notquiteold

Gracefully Aging – With Resistance

My Best Day Ever! (so far)

This is it! The best day ever in my whole life (so far).

Exactly fifty years ago:

February 9, 1964.

There has been a fair amount of hoopla this year, given the 50th anniversary, so you may recognize this date.

The Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

All my friends at school were so excited. For the last month, we had been crazed with Beatles Fever.  We had set up a record player in the gym at the Bristol Girls’ Club and played the two singles (four songs) over and over. “She Loves You” with the forgettable “I’ll Get You” on the B side, and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” with the unforgettable (to me) “I Saw Her Standing There” on the B side. By over and over, I mean OVER and OVER. No one said, “Enough!” We couldn’t get enough.

Every girl had a favorite Beatle. And it was easy to know which Beatle any little girl would choose. The cute and popular girls liked Paul. The day-dreamers were drawn to John. The shy, bookish girls loved George. The girls who were most likely to adopt a stray dog: Ringo.

Being the dreamer that I was, I liked John Lennon. Some of my classmates were outraged by that idea. “But he’s married!” they cried. I didn’t really see what difference that would make, since I hardly thought he was going to ask me on a date. But although I may have been a dreamer, I was not a boat-rocker. I switched (at least in public) to George.

And after weeks of anticipation, Ed Sullivan announced that The Beatles would be on his show. On February 9, 1964.

That was not just a day. That was my birthday.

And it was not just my birthday. It was my thirteenth birthday.

I was FINALLY going to be a teenager. In possession of two already-teenager sisters, I had been desperate to be a teenager for the last two years. And with a February birthday, I was always one of the oldest kids in my class. I was the first one of my friends to become a teenager. I had huge bragging rights.

It was my day. I was a teenager. I was an adult. Makeup – here I come!

All my friends were thrilled at the prospect of seeing The Beatles. I was going to see them ON MY BIRTHDAY.

No one else I knew could say that. No one else was becoming a teenager to the tune of “I Saw Her Standing There.” Of course, I didn’t look like a teenager. I looked nine.

me at 12

But I didn’t care.

The day was perfect. I wore the brown dress my mother bought for me at Lord & Taylor. For church in freezing February, I didn’t wear my one pair of stockings. (Oh, there was no pantyhose in those days. I had a tiny little girdle with garters that the stockings fastened to.) I could not risk having those horrible splintering pews ruin my only pair of stockings. So I wore my bagging beige tights. There was no lycra in those days. Skinny girls like me had droopy knees and ankles every day.But I didn’t care.

It didn’t snow. I had learned early on that having a birthday in February meant that you had a good chance of your birthday party being cancelled. I became philosophic about it by age 8. (I still am by the way; we had a blizzard last year). Back then, I was lucky though – I lived in a two family house with my aunt and uncle and their kids on the first floor. That guaranteed me a minimum level of celebration.

But it didn’t snow, and my other aunts and uncles and great-aunts, and grandparents showed up. They actually came early and I forgot to change to my stockings. I wore my stupid baggy tights to my birthday party. But I didn’t care.

My hair came out okay. Okay for me. I hated sleeping with rollers, and I usually ended up pulling out a couple in the middle of the night. So in the morning I usually had only one curly side. And that day was no different, except instead of a curly side, it was more of a lumpy side. But I didn’t care.

I think I got a nice gift. I think it was the Brownie Fiesta camera I had been lusting after. But I honestly don’t remember. I didn’t care.

My party was still in process at 8:00 PM. We stopped. We adjusted the tin-foil on the rabbit-ear antenna.

My sisters and I stood before the old Sylvania black-and-white television, and swooned at the fuzzy images. (Actually, my oldest sister didn’t swoon – she was way too sophisticated. But she watched carefully.) My fifteen-year-old sister and I swooned.

Oh my God, they were amazing. The Beatles were so cute in their adorable suits and adorable haircuts. And they sang to the screaming girls in the audience. They sang to me. They shook their shaggy heads and smiled. They were so happy. We were happy.

Just a few months before, we were also motionless in front of the television. In shock and in sadness at the death of the President.

And here were these sweet boys singing to us. Telling us it was okay to be happy again.

On my thirteenth birthday.

beatles tv

42 Comments

  1. First of all, Happy Birthday!
    I loved reading this post – so many things I could identify with: (the garter belt with hooks….). My post tomorrow will be about my memories of the Beatles, but I didn’t have the honor of seeing them on my BIRTHDAY!

    • It was magnificent. The Beatles, being thirteen, being the envy of my classmates!

  2. my cousin and her mom went to see them. tickets were $10. we thought they were crazy. they weren’t.

    • I watch the videos now and see all those screaming little girls – what fabulous memories they must have!

  3. June

    A very happy birthday….I’m sure that 13th birthday will always be the special one!!

