New year not new year without black-eyed peas

By Lynn Moncus: QCS columnist

As always, each holiday brings fond memories of the past and gives opportunities to recall history. Although our family didn’t get as carried away over New Year’s celebrations as we did over Christmas, we recognized that special time as we put up new calendars and ate our black-eyed peas.

Many of you will recall when we had the big water tower downtown and the large fire whistle that sat atop one of its arms. Everyone knew when we had a fire and also knew when New Year’s Day arrived because it resounded throughout the area. Often some of the trainmen would hang a train whistle and let it blow for several minutes to join in the din of “ringing in the New Year.” Few people had any fireworks, but several were known to shoot their guns at the same time.

When we lived in the courthouse, we certainly knew when midnight arrived because we couldn’t talk without shouting until the noise ceased. We might or might not have a few guests in for the evening in order to play games and visit until that magic hour came about. At times, we were just moving into the sheriff’s residence, as Dad would take over his new duties at that time. On other occasions, we had just moved out and were elsewhere in town or in the canyons. No matter where we were, we forced our eyes to remain open until we knew another year was under way.

Perhaps the most exciting year was in 1939 when we had just moved into the old sheriff’s residence and had spent the night there, only to be awakened on New Year’s Day to the news we had a jail break during the night. Someone had inadvertently left a saw blade or two behind and a couple of prisoners took advantage of their time to saw their way through a few bars in order to gain a little freedom. That certainly was a different way for the little girl from the canyons to begin life in town and for Dad to remain unflustered as he captured the culprits so they could serve out their time.

Many years later, I was privileged to spend New Year’s Eve in Paris, but I didn’t find that nearly as exciting as those years in the courthouse or as warm and comfortable as the other years at home. We watched fireworks from our hotel room and saw a lot of people milling around in the streets, but I was homesick and ready to hear that fire whistle.

Although I have been known to get caught up in the popular trend of making New Year’s Resolutions, I sort of outgrew that at an early age and just learned to take each day as it comes while enjoying each year and looking forward to the next. Naturally, some years have better than others, but all in all, they have been good and will continue to be as long as I’m around to celebrate each day.

Let’s celebrate at midnight, eat our black-eyed peas and look forward to 2006. Aggie and I will be awake and will hear some fireworks after having watched various celebrations on television. We’ll eventually change the calendar and will finally get into the habit of writing 2006 while wondering what happened to all those other years. We wish you a very Happy New Year!