Memory Lane: Gracie’s New Year’s Eve

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We had a local character on our block, Gracie, who was, shall we say, flamboyant. She drove a pink Cadillac. She decorated her house to look like something in a fairy tale. And her outdoor Christmas decorations were indescribable.

She also used to go to Times Square in New York City every New Year’s Eve, and to the Roosevelt Hotel where Guy Lombardo played. She always hunted for the cameras, and several times succeeded in getting on TV. Most of the people in our town saw her on TV on New Year’s Eve.

After several decades of this, one of the local newspapers got interested and did a feature story on her. In it, Gracie’s age was given as 60-something.

When my Aunt Gertie read that, she almost fell out of her chair. “Why, that old so-and-so!” she cried (and a lot more than once). “Sixty? Sixty? Why, she was in my class in high school!” Aunt Gertie was in her mid-80s at the time, and somehow Gracie’s reported youth really rankled with her.

Ah, well. So what are some of you guys doing for New Year’s Eve tonight? We’re staying here, way too bloody cold outside for anything else. We have lots of fun movies to watch, our Christmas tree is here, and I have very nice Christmas cookies. Plus we have the “Feed me, feed me!” Twins, aka our cats, to keep us hopping.

We’ll understand if your plans are so wild, you don’t dare tell us about them.

8 comments on “Memory Lane: Gracie’s New Year’s Eve

  1. Thank goodness there are always a handful of flamboyant characters around to make life interesting. People like that can make life interesting, to say the least.

    I’m recovering from the flu and happy for the moments I’m awake and feeling basically ok. I’d love to seek out some human companionship tonight but even a simple cup of tea at Village Inn would be pushing my luck.

    I do have some Grand Marnier, basically orange flavored cognac, which sets well on the stomach, so I may make a toast about 8 PM and call it a night. 🙂

  2. Back on 12/31/97 my husband, kids, and me went to visit my Aunt Margaret. She was a Franciscan nun as well as a registered nurse. She was retired and lining at Assisi House in PA. She struggled with Alzheimer’s and we had to continually remind her who we are. We sat with her in the Home’s large dining room filled with about fifty or so elderly nuns who were gathered together to ring in the New Year which, we were told, was going to happen at around 8 pm instead of the usual twelve midnight. An older man came in toting an accordion and he started off with some very old numbers. He took requests as well and started right in when a nun requested “McNamara’s Band.” Suddenly, that same nun got up from her wheelchair and made a shaky attempt at a jig before an attendant came behind her with the wheelchair and strongly encouraged her to dance while sitting in her chair. My son, Ted, had been giggling at the sight of the dancing nun. Ted was a student at a Catholic vocational school at the time and probably thought as I did once that nuns couldn’t do anything other religious stuff. He got quiet after I shushed him. Soon the time came for us to leave Aunt Margaret and after hugs, kisses, and final reminders of who we were, we took our leave. I’ve been to Times Square once and I’ve been to parties but spending time with my aunt and ringing in the new year a bit earlier is my fondest memory. That was the last time I was able to visit with her before moving to TN. She passed away in 1999.

    1. I, too, had an aunt who was a nun, and who died of Alzheimer’s. Oh, she had an interesting mind! I wish I could have spent more time with her.

  3. Too cold to celebrate at the Texas Roadhouse, so we will ring in the new year with Jesse Waters on the Fox Channel. Then New Years Day it is watching the Rose Parade on the Home&Gardens Channel – I’ve never missed watching the Parade for over 60 years in a row (attending in person several times). Plus were are suppose to get our first snow of the season tonight.

  4. Sounds like our new year’s evening will be similar to yours. Warm house while the wind howls outside, neighbors setting off fireworks will be about
    the most exciting thing in this neighborhood. Fine with me.

  5. I usually celebrate New Year’s Eve by going to bed at my usual time, waking up when everyone in the neighborhood is yelling “Happy New Year” (and, in my previous neighborhood, shooting off assorted firearms), and then going back to sleep again. 🙂 I’m really enjoying my new neighborhood (this is my second winter here), where people just do the yelling without the firearms.

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