By Linda Emley
New Year’s Eve has always been a time to spend with your friends and Richmond has had its share of New Year eve parties. In the good ole days, there was always a party at the Masonic Lodge, the Women’s Club or one of the other organizations around town.
The Richmond Missourian, Jan.1, 1920: ” The members of the local Order of Elks were hosts at the New Year’s dance, given Wednesday evening in the club room on North Thornton Street.”
“The members of the Woodmen of the World Lodge and the W.O.W Circle watched the old year out and the New Year in at a dance given in their hall on North College Street Wednesday night.”
Many of the men of Richmond belonged to more than one of the local clubs. When I saw these two parties on the same night, it reminded of that terrible feeling when you have two parties and you have to decide which one would be more fun.
I am sure some politics were involved in deciding if you were going to spend it with the Elks or the Woodmen, but the Elks were having their party in the grand building we remember as the “Women’s Club.” This would have been one of the dry years for Ray County, but I bet there were drinks in the back room.
I wonder if the wives got to voice their opinion about which party they would like to attend, since they did not get the right to vote till later in the year of 1920. Maybe they divided their night between the two parties, but then you always have the extra burden with any New Year Eve party of worrying about where you are at the stroke of midnight.
No man really wants to watch some other man kiss his wife at midnight. Midnight kisses have been around a long time, but I am not sure when the custom started that you have to share.
Most of us spend New Year’s day with our family if we did not stay out to late the night before. Today it is more about football games, but to some it is still a time to watch the parade and start planning the new year. My grandmother, Mildred Schooler always loved to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade. Back in the good ole days when TV was new, she knew that Uncle Willie Schooler would come to their house on New Year’s day to watch the parade. He never had a T.V. but he sure enjoyed watching the parade. I imagine he liked seeing all the horses and the sunny weather from California.
We can’t have a story about New Year’s day without mentioning the “New Year Babies.”
Richmond Missourian, Jan. 7, 1932: “He’s the New Year Baby. The year of 1932 was scarcely an hour old when Donald Ralph Lam made his appearance in this world. Since he was the first baby born in Ray County in 1932, to him goes the title of Ray County’s First 1932 Baby.
Donald Ralph is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Lam, who live southwest of Hardin, and made his appearance at 1 o’clock on the morning of January 1st. He will serve as an excellent model for the future babies of 1932, for he was a strapping, healthy youngster of 10 pounds on his first appearance in this world.”
Donald grew up and became a career man in the U.S. Army. I never met Donald Lam, but I did go to Hardin grade school with his sons Donnie and Wayne. You could tell they were proud of their father because they told stories about how he was fighting the bad guys. Since we were in the middle of the cold war, we all knew who the bad guys were.
Ray County Conservator, Jan 21, 1957: ”Lucky Miss Bonita Ray Seward winner of the Ray County Herald’s first Annual Baby Derby, held in connection with the opening of the Ray County Memorial Hospital.
She is the recipient of gifts from a total of 47 merchants in Richmond and Ray County, having put in her appearance just one hour nine minutes after the opening of the hospital last Tuesday.
Her middle name was changed from Maria to Ray, after the new hospital. The happy parents are Mr. and Mrs. William Seward of Henrietta. Mother and baby returned home Saturday.” Bonita was not a New Year’s baby, but she was the first baby born at the new Ray County Hospital and the winner of the first Ray County Herald baby derby.
When January 1958 was drawing close, the new Ray County Hospital was going to have their first New Year baby.
“Who will it be? To be the first baby born in 1958 at the Ray County Memorial Hospital.“ The prize list was a grand one. There were lots of ads in the Ray County Herald and the Ray County Conservator listing all the prizes. Some of which were, 5 silver dollars from Greenlee Pontiac, a bottle warmer from Missouri Public Electric, 50 cans Gerber strained baby food from Co-op Feed Store, a fluffy new baby blanket from the Style Shop, 1 year subscription to the Ray County Herald and 2 8 x 10 pictures from the Herald, a case of Similac from Economy Drug, a blanket from Weary’s Variety Store, a grease job for the family car from Skelly, 2 month supply of Geber’s canned baby food Jim Johnston’s, 1 dozen diapers from J.C. Penny’s, 2 weeks freedom from all laundry from Wash-O-Mat, a beautiful locket from Pointer’s Jewelry, 2 pair baby shoes from Herefords and a novel baby crib gym set from Kansas Jewelry.
Ray County Herald, Jan. 6,1958: “Miss Ray County 1958. Mrs. Sam Ratliff of Henrietta holds her daughter, Tammy Jo, acclaimed Miss Ray County 1958 upon winning the Herald’s second Baby Derby, She arrived New Year’s Day.”
I am not sure when we stopped have a New Year’s baby contest, but it may have stopped when we stopping having babies born in Ray County.
It is strange to think that we no longer have new babies with a birth certificate that say, place of birth, Ray County, Missouri. So the big question now is, who was the last baby born at the Ray County Hospital? Please let me know if you have the answer to this one.
Linda Emley is on a New Year’s Eve vacation. This article ran in a previous issue of The Richmond News. You can reach Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can stop by and see her at the Ray County Museum.