Not so many years ago, to celebrate the arrival of the New Year, you could gather with family and neighbors or if you were fortunate or foolhardy enough, you could make your way to Times Square and join 100,000 or so of your new friends to watch the ball drop at the stroke of midnight. Should you have chosen to watch it all on television, just after the big moment, the TV would shift to the famed Waldorf Astoria and the dancing crowd of obviously rich white people, the men in tuxedos, wearing party hats and the ladies hair just so, dressed in evening gowns, gliding across the floor to the music of Guy Lombardo and his Orchestra. Even today, I don’t feel the New Year has officially arrived unless it is accompanied by the strains of “Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot.”
One particular New Year’s Eve, my wife to be was working in a theatre located at 49th and Broadway. I was working at a theatre on 44th Street that had a scheduled midnight show of a sold out 1,540 seats. The plan was that she would come on down after her theatre closed and at least we would be together.
That was the plan. That all changed when she came out and looked down the street, it was wall to wall people and there was no way she was going to make it. As she told me later, she began to tear up and out of the crowd that included a group of sailors passing by, one of them asked her “Why are you crying?” In the emotion of the moment, she told them of her disappointment and one of them suggested they could help her out if she didn’t mind being carried. As fast as you could say, “Any port in a storm,” they raised her above their shoulders and headed into the crowd with shouts of “make way,” “coming through” transporting her the distance until they lowered her in front of me standing by the box office, wondering how she was going to make it. In amazement, I shook their hands in appreciation and she gave them all a kiss, then they were off into the crowd, once again.
In the motion picture, “Citizen Cane,” a character explains that over 50 years ago he had exchanged glances with a young lady passing in the opposite direction and as their eyes met, she smiled. As he explained further, “Although Inever saw her again, after all these years I still recall her smile at least once a day.”
Robert Burns said it best,
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne.”
Happy New Year & good health to you all.
Jack D. Ballard