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It’s time to bring in another year

Another Christmas has come and gone; I hope yours was merry.

I hope I can be one of the first people to wish you a happy New Year. May all the insanity of 2016 be put to rest and 2017 be the best year of your life.

If a party is a part of your plans for ringing in the new year tonight, please drive carefully. According to The Weather Channel, it might rain so keep that in mind while making travel plans.

One more time this year I will plead with you, don’t get high and drive!

Watching the memorial tributes of the celebrities who died this year is brutal: A loss of so much talent. Rock legends, actors and writers are among those to die this year.

Debbie Reynolds’ family has lost two of its matriarchs, with her having died the day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher.

Reynolds made me feel so special when I was a little girl. Her 1957 recording “Tammy” earned her a gold record. The spelling was wrong but still it was my name. We didn’t have a lot of records in our house, but we had an old 78 rpm copy of “Tammy.” I would listen to my namesake song for hours on end. Using the living room fireplace hearth as a stage, I dreamed of being a famous singer. As I have said before in this space, I can sing, I just don’t have a pretty voice.

Of course, the writer I miss the most is my late colleague Leon Emo. The loss of my friend still hits me when I least expect it. I will hear a bit of local news and think I need to call Leon and then I remember I can’t.

His silly and rhyming end-of-the-year column was always one of my favorites. I tried to mimic that column one year and found it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

We miss you, Leon.


When we were little kids, New Year’s Eve meant the suspension of bedtimes and being allowed to stay up until after midnight. That is, if you could manage to stay awake that long. After the clock struck midnight, we took kitchen pots and metal spoons outside and yelled “Happy New Year” as we banged on the pots.

The next day we watched the Rose parade. Tradition dictates the Rose parade not be held on Sunday. This year’s parade is on Monday.

When I was in my 20s, New Year’s Eve meant dinner at Lucca’s Restaurant and dancing to the sounds of Union Pacific. It is an awful cliche to use the term “Back in the day…” but here it is appropriate.

During the mid to late 1960s when my brothers Rocky and Brian Hill were tearing up the roads, the band they and their friends danced to was the Ebonknights.

Beginning in high school the Madera garage band of my youth was Union Pacific. They weren’t the only one in town but it is the one I knew best.

During football and basketball season, if the Coyotes played at home on Friday nights, the boys gym became the site of the after-game dance. These dances were my era’s answer to the 1950s sock-hop. Avoiding damage to the gym floor everybody had to remove their street shoes. The walls of the gym were lined with pairs of shoes. In the four years, I attended high school I never heard of a case of stolen shoes. To this day, if I am going to dance, I still kick off my shoes. Life is funny, I went from wanting to dance all night to being thankful to be ambulatory.

Throughout its professional life, the members of the Union Pacific band changed depending on who was available for a gig.

I needed to call longtime friend David Boyle of Boyle Electric to augment my memory on just who played in that celebrated group.

The band leader was always Mike Bianchi, Boyle said. Other members of the band through the years included Boyle, Roger Williams, Gary Rosene, Steve Hernandez, Lee Spotts, Arthur Alviso, Randy Solari, Steve DeMello, Mike King, Dennis Delbeck and Duane Sciacqua, he said.

Sciacqua has had an extensive and impressive musical career, performing with Paul McCartney, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Steve Lukather according to his website. His recording studio, Rough Edges Studio, is in Nashville, Tennessee. All indications are that the Madera native has done quite well for himself.

The beginning of 2017 is a time for hope, new beginnings and New Year’s resolutions. Healthy living, like losing weight and exercising more, are at the top of the list for many.

May you have a brilliant and safe new year.

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