Even though Best Day is operating in person again, our classes aren't as full as we expected. This isn't just because of the 11 person limit. It's also because some older buds haven't made the transition from staying at home to coming to the senior center. Even some of the Zoom regulars opted to stay at home out of safety and convenience. But it's also because it's summer, and some people just want to get their last trips in before the weather gets colder. Here's a few stories from a few older buds who haven't been to Best Day in person since March:
It's not a story. It’s about how grateful I am and thankful I am for all the support I received during this pandemic. And I'm just thankful for the friends who have helped me through the pandemic, for the calls, the cards, for sharing jokes, for sharing their experiences and their recipes. I'm thankful for Pennsylvania Corporation on Aging for the care boxes from the Philadelphia Senior Center. For the calls from Just Listening they call you and they check on you to see how you’re doing and make sure that you're staying sane through this pandemic. I'm thankful for caring doctors and virtual calls whenever people call and ask me how I am doing I say, “No disaster only blessed.” And I want to end with something that a friend of mine sent to me that inspired me and encouraged me, and one of the things that I like to do is I like to inspire and encourage people as well.
But when I got this text I wrote it down and I said I’m going to share it with the class today. “Happiness keeps you sweet. Trials keep you strong. Sorrows keep you human. Failure keeps you humble. Success keeps you glowing. But only faith keeps you going. Your faith will not fail you.”
And I love that and I wrote it down and I keep it in front of me. And that's it, its just a short little synopsis of how grateful and thankful I am because of being quote unquote in exile right now and in what seems to be not just quarantine but feeling like I'm in prison. All these people even the people at the supermarkets and the cashiers and people that I've met. You know there's encouragement and there is hope. And I'm just grateful for all these things that come together to keep me putting one foot in front of the other through this really terrible, rough time.
In the 70’s when sneakers became popular and part of the American culture I met a male patient who was being prepped for surgery in the next few days. We discovered we had a lot of common interests. The field that I worked in was medical; we were trained in “holistic” approach.
One evening he asked me what was wrong. In a heartbeat I shared my story with him about my son who played basketball for Cardinal Dougherty High School. The school supplied the uniforms and the parents supplied the sneakers. I didn’t mind paying money for good shoes. However, I had no idea that sneaks cost as much as they did, if not more, for name brand shoes for men. I felt I had been robbed.
He looked at me empathetically and he said, “Mother, I understand your pain. I am a CEO for that company and I wouldn’t want to pay that kind of money for sneaks either.”
My First Evening at College
My first evening on the college campus that I attended and that was in 1961. And it was traditional during that particular period at HBCU's that freshman went through a hazing process.
At 12 a.m. around the of 7th January in 1961. I traveled by train from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Bluefield, West Virginia where I would begin my freshman year as a student at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia. After arriving in Bluefield around 7pm. I took a taxi from the train station to the campus. Immediately after disembarking the taxi in front of the boys dormitory. I was overwhelmed by a penetration of the intense wind driven air that slashed through my thick woolen coat, extra bulky sweater, long johns and onto the innards of my body.
Seeing as it were a step I could not recall having been subjected to such a vehement chill.
Additionally I was temporarily thrown off guard by the extraneous appearance of a cluster of boisterous upper classmen chanting “Crab, crab, crab” as I thought I was a dormitory entrance and descended the slightly snow covered steps and ambled across a bed of slicken ice up to the taxi where I stood frozen because of the brisk wind and being startled by what for a second I could see to be a berserk mob.
I quickly regained my composure realizing that incoming freshman at Bluefield State College were named “crabs.” That was the name they were given during the traditional HBCU hazing period. Several upper classmen hastily retrieved my luggage from the trunk of the taxi and with me in the middle and their chanting crab they generally trotted across a blanket of milky frosted snow through the (unclear) snow flurry that suddenly began to plummet from the sky.
Once inside the dormitory I felt the warmth emanating from there. I was led down to a door and the occupants within commenced to join the chant of “Crab, crab, crab.” Finally I was guided into a room where I was instructed to sit in a chair that was placed directly in the middle of the room. I apprehensively followed directions and sat, swiftly braced to myself, then I relaxed cause I guessed that whatever was about to transpire would be a part of an old age African American collegiate hazing tradition. The light came from a high voltage light bulb that extended from the ceiling. The heat from the chimney radiated through the wall.
The room’s (hot and glistening floor) was a mirror that it appeared as if it had recently been buffed with pine oil and it had a sweet aroma. The room was filled with upper classmen who for some reason or another remained on campus during the winter semester break. One said “You should have come in September. Then you would have been with 100 other crabs. Now there would be no more that 50 that would come for the second semester.” Everyone in the room laughed but me.
Suddenly I felt a pair of buzzing hair clippers roving across my head and the chorus of the old religious song Amazing Grace. I was being initiated into collegiate life; I started classes a week later.
I was there for about a week before the returning students came from the Christmas break and I think during that January we had no more than 50 new students come in and most of those were commuting students, so I was there by myself. In those days you had Veterans from the Korean war, because this was in 61,
But I took the harassment up until the Sunday when the students came back because that Sunday when the students came back that was like one of the best days in my life because I was a young guy, 18 years old, and I saw all of these beautiful girls. And I was not going to be acting silly around them.
If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at email@example.com. You can also share our older buds' adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And if you or the older buds have stories about where they've been or where they're going, then you or they can submit stories 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