my infancy, I tried to make a deal to refresh his memory. He told me, "I have no idea what you are saying." I looked at his face and he was uncomfortable being spotted and ended, "I think you are confusing the person. I will never take advantage of nobody" specifically an innocent kid. 


Eleanor Kazdan



Planning a trip to France to celebrate a milestone birthday in October has gotten me reminiscing about my first trip to Paris.
It was 1969 and my friend Kathy and I had gone on our first trip to Europe for 3 ½ months, backpack and Eurail Pass in hand. We landed in London, spent a week there before heading to Paris. Kathy and I were both Francophiles and made a pact that we would speak only French in Paris. Getting off the train we were walking on air through this exotic station where everyone seemed exotic and romantic, smoking Gitanes and drinking espresso. In those days there was a Kiosk in every train station where you could book a hotel. We easily got one on the Left Bank for $5.00 a night.
The hotel was run by a cute older couple. Our walk-up room was on the 4th floor. Every morning at 7:00 there was a knock at our door and Madame delivered a tray with big bowls of coffee, fresh croissants, and homemade jam. The hotel doors were locked at 11:00 PM. But the cute couple slept by the door so they could let people in after hours. They warned me and Kathy not to let guys up to our room.
One night Kathy and I went to a discotheque where we met 2 French guys. My guy and I really hit it off, and walked around the streets of Paris for hours. When I looked at my watch it was midnight. I felt embarrassed to go back to the hotel so late, so my petit ami and I stayed out all night on our romantically innocent escapade. Kathy and I met up in the morning. She and her petit ami had stayed out all night as well!

You can help share our older buds future histories, biographies, and memoirs by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following 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, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.
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

Thursday, August 6, 2020

A History (Norman)

One of the top reasons older buds come to Best Day is because they want to improve their own writing. It's pretty common for someone to already have an idea for a memoir or history they want to publish and to read a chapter of it aloud. Norman's one such older bud. I'll let him explain below:

Norman Cain
Prologue to A Brief Introduction of Afro-American Basketball in Philadelphia

Yeah, I can go next. I will probably not read all of it, because it’s rather long. So maybe I’ll read some and just move along with it. And it deals with a story that I told and that you were gracious enough to write several weeks ago about my experiences at the camp up in the Pocono Mountains. And I was on the basketball team at the camp, and there was a fellow there. He was on the basketball team, he became a sociologist, and he was published several times. And I saw him several times as a referee at what was known as the Charles Baker League, which is Sonny Hill Basketball League, which was famous in Philadelphia, was a part of. So it’s very, very long and I don’t think I’m going to do it all right now because I’m really going to have to work on it. Because I did a lot of research, one thing led to another, and my research basically deals with Afro-American basketball history in Philadelphia. And as a matter of fact, I think I’m going to ad lib because when I first came to 509, my purpose was to use the computer lab which was in the basement. And I was doing a historical thing on a history of African Americans in basketball from 1897 when it began, I believe, up until 1970. I haven’t worked on that project for years, but I still have that material. I stopped that project because I felt that if I was going to write, that I needed experiences getting actually back into the mechanics of writing, where Best Day came in. This is about, uh let me just start here…

