Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

This is Times Square in New York City on the night of December 31st, 1954. I was home sleeping, unaware of the festivities just 8 miles from my door. The simple white ball dropping was indicative of the times. Black and white- simple. Not too complicated.

Funny how in all my years growing up and living in New York my friends and I never went to Times Square on New Years Eve.

My first New Years memory is of 1960. This was the first time I had heard the term "decade." During the next few years and until about 1967 my brother and I would celebrate by decorating the apartment with streamers and ballons. We bought candy and cakes to snack on. Our parents went out for the evening. At midnight my brother and I would watch the ball come down in Times Square and then we would toss streamers and confetti all over the house and pop all the balloons.

There was always an old movie playing on WOR- TV Channel 9 and I would stay up and watch it until my parents came home with the hats and horns from the party they had been to. It was these New Years Eves that introduced me to the old Busby Berkeley movies, which I still enjoy today.

I remember New Years Eve 1969 when I was 15 and John DiStefano and I rode the Avenue R bus to the end of the line at Flatbush Avenue. We were drinking Bali Hi wine all the way. The driver didn't seem to mind and we waited on the bus, drinking, for the return trip to Avenue R and East 16th Street. At about 1:30 in the morning we smashed our bottles (for good luck) against the walls under the Avenue R "trestle" of the BMT Lines. It was snowing lightly and all was peaceful when we wished one another a Happy New Years and went home.

There have been other, more dramatic New Years Eves over the decades. One of the more memorable ones was in Valencia, Spain 1978 going on 1979. We were in Valencia for the Christmas and New Years holidays. We had made friends with alot of the local University students and become regulars at the coffee houses and bars. We had even become friendly enough with some of them that we were invited into their homes.

Around 11 PM or so we were walking through the older part of the city when we came to the Plaza of Virgins. The whole plaza was filled with families! Some held candles, some sang, some were drinking a bit of the local wine. It was all so low key and very different from the hell raising we were used to. It was almost like an affirmation that though one year had come to an end, another was about to begin.

And so it goes, one thing ends and another begins. The past year, with all of its trials and tribulations has come to an end. And a new one awaits. A New Year is alot like a blank piece of paper. Anything is possible. It's up to you what gets written.

So to all my old friends, and the new ones as well, Happy New Year!

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