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191230 December 30, 2019


Happy New Year


Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot, And Never Brought To Mind?

Tommy Towery


    For the final Lee's Traveller edition of 2019 I offer a passage from my book "When Our Heart Were Young - 50 Years Ago Today" for your consideration. The first section is the contents of the day's page back in 1963 and my return to Memphis after spending the Christmas season in Memphis. The latter part details the reflections on those memories which I made 50 years later when I wrote the book. I looked at several different versions by different artists to try to find the best version of Auld Lang Syne, and after considering all the versions I fell back to the original one I remember - the one by Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians. The poem's Scots title may be translated into standard English as "old long since" or, more idiomatically, "long long ago", "days gone by", or "old times". Consequently, "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as "for the sake of old times".This is the one I remember best from Carter's Skateland and still brings the memories of those days back to me when I hear it. Happy New Year to all my Classmates! 


December 31 (1963)

 Dec. 31 - Last day of 1963.  Had to get up and take Clozell to work.  Mother took me to the bus station at 9:00 A.M. to catch the bus for home.  I slept on and off all the way home.  Ran into snow about Athens and stayed in it.

Got home and there was already one inch of snow. Caught a bus to Bob's house.  Stayed there and up Mullin's until 5:30 when his Dad brought me home.

Checked on the dance at Bradley's.  It was still on.  -Three inches.- Grandmother didn't want me to go but I finally talked her into it.  Watched the Lee High Band in the Orange Bowl Parade at 9:00 P.M.  Made some snow cream.  Put on my new suit. -Five inches.-

Bob's car ran out of gas and broke down.  We didn't get to go. OH.  Instead watched "Operation Mad Ball" with Grandmother.  Made more snow cream. -?? inches-  Listened to old records on the radio.  1964 sneaked in on me.  It's 2:00 A.M. now.  Happy New Year!

50 Years Later (December 31, 2013)

    I looked as forward to New Year’s Eve as a senior in high school as most people did toward their senior prom. I had been gone most of the holiday season it seemed, and I knew my crowd would be at the dance at Bradley’s cafeteria when the clock struck 12 and we would be celebrating like it was in Times Square. Riding the Trailways bus home offered me a good chance to rest up so I could enjoy myself well into the wee hours of the first day of the new year. I never expected to be the victim of a bizarre freak winter snow storm.

    It was not enough to just be a snow storm; it turned out to be a major snow storm. Unbeknownst to me as I wrote my entry into the journal that night, Huntsville was the epicenter of the storm and was credited with experiencing the most snow recorded in the entire nation for the night. It also broke the record of the most snow ever recorded in the Rocket City, being 15.3 inches at midnight and when the snow finally stopped falling the next day, it was 17.1 inches deep. The record still holds today, 50 years later. 

    As noted in the journal, I did not go to the dance as planned. I did not go out of the house at all. I sat home deeply upset I could not celebrate with my friends. Instead, because of the foul weather, I was forced to stay home with my grandmother. At the time, she was 60 years old and had been without a mate since she was widowed, 22 years earlier. She had been alone for all practical purposes longer than I had been alive. Grandmother never had any plans for going out on this New Year’s night. It was probably a blessing to her to have someone in her life to see the new year in with. Without the dance-crippling snow, she would have sat home alone and probably gone to bed well before midnight. Instead, she got to spend the last New Year’s Eve she would ever spend while she still had someone living with her. Once I graduated, she was all alone, almost for the first time in her life. For as long as I could remember she had been a permanent part of my household, and had raised my brother and me as much as my mother had.

    I did not think about it much on the night it happened; I only felt sorry for myself. I had spent many New Year’s Eves with her in my early life, and though I never recorded the events, I can still write what I think happened during them. We sat and watched late night movies on TV waited for the clock to strike midnight while we ate popcorn and drank grape Kool-Aid. Those were my family’s standard special night treats for as long as I can remember. On this night in 1963, we watched it snow, and took our revenge upon the white stuff by eating as much as we could in the form of snow cream. How I would love to spend New Year’s again with her.

    Tonight, 50 years later, I am now older than my grandmother was back then. Tonight I am staying home with my wife, Sue, as we watch basketball and football games on television. There is no snow outside, but we elected to stay home rather than venture out as we have done in the past. Since we began dating, we have celebrated the New Year at private parties, and on Beale Street in Memphis, casinos in Tunica, and recently two years as guests of the Memphis Bop Club. We could have gone out tonight, nothing was stopping us, except we elected not to. We checked with our local friends and none of them were doing anything special to attract us. Tonight we watched the ballgame on TV we would have been watching live had it been a home game, and find ourselves asking why we had not jumped in the car and make a road trip to Florida to enjoy the game live. We’re not home because we are too old to go out and celebrate; we just did not find anything to make us want to get out.

