Retro New Year Cheers

Cheers to the New Year and auld lang syne!

“Old long since” is what the phrase auld lang syne literally means. “Olden days” is more like it, though. Here’s to “old times.” That’s the gist.

So, as we move into the future, the New Year credo, played out in a traditional song, tells us not to forget those golden old times. To pay the homage and intertwine them with the present. To learn from the best, worst and just plain status quo of days gone by remembering.

The reminders of the past are the gold nuggets buried in the present dirt that we dish with such aloof presence. They’re a chunk of tucked away time capsule that has the collective power zap our future with silver lining insight. Thats why they call them the good ‘ole days. Yes. Good … and old. Gone, too.

That’s what R-FH Retro was created to do — keep us looking back to enrich the view going forward, satiate the dry perspective — drench it. Remembering people, places and things in the past keeps them and what they brought to us and our community with us, making the journey all the more meaningful. Connection. Enlightenment. Knowingness sans smugness. Seeing the little things that glisten in the loosened dirt. Unearthed to catch the sun and shine, glisten. It’s what it’s all about. The past was not meant to be buried.

Its gold, diamonds, even teeny pieces of leftover glitter are always there, waiting to be found, to shed light, to shine.

So, what better way look back and forward to a new year than to pay tribute to the inspiration of R-FH Retro — my parents, Bill and Sally Van Develde.

The couple who ended up being longtime Fair Havenites, dying with their cherished Fair Haven address, started the New Year in the late 50s downright cheesy happy, full of hope, noisemakers, kooky hats and likely a lot of corny party jokes. It was a few years pre-kids and Fair Haven.

Sally and Bill’s smiles from decades ago embody that shine. It foretold their imminent future — the future of two girls they never imagined they would have and many in a community (those still left, anyway) who, to this day, remember, mourn the loss of them and emulate their love of home and community heart. The picture shows the little things that were an awful lot that two girls and a tiny peninsula borough had coming.

The picture is worth a million words. At least a million. None of those verbal riches have a place in real estate value or ratings, either, as mammoth preoccupation goes nowadays. The riches were all wrapped up in connection and paying a little “for the love of family and Fair Haven” forward.

They didn’t lose sight, even back in the late 50s when they didn’t yet know what they were looking to.

Twenty six years ago today, on Jan. 5, 1996, my mom, the lady many a Fair Havenite knew as Sally, Aunt Sally, Mrs. V., the Brownie and Girl Scout leader, the president of the Ladies Auxiliary, that lady who was always in the Acme, the wife Bill had left behind, Elaine and Carolyn’s mom, passed away.

She left a bag of gold behind. Imperfect. Glistening. Glaringly solid, beautiful. Unearthed for us to pass on. To hold tight in the heart.

Oh, Sally did have her moments of sarcasm, aggravation, gossipy giggles, even hopelessness. Imperfection, as with the most beautiful of gems, is value. But she held onto home and those she loved, only ever wanting that love to be understood, realized, appreciated. It was.

It is. Always will be. As teens, “kids” in their 20s and even 30s can be, life just swallows us up and gushes us and all the take-for-granted garbage forward, many times without notice of the tossed gems, what matters. We, as teens and young adults, too often think small community things and parents’ priorities are morsels far too trite for us to waste the caloric content gobbling it all up.

Too often we spit them out. Guilty. I began to take bites, to understand and appreciate, when it was almost too late.

When my mom was sick with pancreatic cancer, the summer that was only months before her death was the first in forever that she couldn’t make it to the fair.

I was working at a small, now defunct, weekly newspaper, The Courier. Seeing Sally gaze out her bedroom window toward the fair grounds, knowing she wouldn’t make it to her final fair made me annoyingly pushy. That was, I figure, a coping mechanism, an escape hatch designed to fend off the inevitable — her leaving me, home.

I pushed water on her. That was my go-to. I thought it cured all. I pushed walks on her when she couldn’t even sit up. I pushed food on her that came right up. I pushed for her to go to the fair. To go to her booth. To be there. She just couldn’t. I was miffed. Stubborn and in denial. I went to work.

Despite the fact that I had a mouth that often got me in trouble with the boss (I mean, I had the nerve to be a woman in journalism with ideas), I piped up and asked if I could do a piece on the fair.

Photos were always taken at the fair, but no one had ever done a story on it. Maybe the only reason why I got a gruff “yes” was because the very old-fashioned, sexist boss and longtime family friend felt sorry for me. Maybe because he knew my mom from way back. He knew it would make her happy.

I did it. The self-assigned piece forced me to dig for those nuggets I had never bothered to unearth. The ones that Sally found. The ones that rolled right past me. The shine blinded me while warming me with her light. I brought the paper to her. She bathed in all the glare and cried. “I never knew this meant so much to you,” said the Grab Bag Booth lady.

She also never knew that the summer before was her last fair. She did finally know, though, that all she had done in those years ahead of that smiley new year in the late 50s mattered. A lot. They will always be unearthed. They will always shine on, toothy grinned and held tight.

I love this picture. I loved them. I thank them for all the inspiration. For my life. For my Fair Haven past. I will pass them on. Share them. Always.

So, Happy New Year from Sally and Bill! For those who didn’t know them … Yes you did. You didn’t have to know them to remember them, to get it. They are all of us.

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management