My brother, sister, and I lie on the twin beds in my parent’s bedroom to watch the tiny television on the dresser. It is 1964 and Paul, John, George, and Ringo are about to invade America. We watch as each Beatle pops out the cabin door of Pam Am flight 101, shocked to find 5,000 American fans waiting for them at the newly named John F. Kennedy Airport. Like any normal thirteen-year-old female, their mop head haircuts make my heart beat faster.
There were times when my mom did something really unexpected and rather cool. One morning she sat at the kitchen table tucked into the breakfast nook reading the Sunday paper.
“Do you girls want to go see The Beatles in concert?” she asked, casually.
She carefully cut out the coupon in the Los Angeles Times and sent in the $4.95 for each of our tickets. We waited a couple of weeks before we knew if we made it in, and one day when we arrived home from school, there on the table sat two tickets to the Hollywood Bowl, in Row R, which means you could see the Beatles about as well as one of our cockroaches across the room.
But we were ecstatic! On the night of the concert, my sister and I got all dressed up. I wore stockings and heels, since I was now one year into teenhood, and my sister, eleven-years-old, also wore her favorite dress. No one thought, or cared, how we were going to get the twenty miles to downtown Hollywood, and my mother finally told us to take the bus. There were several transfers involved, and although it wasn’t rocket science, I didn’t have much experience. But hey…it was The Beatles! So off we went.
Somehow we got on the right buses and made it down to Highland, near the Bowl. Now what? I looked around and saw hundreds of people, all walking across the street in the same direction. Everywhere I looked were men with longer hair than me…much longer than Paul, John, George, or Ringo! And the clothes! Dirty bell-bottomed jeans, flowered shirts and beads. Clearly, we were had entered another universe. Oh well. We followed the crowd.
The Beatles stepped on stage and the crowd went wild. The screaming and cheering did not let up for three hours. It was hard to even tell which of my favorites the Fab Four were singing. From our seats in the nose-bleed section, we got a glimpse or two when a friendly seat neighbor took pity on us and loaned us her binoculars. I stared at the face of each one, my heroes. A few times during the night I thought about what I was doing…sitting in the middle of a screaming mob with my baby sister in tow, all alone. For her sake, I wore my brave face.
After the concert ended, the idea was to take the several buses back home and walk from the bus stop. It never occurred to me that this was not something you asked of a thirteen-year-old girl and her eleven-year-old sister. Thirteen then and thirteen now are two completely different ages. I was still playing with Barbies. But hey…it was The Beatles!
Somehow I got mixed up and we missed the last bus home. It was the middle of the night, and the two of us stood on a street corner in downtown Hollywood after calling home and raising my Dad’s wrath. As we waited for him to drive the twenty miles to get us, cars blew past, some honking their horns. Guys leaned out their car windows shouting to us, only to laugh and stick their heads back inside when they saw we were children. I felt responsible for the situation we were in, worried that I had messed up by missing the bus and getting my sister and me in a dangerous position and in trouble with Dad to boot. Where was he anyway? Didn’t he realize something could happen to us out here all alone by ourselves?
All You Need is Love.
- John Lennon