So, here’s hoping it was a reasonably good year for most of you. Looking back, things always take on a less stressful aura, like it wasn’t that bad, was it? Or maybe it was. Twenty-four hours from now it’s 2012 – a new slate, a new beginning – ‘God Willing’, as my Dad would say, ‘things will be better all around’.
Yet, as I made my way around Shrewsbury today (with a side trip into Red Bank), I ran into so many people that have filled my life to overflowing in 2011 that I would be hard pressed to ask for better in 2012.
Always there is Monica at Stroker’s along with the guys (Artie, Glen and Isaiah); my dear friend Tom, newly retired and for years a member of the Board of Health with me; the gang at the Rumson/Fair Haven Bank (Stephanie, Caitlyn, Monica and Lauren Kelly – moving on to a new position, good for her – not so good for the rest of us); although, I met the new manager, John, a nice young man – a new friend in the making; the lovely people at Dean’s Market; friends working and shopping in Red Bank; a stop at Bright Star Cleaners to drop off the dry cleaning and to leave a dog bone for ‘Charlie,’ old now and not always about; Kathy and Georgie over from Fair Haven. Kisses and hugs all around. Driving home I can’t think of a thing I would change about the year now gone. At least not here in our little corner of the world.
There has been hardship for many I know with the economy so bad and unemployment at an all time high. I hold my head high when I think of the kindness and good works that come out of Red Bank and Shrewsbury. There is much yet to do in ‘sharing the wealth’ as we say, and I believe we will rise to the occasion.
Several times today as I went about my business here and there I was asked what the better half and I would be doing for New Year’s Eve. Try as I may to stifle myself I always end up telling this story.
In the early 2000s – 2003 I think – the better half secured tickets for ‘The Producers’ on New Year’s Eve. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick had opened in this play on the very night before, Dec. 30. We parked at the Little Silver station and took an early train into the city. Once there we walked up to 43rd and 9th and had a magnificent dinner at Zuni’s (a favorite restaurant of ours). Theatre people were coming and going as we ate and the atmosphere was festive and ‘entertaining’ to say the least. Walking up to 45th Street after dinner we were able to spot the BALL – poised to drop at midnight. People wished us ‘Happy New Year’ left and right.
Inside the theatre the feeling was magical – this delightful play starring the likes of Lane and Broderick and the overall excitement of the night – it seemed surreal. A special appearance was made by Mel Brooks, the author of the play (he played the judge, for those of you familiar with the play), and he brought the audience to their feet.
Coming out of the theatre we walked along with several actors that we had just seen perform – an added treat. The walk back to Penn Station was almost as much fun as the play – people (and NYC policemen and women as well) shouting ‘Happy New Year’ and giving us high fives. We didn’t even feel the chill of the night, and it was a very cold night.
There weren’t a whole lot of people on the train but the few that were on board were celebrating. On about Perth Amboy it started to snow, a light snow covering everything within minutes. As we pulled into the Little Silver train station we looked out on the most beautiful scene of cars covered in snow and snowflakes dancing at the tops of the street lights that spread over the parking lot.
At the moment we stepped off the train the whistles started blowing – it was midnight and the New Year was here. Walking over to our car we spotted a young man who had been on the train leaning against a street light, the snow falling soft all around him. Just as we got to our car the young man started whistling Auld Lang Syne. I glanced over the top of the car at the better half and said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
In the years since we have thought about going back into the city to a show on New Year’s Eve. I have to believe that some things are best left as they are – what could be better than that brilliant New Year’s Eve 2003?
Much like living here in the Red Bank-Shrewsbury area – it doesn’t get any better than this.
Happy New Year!
C.M. McLoughlin, a writer and editor from New Jersey and New York, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.