DOUBLE LIFE OF A YOUNG GIRL - seeing the BEATLES
WE WERE GOING TO SEE THE BEATLES!
I hung up the phone after saying ‘goodbye,’ a million “thank yous” and “I love you” about a dozen times. It was as if time stood still for a few minutes. Gail and I stared at each other in dumbstruck awe. And then….and then…we started jumping up and down and screaming! You’d think we were there at the Cow Palace already! Typical just teenage girls, we were so excited we could not contain ourselves! We practically whipped ourselves into a frenzy! We were going to see the Beatles!
I couldn’t wait to get to school the next day to brag to all our friends. We’d be the talk of the whole school, with envy in the eyes of all who heard our exciting story. And the seats! They were going to be great! My father, who had been to the Cow Palace many times, knew right were our seats were located. Just to the right of the stage as you face it, on an angle, not right beside it, and on the aisle! In a smaller setting, these would be referred to as “Orchestra Seating,” or “Dress Circle.” Which means…just as I had imagined; just as I had hoped…Up close and Personal!! Maybe we really would get to meet them!
Well, the next week was filled with preparation for our big day. The local radio station, KFRC AM 1550 played nothing but Beatles songs while the DJ’s talked endlessly about the upcoming concert. They were giving away tickets, running contests, telling listeners when the Beatles would arrive at the San Francisco Airport and where they would be staying. We dreamed of being there for their arrival and, wish upon wish, imagined ourselves at their hotel….inside the lobby….riding the elevator to the top floor….in the Beatles’ suite…..!! What we’d do at that point was not yet developed in our young fantasies; ..neither of us were very….no, make that…neither of us were at all experienced in such things!! Still, our dreams were made up of being face to face with John, Paul, George and Ringo!
Gail and I made a really big sign which read (bet you couldn’t guess this) “WELCOME BEATLES! WE LOVE YOU!” And we included our names and our home town. We called KFRC to boast about our neat seats and our huge sign. We had no doubt that we would at least get close to the Beatles and they would see our sign. And fall in love…with us! Who wouldn’t? We were so loyal, so cute, such genuine fans and, so in L-O-V-E! They couldn’t resist us!
We even sent in a notice to the local newspaper about our tickets and our large sign. And, amazing!, believe it or not, several days later there was a paragraph in the “out and about” column all about us and our pending great adventure! Complete with the wording of our sign…yikes!
And so, the big day arrived. I couldn’t sleep the night before. Up and awake and wandering around the house, counting the hours and minutes until it was time for the rest of our fractured family to rise and shine. Then…wait wait wait and wait some more. Heart thumping, broad smile I couldn’t control….anticipation! To be part of this fantastic adventure into the big city to see our favorite Liverpool Four! Just the thought of it! Oh…so excited!!!
My father had made plans for dinner in the city while we were having the experience of a lifetime. San Francisco…the mythical “city by the bay.” Beautiful, romantic, ethereal, magical and wonderful! He and my step mother would have a nice dinner and drinks afterward once they’d shepherded us safely into the Cow Palace. Back then, when things were much simpler and life wasn’t so threatening, parents could do such a thing without fear and with complete confidence that the kids would be alright. I remember thinking how I felt badly for them because they wouldn’t be seeing the Beatles! Everything else just couldn’t compare, in my opinion! But, I would make sure to remember everything in great detail so that I could share it with them. They could live through my experience!
What to wear!? I had to look good, had to stand out! Had to be noticed by Paul! I called Gail and asked what she was going to wear. We talked back and forth with suggestions and “oh, that would look boss!” when one or the other of us came up with an idea. We both subscribed to 17 Magazine so we had all kinds of examples of really fab outfits. I came up with a short “shift” dress with a cardigan sweater with a coat, of course( because San Francisco is always cold at night). Flats for shoes with no socks! Gail wore almost the same thing! Talk about great minds thinking alike!
ON OUR WAY TO OUR BIG DAY
The time arrived for departure to San Francisco and our beloved Beatles. My father and step mother picked me up first and then we went to get Gail. All the way there, my parents were very cool to keep the radio turned to KFRC which was all Beatles all the time. Nothing but Beatles songs and updates! Seventh Heaven…we had arrived!
Gail and I sang our hearts out all the way there! And, miracle of miracles…we remembered to bring our sign bearing our hearts for all to see. And, miracle upon miracle upon miracles….Gail had called the DJ at KFRC to tell them we were going and that we made a sign! Well, sitting in the backseat, singing loud and clear to the music emanating from the radio, we quieted down when a commercial came on. Some type of ad about acne cream! Geesgh! Then, we could not believe what we were hearing! All of a sudden, the DJ said: “and here’s an update from Napa! Two girls, Gail and Kathy, are on their way right now to see the Beatles and they’ve made a sign which says “Welcome Beatles, We Love You!” Hope you have a good time, girls! We’ll be screaming right along with you!”
