Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Ghost of New Year's Past

Looks like the first decade of the first century of the second millennium is about complete.  As my friends, the kangaroos say, "Have a hoppy new year."

Allow me to talk about auld lang syne.  When I refer to auld lang syne, I do not mean the stroke of midnight, January 1st song.  I am using the phrase for it's actual meaning; "times past fondly remembered."  So without further delay I set the wayback machine to the last day of the year 1959.  

The new 50 star flags have been ordered and will soon replace the 48 starred ones in all our school rooms.  Eisenhower is entering the final year of his presidency.  Vice-President Nixon has thrown his hat in the ring to be Ike's replacement.  Senator Kennedy, with his father's help, will challenge the VP in the upcoming year. Russia is winning the Space Race being first to have orbited an artificial satellite around the planet.  They will also be first to send a man into orbit within the next two years.

Bud Abbott will enter 1960 without his partner Lou Costello. Actors Errol Flynn, Victor McLaglen and TV's Superman. George Reeves will not be around to greet the sixties.  Rock and Rollers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper also made their exit in 1959.

The only death that had a effect on me was that of Alfalfa from the Little Rascals.  They use to show the Little Rascal shorts everyday. I was only six and thought the Rascals were around my age.  I had yet to grasp the concept of rerun ad nauseum.  When I heard Alfalfa had died, I thought it was the boy that had died, not the 32 year old actor Carl Switzer.  It was quite upsetting.

On December 31st, 1959, I was being babysat by our neighbor, Carol.  My parents had gone out for the night.  My parents had told Carol it would be alright if I stayed up until midnight, but I was to go to bed right after.  I was so excited.  This would be the first New Year I would usher in.  Not only a new year, but a new decade!  I knew it would be fantastic.  Carol had Guy Lombardo on the television.  Guy Lombardo was the original Dick Clark.  Carol told me when the countdown to 1960 began and I ran to the window.  As cheers and applause and noisemakers rang out of the television, I was staring up at the sky.  Where were the fireworks?  Why wasn't the sky lighting up?  I had envisioned the entire sky exploding into bright letters announcing 1960.  I had anticipated parades and bands on every street of the city,  yet nothing happened.  The world of Center Line, Michigan, remained calm without a ripple of noise nor a single waving sparkler to greet the new decade.  Very disappointing.  Very Y2K.

If I had paid closer attention to who had passed away in 59, I would have understood why the New Year was not a big production.  1959 was also the year that Cecil B. DeMille had died.

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