New Year’s of the past, remembering the new beginnings from the first holiday

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Editor’s Note: Orignally published on Dec. 28, 2005.

And so next Sunday is another New Years, a new beginning. I thought back over the many New Years I have seen in my 82 years and realized that many of them were truly new beginnings.

I was too small to realize the impact of New Years 1927, but that was just after my father had died in September of the previous year. We had many decisions to make, and life would never be the same again.

And there are many other New Years after that, some were sad, some were happy and most always life was uncertain. New Years 1936 saw me living in Minden, attending Minden High School. I was twelve and this was the last time I would change schools. The autumn of 1935 I had attended four schools with Minden High School being the fourth one. The next years were austere since we were living in the throes of the Great Depression.

A Graduate

However January l, 1941, was a new beginning for me. I had finished Business College the fall before and began work on November 25, 1940, as bookkeeper at Andress Motors Company. All the employees were caring people with families that cared for one another. It was a warm fellowship that we enjoyed. I was so happy to have such a good job, and just to think, I was making $12.00 a week. That January I had saved enough to buy my mother a set of dentures. I think they cost nearly $50.00 and I was so proud to be able to do something for her. She was still working at the Book Binding Project, but it was soon to close down and now with my salary coming in she did not have to leave home and work anymore. She was 57 that year of 1941, and I would be 18 that summer. So that was a wonderful New Year for us.

The war years were sad, and we grieved over all our young men being drafted or enlisting in some branch of the armed services. I grew up during those years, and when J. C. came home from service and went back to work at Andress I was 22. The New Year of 1946 was a brighter day for all of Minden. Gradually things were coming back in stores and the men were back at church

A Tornado

Our church observed New Year’s Eve with a watch night service at the church, with brief scriptures, and prayers being offered for the new year. The one I remember so vividly was December 31, 1947. We were kneeling in prayer when the prayer meeting doors swung open and the commander of the local National Guard burst in with a request for all men who had pickup trucks to help haul the injured from Cotton Valley to Minden Sanitarium since Cotton Valley had sustained great damage from a tornado. I remember it was so warm, unusually warm, that I wore a long sleeve silk blouse with a black skirt to that service without either a coat or a sweater. When we went home we talked with our neighbors who had lived in Cotton Valley before coming to Minden. They told us some of the horror stories of injuries and deaths. That was a New Years that I will never forget.

A New Home

New Years, January l, 1949, found us living in our present house. We had married in June and bought this house the last of October, 1948. I was so proud, and had so many ideas that I wanted to carry out in decorating it. It was J. C’s. and my first home, and I might add, our only home. We worked to install more base plugs; we repainted woodwork, filled in the sloping front yard, and planted the basic foundation plantings around the house. There were the New Years of 1949, 1950, 1951, and then on New Years 1952, we prepared for the birth of our first child, who was born in March of that year. My mother was overjoyed at the little girl, and helped us spoil her royally. She was named for my grandmother, Margaret Suzanne; this was he grandmother who died four years before I was born.

Years went by – 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, and then in 1958 we welcomed our son, John. Suzanne had wanted a sister, but she told her daddy that she would “try” to love him. She loved him with her whole heart and they still share that love that just came naturally to them.

A Family

Our family was complete. Years passed and both children did well in both school and in music. It seemed that time just flew by. And then in 1970 she went away to college and at the first BSU mixer she met her future husband, Bob Jameson. The year 1973 was a time of great change in my life. My mother and I had never lived apart from each other, but this year I was fifty and she was 89. That was the time she went on home to be with Jesus. Three weeks after her death I went to work keeping books again. And this was the year that Suzanne brought home the fine Christian young man to be our son-in-law and her husband.

A Loss

In 1983 we were stunned by the prognosis of heart disease in J. C. and he underwent bypass surgery to correct 4 clogged and almost closed arteries. We knew God had given us more time to be together, but I did not realize how little time it would be. On May 5, 1989, I found him dead in bed beside me at 2 in the morning. Life was changed, never to be the same again.

Saying Goodbye

And now I wonder what this new year of 2006 will bring to our little family. Perhaps this is the year that I will slip away to be with Jesus, and to see my beloved J. C. and my mama again. Since my hospitalization Home Health will be coming to my house and giving me therapy. I cannot walk yet, and since there is so much wrong with me all over perhaps this is my last year on earth. Just about everything about me is not in good shape except my head and my children will say that is debatable. I hope that I live the time I am allotted for God’s glory and have the opportunity to tell others of God’s love, a love so great that He gave His only Son to die for our sins, and to know that Jesus lives again in heaven and is waiting for us up there.

I feel sure that most of you are tired reading my memories and so, I have decided that I will no longer send in a Cameo. Let me thank all of you for the dozens of cards, letters, for the flowers, for the gifts, the food, the fruit, especially for the money, and for all the kind words you expressed about the Cameos. During this almost a month of hospitalization I have been so appreciative of the notes you have sent me telling how something I wrote triggered a memory for you, and expressing your appreciation for the Cameos. One said that she had never met me but she felt like she knew me because I just opened my heart and my life in my Cameos. I received calls from other towns offering their prayers and concern and also telling me what the Cameos mean to them. I feel so humble, but I am glad that God gave me the ability to help others remember the good times of long ago. I have written stories for my children for almost half a century, and will continue to do that, so I have other Cameos written but instead of sending them in I will just thank those who have shown their appreciation for my memories and have demonstrated their love and appreciation in such a visible way.

God has a timetable for each of our lives, and that when He is ready and calls me I will go. We used to sing a little song that went something like this “My tomorrows are all known to Thee, Thou will lead me all the way.” And He will, you know?

Happy New Year. Make every day count, and leave happy memories.

Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years until her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing select articles from Mrs. Agan’s Cameos column every Wednesday.

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