For most of my kid-hood New Year’s Eves, my folks would go over to the neighbors’ for several rousing hours of card-playing. This was really not too different from any other Friday or Saturday night, actually. Anyway, they’d be playing Euchre. I’ve mentioned that card-game before. It is a trick-taking competition with Jacks being the high cards. It is usually played with four people…two teams of two. If you take all five tricks by yourself…”going alone”…you get four points. You also are required to yell, at the top of your lungs, “EUCHRE!!!!” is you achieve this feat. Around our neighborhood, you were more likely to hear “EUCHRE!!!!” than “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” In fact, we had a neighbor named Barney who would stand on his front steps as he went off to work in the morning and holler “EUCHRE!!!!” just for fun. We didn’t need a neighborhood rooster. We had Barney.
While my parents were gone, my grandma would stay with me. We’d always make a run at midnight. We didn’t always make it. At 10:30 p.m., Guy Lombardo and The Royal Canadians would appear on our tiny, black and white TV screen. The orchestra was performing at someplace called The Waldorf-Astoria. As a child, I thought that was a planet in the solar system. Probably made out of lettuce. I wasn’t too bright. Since the show was live, that meant they played Auld Lang Syne and showed the big ball dropping in Times Square at 11:00 p.m. Wisconsin time. An hour early! For that next 60 minutes my grandma and I would eat lefse and M&M cookies while playing Yahtzee and Go Fish. If we actually were able to stay awake until the midnight hour, we’d toast each other with Welch’s Grape Juice in our best jelly jars. (I liked using the jelly jars because they had Yogi Bear on the sides.) We’d clink the glasses and try to sing Auld Lang Syne without the help of Guy and the guys.
It usually came out like this:
Should old acquaintance be forgot (Grandma told me “acquaintance” was like a friend.)
And never brought to mine (My what? I don’t know but MINE.)
Should old acquaintance be forgot
And days of old Lang’s sign
We had a great chicken place in town called Lang’s and run by a guy named Stub. I don’t know why they called him that and I was too afraid to ask. Anyway, I thought that last line had something to do with getting a basket of chicken. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t too bright.
For old Lang’s sign, my deer (I was thinking four-legged and furry not romantic.)
For old Lang’s sign
We’ll drink a cup of Kindness yet (I had no idea where a person could buy a bottle of Kindness or what age you had to be to imbibe.)
For old Lang’s sign.
I always thought this was a lot of fuss about a place to eat in a small-town in Wisconsin but I sang anyway.
This is the corner in Sauk City that used to be home to Lang’s Chicken. It just doesn’t smell the same around there anymore.
After the last notes faded, my grandma would send me up to bed where I’d fall asleep instantly looking quite sophisticated in my grape juice moustache.
Of course, I’m not a kid anymore and I’ve discovered there’s really no such thing as a Metamucil moustache. How do I know? Mind your own business.