Topekans share their Beatles memories…

beatlemania“I thought it was going to be a novelty act”

“We begged our landlady to let us come to her apartment and watch them on her TV”

“Everyone said Paul was the cute one, but when I saw George Harrison through the binoculars …”.

These are quotations from some area residents who were sharing their memories from 1964.  Perhaps your own memories of how four English lads with odd hairstyles caused a stir across the U.S. are starting to surface as you read their words.   Here are more of their memories…

beatles shea stadiumGary was a 19 year old living in the Long Island, New York area at the time.  He had heard about the band from a friend who mentioned that they were going to be on the Ed Sullivan show and that they should watch it together.  “The shake their heads around and go Woo Hoo” is all that Gary had heard about them from his friend.  So he thought they were going to be a novelty act.  When he and his friends gathered to watch the show on a small (by today’s standards) black and white television set, the musical talent of the group came across to him.  Later he ventured into New York City to purchase whatever albums of theirs that he could get his hands on.  When he entered the music store, the entire front section of it had been converted into displays of the Beatles records, and mobs of people were snatching them up.  “I’d never seen anything like it, before or since.  I’ll never forget that scene” he said when I interviewed him.
Later Gary was fortunate enough to attend the concert that the Beatles put on at Shea Stadium in 1965.  “I remember the tickets only cost me $4” he said.  The tickets were in the upper level of the stadium, where Gary and his friend were treated to a birds eye view of the proceedings.  “I remember that there was a helicopter circling overhead.  A rumor quickly filtered around the stadium that the Beatles were in that helicopter and that it would land on the field and they would come out of it.  Whenever the helicopter dipped down a little bit, the place just went crazy!!”.  Gary said that he could only recognize two of the songs that the Beatles played during their set, which only lasted about 30 minutes, since there was so much screaming during the concert.  But he definitely has no regrets about going.

Ann was generous enough to lend me some of the Beatles memorabilia that she collected with her friends while they were

beatles pictures

Top row: Ann’s friend Mick wearing Beatle’s inspired clothing. Below are cards they collected from bubble gum packs.

teenagers in the Ft. Hays area during the 1960’s.  She recalled that they had learned about the Beatles by reading magazines at the local drug store and they were determined to watch them on the Ed Sullivan show.  Since her family had only one TV, the girls begged their landlady to let them come and watch.  She agreed and even popped popcorn for them, and the girls had a blast watching George, Paul, John and Ringo perform.  They became such ardent fans that they even tried to dress like the Beatles, much to the chagrin of their teachers who didn’t approve of their cross dressing.  They also saved every nickel they could to buy gum so that they could get the cards with photos of the Beatles that were included in the packages.  When the show “A Hard Days Night” ran at the local show house, they begged and begged the manager to let them have the poster when he was done with it.  Ann said that her parents were comfortable with allowing her to follow the band because “The Beatles were never shown smoking a cigarette or  with a drink in their hand”.

When I talked about Beatlemania with the folks at the Shepherd’s Center, we were fortunate enough to have a beatles ticket KCwoman in the room who had attended their September 17, 1964 concert which was held at the Kansas City Municipal Stadium.  A local Topeka radio station  sold tickets and also arranged for a train to take the concert goers to and from the concert.  Her son, who at 2 was already becoming a Beatles fan, is still upset that she didn’t take him with her.  She recalls looking through her binoculars at the band and being impressed by how good looking George was in person, even though everyone always said Paul was the cute one.  Even though it was hard to hear the group everyone knew the songs that they were playing and she had the time of her life.

Those are some Beatles memories as told by three area residents.   I would love to hear more, to share your Beatles stories with us just leave a comment on this post!

And since we are a library, here are some books related to the topic of the Beatles and the 1960’s that may be of interest:

Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britian and America by Jonathan Gould

can't buy me love

The Beatles: A Celebration by Geoffrey Giuliano

The British Invasion: How the Beatles and other U.K. Bands Conquered America by Bill Harrybritish invasion

The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitzbeatles biography

Meet The Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band by Steven Stark

meet the beatlesThe Beatles Memorabilia Price Guide by Jeff Augsburger

Rock-n-Roll Treasures Identification and Value Guide by Joe Hilton and Greg Moore

Christie’s Rock & Pop Memorabilia by Peter Doggett and Sarah Hodgson


Some of my many roles at the Library include: Tax Form guru, Collectibles collection promoter, Inspirational fiction evangelist, Adult Literacy promoter, Book Group in a Bag cheerleader, So Many Books book discussion group leader, Reader's Advisor and many more.