The New Year’s holiday is such a sad little caboose at the end of my favorite time of the year that no topic for this week’s column could get my wheels turning. There I was, trying to keep my eyes open in a post-headache, post-Excedrin haze, slowly flipping my way through our digital archives searching in vain to find something, anything, I could write about from various New Year’s papers. That’s when I realized that, for the third year straight, I wasn’t going to be able to find an ad in our archives for “Malt Duck,” something which I would have been too young to drink during New Year’s in the early ‘80s, but which I’d kill for a six pack of now. Then I officially bottomed out when I started tinkering with writing a whole column about all the different year-end recipes for cabbage that the “The Amish Cook” printed in our paper.
Just as I was no longer able to forestall my gag reflex at the every sight of another sauerkraut casserole recipe, I realized I couldn’t ignore the one obvious topic I kept coming across: babies. It’s a topic I’ve put off before mostly because I get a little nervous zeroing in directly on local folk. We all went through awkward phases but most of us were lucky enough to never have had any of that awkwardness captured in the Journal Gazette or Times-Courier. For those of you who did have your awkward moment and/or look frozen forever in the paper, you certainly wouldn’t dream that you’d wake up one Saturday morning all these years later to open the paper and be confronted with reprinted proof that at one time you had sideburns or that you were all disheveled after giving birth. Sadly, that’s about to happen to a few of you today.
For I bring to you not one but two photos of New Year’s babies of the past: from the Jan. 2, 1981, Journal Gazette, Pete and Pamela Justice with new arrival Amanda Kay; and then from Jan. 3, 2000, Michael and Katrina Taylor who had the second “Millennium” baby in the state, Justin Michael Taylor, by a matter of seconds. That’s a photo I included only because reporter Rob Stroud mentioned during our weekly news meeting that there must have been quite a frenzy at Sarah Bush in those wee hours around the turn of the Millennium, even though Seinfeld taught us that the real turn of the Millennium was actually 2001. But hey, Seinfeld can’t teach us everything, right?
So let’s start with my good friends The Justices, and I call them “friends” to hopefully assuage any heartburn caused at the breakfast table at being confronted with memories of your we’re-still-holding onto-the-‘70s beards and flannels. Turns out their bundle of joy arrived on their way to their anniversary dinner, which for some reason was going to be had at Little Mexico. Look, what I know about pregnancy you could fit easily into a mouse’s hat but I’d think that attempting a Mexican feast that close to your due date might be a little bit risky, although at that stage of pregnancy I’m pretty sure you’re eager to get the show on the road.
Ends up being a moot point anyway as it turns out they didn’t even make it to Little Mexico, instead barreling their Dodge Charger at high speed to the hospital, crashing through wooden barricades while the local police followed in hot pursuit, sirens blaring, and while someone furiously picked a banjo . OK, maybe the early ‘80s wasn’t like an episode of the Dukes of Hazzard, but it’s nice to dream, right?
Incidentally, I realized at the last second that their daughter and I would be roughly the same age now. Not to sound like a creeper, which if there’s any way to come off like a creeper it’s to say exactly that first, but I found her graduation photo in the archives and wouldn’t you know it, Amanda, if you’re reading this, we went to school at the same time. I think. I would have been a senior when you would have been a freshman, and you know how we upperclassmen were. Hey, the drummer in our garage band was a freshman too and he was alright; I’m sure you were too.
As for my friends the Taylors, their adventure also involved having their New Year’s Eve dinner plans interrupted, although what dangerous meal they felt like having isn’t said. Given the time frame I’d guess it was what…the Little Caesars pizza station in the K-Mart? Maybe that place over in Charleston that was open for a hot minute that sold the hoagies and grinders? Whatever it was I’m sure they used their dial up modem to cancel their reservations before hopping in the Tercel and discussing which character from “The Phantom Menace” to name their kid after. Hey Justin, wherever you are now, you’re real lucky your parents didn’t name you “Ric Ole” or “Captain Tarples,” or, given the year, “Blair Witch” or “Morpheus.”
And speaking of “wherever you are,” you’re probably inching up on your 18th birthday around now, aren’t you? Yowza. And to think I felt old having friends in grad school who were born in 1987 and who looked at me all puzzled when I tried to explain VCRs to them. If I showed you a VHS tape you’d probably try to eat it.
Although, if my theory holds true that every generation rejects the one just before them but thinks the one that came before that one is totally rad, then that means you can tell those older Millennial dorks you’re going to end up working with in a few years that they can shove their food allergies and digital entitlement because you’re too busy embracing the cool stuff you’re picking up from my generation. Ahh…now that’s just the kind of perspective I needed to cheer up my New Year’s. Thanks, you crazy kids!
"The Throwback Machine" is a weekly feature taking a look back at items of interest found in the JG-TC online archives. For questions, suggestions, or his "Song of the Day" recommendation, contact him at email@example.com.