Old Time Jazz
Both of my parents have led interesting lives. Dad has worked many jobs from bartender to private detective and accountant. When it came time to plan a 75th anniversary party for them, I knew exactly what the theme was going to be. Mom and dad met during the war at a USO club.
Our family is small so we also invited friends to celebrate with us and so our USO club would look more authentic. Things really started to taking off and I started getting excited. This was going to be a real party!
The Knights of Columbus hall in our town looks really old and dingy, but it rents very cheaply and it actually was the USO during the war. No, not the one Mom and Dad worked at. They lived in Syracuse at the time. We were expecting about 55 people and with about five last minute calls, we ended up with 63 attendees.
My brother, John, and I took Mom and Dad to the hall at around 7:00. We had it decorated just like the hall at Syracuse. This was John's job and he really outdid himself. He had looked at some old pictures in Mom's album. He had found some old posters, like the "I Want You" Uncle Sam enlistment poster and some war bond posters and hung them from the ceiling. The Rosie the Riveter poster was my favorite. "Rum and Coca Cola" was playing on the jukebox. Mom and Dad recognized the place right away.
I told Mom to turn the sign in the window from closed to open and boy did she get a surprise. As soon as she turned the sign, all of the attending family members ran in the door and gave them a big hug. Dad was in tears. We all sat at the big table and Megan brought out the dinner, roast beef and oven-browned potatoes with a green salad and steamed green beans. It is my dad's favorite. He doesn't like restaurants so John's wife Carla made the meal with a little help from Megan. She used Mom's recipe. We talked about old times and laughed until almost 8:00. Then all of us rushed to clear the table.
At 8:00 the rest of the guests started to arrive. They had out done themselves trying to get the perfect outfit. Some of them even had their hair styled into thirties fashion. Many of the men arrived wearing WWII army and navy uniforms. Dad and Mom had special seats at the bar. The music started to play and soon the dance floor was full of people. My brother wanted to be the DJ, so I was behind the bar with Dad serving drinks. We served white and red wine, along with soda and juice. Dad even served some drinks himself! For the guests, we had a buffet with lots of snacks like nachos, hot dogs, pretzels and popcorn. I had hired a photographer with an old camera and separate flash bulb. He took pictures of everybody.
Mom and Dad didn't want to leave, but I could see that they were getting tired. I brought Dad's favorite chair in from the back room. I also had a chair for Mom. When they started to fall asleep, it was time to wind the party down. We turned down the music and everyone said good-bye to Mom and Dad. Then, I took them home. They couldn't stop talking about the party for months.
P.S. After Mom and Dad left, the party picked up again. I left at midnight, but my brother stayed until almost 3:00. Our friends couldn't stop talking about the party for months, either. Especially after they got the pictures that I sent out with little thank you notes.