Friday, December 27, 2013

Three things I'd want to do on New Year's Eve

See some vaudeville. There's an early show at the Orpheum. The unlikely headliners are Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy. Between the newsreels and the dancers and the comics, they tell the story of how Helen learned to speak despite being deaf and blind since infancy.

Hear some music. First, the latest records demonstrated on Victrolas down at the J.W. Jenkins Sons Music Company on Walnut. Selections like "April Showers" by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, and "Anchors Aweigh" by the United States Marine Band and "I Want My Mammy" by the Peerless Quartet. Jazz is still pretty new and dangerous. But then I'd hop the streetcar over to the White Rose Club at 18th and Brooklyn where they promise "music by the Jazzland Novelty Orchestra" and "Everybody will have a good time."

Toast the new year while staying out of jail. "Drinking intoxicants in public places is prohibited by law, and no exception is to be made on New Year's Eve," according to the chief of police. "Police officers in uniform and plain clothes will be stationed at all of the hotels and other dining places to see that this order is enforced." So I think I'd find a quiet place to sneak a hip flask and reflect, perhaps some outdoor spot with a view of the city. At midnight I'd be in Penn Valley park with the "Scout" – his second day atop his new permanent pedestal – sipping bootleg whiskey while a symphony of steam whistles and car horns and streetcar bells heralds 1922. I'd be thinking about Helen Keller's garbled voice, translated for the Orpheum audience by Anne Sullivan:

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much. Only love can break down the walls that stand between us and our happiness.

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