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Ghosts of New Years past

January 1, 2012
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

Happy New Year everyone! As I was thinking back over all the New Year's Eves I have enjoyed, I was thinking about what a big deal my mom's family always made of the holiday.

Mom had six brothers and sisters, and to see them all together laughing themselves to tears was a wonderful sight.

They had a lot to be thankful for, having escaped Nazi Germany. Sadly, my mom, the baby of the family, is the only sibling left at age 85. I'm glad I finally got my mom to talk about the experience and Herman got it on tape for a remembrance. The reporter came out in both Herman and I when we asked her all the pertinent questions so we got the full story. The most harrowing part of the story was when the family was all lined up to be shot by Nazi soldiers, but my grandfather had an open line to the town police chief in Dresden and when the police heard what was going on over the telephone line, they sent police to the house to stop the Nazi's who weren't yet in total control of the country. I think she said it was 1933 and she was born in 1926 and she hadn't yet had her 7th birthday.

My own memories of New Year's Eve have more to do with my fellow waiters and bartenders, most of whom were trying to make it in the entertainment industry.

I remember New Year's Eve at A Votre Sante, which translates as "To Your Health." The L.A. restaurant served all-natural health food, but they did have a bar upstairs with a predominantly gay clientele. This was in the heart of what was called "Boy Town" in West Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard. I had started working there because I was tired of being hit on by guys in straight bars, but it was even weirder being hit on by girls in the gay bar.

I remember telling the gay women there I wasn't interested because I was straight. They would ask, "Then why are you working here?" and I would have to tell the tale again about how I was sick of being hit on by men.

Thankfully, those days are behind me and these days I can hardly stay up past 9 p.m., let alone until midnight to celebrate. I used to try to stay awake to watch the ball drop on Dick Clark's Rocking New Year's Eve, but now I have to DVR it and watch it in the morning of the New Year.

However you celebrate, stay safe and have a Happy New Year!

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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