New Years, Good Years

Somewhere in time, New Year’s parties are still going on, reminding me that with each new year, I am just a little bit older, with memories of past celebrations on the Hill. My first recollections of New Year’s festivities are ones with family, usually with a festive dinner and more than a few uncles, aunts, cousins and my immediate family celebrating. I still have the copper cowbell which we rang immediately at midnight New Year’s Eve, which I did again for this New Year. It is noisy, and should frighten away any number of bad spirits, along with the nearest neighbors, and any dogs or cats in the vicinity.New Year’s day dinner was held either at our house on Queen Anne, at my Uncle Gene’s home in Rainier Valley (later on Beacon Hill), or over in Bremerton at my Uncle Richard Hull’s home. There were rarely less than ten of us, and I was nine years old when I first got to sit at the adult’s table. There were always traditional dishes, either turkey or a huge “Dogpatch” ham, mashed or scalloped potatoes, salads which included just about every possible raw vegetable, Brussel sprouts or cauliflower with a homemade cheese sauce, and desserts to cause a fasting saint to recant. Aunt Margaret’s Christmas pie often made its appearance at this time, depending on whether we went there or they (Gene and Margaret) came to our house or Bremerton.

In the 1960s, as family grew up and began to go in separate ways, the family traditions were sometimes supplanted with visits to co-worker’s homes. Eventually, there were too many of us to gather in any one home, until my sister’s marriage, when she began living in a house that we all fit in. I can still remember, in 1957, coming back from Bremerton to find our house on 6th North had developed a leak which came through a corner of the dining room, caused by a failure in the tarpaper roofing around the chimney. This damaged some items of my Mom’s, but was added to by the failure of the furnace, and snow which impeded immediate repairs. The only heat we had came from the kitchen oven, which was tolerable, but the upstairs was always cold in winter and too hot in summer.