THE IDLE AMERICAN: Times ‘Squared’ on New Year’s Eve

Published 6:59 am Saturday, January 20, 2018

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury


Officials charged with safekeeping and maintaining order at Times Square in New York City on New Year’s Eve must have been sweating, even if the weather outside was frightful.

The mass of humanity–estimated to number in excess of one million people–surely could have been forgiven had they chosen to celebrate indoors. But, when the role was called up yonder in the “Big Apple,” they were “there.” Critics contend, however, that all were NOT accounted for, nor did they wish to be.

The planners groaned at the unlikely prospect of the ball failing to drop. Except for the World War II years of 1942 and 1943, the ball has dropped annually since 1907. To make sure it did this year–at least rumors claimed–they hired Dallas Cowboy Dez Bryant to drop it.

Uncle Mort, my 105-year-old kin, remembers how some West Texans tried to mimic the NYC celebration, but failed miserably. Most alleged participants might prefer blocking the 1960s boondoggle from their memory.

“When pumpkin farming took hold, they didn’t have a tall building in Floydada from which to drop the season’s biggest pumpkin. They had to settle for an old three-story building that still stands there,” he explained.

Mort says the idea looked good on paper, but they learned with that one drop of a pumpkin “held over” two months after harvested makes messes, particularly when it explodes and stains ladies’ “Sunday go to meeting” dresses and “suited men” with ties on. Alas, I investigated Mort’s claim, and found no one in Floyd County who remembers this event. In the 1980s, however, they started “Punkin Days,” and for 35 years, the event has drawn thousands of people to Floydada on the second Saturday of October. (It should be mentioned that Mort isn’t always much good at separating “what was” from “what might have been.” Perhaps he got this story mixed up with the ill-fated “turkey drop” on the TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati.)

Noticing that 63 Sam’s Club stores are closing, Mort wonders if it might be time to consider some “little box” businesses.

“Maude and I don’t shop often at ‘big box’ places,” he said. “We wind up eating bigger portions than needed, and we feel badly about throwing food away.” He figures eating less would cure many of the nation’s dietary woes. “Maude already has us using smaller plates; it took me a few weeks to get used to it, but here lately, I’ve even skipped seconds.”

Mort thinks “little box” stores might even carry miniature toys, none of which requires batteries. “I’m thinking those little black and white Scottie dogs mounted on magnets might make a comeback,” he said.

He admits, though, that children might yawn at the prospect of a toy that doesn’t have batteries, moving parts or produce noise.

In our town (Burleson, TX), population remains much on the increase. It’s approaching 50,000, with no end in sight. Land–the stuff Mort often mentions “they ain’t making any more of”–is priced accordingly.

One new residential area, with homes priced between $300,000 and $400,000, has tiny yards–front and back–as well as cramped driveways. At least one has a side entry garage that calls for several forward/reverse movements when entering or exiting. (Exceptions include golf carts and Coopers.)

For such high-end neighborhoods, it is going to require more than tall fences to make good neighbors, particularly if there’s barely enough room between houses to build fences.

On a positive note: Seems to me there are several good movies out, including Darkest Hour, The Post, Wonder, The Greatest Showman and Victoria and Abdul.

I’m reminded of a high school chum who was a movie theater usher back in the day. Women’s hats often blocked views of patrons sitting behind them.

A sign posted at the entrance solved the problem: “Women over age 40 need NOT remove their hats.”


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury. Face book: don newbury.