Norman Cain
A Brief Introduction of Afro-American Basketball in Philadelphia

In 1960, William Randolph Hall, who was commonly and fondly known as Sonny Hill founded Charles Baker professional basketball league in Philadelphia. Throughout the fifties and sixties the National Basketball association had a player (by nationality) quota system. Only a limited amount of Afro Americans could be retained on their rosters. As a result many pro level Afro Americans were denied the opportunity to play at a professional level. AS a result of that quota system many professional level African Americans found themselves on the outside of the fortified walls of the NBA. Thanks to the great organizing ability of Sonny Hill many Afro American professional level basketball players embraced a platform that allowed them to exhibit their skills. Initially the games were played on playgrounds throughout the city, specifically Moylan Center, a recreation center at 25th and Diamond Street. Eventually games were held inside of the Moylan Center thanks to Charles Baker, a basketball enthusiast and city commissioner who pulled some strings to have the center gym opened. Mr. Baker’s intervention was appreciated and just instilled to Charles Baker a basketball league. By the late sixties the league found a home in the Bright Hope Baptist church at 12th and Columbia Avenue, now Cecil B. Moore Avenue. The professional contingency that played there was the Charles Baker League. The Sonny Hill sectors included three divisions: the Bill Cosby Future Division, which was middle schoolers, the Walt Chamberlain High School Division and the Hank Gathers College Division. Games were played in the summer four days a week, beginning in the afternoon starting with the various levels; the middle school first and ending with the professionals whose teams were sponsored by Philadelphia area businesses like Gatton’s Real Estate, Duckie’s Dasherie, Tim Bates’ Rebar, Nate Ben Reliable and Spike Trophies. While the various levels of teams had players from outside of and beyond Philadelphia, the college and pros sectors had players who would migrate from areas throughout the country. Their player base was fast and filled with spell-bounding athletic feats and dribbled with flow that made spectators scream. Some of the greatest players in the nation showed their skills, all Americans filled the bench while playground players shined. The Baker-Sonny Hill games were carnivals, extraordinary; after the games the bars and clubs thrived and house parties blossomed. Eventually the league played their games at Temple University McGonigle Hall until 10 or 15 years ago. I would be remiss if I did not mention that they eventually added a female component. Rev. Sol Murphy, who was a co-worker of mine at the West Philadelphia Boys Club at 35th and Haverford Avenue, was the commentator. He is the best sports commentator that I have ever heard. On 7-22-2017, a filmmaker Tony Paris debuted his film “The Baker League Story” and I was there and I got a chance to see all of these older basketball players my age, and their sons who many of whom became pro basketball players and coaches. And that’s just a story that really has to be written about, and it has been, but I think at another level. One of the things that I’ll say about Mr. Sonny Hill is that he kept basketball alive in the city of Philadelphia. He’s not that tall, I saw him play in his youth but he was a great basketball player. He was twenty-eight years old before Detroit called him up and I guess he was too short and a little bit too old, but he was amongst the best that I’ve seen. Outside of being a basketball player he was color commentator for the 76ers between 1973 and 1970, and he was also a color commentator I think for NBC for quite a few years. And even though he never played professional basketball on the courts, he did receive in the basketball Hall of Fame because of his input in the game. So here I go again, I guess I’ll have to go to my storage and pull out the old papers and start reigniting my old project. Now see, what’s been happening, I just wanted to do a short thing, and I kept going, and I kept going, and I kept going. And it’s been taking a lot of time, a lot of positive time.

Norman Cain
Epilogue to A Brief Introduction of Afro-American Basketball in Philadelphia

I used to play. I got into the game late because when I was coming up, I was baseball and football, too thin for football. But then I discovered basketball in the 7th grade, made the junior high school team, made junior varsity in high school, didn’t make my college team but when I got into the Army I played at a very high level and for at least a third of my Army career, I was on like a traveling team. So it kept me out of trouble, and I love it. I coached twice at a Boy’s Club in North Philly and the one in West Philadelphia. Then I had a neighborhood team, and these kids were abroad, they didn’t understand but they had the ability and they paid attention to me. And they took the championship. And the important thing about that was that years later when these kids got to be like forty-five and forty-six, and they would see me with their sons and they would say, “This is my coach.” They called me coach, and I saw the power and giving back. When I came up, there was that kind of giving back, you see. Because we had a coach—I don’t want to take up too much time, and I have to mention him—he, no matter what you did, the fellows in the neighborhood, if you were a boxer, if you were a singer, he was a part of that. And YMCA, he was a coach for a couple years, and then what he would do, if you got in any trouble, he would actually come to your house. Then later on in life, he lived in my neighborhood and I was able to, you know, talk to him each and every day. There has to be a completion, it has to go one generation to the next generation. That’s the way it used to be.

Norman's been with Best Day since the very beginning, and he's provided us with incredible stories of summer vacations, school trouble, military service, neighborhood "standoffs," and sports, sports and more sports. He has a wonderful voice, an easygoing demeanor, and he can make friends with anyone. He's a staple of Drexel University's Writers Room, and had his own chatbook published by The Head & The Hand. I've heard people talking about how they're going to use the lockdowns and quarantines to write their next great book, and I know Norman will write that book by the end of the pandemic. More updates as his stories develop.

You can help share our older buds future histories, biographies, and memoirs by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following 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, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.
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