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A Family Holiday

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 22, 2019

I just wanted to say that as a individual, I’m not a person that looks back. I don’t look back at anything. I fell down my steps. People say this and that. I don’t look back as it happened. That’s it. Having said that, by the say, this is the 22nd of November, right? That’s JFK. That’s when JFK was shot. I just wanted to remember that. See, that’s how much I hate to, that’s one reason not to look because no one knows before they forget.

Anyway, I wanted to say about Thanksgiving, the most recent Thanksgiving taught me how to come to a senior place. Because my mother had passed and it’s about seven, maybe eight years. I had met Angel, some other people over there where a school where I was working in the community. I thought I’d be nice and invite these relatives to Thanksgiving dinner. I did and I’m a good cook, but I didn’t cook like the old folks. Because when we grew up the Thanksgiving, they had goose and they had hasty pudding. They were from Virginia. They had all those Southern corn pudding and I don’t think that anybody even knew how to cook it but myself.

So whatever happened, I’m just saying that I cooked that meal and they told me that. I said, “Well I have to find something new to do.” That’s when I was chasing some kids by the old coffee house and I went in there to get one of them and I met the director from the coffee house. Her name was, you know down at coffee? What’s her name?

Augustine, right. I met her. I thought she was a correction officer. She was a tough. She was a tough sister, but she got those kids up on their feet. Then there was some other guy, she had a stick and she went after them. What I’m saying to you is that’s when I decided I would have to go. I met another director down there. He said they have a place where you can eat. You just have to say you’re 60. If not, it’s okay, just say it anyway and you’ll come and eat. That’s how I did it. So that’s what I remember. That was my last Thanksgiving I remember.

Because here it doesn’t matter. I don’t care what I eat as long as I haves something that’s sweet. Growing up life with my relatives, I had, my grandmother came from a very large family. Somehow by the time I came aboard in their life, they had all came to New York or Pennsylvania and this one Kentucky and Virginia. To go out of the house, they all live near each other but to live in six blocks radius. They live next to them. Come Easter. They put you in a little, big bow and baby doll shoes. You had to go by everybody’s apartment for their approval. If you weren’t that way, then you had to go back and change. You know how long it took us? I learned to get up early just to do them. It was the same when we were eating. Come Thanksgiving, we had to stop by everybody’s house to eat and then still have after, to have room for what the grandmother made. Cause if kids thought you were sick, then they should give you casserole. Then you really were messed up. That was my life growing up with, I remember those memories. How you had to eat in everybody’s house. It was delicious, but I don’t think I want to do that again.

Now I don’t, I like sandwiches and soups and candy and candy. That’s it. That’s it. Those are my memories of, I was growing a childhood that I don’t really want to look back. There really is nothing wrong with it. It was beautiful and fun, but I don’t think I want to look back to have memories. I don’t look back about anything. I just keep moving, which is a good thing for me. Not for anybody, I don’t give advice. That’s a good thing for me. I keep moving every direction that I feel like. That’s it.

Big Risk

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 15, 2019

You know how they tell people today? They tell people today to wear helmets and other things to ride their bikes. So we rode bikes would never anything happened that I know. But the fun was going down a hill, like where I grew up they had Nickel Sands, Nickel Park, my mom’s park, Morningside Park. Backwards and holds my hands out.

But I mean, looking back it might have been a risk, but an awful lot of fun. So I think looking back at what could have, what probably was no risk. It was not a one, not one of the risks. So you use barriers. See the barriers, if I fell off, I have to survive this. But it never occurred to me that those were a risk. You know? So I didn’t, I probably went to a lot of risk and didn’t know. Going into the water. I didn’t know the ground, the beach, change in the water. I was always swimming. But after I learned how to swim, I never knew that level to danger. Looking back, I realized that was dangerous. So, at least I remember where, what the risks were.So I haven’t had time to think about it because maybe it was a risk and maybe it wasn’t at all.

But realize now, just standing still. Yesterday I saw a lady, playing with birds, had a bun dropped on her. Somebody came by and he said, “Oh, when that happens, from a pigeon, that’s good luck.” But she didn’t think so. That was a risk walking on the street.