“What!?” “Did you hear that?” We stared at each other as we jumped up and down in our seats. Even my father, Mr. In Control and Cool, laughed out loud and said ,”Oh, My God!” The inside of the car was aroar with laughter, surprise and delight! Yikes!!
Across the Bay Bridge we sped. In my mind, I kept on urging Father to drive faster! Faster! We just are not moving fast enough! The lights of The City spread out before us, bright, twinkling beacons; foretellng a night to remember for a lifetime.
We’re here! Feeling the kind of jitters and excitement that makes being still impossible. Can’t get out of the car fast enough! “Oh, c’mon, c’mon! Let’s GO!!”
Crowds were gathered everywhere. Everyone was extremely animated and jostling one another. Bodies in motion, hands to mouths, lots of boys and girls almost unable to contain themselves. I looked around at the scene. There were all kinds of kids there, and some older people, too. Jam packed.
We waved ‘bye’ to my parents as they drove away, leaving us among the almost frenzied commotion awaiting the great adventure in which we were about to partake. And, though we weren’t cognizant of it at the time, we were also about to take a step into a big part of pop musical history! The first American concert by the boys from across the pond! And, we were there!
The doors opened to much pushing and shoving as we began to feel how enthusiasm can turn into (almost) mob rule. It didn’t happen, though; not by a long shot but, neither Gail nor I had ever been in such a crowd and it was both stimulating as well as frightening. Nothing of a negative nature happened, however , as we allowed ourselves to be propelled onward towards our seats.
Ushers were there to make sure every one had a ticket! Oh! “Hold on to your ticket! You DO NOT want to lose that ticket!” These were the last words my father warned! Now, in the midst of all this commotion; I could see the wisdom in his admonition. “Thank you, daddy,” I thought to myself. Thank you for everything.
We found our seats easily and quickly. Thank God for aisle seats! These are the best! “Look at how close we are, Gail,” I said.
She was as wide eyed as I was and just as enthused. “Oh, Kathy” she said, “these are so good!” We scanned the hall in a 360 turn, amazed at how gigantic the Cow Palace was and all the thousands of people there to see the Beatles.
The lights dimmed! A hum was in the air but nothing could be heard because the entire palace rang with the sound of screaming kids! It was total pandemonium! A massive roar of mingled voices raised up in frantic exultation! And emotional release! As I look back, I can see how every kid and young adult in that room was bursting with pent up emotion. Excitement built to a crescendo, the Beatles were just about to enter and we could not help ourselves. In retrospect and upon seeing the pictures and hearing the audio of this first concert by the Beatles, it is incredible that we didn’t go deaf from the cacophonous wall of human voices. It was like a massive burst of energy from so much built up expectancy.
Waves of human sound filled the air and undulated over and around us. Our voices joined in, spontaneously and automatically; almost involuntarily…swept up in the thrill of it all!
Lights dimmed more…total darkness! Then, focused onstage, colorful lighting danced on the platform as four figures appeared as if out of nowhere. I could clearly make out the profile of each individual Beatle. They quickly jogged to their respective places and picked up their instruments. A resounding roar circled around the auditorium as a tremendous “whomp” reverberated throughout from Ringo’s drums. It didn’t seem possible but, the crowd screamed even louder! It was mass hysteria!
A loud “twang” resonated throughout as the Fab Four began the first song of what turned out to be about 30! Each strum, each vocalization brought another outburst from the crowd! Camera flashbulbs were twinkling everywhere! The whole room seemed like an outer space experience complete with sound effects and visual effects! Unreal! Out of this world! Unbelievable! And the excitement level just continued to elevate; there was no lapse in the waves of ….noise!
For several hours, the pandemonium continued unabated. Music screamed from the stage, kids screamed back. A wall of sound! We could hardly hear the words or music but, we could feel the vibration of George’s base guitar and Ringo’s base drum. Girls (and some boys, too) were fainting around us! I felt badly as I watched them being carried off by Cow palace staff members. They wouldn’t get to see the show!
Paul was beautiful! Such soulful eyes and a FABulous smile! John, ever serious, seemed to be the most composed of the group. Ringo, in the back, head bobbing as he kept his rhythmic beat and George, up front with John and Paul, looking almost melancholy. Oh..what a night!
This was part VI of an ongoing series.
Well, enough about the Beatles. I was lucky enough to see them a second and a THIRD time, as an older teenager with my friend Gail, again and a third girlfriend the last time. I’ll let these be memories…on with more of the story of the Double Life of a Young Girl (and how this effected her adult life, later on.)
I hope you’re liking this story…more to come.