Memory Distorts: The Winter of ’64

Memory sure distorts. I could have sworn the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show the same night I had that party where nearly 60 kids showed up and, as my diary, tells me, “ground chips into the rug, dumped sandwiches on chairs, tore books, spilled Cokes, flicked ashes, broke the television (Freddy fixed it), broke the glass punch ladle etc.” Maybe you can make out the writing for yourself down below here.

I also had the memory that, as the Beatles sang and the party roared on, some of the more poorly behaved boys, the ones who arrived smoking, were seen holding a bottle of Clorox. I know that the next morning I found out my little pet alligator dead, his ivory tummy thrown to the sky  in the shallow water of his enamel tub which smelled suspiciously like a swimming pool. (The party was held in our basement where the washer and dryer were, as well as the clothesline, which we took down for the night. (Clotheslines! Remember clotheslines?))

It’s true all this happened but it wasn’t the Beatles-on-Ed Sullivan night at all. The party was on January 4, 1964 whereas the big night on NBC was February 9 of that year as we were all told again and again yesterday.

How I blush to see what I revealed of myself in that diary: the way I was ‘auditioning’ one boyfriend and easing out another at age 14. The way I so callously described my mother’s poor bloody hand when she climbed up over the counter where we folded the clothes, hoisted the sash of the window she was bent on polishing for this silly party with one hand and then – too late – saw that same sash slam down onto her other hand. I only say that it ‘bled disgustingly’ but  even at the time I remember my heart swelling with love and gratitude to her for trying to make things nice for me and help me work my way in to the big new school.

Here’s my favorite picture of the pre-Ringo Beatles, just as they were just starting out – and here at the top, obviously, is that diary entry too. Long time passing since those days all right!

george john paul at 16

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2 thoughts on “Memory Distorts: The Winter of ’64

  1. I believe the teacher was Miss Derenska. That is the phonetic not actual spelling of her name. A most attractive lady who rode the Andover Street bus and got off at the Douglas Road stop. I admired her basic demeanor but have no idea what subject she taught. We were all surprised when they said she had died. I have no recollection of cause of death.

  2. I have no idea who the teacher was that passed away. But as I recall the Beatles landing here in Feb. of 1964, I have to think that it must have been a diversion
    for us as we were still reeling from JFK’s assassination.

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