One of Many Gatherings at the Co-Op

Sometimes this Fifty Five Is The New thing is hard….sometimes there’s not a lot to say and other times what I want to say sounds more like a rant than a comparative. Oh well.

Having said all that, what could Fifty Five be inspiring me to right now?  Memories of the past? Hopes for the future? Observations of the present?

At the moment I am sitting up (late as usual), writing and listening to the Saturday night revelers making their way down the steps from the top of the hill to our street.  There are about 168 steps, on either side of what I call “Vertical Park” because the grasses, plants and trees grow almost straight up the very steep, almost vertical hill.  It must be true what they say about God watching over drunks and children, because I’ve yet to hear either of them have a mishap….although in the case of those into their cups, I doubt they’d feel it anyway.

No judgment call here; I’ve had my moments under the influence and will probably tie on a few more before my days are done.  I went through various phases with booze.  In early high school everybody was getting some trusted elder to go get Boons’ Farm or Ripple from the State Store.  Philly at the time only sold their wine and hard spirits at State Stores. I haven’t been back east in quite a while, so don’t know how it is now but back then it was a big deal to get stocked up before the weekend; nobody wanted to wait until Monday for their Friday intoxicant!

My parents liked to share good times and beer with a few friends.  They’d get together come over about once or twice a month to play Pinochle; Herr’s Potato Chips and Pretzels, Pizza and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer in dark brown bottles for their evening fare.  Us young kids would have already gotten into our p.j.s and were allowed to watch t.v. in the living room until bed time at 9 pm.

Mom, Dad and their friends never got what I’d call “drunk.”  They got “merry.”  Nobody woke up the next day with hang-overs that I recall.

I remember one New Years Eve they threw a party, complete with games and food.  We were allowed to stay up ’til midnight; not a problem for yours truly….an insomniac since forever.  Mom made these little cream cheese and jelly sandwiches that I love to this day. When the “golden moment” struck, we donned coats and ran out onto the front porch, banging pan lids and popping poppers to ring in the New Year.  After that, mom herded her brood up the steps to bed, sending us to dreaming after prayers, a kiss to the forehead and a “Good night and God bless you.”

I lay awake for a while, listening to the strains of Guy Lombardo’s Orchestra.  Back then he was still alive and playing dance standards as a follow-up to the indispensable “Auld Lang Sine.” I could hear Mom and Mrs. Leaver clearing the table while Dad and Mr. Leaver sat and talked football.

Most New Years’ mornings we’d be up fairly early for church, but one particular time we missed church.  In a matter of fact, we almost didn’t wake up at all! Apparently there was a gas leak during the night. Nobody noticed because I guess we were all asleep, until one of our neighbors knocked on the door to see if we were okay because it was late in the day and none of us were up and about.

I don’t know what happened, can’t even recall who got us outside or how they did it. I do recall being very, very, very groggy and then suddenly I was outside on the front porch with the rest of my family and we were all being told to breathe, breathe, breathe.   They aired out the whole house, got the leak fixed and made sure we were all okay before letting us back in the house.  I may not recall which year that happened, but will never forget the experience!

To this day I am hypersensitive to gas leaks and religious about making sure gas lines are in proper working order. Whenever I move, I have the service come over and do a complete inspection; and even have them come out every couple of years just on general principle.

I’ve held a few good parties in my time; my first husband’s 21st birthday – complete with a cake made into a replica of a Liquor Control Board card, our several-annual Beggars’ Banquets which were held in the summers of the mid-late ’70s.  Friends would come from all over the country to converge on Ridley Creek State Park and spend the day doing bar-b-que, music, games and fun.

The Press Club parties were always a lot of fun, in the Hollywood-Meets-Down Home kind of way….always lots of fun, trivia, memories, music and food.  The Co-Op had some of the best gatherings ever….proof positive that booze isn’t a necessity in having a good time.

These days I don’t partake in drink too often.  I used to not get hang overs, now I do….one of aging’s side effects, I guess.  Hang overs are a great incentive for slowing down. On the occasion that I do lift a cup it’s more than likely bourbon, neat and honest.  Those fruity, trendy, don’t taste like alcohol drinks aren’t to my liking because there’s no way to tell how much has been consumed and how it’s going to make you feel until it’s too late.

My main preference for intoxicant is simple….but it is also my preference for medicinal purposes….
I prefer Cannabis.  I see no problem with a person wanting to relax, get mildly intoxicated and feel better. To me that’s a medicinal use, every bid as much as using cannabis for treatment of nausea, and there are none of those booze hang-overs. Unlike those folks waddling down the steps at Verticle Park, singing “Feelings” at the top of their lungs and who will, no doubt, have a case of the sweating bed spins when the afternoon makes its way ‘cross their yardarms.

Hey bro, I been there….and here’s to you.

So for today/tonight  Fifty Five Is The New Party….a little tamer, but a lot easier to remember in the morning!

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