1475 Broadway – Happy New Year!
I spent plenty of New Year’s Eves babysitting as a teenager. These were good babysitting jobs, sitting for nice people who left snacks out for you on the kitchen counter and had a newer TV than Mom and Dad’s at home. I started babysitting when I was eleven after I had taken a course, and my sister and I had a good thing going with several jobs, so that when one of us was busy, the other would get booked. So for a few years there, I was always babysitting on New Year’s Eve. This meant that after the kids I was sitting were in bed, that I would watch TV, and sometimes struggle to stay awake until as late as 3 in the morning. This must have been the time when I became a specialist in late night television. It meant I was always alone on New Year’s Eve, so I never understood what the celebrations the adults were having were like. I was just sitting watching the TV and eating chips.
One show I always watched was Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve.
Before the era of my babysitting, I used to spend New Year’s Eve at one of my Grandparent’s and we would stay up late to watch the New Year in. Usually my Grandma would have gone to bed and my Grandpa Stewart would stay up and wait the New Year in with us. Then it was a ‘Happy New Year’ to both us girls with a kiss and a hug, he would draw the curtains in the lounge and then he was off to bed.
Even then we watched Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve. On the west coast here, I think they played it at a later time to coincide with our midnight. It wasn’t til I was older when I realized it wasn’t live. Someone explained to me that the New Year had already arrived in New York because they were in a different time zone. There was nothing I could do about it. Times Square was this famous place with a lot of flashing lights, where the ball dropped down. I just assumed it was held there, because Times Square had something to do with time, and therefore the New Year. I didn’t realize it was called that because of the One Times Square, which was 1475 Broadway, the building built for the New York Times newspaper.
When I knew I was going to New York, I had wanted to go running and I was under the impression that the city that never sleeps was going to have sidewalks full of people all the time. I normally went for a run early anyway, and I wanted to run through Times Square when there was nobody in it. I had been in New York a day already and I hadn’t even got a glimpse of Times Square yet. So on Dec 8 at about 5.30am I set out on a run through Manhattan that took me right through Times Square when there was just me, and maybe three other people that I passed. It was a fairly chilly Sunday morning, and I was again alone viewing Times Square, but it was right in front of me and I was running right through it. All those years watching Times Square on the telly, and here I was, and I had it almost all to myself. I was thinking seeing the real thing should count for at least a couple of New Year’s Eves.
Happy New Year Everyone. Best Wishes to you all for 2014.
Photos by Wendy Stewart
This is a work of creative nonfiction; it contains no composite characters and no names have been changed. I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them, but I have taken some storytelling liberties, due to my interpretation of events, fading memory, lack of time machine, and need to cherry-pick some memories over others in order to express my thoughts within the story.