    • I can’t imagine anything ever topping The Beatles. (Unless of course, James Taylor wants to come to my house to sing for me on my next birthday…)

  4. Happy Happy Birthday!! And I’ve got a feeling there are more ‘best days ever’ yet to come for you!! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

  5. What a wonderful way to remember your 13th birthday! Hope you are celebrating today surrounded by loved ones:)

    • Yes, thanks… It’s been a great birthday, and I can’t wait for The Beatles special tonight on TV!

      • sunshinebright

        A very happy birthday, and thanks for the remind about watching TV tonight. What a celebration! :-)

  6. The best gift ever! Happy birthday!

    • Thanks. It’s been impossible to top – so far!

  7. I remember……I remember not knowing what all the fuss was about….funny what a 4 year difference can make in a memory. Have a happy birthday. Hope to see you soon.

    • I seem to recall your brothers and the Mazur boys not being that impressed either. I guess you had to be a 13 year old girl.

  8. Wow. What a memory in your collection. Of course this is your favorite day. Your story makes me smile. Happy birthday, Nancy. Don’t you hate you can actually talk about something that happened 50 years ago and YOU were there? How is that possible?

    • Isn’t it amazing? How can I possibly remember (and so clearly) something from a half-century ago?

  9. Happy, Happy Birthday! I honestly can’t remember watching that show! I’m sure I did though. We always watched the Ed Sullivan show. I was the least heard and probably pushed aside as I was the youngest of three stair-step sisters and we were 9, 10, and 11 that year. The Beatles surely surfaced in our household that night!

    • My classmates and I talked about nothing else all that week. And there was no such thing as recording it back then, so we just talked about it to re-live it again and again for weeks. (and for me, for the rest of my life!)

  10. Love this post! A die-hard Beatles fan myself, I smiled to read who liked George – that was me for sure. Happy Birthday! :)

    • Ha! I think there is a definite link between personality and which Beatle you liked!

  11. You absolutely, positively captured the evening and the era. I can clearly see Ed Sullivan introducing them. Who knew he should have given you a Birthday Shout-Out, too!!

    • Yes! “The youngsters from Liverpool”.

  12. And that is my favorite sketch yet.

    • Thanks. My sketch is as grainy as the picture on our old TV. I should have tried to incorporate the picture slowly rolling and rolling….

  13. Happy Birthday, Nancy! I remember watching that show, too!

    • Glad to know I wasn’t the only one alive back then!

  14. Happy Birthday! That is a great birthday memory. It would be hard to top it. I do remember that night. My sisters were acting crazy. They actually got to see them live in Toronto (twice) when they came this way. The memorabilia is still intact and on my sister’s wall.

    • Wow! To see them LIVE! I remember a few years later I met a girl who said she had been in the audience. I didn’t believe her. (Actually, I still don’t believe her.)

      • In the audience at the Ed Sullivan show? That would be something.
        My sisters are a bit older than me so I wasn’t old enough to go when they came here. To be honest I don’t think it would have occurred to me. I do remember it being a huge deal.
        My Mom had to drive them into Toronto and kill time at a restaurant until it was over. She actually ran into them at the restaurant. Well, she tripped over them. Apparently they were being collected to get across the street to the venue and Ringo stuck his foot out to get out of a booth and she tripped over his foot. She said some unflattering things to him about his big feet and they left and she sat down. The waitress came over and told her who they were. She had no idea. My sisters were mortified when they found out she had been nasty to Ringo.

      • I have to say I saw them too. I was about 15 and my friend Marilyn and I saved the money from our Saturday jobs and got the cheapest tickets to see them at the Finsbury Park Astoria (a converted cinema). We travelled by Tube (London underground/subway) and had seats in the gods, but we sang and screamed with the rest. John was my favorite too, but that was because I thought he was the brainiest, with his book and all (A Spaniard in the Works). I wish I still had it, and all the special Christmas discs they made for their fan club members. Thanks for reminding me of all of that. And Happy Birthday!

        • I always adored John Lennon. Even if my classmates didn’t approve.

  15. Happy Birthday! Great post!

  16. This was so sweet! I’m a little younger so I didn’t have the same experience, but a neighbor girl and I wore out the grooves on Norwegian Wood one summer – just like you said: played it over and over and over again.

    Happy belated birthday! Here’s to lots more “Best Days Ever.”

    • A few years later, it was Sgt. Peppers for me. Over and over.

  17. Ray G

    I’m about four years older, and male. For me, it was the sheer genius of the Beatles. I wanted to (would still like to) meet Paul, and have a beer with Ringo. George was too moody, John unreadable. Remember seeing them and thinking “things are changing”. And also wondering why the girls made so much noise that they couldn’t hear them (the band) in the audience.

  18. That is a rather fabulous day, thirteen and The Beatles. Really what more could any newly minted teenager wish for.

    Happiest of Birthdays.

  19. Happy birthday, and thanks for getting She Loves You stuck in my head :)

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