As a kid, the excitement of a new year approaching meant making plans. The evening always involved taking over the living room with four or five buddies, making a big pan of buttery popcorn, a bag of potato chips, and Cokes imbibed straight from the green glass bottle. At midnight we would always go outdoors, raise a hullabaloo banging on kitchen pots and yelling new year’s greetings into the cold night air. As soon as we reached our teens, we were quick to line up babysitting jobs because you could demand a flat rate as opposed to the $.25 cents per hour we usually got. (I doubt it was over $3.00. I can’t believe it was ever as much as five.) One year, unbeknownst to our mothers my best friend Annie and I took a drizzly midnight stroll blocks away to the boulevard and past the winter-shuttered Dairy Queen. I saw a big metal sign that had blown to the ground. Something wild, rebellious, perhaps even a tad destructive came over me so I jumped hard on it. I slid, fell, and sprained my wrist. No damage to the sign.
Later, during high school, we decorated the living room for a party. We tested adult waters wearing pretty dresses and upgrading our snacks to canapes and made clunky finger foods based mostly on Velvetta cheese and saltine crackers. By now, Cokes were served in glasses with tinkly ice cubes. These were hen parties because boys were still foreign beings and there was very little interaction socially with them. We let the night air cool us down by keeping the time-honored pots and pans routine at midnight.
After age eighteen, most of us had begun dating or at least had made friends of the opposite sex. If someone had access to a car, New Year’s Eve was a very special night meaning we could order a rum and coke at a bar, legally. We always dressed to the nines from the skin out. This was years before high tech fabrics that repelled the cold so our dressy, feminine, body-hugging winter coats, while made of wool did little to keep us warm. We donned dainty cloth or leather gloves, carried clutch bags and, in case of bad weather, a filmy scarf to cover the head and spare the hairdo. Mothers equipped us with plastic rain bonnets but, who were they kidding? The ugly, accordion-folded accessory remained out of sight in purses or a pocket. We wore dressy, cut-away high heels, nylons attached to a garter belt, and (b-r-r-r-r) pretty, silky underthings that did nothing to protect us from gusts of wind. Overshoes, boots, anything resembling protection, (including those clear plastic booties with a button closure) from puddles, piles of slush or the inevitable snow were unheard of. All the more reason to link tight to a date’s arm and snuggle close.
As young moms we planned gatherings at night spots for New Year’s Eve. I went along one year with my sister Sue to accompany her friend Sharon. We were seated at a table just beneath the bandstand. Sharon’s husband Rich, the drummer, always made sure to play my favorite song, 'Hey There, Lonely Girl.' We were done up in style and Sharon having run short on time concealed a head of pin curls with a cute, short wig. At the stroke of midnight, the band burst forth spotlighting Richard. He did a series of crashes and thumps. At the crescendo, his drumstick caught Sharon’s wig and lifted it straight off her head!
Thank goodness for memories. Write them for others’ enjoyment in a journal by bobbin-olive. Do it up right and fancy — there are many to choose from. Preserve your life’s memories in a pretty book with a print of an original watercolor on the cover. Just know it will be appreciated later, down the line when the kids ask, "What was it like in your day….?”