When I was a child, Mom and Dad were not “go out” type parents and for them New Year’s wasn’t important on their calendar, other than trying to remember to write the new year correctly on checks.
After I reached my teens and entered my “honky-tonkin’ ” phase, celebrating the new year and saying goodbye to the one headed into history became a must-do. I have many wonderful memories of New Year’s Eves at the Night Life, the Arena, and the Seahorse. There was a year a large group of friends gathered at Kingsport Grocery Company and I left my father’s vintage 1950s overcoat. One year on impulse a best buddy and I drove to Atlanta for New Year’s Eve and ended up at one of the better discos of the day for a live performance by Sylvester. That had to have been the mid to late 1980s, because Sylvester died in December 1988. Late for the show, Sylvester the diva arrived that night at Backstreet in a floor length fur, pushed through the crowd on the dance floor and took to the stage. And performed, best to my memory, three songs. And then exited just as dramatically. We didn’t ask for our money back — we hadn’t paid to get in.
For the next nearly 20 years, most New Year’s Eve’s were spent at Skoby’s, many with my parents. We were there Dec. 31, 1999 when half the world seemed to think technology would collapse worldwide at the stroke of 2000. We were back in 2001, which resulted in one of my favorite “fun” pictures of Dad. Always game, he’d donned the pointy hat with “Happy New Year” spelled out in glitter and secured it with the rubberband chin strap. In the picture of him and Mom she looks delighted. Dad looks like a dog not happy with his sweater. We were back again in 2002. I know, because I had a hot date — that I was willing to introduce to my parents — and the four of us shared a private room in the Orient. It was our last New Year’s Eve at Skoby’s. In 2003 I was out of town and the restaurant closed in 2004. And that presented an opportunity. In 2004 I hosted a Faux Year’s Party on Dec. 30. A lot of my friends came and my house never looked better. The idea was we could celebrate without the pressures of New Year’s Eve ... do you have a date? Who you gonna kiss at midnight? What are you going to wear? Actually, Vicki Cooper Trammell and I told everyone to dress over-the-top, but campy, like a bad episode of “The Young and the Restless” or another soap (where “casual family” gatherings include tuxedos and sequined gowns). Like an old game of “telephone,” our “over-the-top, campy” direction translated poorly into “costume party” for some revelers.Two youngsters showed up dressed as their favorite characters from “Saved by the Bell.” But that just made it all the more memorable. The next night, real New Year’s Eve, Vicki, Brad Bishop and a couple of others returned to help me binge watch Season 6, Part II, of Sex and the City. That DVD set had just been released on Dec. 28. My favorite episode of the entire series was in that batch: “Splat.”
In 2009 I spent New Year’s Eve in an RV “glamping” with friends and celebrating around a large bonfire, at a private campground. As soon as I had cell signal driving out of the mountains the next morning I had a flurry of texts from my sister Pamela telling me to call ASAP. Head aching, I did. She told me everything was going to be OK, but her husband Larry had had a heart attack overnight while they were visiting their daughter’s family in Nashville.
That, I think, was my last New Year’s Eve spent celebrating away from home. Now I usually stay in. Me and Pamela Sue Martin and Carol Lynley in their 1972 hot pants and Stella Stevens in Ernest Borgnine’s tuxedo shirt.
My big attraction the past six or eight years has been on New Year’s Day — attending Kimball Sterling’s annual New Year’s Day estates auction. This year it will be bittersweet, as the auction is devoted to the most prized collectibles from David “Doc” Berry’s estate. I allow myself one purchase at Sterling’s New Year’s Day sale. A modest one at that. I won’t be bidding on Berry’s 1935 LaSalle.
This New Year’s Day I have two added activities. I’ll be helping Mom watch: London’s New Year’s Day Parade online (if we can figure that out); and the Tournament of Roses Parade on television from Pasadena, California. My great-niece Abigail Carr left for London early Friday for a week long trip with other members of Hendesonville High School’s marching “Band of Gold.” Abbie plays alto saxophone. At about the same time our family friends, Dr. Bill and Susan Hudson were departing for California, along with the daughter and son-in-law Aubryn and Drew Street, to watch the Hudson’s twin daughters Aleah and Krissa in the Rose Parade with other members of the Dobyns-Bennett Marching Band.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve and/or Day however you wish. And be careful out there.