When I was young my brothers and I were banished to my grandmother’s house on New Year’s Eve. There we drank half an illicit beer and ate ham sandwiches and watched Guy Lombardo ring in the new. That is if we didn’t fall asleep because of the beer.
Or else my grandmother and Aunt Gersh would come to the house and we’d do the same thing in Wenonah as we would in Bala Cynwyd. My parents were engaged in adult fun. We had no idea what adult fun was. So far as we could tell from our few exposures to a grown up party it consisted of laughing loud, drinking, and smoking and staying up late. This did not seem fun. Plus they played the Mills Brothers and Perry Como.
They did not go out to fancy night clubs, they went to friends houses and checked in by phone. No real need to do that as we had been trained well and staying up till midnight was extraordinarily difficult. So it was that my brothers and my little sister and I rang in the New Year of 1965. It may have been that year that my parents had the party at their home. I can remember vaguely one such party so let’s call it that one.
I was sitting at the end of my bed with my cat, Surprise. The warm tones of Frank Sinatra filled the night. There was a woman’s high laugh. The light from our back porch shown out onto the lawn and the clear night sky was lit up with a thousand stars. Happy New Year and noise and fireworks and honking and then the music again and sleep.
I woke the next morning to a house full of half-empty glasses that smelled of whiskey and ginger ale, overflowing ashtrays, and a house as quiet as a morgue.