WALLY'S WORLD: Memories of New Year’s parties of the past

Throughout my childhood, I was very aware that adults celebrated New Year’s Eve, even though I never witnessed the actual parties because, by the time they occurred, I was in bed and asleep. During my early teen years, I still didn’t join in the revelry and, as far as I knew, neither did any of my peers. Most of us simply sat in the living room and watched Dick Clark lower the crystal ball in Times Square.

The fact that I knew about such shenanigans and identified them with the new year apparently made quite an imprint on me because, for the rest of my wayward life, I’ve usually greeted the new year with considerable fanfare and debauchery.

Late in my teen years, a couple of cronies and I were home from Washington State University on our winter break and, since they were indoctrinated in the same new year tradition as I, we felt we should be out somewhere raising a little hell, so we chose to party at – if you can believe this – the old Newaukum Grange. We didn’t stay long. If I remember correctly, we danced with a couple of girls and left before the hour struck. Of course, we weren’t old enough to drink, but somehow we’d secured a six-pack and we drank that – and thereafter felt we had raised the hell expected of us.

The first, real authentic drunken new year’s blast I ever attended was in Richmond, Va. Some dude I hadn’t seen before, and haven’t seen since, showed up at the tavern I was hanging in and invited everyone in the place to a party that was happening in several adjacent rooms in a nearby hotel. He furnished all the drinks and food. (Like they say: A fool and his money can throw one terrific party.)

It was still dark outside when I finally crashed about 6 in the morning. I slept through the entire day and when I awoke at about 5 p.m. it was dark again. Have you ever done that? It’s quite confusing.   You don’t know if you should get up because you aren’t sure if it’s the previous night or the next night. So it goes.

Since than, there have been many similar new year blowouts, all of them memorable in their own way.   But my warmest, most unforgettable end-of-the-year celebration was in a New Orleans hotel ballroom with my ex-wife, now deceased. Music was furnished by a big band – for the benefit of the younger set, that’s a band with a lot of instruments, but often no guitars – and there were a few drinks, but no one was outrageously or disgustingly plastered or obnoxious. Slacks and jacket were expected for the properly dressed gentleman.

I recall standing on a ballroom balcony and looking down upon the teeming wall-to-wall crowd of drunken buffoons who had swarmed over Bourbon Street and thinking:  “My God, what an astounding and delightful scene!” Only in New Orleans, I thought, though it was similar, in some respects, to the scene in Times Square.

To this day, I can’t honestly say where I’d rather be: In the street or the hotel.

And on that revealing, personal note, I’ll conclude this final column of the year. My best to all of you and may the new year bring your wildest dreams to fruition.

Happy New Year, everyone!


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