Joyful Day

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 15, 2019

I don’t remember that is being the most joyful day or not a joyful day, but don’t have days like that. I tried to make every day joyful for me. I started walking, I started eating goodies, I started meeting people, I can see, and I can hear, those are joyful days. Those are joyful moments, which eventually, again, the day adds up to a joyous day. That’s how I think, and that’s how I am.

I’m just saying what is a joyful day. It just depends and maybe after a while it fades into memory. I don’t know.

Was there a more like eventful day that you recall?

Lessons, I’ve been wrong when I was a kid. You at least have to wish, want, and ask and you’ll get it. Now, I can wish, ask, wish, want and if I don’t work for it, I don’t have it. So yes, joyful days. Joyful days I’m probably so tired of trying to get them, I just didn’t worry about it, I mean, not really, I can’t.

Not really, every day is joyful day, I’ve coming here many of years and I don’t know anybody that has seen me depressed and sad about anything. Anytime. I’m not like that. I just, you know, every day is a joyful day.

You have a good attitude.

I think it probably bothered me at some point, by the time I’m coping with it, overcoming and dealing with, passing the next one, you know, but I don’t see that it bothers me about anything…

I think the greatest thing, you survive your family. Yolanda has a gorgeous daughter. If you survive your daughters, we all going to have mothers… So it’s always joyful, joyful days.

Love Changes

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 8, 2019

I was so glad to be free. Love? Marriage? Are you kidding? I like to be free. I love every moment. I love every single moment.

So, no man tied you down?

at 16… Once, yes, but that… You know, that passed too. But no, I don’t… I’m not a grieving person, you know? You look around you, and then you go up and, you know, you look around where some love has led you and led other people? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

I guess life was different. When I come here as a senior, I hear conversation. Maybe my life was just different. I grew up with grandparents, and they had different ideas about raising you, because my mother wanted to be a career girl. Now, strangers in our house? No. You got it? You got the picture? Strangers in the house, no. If you don’t know the mother and the father? Not in her house. That’s it. That’s how life was. Happy life, but that’s how it was.

But you lived in Paris?

That’s later on. When I’m in charge of me.

So my life was different. But you know… what am I going to say. Guys always say stuff. It doesn’t matter, I got my own life…

Extraordinary Day

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 1, 2019

Yeah. I think every day is extraordinary. Every moment of every day. And I don’t remember anything that’s really outstanding, but since you asked, I remember this. And I was going to say one thing to Gary about what he said. At school, I was always just like I am now, talking, yakking, yakking, answering all the questions. Remembering everything I could look at, and I remembered. But at home, until I was about 13 or 14, I stuttered, “No, I wasn’t supposed to talk.” But one day I decided, “I’m 14. Let me say what I want to say.” And they said, “Well, you can talk at the dinner table.” So I participated in whatever they were talking about. Nothing that I remember because they were not in doing anything that I really was interested. They talked about food, each other, stuff like that. But what I remember, there was a pool called Colonial Pool. We would walk up to that, about 150 street, somewhere like that, in the summer. And we brought seven of us.

I used to go the beach with my aunts, Rockaway and some place in Jersey. But they were technically my great aunts because they lived in New York before my grandma. They would take us swimming, but only about many years before I finished high school did I learn, although I talked my grandmother into letting us go with them, they couldn’t swim. So I don’t know if even if I would’ve went with them, during Rockaway especially. You’re standing here, in two minutes, the ground shifts. So the water that was behind you or in front of you is someplace else, and you’d be there with more water, or less water.

Okay. So we were going to the pool. We didn’t want my grandmother to know so we go early in the summer. So we would have clothes drying, so we couldn’t have bathing suits. But one of my cousins fell in the pool. I don’t remember if anybody could or couldn’t swim, but he was my favorite cousin. So everybody was yelling and screaming. So I said, “Oh, Tommy can’t drown.” So I jumped in the pool to save him. And he was down in the water, and I went down and got him help and got him to the top. And he was worried about, he had something in his pocket that he didn’t want to lose. I forgot what it was. So I said, “Well, we’ll worry about that later.” And he was full of water and I guess so I was, but I’d seen the movie that they had, and I remember he pulled the dude this way, the flow and I was able to do it. Then somebody else jumped in and they saved us both.

