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Some folks were saying that 1944 was gonna bring changes. For me, those changes got an early start.
Dec. 25 had come and gone, but Mama decided to take down the Christmas decorations before the old year ended.
Now, this was as big deal at our house. We usually kept the tree up until New Year’s Day had passed.
To be honest, the living room Christmas cedar had seen better days and was shedding all over the hardwood floor.
When I carried it through the front door that Friday afternoon, more dried needles fell all over the front porch.
You know, it sure is fun putting up a fresh tree. The smell of cedar fills every room and none of the branches shed. Taking it down is a different thing entirely.
“I’ll probably be sweeping up the remnants of that thing in the middle of July,” Mama said.
As I dragged the tree across the yard, I noticed how cold it was. It always seems to be colder the day the tree comes down than the day it goes up.
I wonder why.
I’ll wager a pocketful of brownies that tomorrow’s Charlotte newspaper will have a cartoon of “Little 1944 Happy New Year” with a banner draped across one of his shoulders. He will be adorned with a stovepipe hat and, way over to one side, will be “1943” as an old man with a dial in his hand.
For most folks, 1943 had been rough. Sugar was running short, along with milk, tires and coal.
However, all of that doin’ without seems to be paying off. The war was sorta turning in favor of us and our allies now. I figured it wouldn’t be too much longer until old Hitler and Tojo would get their just rewards.
Things were quiet on Chesterfield Avenue, although school was still out for the holiday break.
That will change in a few more days. Come Monday, we will be back to the old grind. Our teachers had probably been cooking up all kinds of poems for us to memorize and new math problems to solve.
I came back in and sat by the coal heater. I was getting sleepier by the minute as I stared out the foggy window into a darkening New Year’s Eve sky.
Mama had started cooking supper.
One good thing about after Christmas is eating regular food again. I had gotten my fill of turkey, dressing and giblet gravy. Mama was fixing a nice meatloaf with mashed ’taters and cat head biscuits.
The ESSO reporter who came on the radio after the Long Ranger went off said there was a possibility we might get some snow.
Shucks, we get more “possibility” than snow. I sure wouldn’t mind getting snowbound so Mr. Williams could postpone opening school for a few more days.
Uncle Harry must’ve read my mind. He started giving me that old story about walking miles in the snow (uphill both ways) to a schoolhouse with a little pot-bellied stove in the back of the room.
Aunt Bess, who taught school in her early years, snickered at his yarn.
“Don’t let him snow you,” she said. “I’ll bet he played hooky on those snow days.”
Fred Allen’s Texaco radio show comes on tonight along with Dr. Christian. Mama says I can stay up with her to welcome in 1944.
My eyes were getting heavy, but I managed to stay awake during Dr. Christian, “presented by the makers of Vaseline Lip Ice.”
During this episode, the good doctor Paul, and his nurse, Judy Price, managed to travel through a deep snowstorm to the outskirts of River’s End so they could help a sick little girl.
After the show ended, the “Great Colossus of the South” (WBT Radio in Charlotte) switched to a live broadcast in New York City for “the sweetest music this side of heaven.”
Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians were playing in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel ballroom on Park Avenue, where folks were waltzing away the minutes to midnight.
Well, I dozed off and didn’t remember too much until Mama shook me.
“Happy New Year,” she yelled before giving me a hug. You could hear a few automobile horns blasting away as midnight motorists passed our house.
I was awake, but to be honest, I didn’t feel much different than when it was still 1943.
I think it’s time to go to bed.
I still have a bunch of cans to flatten out in the morning to carry to the scrap collection place.
The Boy Scouts are about to launch another old newspaper drive and tomorrow afternoon, the ladies down at the First Presbyterian Church will meet to knit scarves and socks for our soldiers overseas.
I had no way of knowing it then, but 10 years in the future, I’d be one of those soldiers.
I welcomed in 1954 at the Ernie Pyle Theater in Tokyo, Japan.
Yes sir, a bunch of stuff can happen in a decade.