This is Living Stories, featuring voices from the collections of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. I'm Louis Mazé.
Each New Year brings the feeling of a clean slate and unlimited possibilities. It's a time ripe for traditions and adventures.
Evelyn Kordzik of Gillespie County recalls a tradition that needed some tweaking:
"I never will forget after I got married—of course, you know, we always enjoyed New Year's Eve. Always had a good time New Year's Eve. Sure enough, January the first, the morning the phone would ring. My dad would call, ‘Well, I think it'd be a good day to butcher a hog today. Don't you think so?' (laughter) ‘Well, okay.' It went on for a couple of years like that. Finally, I told my dad, I said, ‘Now, wait a minute. Let's not do it on January the first anymore. Let's just wait a couple of days.'"
Waco native Carol Durón remembers how her family welcomed the New Year:
"In those days, it was okay. My daddy would stand outside, you know, and fire his pistol, you know. And I used to ask my daddy, I said, ‘Daddy, what happens when—the New Year and whatever?' ‘Well,' he said, (laughs) ‘you stand out there, and when you know it's twelve midnight, you shoot.' And I said, ‘Yeah, but what happens?' He said, ‘Well, everything's at a standstill. And then the wind shifts, and then it shifts the other way.' (laughter)"
Mary Sendón of Waco explains a tasty tradition she looked forward to in her youth:
"In Italian the word for chickpea is ciceri. They're wonderful. You know, we always had those on New Year's Eve. My mother would boil them and salt them a little bit, and they'd dry out, you know, and we ate them—ate them like popcorn. And that was a New Year's Eve delicacy."
Later, Mary and her husband, Dr. Andres Sendón, loved to go on road trips together and had quite an adventure one New Year's Eve. She describes getting lost in Dallas on their way home:
"And we got down in the railroad tracks at the awfullest dives down there, and we knew we were in the wrong place. And I—we were getting a little bit uneasy. And I saw a police car parked over by the railroad track, and I said, 'Stop the car by that policeman. I'm going to ask him.' And we asked him if he could tell us how to get back on the road to Waco. He said, ‘Follow me,' and he got in his car, took us out to the road as far as where we found the sign that says to Waco. And he motioned for us to stop a minute. He got out of the car, and he said, ‘Now, there's your sign. You all be careful. This is New Year's Eve. You know, there's going to be a lot of crazy people on the road.' Well, sure enough, there were some, but didn't bother us. But while the car—the lights of the dashboard were on his badge, and I memorized his badge number. And when I got home I wrote a letter to the police department commending this man for his kindness. He was; he just went all out of his way. Well, I got a letter back from the chief of police in Dallas thanking me for that letter. He said, ‘This was a wonderful letter of recommendation.' He said, ‘I have put it in his file, but I let him read it.'"
The helpful officer's name was the same as that of the officer who was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald after the assassination of President Kennedy, and Sendón always wondered if the officers were one and the same.
Although a holiday, New Year's can be bittersweet, as it's situated toward the end of the Christmas season and brings many of us to reflect on the ups and downs of the previous year. But here's to the new year. May it bring laughter and understanding to us all.
Living Stories is heard every Tuesday on 103 point 3 FM Waco, NPR. For program transcripts or for more information about the Institute for Oral History, visit baylor.edu/livingstories.
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