Now look at somebody that didn’t swim. I could not swim. And in high school you had to learn how to swim to get out of the high school. So until that time I didn’t swim. But I actually swam and got him to the edge where he could hold on. And never told anybody anything about it. And that’s how I’ve been most of my life was I told you. Anything I set out to do, whether it’s long range, I don’t do any long range thing, but whatever I have to do, I do it like that and get it done and keep on moving with life. That’s how I am. That’s how I am as a person.

Well yeah. But you see me every day over here. Mario, they put him on a leash the other day saying, “Goodness, you’re know?” No, but really that’s how I think about life. You don’t have to have long range plans. You can do whatever you want to do and you don’t have to give it much thought. Music is a good example.

I never knew I could sing, never thought about it. But I can hear the music right now, but I think of a song, I don’t even know what it sounds like, but the music comes and then I have it right. Everybody says I do, so I can hear things that you want to hear, and do things you want to do without a lot of preparation. You know what I mean?

Not everyone has those gifts.

But see you call it a gift and I call it just the way of life.


Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 1, 2019

Like I said, I had grandparents. My mother wanted to be a career girl. Now they had I guess what you call, that they old school. But we weren’t really truly raised. Like I say we, my three cousins and my sister. Kids were not heard or seen and she saw to it. Big apartment like a huge apartment, eight rooms, like a house. And she’d tell you to be still and sit in your room. She was somewhere over there sewing or what ever she was doing, watching you, making sure you didn’t move. We had no radio, anything to listen to. So as time went by, learned to listen to them, but that’s how we obeyed.

But I listened. He’d mention almost like I was thinking, yeah something that speaks to you when you’re by yourself a long time. So these kinds of questions, you know like, what you discovered you are good at or anything extraordinary. My grandma was a nurse, my grandfather a doctor, so we had nothing to say, but we were good at everything. So, that’s what I meant good at, our way of doing something. I don’t know what I wasn’t good at but we did what they said, then we had to get it right the first time. She would make you tie your shoe five times ’til you got it right so it wouldn’t break your neck going down the steps.

So I was thinking one thing I learned about myself, I was doing anything I wanted to do. I can finish it and I’m good at it. Now I do a lot of programs here, like singing and all the things. I haven’t studied for everything. I can do all those things. I don’t know where it come from but I guess I get along with people, and I get along with New Yorkers, and I know how to eat. I eat in a certain way that I can eat whatever I want and never put on weight. Like when you have a sore throat, some cinnamon and hot water. No one’s never heard me be sick. We know. They lived to be like a 110 or 109, up and down the steps. No, we never did. Never sick, never heard about being sick. It was only like a-

What did you say about cinnamon, what’s the secret?

Just some tap water. Your cold comes out. You don’t have to worry about it. I know, I come every day. No one’s a sick person, that I know of. And we would go to Central Park and teach us about herbs and how to collect them and boil, make their own cough syrup. So I think I was good at anything I set out to do. It doesn’t matter what it is.

Also, I learned a talent to get along with people. Do not say everything that you think you think you know. Be quiet. And no one ever see me sitting in place within the back. I have nothing to say about what ever anybody says. Not that I don’t care, but it’s their business what they talked to.

My neighborhood

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 18, 2019

She took the fork and she pulls a piece towards her. And I was listening to you, but I was watching her. See, for me, things bring back memories. And I remember how Grandma was always very curated. Put the napkin in the lap. Some things are finger foods, some things are fork foods. But the older I get, I want to eat food the way I want to eat it. But I hear that little voice, and I think I give them some pause. What I wanted to say about, you mentioned neighborhood, how you grow up. Well, I think I wasn’t raised like that because my grandparents raised me. My mother wanted to be a career girl for the government so she lived in New Jersey. We lived in Manhattan. I got my post and my grandparents came from Virginia and Kentucky. Now, I’m not talking about how you take kids to the movies. I mean, every single moment. They were sweet people. They never hit us, they never raised their voice, they called themselves refine. So they taught us how to be ladies – my sister and myself. We had two cousins because her younger daughter died, she didn’t bother with them so much because she said, well, their father’s what you know. So they didn’t work on them, you know? But Courtney, I don’t know anything about it. The way I get singing abilities, but I generally don’t think about it. She told me that one reason she couldn’t stand you mother’s husband, my father, because he had a band, a music band. And in those days, show-business was still considered wrong. We were churchgoing people. And so I grew up not making a sound in the house. Cuz they wanted to hear pin drop. We couldn’t drop it, but they wanted to hear a pin drop. We couldn’t do anything, and this was all in the house, you know, play outside and all summer long until 9 o’clock. They didn’t care. They never gave us any control over us like that. We were our own I grew up doing my thing. But sometimes because I sing here, I realize, people like to say, “you like to sing years ago. I don’t know when I did that, because I never sang in college. I sure wasn’t singing, I was studying. So that’s what I did.

