Sunday, December 18, 2016
My wife’s uncle Fred owned a bar in Hagerstown years ago, and up against the front wall sat a juke box. I don’t know if anyone has a juke box anymore, since you can listen to about anything you want to hear on your cell phone, but back then you could put a quarter in the slot and listen to three songs. I think towards the end of the juke box era, (and probably one of the things that contributed to people listening to music on their cell phones,) they raised the price to a quarter for one song. I also think when you had to pay a quarter for one people paid a little more attention to their selections.
A man came in about once a week and took out the quarters and split them with Fred, and sometimes he would put a new record or two in the line-up. The juke box had a mixture of some old and new country, and some old and new rock and roll. I thought it needed more rock and roll, but a lot of the more mature patrons thought it needed more country. Fred didn’t really care, as long as somebody kept putting quarters in the machine. He used to say “Different strokes for different folks,” which helped explain why he kept different brands of beer in the cooler and different brands of cigarettes in the cigarette machine.
Since I worked as a bartender, and spent some leisure time on the other side of the bar, I learned to enjoy some of the old country music, but I’m not sure some of the patrons ever came to appreciate the new rock and roll.
I’m sure different people still enjoy different things. Take 2016, for instance. I imagine Donald Trump will have fonder memories of it than will Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. The people that hit the $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot probably thought it turned out okay, as did Bill Gates, who was the year’s and the world’s richest man with $75 billion.
It turned out to be a pretty good year for Cubs fans, but not so good for Harambe, who discovered that just sitting in a pen minding your own business can be fatal under some circumstances. I’ve heard people say the election in 2016 was the best we’ve ever had, and I’ve also heard people who are convinced it was the worst we’ve ever had. Whether it was the best or the worst, or somewhere in between remains to be seen. I prefer to think that while our choices were the worst ever, I’m more afraid they may only turn out to be the worst so far.
From a personal standpoint, I’ve had better years. I met my wife and started my business in 1974. That was a pretty good year. There have been years along the way when I got married, had children, had grandchildren, bought a home, made a profit, and wrote a book.
But in 2016, we lost a sister and a sister-in-law to cancer. Our brother’s cancer reoccurred, and my wife lost 3 months to an illness the doctors couldn’t diagnose. I had a stroke, and Roy Johnson’s service station on Main Street in Hagerstown closed.
Trying to look on the brighter side, I googled “good things that happened in 2016.” My best advice to everyone would be “don’t do it.” Sure, the wild tiger population increased, and the Juno spacecraft made it to Jupiter, but other than that, it’s pretty slim pickings.
I don’t doubt that some people will look back on 2016 with great fondness, and on a personal level, some people may have had a good year, but overall, I’m ready to say goodbye to 2016, and good riddance.
Happy New Year 2017, and welcome.