New Years Eve Party
The countdown to my parents 1959 New Years Eve party had begun. On the cusp of the space age my parents prepared for a new years Eve Party that would send them soaring into the world of tomorrow.
1960 was just hours away.
My parents, like most suburban couples, enjoyed entertaining. But this was company unlike my standard family get-together’s, which had more to do with genealogy than congeniality. Neither relative nor neighbor, they were my parent’s friends, not mine.
Here was a constellation of adults mysteriously visible only at night, making appearances at certain times of the year and certain days of the week. Not withstanding the funny hats and loud noisemakers, this gathering was for mature audiences only.
This was no pin-the-tail-on-the donkey- ring –around- the –rosy- Simon –Says- kind of affair.
Strictly Adults, it was a party strictly off-limits to me.
Last Minute Rehearsals
As my father raced about giving last-minute checks of the Ronson silver plated lighters making sure the wicks were high enough, and Mom unloaded the last clean glasses from the GE dishwasher, my brother Andy and I kept a look out for the arrival of our guests.
Our faces pressed against the frosty picture window, we waited in watch for the convoy of cars carrying the party company that would soon appear at the top of our snowy suburban block. The clanking sound of chains and studs on snow tires would be heard before we spied a single car.
Along with my brother, I was excluded from the main festivities. After a brief walk-on, long enough for cheeks to be pinched and hair tousled, we were vanquished to our bedrooms. The show would go on without us; we were to wait in the wings until we got our cue, to reappear for the third act, the big countdown to the New Year.
Party Time Rules
Earlier that evening Andy and I had a run through of the company bathroom rules.
Once Mom brought out the fancy perfumed soaps and beautifully embroidered monogrammed terry towels, it was our cue- they were strictly were off-limits to us.
If we had to use the bathroom while the party was in progress we were to carry out towels from our rooms to the bath and back again. We were forbidden to touch the 12 delicate pink guests soaps. I would stare longingly those plump little heart-shaped bars each with a rose design molded in the middle, nestled on a Limoge dish.
In all the years of trotting out those eternally pristine soaps, I don’t think they were ever touched by guests either.
The Party Begins
The future seemed frosty as a blast of cold air greeted us as each guest arrived.
At the first sound of a doorbell ringing, like some Pavlovian response, Andy and I scurried into hiding like some frightened mice. Despite our protestations on being excluded from the party, the truth was we were both painfully shy and really didn’t need much coaxing to stay out of their hair. After our perfunctory meet and greet once the company arrived, we were vanquished until midnight.
But the lure of the forbidden world, the tantalizing smell of new and exotic foods, seemed irresistible and drew us out of our bedrooms. We stealthily slithered down the hall way to get a worm’s eye glimpse of the festivities.
My eyes like my brothers were focused on the drama being played out direct from the intimate living room of my house on fashionable Western Park Drive, a spectacle that could easily compete with TV or the movies.
Watching the spectacle from the sidelines, listening to the sounds and laughter, was like a guided tour through an exhibition of what adulthood might look like for me in twenty years, my own world of tomorrow..
The universe was changing for the night. This was a world in which I played a tertiary role. As a four-year old used to being in a starring role I was stuck backstage, a mere walk on player, summarily called for to appear, just as summarily dismissed.
I who felt chosen, whose life revolved around Moms just as in equal measure I was sure hers revolved around mine, suddenly found Mom spun out of orbit into her own world, a different galaxy, one that didn’t include me.
Even dressed in my kids glamorous mink stole, puffing on kiddie puff puff cigarettes, I was way out of my league.
The glowing house and the beaming guests all so shimmering, glittering out dazzled me.
A Hair Raising Good Time
The gals, fresh from the beauty salon were set to have a hair-raising good time.
Their collective teased hair a colossal cacophony of colors, spun like great puffs of cotton candy, an homage to Clairol, the first name in hair color who were the proud sponsors of the Guy Lombardo show.
Coming or going it was an eye filling picture, flirty bows, back and front, dresses of midnight magic in velveteen whimsy, merged with heavenly, billowing rayon chiffon, fancied bodices in shimmering acetate competed with figure hugging sheaths in crepe and Shantung.
Underneath it all, a galaxy of girdles, firming with femininity, girdles with magic controls, to mold, hold, and control, gently assuring social security.
While hips were subdued, waists whittled and tummies tightly kept in check, bosoms were lavishly displayed, generously arranged, poised like missiles for take off in their bras.
With glowing faces shiny with pink pancake makeup, eyebrows deftly penciled in, their eyes as if smudged with crayolas in iridescent jewel tones of turquoise and sea green, the girls hotly debated and exchanged sizzling party recipes; fondues were scrutinized, zippy dips and dunks dissected, and potato chips pondered-with or without ridges.
Heavy trading went on, swapping a cherished Kraft TV Theatre clam dip recipe, for a new twist on Lipton’s California dip,
Men smelling of Vitalis and Lavoris were trim in tapered slimming Continental suits. Suddenly they weren’t someone’s Dad who drove a dowdy De Soto but a man about town behind the wheel of an Austen Healy or an Astor Martin.
Puffing on their Cuban cigars, dressed in cone-shaped cardboard party hats embellished with glitter feathers and ruffled crepe paper fringe, the men discussed politics.
On the cusp of a new decade we were ready to blast off into the New Frontier of the ‘60s leaving grandfatherly Old-father-time Eisenhower in the dust. Suddenly the promise of young men vying for his job was on everyone’s mind. And no more so than the young Senator from Massachusetts John Kennedy, the hottest democratic card in the race.
The biggest day circled on the upcoming 1960 calendar would come in November when the US would go to the polls to choose the president who would lead the US into the future- the fabulous promise of the 1960s.
The future looked very hazy to me as the room filled with blue smoke.
After a quick meet and greet, with stinging eyes I retreated from the haze into the quiet seclusion of my parents bedroom. Stifling a yawn, I stretched out in the darkened room on the cool satiny bedspread, nestling in the heavy pile of coats and fedora hats that had been tossed their earlier by the guests. Glamorous Mink coats with labels from I J Fox, Stein and Blaine, fancy monograms in contrasting color stitched onto the lining, either first name or initials. Silky smooth, beautiful linings-vivid cerise or orange brocade or gold lame with matching scarf from the lining to complete m’ ladys look.
Stretched out on the cool satiny bed in my parents bedroom, I marveled how even the beds got dolled up in their company finest, dressed up in fancy quilted satin bedspread instead of their everyday chenille.
Hibernating under the pile of coats, a tangle of dark brown ranch minks, luxurious beaver, Persian lamb and camels hair, not a single respectable republican cloth coat among them, I dozed off engulfed by smells of loose face powder, and a mélange of cloying floral perfume.
Stay Tuned for Remembrance of New Years Eve Past Pt. III
- Remembrance of New Years Eve Past Pt I (envisioningtheamericandream.wordpress.com)
- Remembrance of New Years Eve Past Pt III (envisioningtheamericandream.wordpress.com)