Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Me

It's enough one of those half-century celebrations.  

As a good friend joked, yes, it is the 50th anniversary of Tessie O'Shea's appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  And, oh, yeah, some other guys

Today marks the golden anniversary of the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  An event which my grandmother used to say "ruined America."  But, despite the dour outlook for our nation per Grandma, millions will be remembering this tonight at 8PM.   CBS even is having a special to commemorate it all.  Ed's gone.  

To Hell, according to my grandmother.   And, so too are a couple of the Moptops themselves.

Actually, this all seems like it just happened this morning. As a matter of fact, every Sunday morning in LA, there are at least six different radio stations devoted to “Breakfast with the Beatles.” As much as I like the boys from Liverpool, that’s overkill in any dialect. 

But, I digress…

I first heard about the Beatles several months prior to their virgin appearance with Old Stone Face. It was some sort of family gathering at a relative’s house, and I was undoubtedly bored shitless. My grandmother, ever the last word on proper and neat appearance, was asking my older teenage cousin why his hair had gotten so long.

”It’s the way the Beatles look.”

My grandmother was unimpressed.

”You look like a girl.”

As if to further validate his decision to avoid a barbershop, he quickly pulled out the Beatles’ first 45 RPM single and showed the cover to Grandma.

”They look like girls, too.”

My cousin popped the single onto the record player and we listened to “She Loves You” for the very first time. My cousins grooved to the beat. Everybody else looked like they were listening to Joseph Stalin singing from the Gershwin songbook.

My grandmother waved in indignation.

”Cut your hair.”

When the Beatles hit the Sullivan stage on February 9, 1964, we were watching at another cousin’s house. Grandma was not in the group that evening, so we didn’t have to listen to comparing them to the Lennon Sisters. Especially since I once tried to convince her that John Lennon was their brother. But, we all sat and listened and watched the screaming girls. The kids in the rooms were singing along with amazement. The adults were merely waiting for Frank Gorshin and Georgia Brown to come out.

Another Beatle memory was going to the Loews Mt. Vernon Theater with my friend Leo on the first day and the very first showing of “A Hard Day’s Night.” All the girls in the theater were still screaming and I remember not understanding this because, indeed, this was film, not live. 


When the Beatles played Shea Stadium the following summer, I merely worried that the screwballs there wouldn’t mess up the Mets’ infield. 

As fate would have it, we were driving home from a Sunday visit on Long Island. As we drove by, my father lowered the car window. Even though we were probably a mile or so away, we could hear the crowd screaming clear as a bell. He shook his head in silence and rolled up the window. He turned up the volume on the car radio and blared Bert Kaempfert's "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." Clearly, he was done with it all.

And I don't think my cousin ever really did cut his hair.

Dinner last night:  Meat loaf at the Fleetwood Diner.


Puck said...

The Beatles were fascinating -- 4 guys from nowhere who took a long time to figure things out, became an international sensation but refused to settle for being the 1960s version of a boy band. Their music (especially the songwriting of Lennon/McCartney) will live long after they (and we) are long gone.

Hard to believe the best seat in the house at Shea for that concert was (I believe) less than $5.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the drive past Shea goes in the movie.