Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two Old Friends

Another Story taken from the Winter 1983/84 issue of The Write Thing about Meeting Paul and Ringo. This one was written by Kathy Jones of West Seneca, New York.

If anyone had told me a year and half ago that I would be writing a story about meeting Paul McCartney, I would never have believed it. At that time I was what I referred to as a "closet fan". I had been a Beatle fan and a McCartney fan since 1964. With the passage of many years there had been fewer and fewer people with whom to share my interest. By 1974 there was no one. So I retreated into the "closet" to pursue my interest in the Beatles, particularly Paul. When you have no contact with other fans you miss a lot. I wasn't sure how to contact other fans, then I read an article in the local paper about a local couple who were fans, the article mentioned fan clubs and conventions. When I finally contacted them I also got other addresses. Within a few months I had attended my first Beatlefest and was subscribing to two newsletters. I even found the address of a local person in the pen-pal listings. There was actually another Beatles (and Paul) fan in Buffalo! I contacted her and we became friends. What amazed me most was that so many people were meeting Paul. It didn't seem possible that it could happen to me though. Nevertheless, I was determined to go to England in 1983 and at least see Liverpool. My new found friend, Pat, had already met Paul. She was considering going to England again. We began to make plans together.

Friday, September 23, 1983, found us in London. We saw Paul 6 1/2 hours after stepping off the plane. As it turned out we almost didn't get to see him. HE came out the back door and we were waiting at the front. Then I noticed other people standing at the corner, and thought to myself, "we've got to get down there." First we walked, then we ran. I never ran around a corner so fast in my life, I was sure we had ;missed him and would see him ride away if we saw him at all. As we stopped suddenly, we realized that"the Man" was standing there. And, as I found out that day, "there's such a man." See him, really seeing him in the light of day, after so many years was totally overwhelming. He looked somewhat different than I expected. But I think that's possible when you see someone for the first time, after only having seen them in pictures and on film. Plus there was the shock of actually seeing him. When he smiled, he didn't seem different at all. He was leaving, and this might be our only chance. so I found my voice and asked if he would Be back next week. We thought he said yes, but no one was sure. I was sure that those eyes looked at me when I asked him. Then he walked away. I couldn't seem to raise my camera to my face. I just stood there. Paul turned around and waved before continuing on his way. I told myself, that if nothing else, at least I had seen him. Finally.

On Monday, September 26, we waited for him again. Pat saw his car go around the corner. and then, all of a sudden, there he was, standing there, grinning at us. It amazed me how easy it was just to go up to him and give him the gifts I was holding. One was a plaque called "An Admirable Man" and the other was a certificate for "Number one." When I gave Paul these gifts, he said, "For me? Than you very much." I asked him to please look at the one with the certificate, I added "it has your name on it." "Yeah, I 'll look at them all." It seemed like he responded to each individual even though everyone was saying something at the same time. Pat asked if we could have a picture with him and I asked if I could get an autograph. I told him I never had one before. He said something about "going over here" (near the door). I was so afraid he would slip away before I accomplished everything I had waited for all these years. But I think I underestimated him because it seems as though he had every intention of giving us everything we asked for. He seemed to have a calming effect on me. '

i had been more nervous waiting for him. Standing there next to him while our picture was being taken, I felt as though "I was standing beside an old friend. I don't actually remember handing him the pen for the picture sleeve. I do remember watching him write. At one point he said, "you must think I'm famous." It seemed like he was trying to explain in a modest way all the attention he was receiving. I had completely forgotten about the camera in my hand, but I had the autograph and I had given him the gifts and best of all, I had stood there beside him for that all too brief moment. I will treasure that moment forever.

We waited for Paul again on Thursday September 29, for what turned out to be the last time. The only thing I wanted now was to let him know how much I appreciated everything. He came down the street, and when the opportunity presented itself, I said to him, "I just wanted to thank you for being so nice to us." "Oh you're welcome." But, like the "thank you" of a few days before, this simple statement was said in a special way. I said, "Well, we really appreciate it." I patted him on the arm before I realized what I was doing. It seemed so natural to do that, like he was an old friend. One of the people waiting that day was a girl who had never met Paul before, and she was becoming increasingly excited. "she's overcome" was how Paul put it as he signed another autograph. She didn't have anything for him to sign, so I gave her an envelope I had. The only room was on the back, so when Paul wrote his name it was probably difficult for him because of the uneven surface. He said, "Let me do it again, it went across the envelope." When he had finished, he said, "Two for the price of one. That'll be two and six, please." The girl who had the autograph was really crying by this time.

I'll never forget the courtesy, friendliness, and consideration he showed toward all of us. I expected to come away from this encounter impressed by his good looks and charm, and I was so expecting to be impressed just by seeing him and being in his presence. but what ended up impressing me the most, was that he turned out to be such a wonderful human being. He is truly the "Admirable Man" referred to in the plaque I gave him.

This was supposed to be the end of the story, bu two month later (November 26, 1983) in another city miles and miles form London, Pat, her pen pal Laurie and I found ourselves waiting once again. This time we were in Los Angeles waiting for Ringo. We had gone to LA. to attend Beatlefest, see some sights and if we were really lucky, to see Ringo. For months we had been listening to the Yellow Submarine show, and looked forward to that final show which was to be a live call-in from L.A.'s KLOS station. We rode by the station and saw the ABC sign, and then spotted a limousine in the parking lot. We waited at the edge of the lot. While we were waiting a reporter from the L.A. Times interviewed us about how we happened to be there. Our names appeared in the paper two days later. After talking to us, the reporter got in his car and left. He would have had more of a story if he had waited a bit longer. He missed the best part. When Ringo did come out after about a half hour we hurried over to him. I had the same feeling I'd had with Paul, that he would slip away. Suddenly there seemed to be a lot more people around. Ringo began signing autographs. At one point I began to hand my program to him to sign and he took someone else's. When he did sign for me I thanked him and stood back. Unlike two months ago with Paul, I remembered my camera and took pictures. It occurred to me to have someone take a picture of me with Ringo. I stood next to him and Pat took the picture. Afterward "I turned to Ringo and said, "thank you." He responded with "Thank You!" The way he said that and the way he smiled was priceless. I'll never forget it. I almost put my arm around him. Like Paul, he seemed like an old friend. Meeting these two old-friends two months apart after all these years was the most overwhelming, incredible and memorable experience of my life.

1 comment:

  1. A heart warming read on this cold January day many years later.