Fifty years ago tonight, I made my one and done Times Square New Year’s Eve appearance. Along with two other friends Lou and PJ, I took the IRT 6 train from the Parkchester station in the Bronx to 42nd St- Grand Central Station.
You didn’t need to have tickets or passes, and you could just show up as late in the night as you cared. You didn’t have to wear diapers as you had access to an abundance of bathrooms in every bar that you sought Yuletide Cheer.
It was a more painless experience than tonight’s revelers will have to endure, but the sentiment of ringing out an old year while welcoming the new one remains the same.
1969 had been no picnic. To be sure, it had been better than 1968, but that was no accomplishment to hang a hat or hope on. Much like 2019, 1969 saw its share of division and discord. Some were against the Viet Nam War as much as they were against President Nixon. Likewise, defenders of the war and Nixon couldn’t understand the hippies and the freaks who were against the war.
Nevertheless, on that New Year’s Eve in 1969 at Times Square, hope reigned, and joy at starting over washed any bad memories we may have endured the previous year were erased as the ball was lowered in front of us as we sang (however badly) Auld Lang Syne.
So, tonight at the first strike of 10 (for I have long ago given up staying up till midnight and DVR the ball drop), I will once again rejoice at the dawning of a new year if not a new age of peace, love, and understanding….but hope always remains.
Happy New Year, Everyone.
I wrote the above entry precisely one year ago today.
I alluded to the upheaval of the 60s as a comparative time to our own in 2019. Indeed we were as divided a year ago as much as we were fifty years before.
I had to laugh at my reference to hope in the next to the last line of my post. I had hope then much as I have now, but who could have predicted that the trials and tribulations of 2019 would appear so trivial in 2019?
It is preposterous that over three hundred thousand Americans have died due to a virus. Equally nonsensical is that we appear headed to the America of the 1920s without so much of a roar as of a whimper.
Millions have lost their jobs; many never to return to them.
Restaurants and bars that had been landmarks in their locations have shuttered their doors forever.
But the stock market is doing well, so that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?
It’s hard not to be cynical during such times, but like talk, cynicism is cheap.
We need faith.
We need hope.
We need charity.
I can still remember my Baltimore Catechism and the listing of Faith, Hope, and Charity as leading to sharing God’s nature.
Maybe there was something to that?
Just maybe when we had faith and had the hope of a better life and lived with charity in our hearts, we actually were better off? Maybe when our neighbors’ welfare meant more to us than our 401K performance, we weren’t just better neighbors but better people?
Maybe when we worried about the homeless and the hungry more than who posted what on social media, we were better tuned in to the life around us?
2020 was a terrible year in so many ways for so many people, but we need to remember the love that also was exhibited during this time.
This blog is nothing like I first intended. I was going to write a satirical piece about a stupid inconvenience as a way of taking our minds off the problems we all experienced in the last year. But this is what I came up with, and there’s nothing more that I can add to make this entry better.
Except, we have to do better next year. We have to! We just have to!
I am still going to wish you all a very Happy New Year!