But as far as neighborhood goes, the question you asked, I didn’t grow up like that. My neighborhood was right in the house. Outside we played, but we played as kids you’d jump double dutch, you’d play in the park, you’d play whatever, I don’t even remember, whatever you’d play. And what the neighborhood looked like, I was in high school when I came down the street and noticed these buildings across the street. They’d always go in, they told us what the buildings were they told us what the people were. We had no opinion. Being originally someone that has something to say about every single thing, which puts me in the right mood for here. No matter what you do, someone has a comment on it. But with my own life growing up, at this point in life, I don’t care. I don’t care what you wear, I don’t care what you say. Because I never get angry with anybody. You better have a good memory. I don’t remember what anyone says. Don’t get angry with me and I don’t get angry with them. I just don’t care. Have your say, whatever you want to say is fine with me, about anything! If you think I’m wrong, well, that’s your opinion, I’m just passing on. 

I’m free in that my relatives are not here to tell me what to do. My grandmother had, let’s see, her mother had 18 kids. I had great aunts by the dozen. Here comes Easter. People in their bowler hats, little baby dolls. They all had their separate apartments from Conduit Avenue. The part that I lived in was called Sugar Hill. And there were the West Indian people down there who had money. I remember them talking about anything. Hamilton House across the street. We would play but during holidays and school we had to study. They didn’t tell us anything, you know why, because they didn’t know anything about the neighborhood anyway because they never grew up there. So they gave me the freedom. I’ve always had freedom of movement. I’ve always had the freedom to think what I want to think. What I’m saying to you as seniors, I do know this. 

Like this morning, I live by the river in Hell’s Kitchen. I know it’s cold, it’s long blocks, right? You hear, “Maggie where are your gloves, you don’t have gloves.” Don’t tell me I don’t have gloves, don’t you think I’d figure that out by that time? Don’t you think maybe I don’t want gloves? If I got one pair, I got a hundred pairs, don’t you think I’d figure that out by now? That’s exactly, it never changes, just the way I want it. 

And I don’t care what anybody thinks. I mean there’s nothing fixed. You’re supposed to be acting flexible. This is New York where I grew up in. There’s all sorts of things to do. I lived in Paris many, many years. So over the years, a lot of Americans come there, expatriates. They all have opinions about the French. Why can’t we just let them be French? But they have opinions that the French are no good. It’s there country, why can’t they do what they want to do? They make themselves very unhappy, travellers and living there, because they don’t like what the French do. I don’t feel that way. You can do whatever you want to do. I don’t care what you do with that, but if you do something I don’t like I’m gonna tell you about it, but Im not going to tell you up front. Because I don’t know, I don’t know the future. And it might be something I very much like. 

So that’s my future. There’s no neighborhood, my neighborhood was the apartment. When we went outside they told us what we were supposed to see. You see how people can make you see what they want you to see? They didn’t always have it right. They saw ghosts. Now they’re dead, they grew up Baptist. So they didn’t go to church too much. But the point I mean, I always knew whenever she was going to cook, she would clap her hands. Swing Low Sweet Chariot was a Baptist song. My Catholic friends they light a candle to get their prayers answered. Baptists lit a candle because they didn’t pay the bill with Con Edison. See the difference? The baptists didn’t pay Con Edison, that’s why they lit the candles because they couldn’t see without light. So they didn’t go to Church very much, but they had ideas about coming back – reincarnation – coming back. And here’s what they say. They say, “Don’t be talking about grown folks business. Stay out of our business. Don’t talk about the other folks. And we’ll hear you from the other side.” So that’s where this ends for me, because I have nothing to say about it just in case their listening! There’s no problem, because what am I going to say?

What’s a good song to end this for with me? How about “Hello Darlin”

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