    Oh, and there was no snow cream tonight, because there was no snow. Instead we snacked on Bar-B-Q nachos while we watched the ballgames. In 1963 I often enjoyed Bar-B-Q, but had never even heard of nachos. I did not have my first nacho until 1968 when I lived in the border town of Del Rio, Texas, where they were a bar snack at the Laughlin AFB Officer’s Club. At the time they were tortilla chips with slices of cheese and a slice of jalapeno peppers topping them and toasted in the oven. It was 1976 before nachos as we know them, chips covered with cheese sauce, were first sold as ballpark nachos in Arlington Stadium. I lived in Fort Worth at the time and often attended the Ranger’s games there and was one of the first fans of this dish.

    The missed New Year’s Eve celebration of 1963 was not the only one I remember missing. I never had a desire to join the crowd in Times Square, but for the four years I lived in England I always wanted to join a similar crown in Trafalgar Square in London, but could never convince my ex-wife to venture into that madness. But I have had celebrated some very good ones to offset the missed opportunities.

    My early memorable New Year’s Eves were spent at Carter’s Skateland with my skating crowd. Next I had some great times with my fraternity brothers when I was at Memphis State. I’ve already mentioned the ones I spent with Sue as being special.

    I cannot reflect on New Year’s Eves without remembering one very memorable one which will stay with me forever. It occurred on the last day of December in 1972, while I was on temporary duty with the B-52 operations in Guam. I was away from my family and it was a very trying time. The B-52 crews were involved in an operation called Linebacker II, which was the bombing missions of Hanoi and Haiphong in North Vietnam, and for the first time in the war, the bombers were being shot down and crew members were dying or becoming prisoners of war. Every day we were losing friends and acquaintances and there was no end to the missions in sight.

    Still, the permanent party assigned to Guam decided to continue with their New Year’s Eve party they had planned for themselves and their wives at the Officer’s Club. The temporary duty crews were not invited but decided to go anyway and invaded the club in mass. There was a lot of drinking and a lot of partying by people who were celebrating just being allowed to live to see the new year. It made me appreciate how blessed I was and not think about how I once again had to spend New Year’s Eve in a situation I did not plan.

     "Auld Lang Syne" poses the perplexing question of “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?”  The answer to me is very obvious; I shall ever forget my old acquaintances, especially those who died on those missions over Hanoi. 


        Memphis, TN - Sue and I had a great time attending this year's Cotton Bowl in Texas. The Memphis Tigers lost the game, but it was a wonderful experience getting to attend it.

    Even though the originals of the songs I use are on youtube, I still would like to state this Copyright Disclaimer: Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for fair use for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

    Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use. All the songs used may be purchased from Amazon.

The Fruitcake Quest

    Here are the responses I got from my question about when you last made a fruitcake.

Last Week's Name That Tune

Name That Tune

Thomas Davidson, LHS '69, "Merry Christmas Tommy and thanks for all your hard work."

1. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem - Nat King Cole 
2. Little Saint Nick - - Beach Boys 
3. The Little Drummer Boy 
4. We need a little Christmas - - Johnny Mathis 
5. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas   - Bing Crosby

Jeffrey Fussell, LHS '66, "A Merry (Little) Christmas to you as well, Tommy. This week we have:"

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” – Artist Not recognized
“Little Saint Nick” – The Beach Boys
“The Little Drummer Boy” – Harry Simeone Chorale
“We Need a Little Christmas” – Johnny Mathis
“”Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Bing Crosby

Linda Collinsworth Provost, LHS  '66, "Sorry to be so late in responding to your "little" Xmas trivia.  The holidays and house guests interfered with my music trivia fun!"

1. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem 
2. ???
3. The Little Drummer Boy 
4. ???
5. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas

This Week's Name That Tune Group

Name That Tune


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Fruit Cake traditions

Johnny Roberts 
LHS ‘66

    I want to report that the tradition of Fruit Cakes is alive and well in my family, with one major exception. Our tradition is Fruit Cake COOKIES. 
My mother passed her recipe on to my wife and my sisters.  In fact, we just made our annual batch of cookies yesterday. Our Christmas season would not be the same without those cookies. Merry Christmas to the Lee family. 

Subject:    Christmas Letter
Linda Collinsworth Provost
LHS  '66

    T. Tommy; I sure enjoyed your newsy Xmas letter!!  You have such a fun life.  What's the going rate for your autograph, Mister Television Star?



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