A tribute to an era gone but not forgotten, where clown (water) guns terrorized children and small animals. And the coming of age of an internationally obscure netizen.
New Year's Eve 1971: Merriment, mirth and chocolate cake
I didn't know about any clown-shaped water guns in 1971. However, I came across all the pictures I took with my trusty Kodak Instamatic 104 camera*, and I just have to share some of them with complete strangers on the Internet. I also figured this is as good a place as any to start rambling.
I have to point out that the only person wearing a party hat was my 82-year-old grandfather, although my brother did pose with a noisemaker for the "title" picture (which of course was out of focus). I will just tell you what is written on the wall, so you won't have to get extra eye wrinkles squinting at the photograph. It says: 1971. Happy New Year. You will also note that there are sufficient party hats for all the evening's attendees. My brother and I may have put them on later, but my memory is very dim on this point. I've decided that we did, in fact, put on our party hats, so that our grandfather could regain some of his dignity.
I learned about title pictures from my Mom, who, in the days before scrapbooking, made photo albums and would prefer an actual photo that would serve as the title for a section rather than writing it in herself. She saved the writing for amusing captions, especially under baby pictures. My baby pictures in particular. I have just made a note to scan in the appropriate section of my Baby Book with the amusing captions for a later installment.
As you can see, after a perfunctory New Year's toast (where you can actually see my grandfather smiling in a photo, if you look really hard in the background), Mom and Dad escaped to a more adult party with some friends (one can only assume at this point that there was some great to-do with the Northern Virginia Jewish Theater Crowd - but since my parents weren't fond of liquor, and were completely oblivious to the entire drug culture springing up around them, I can't imagine anything wild or crazy occurring at their fétes). The photo on the right is of my mother handing a hat (and not a small furred creature) to one of their friends. She has an expression of a deer caught in the headlights. You'll just have to take my word for it. The expression is there, just underneath the black bar. I always wanted to put black bars on photographs, I just thought it was going to be on something pornographic. Anyway, that's my mom and 2 of her friends. This left my brother and me in the care of my taciturn grandfather, "Grandpa".
After engaging my brother in an athletic game of chess, where I assume Grandpa won (I don't know that my brother ever beat my grandfather at chess, but Grandpa stopped spotting him queens after a while), we would play other games (which may have included slaughtering me at chess - if so, I've blocked it out) and watch whatever was on TV that evening. We had our choice between Lawrence Welk or Dick Clark until the Ball dropped in Times Square, which we would also watch. For some reason, at the stroke of midnight, my brother and I would run madly through the house tooting horns, spinning noisemakers and turning on all the lights. This must have been because our father was out of the house. I doubt that he would have sanctioned the usage of all that additional electricity if he were there. Then shortly thereafter, we would be sent to bed.
The preparations for this gala evening took at least the entire day. I was
just 13 on New Year's Eve in 1971 (and if you're clever, you can figure out
how old I am now), and I was allowed to do cooking in the kitchen with minimal
supervision. I think I had already received my Cooking Badge from the Girl
Scouts - the cooking badge certifies that you won't poison your family accidentally
by making them dinner. So I got to bake the sheet cake and cupcakes for that
evening's festivities. I think the cake was the best part of the evening. Chocolate
cake with chocolate icing. Yum.
There would be some competition regarding who would get the privilege of hanging
the crepe paper. I would generally win out, because I was tall enough to reach
the ceiling if I stood on a table, and my brother was often engaged in watching
the football game (I think it was football) with my dad when the ritual Hanging
of the Crepe Paper was occurring.
When I was younger than 13, I would always be amazed that my parents would prefer to leave for outside parties instead of staying home with us. Nowadays, I can barely be bothered to stay awake to watch the ball drop. Not after that big Y2K let-down. You can wake me after the apocalypse.