Thursday, January 27, 2022

Walking Blues (Norman & Jewel)

Today, we have two stories about the walking blues. One by Jewel, written in the style of the walking blues song, and the other by Norman, about how he can’t walk as much as he used to thanks to the lockdowns:

Norman Cain


My Love for Walking and the Pandemic

I love walking, an endeavor that I enjoyed and perfected during the various stages of my life. As a child growing up in West Philadelphia not too far from Fairmount Park, my friends and I were constantly hiking through the interior of what has been know as the largest landscaped park in the world. When I last checked France has the largest park in the world and Philadelphia was the second largest park. 

When I went to South Carolina each summer I constantly walked mile upon mile to fields, to town and to play with friends. While as a student at Bluefield State College in West Virginia I had to tediously walk to various locations throughout the mountainous terrain. And then there was the Army, each day our feet and resolve were tested as we balanced heavy backpacks on our backs and almost equally burdened rifles on our shoulders, as we trekked insurmountable and endless miles during our 2-month basic training period.

Walking had become a second nature with me. In fact, my peers, especially during my senior year, marveled at my love for hiking the Wissahickon trail and being able to walk great distances throughout the city. While my walking for the sheer pleasure, that beloved hobby of mine, had dwindled during my senior years, I still was quite active in that activity. 

In order to maintain my schedule at the 6 Senior Centers that I faithfully attended before the pandemic, I had to walk on the average of 12 blocks a day to unite with public transportation. During the year-long shutdown caused by the pandemic, I of course was not walking but rather sitting down all day. Non-activity caused my knees to tighten. The few times I would go out each week caused a chore. I had to find some where to sit after I would walk a block. 

There are 2 incidents that occurred when I had to walk because of business. The first occurred when I had an 11:45 Covid injection appointment at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, 39th and Woodland Avenue. When I debarked from the trolley at 40th and Woodland I had to walk an extremely long block to 39th and Woodland, make a southward turn and walk another long block to the entrance to the hospital.  

When I arrived, I was told that the entrance was closed and that I would have to enter at another locality, which was located another long block away. Once inside the hospital I had a long walk to the injection area where I had to do some extensive standing. After my injection I had to repeat the same laborious procedure. 

The second incident concerning long tedious walks occurred recently. I went to Columbia Commons by way of the 79 bus, whose route is Snyder Avenue, to get a headset at Best Buy. Columbia Commons is right by the Delaware River and I had no idea about where Best Buy was and that gigantic shopping mall. I first walked 2 and a half blocks in the wrong direction, then 4 blocks before I reached my destination. Then there was the return trip to catch the bus to take me home. 

The hospital and Best Buy trips taxed my knees, but those hardships paid off. When they open up the city again, I will be able to get some but not all of the kinks out of my knees. I will continue my beloved walking with care.

Jewel Grace


The Pandemic Quarantine Walking Blues

Does anybody know what the walking blues is? There's a way of singing and it's called the walking blues and someone will have an instrument, be playing an instrument, and it has words but you don't have to follow any particular melody while you’re singing it.

So I was in a chorus and there was walking blues and I had to ask somebody what it was. I said they're not singing it right. She said “Yes they are, because you just sing along whatever, you sing words but you just sing along whatever pitch you want to sing.” This is called The Pandemic Quarantine Walking Blues.

The river rises to what avail

horseflies and mosquitoes are biting

as we go on fighting

Virtual reality has become the new normality

Life is waiting, prayers are coming

Friends may be lingering while hope is diminishing.

the blues is just a bad dream waiting to be transformed. 

We're taking a sorry ride on a river that keeps flowing. 

Nobody is knowing what tomorrow may bring

Sadness or gladness, 

if today is our moment or hope to begin

Now is our minute as change come rushing in

Rise up all you people, let's gather and sing it.

If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at 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 FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And if you or the older buds need to sing the blues, 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