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Old memories of ringing in the new

Area residents share stories of celebration, circumstance

January 01, 2011|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI | alnotarianni@aol.com
  • Paul and Jane MacDonald
Paul and Jane MacDonald

The Herald-Mail asked shoppers at Valley Mall on Thursday to share their most cherished New Year’s Eve memories. Here are some of their stories.
 
Paul and Jane MacDonald, 80 and 82, McConnellsburg, Pa.
Back in 1949, Jane MacDonald was in her last year of nursing school in New York City. She and her sweetheart, Paul MacDonald — who is now her husband of 58 years — decided to join in the renowned Times Square festivities. Though the celebration was memorable, it was not impressive, they said.
“It was just a lot of people shoulder to shoulder getting excited over watching a ball drop,” Paul MacDonald said. “Of course, I suppose it was more exciting than going to Dillsburg, Pa., where they watch the dill pickle drop.”
Instead of watching items drop from the sky, the MacDonalds have opted to spend the past 30 years getting together with friends on New Year’s Eve.
“We have dinner, maybe play cards and see the New Year in,” Jane McDonald said. “That’s as exciting as we get.”
 
Charles E. Squibb, 80, Hagerstown
Like the MacDonalds, Charles E. Squibb recalls a late-1940s New Year’s Eve.
But Squibb was not in New York City, or even in Dillsburg, Pa. He was across the globe in Turkey doing bow watch aboard the USS Huntington CL-107.
“There was a big shindig over there in Istanbul. Fireworks and everything else,” Squibb said. “It was very cold, very windy.”
The crew had one anchor down. Squibb noticed each time the vessel circled around, it moved closer to shore.
“We’d started dragging anchor,” he said. “It could have been catastrophic. We’d anchored on solid rock instead of mud or dirt.”
Defying protocol, Squibb left his post, ran to the quarter deck and apprised the officer on duty of his discovery. The officer sounded general quarters — “That means he got everybody up,” Squibb said — and set a special sea detail. The crew brought the anchor in, repositioned and dropped both anchors so the ship wouldn’t drift.
“If we’d hit shore, we would’ve needed a bunch of tugs or something to drag us out,” Squibb said. “Thankfully, it never got that far.”
Squibb said he didn’t receive any accolades.
“I was just doing my job. Happy New Year,” he said.
 
Sheryl Deike, 52, Hagerstown
Sheryl Deike remembers waiting for the year 2000. She and her children were all hunkered down in her bed.
When the clock struck 12, beginning the new millennium, a shortcoming in computer application softwares threatened utilities, banking, telecommunications, manufacturing and other industries.
“The world was going to end. Y2K. The sky was going to fall,” Deike said.
Her husband, Eric Deike, 45, is Hagerstown’s public works manager. He and city workers were all gathered “in a little place” on alert.
“Midnight came. Nothing happened. Five minutes after. Nothing happened. Quarter after, I called my husband,” Sheryl Deike said.
She asked him how everything was going in the city.
“Very quiet,” was his reply.
“I pulled out the sparkling apple cider and we were good to go,” Sheryl Deike said.

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Martha Hetzer, 64, Mercersburg, Pa.
Martha Hetzer got a present for New Year’s Eve six years ago, she said. It was her grandson Riley Hetzer.
Martha Hetzer’s daughter-in-law, Amy Hetzer of Sharpsburg, now 36, was due to give birth to her second child in early January. But her husband, Jeffrey Hetzer, 39, spent a lot of time working in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas, so her doctors agreed to induce labor on Dec. 31 while he was on vacation.
When Amy Hetzer was admitted to Washington County Hospital that day, she learned that an unusually high number of babies had been born the day before. The birthing unit was running short on nurses, so her doctor decided not to induce.
Despite the change in plans, she began having contractions and ended up giving birth anyway.
“It worked out well,” Martha Hetzer said. “Riley is our New Year’s Eve birthday boy.”
 
Missy Ryan, 38, Smithsburg

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