Waxing nostalgic

Ah, a new calendar, brimming with potential, awash with possibilities, stuffed full of hope and promise.

I’ve never gotten seriously caught up in New Year’s resolutions, probably due to a keen self-awareness of my weaknesses. However, I’m entering 2023 with a goal.

Its origin is in a line from my official favorite song, “He Went to Paris,” by Jimmy Buffett. This beautiful ballad says of its protagonist:

Now he lives in the islands
Fishes the pilings
And drinks his green label each day
Writing his memoirs
Losing his hearing
But he don’t care what most people say…

To be honest, however, the memoirs seed was actually planted some 35 years ago. A woman asked me to lightly edit and put into a typesetting program (for those who aren’t aware, Microsoft Word has not always been with us) the handwritten memoirs of her aging father. It was amazing, working through his stories and recollections.

The experience prompted me to present the idea to my father, who shared countless stories over the years, ranging from teasing a girl in school to napping on horseback because Flash knew the way home. To no surprise, he firmly turned down the idea.

Recently, I have increasingly found myself thinking of things I’d like to ask my parents and grandparents, all of whom are now long gone, and bemoaning the deterioration of the links between generations. So … drumroll please … my goal for 2023 is to informally compile some of my own memories and stories.

Do not expect any organization, not like in a book. It will more likely jump from one type of story to another, back and forth between decades, with only fleeting moments of possible cohesiveness.

Most importantly, I also hope my stories will prompt you to share some of your own.

You’ll do that, won’t you?

Let us begin.

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Ringing in the new year

While waiting for midnight on New Year’s Eve, I often remember a time when my brother and I tried so desperately to stay awake until the calendar flipped over.

We knew there would be fireworks, but the thing I waited to hear was the fire siren. I thought it was neat they sounded the siren at midnight on New Year’s Day.

My father was a firefighter stationed in the Greggton community recently incorporated by the city of Longview, Texas. Prior to incorporation, he was one of two full-time firefighters supported by a squad of volunteers. When a call came in, the firefighter on duty would write the address on a chalk board in the drive-through station and head out in the appropriate fire truck. The first responding volunteers would drive out any other apparatus and the remaining would drive through the station to read the address off the board … if they hadn’t intercepted a responding vehicle and simply followed it.

To get those volunteers rolling – and this is finally the point – a loud siren was sounded from the top of the water tower across the street from the station, only half a mile from our home.

It was that siren I was waiting to hear as the new year arrived. For some reason, we were lying on quilts in the den. We were told to lie down, but they couldn’t make me go to sleep.

I was going to finally hear that siren.

Just have to wait for it.

Of course, you already realize I fell asleep before midnight and did not hear it. I do not recall the first year I stayed up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, but I do remember falling asleep too early that year.


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