Monday, January 23, 2012

Story that goes with the photos

I always am happy when I find the name of a fan that is in a fan photo or better yet the story behind the photos. I have posted these two photos recently, but I am posting them again because I recently found the story that goes with these photos in the November 197 7 issue of the Write Thing. The fan story was written by the girl that always gets chopped out of the photograph, Toni Kraker who lived in Glendale, New York.

I landed in London on September 19, 1977 with the temperature as cold 42 degrees. It was so warm in New York when I left that all I brought along were short sleeve shirts and one sweater. When I got off the plane I needed a coat. I was booked in the London Embassy hotel, but when I arrived, I found out my reservations were never completed. I couldn’t believe how my luck had started out. Here I was in the middle of London freezing to death and with no hotel room. I started to complain but they promised to put me up for a night in the Westmoreland Hotel which happened to be in St. John’s Wood. I went for a walk and if I would have made a right turn instead of a left I would have walked right into Paul’s neighborhood. I didn’t realize how close I was. I could have died. One strike, two to go.
That Thursday (22nd) I loaded my camera and took a cab to Paul’s street. A large green fence and a high wall surround his elegant townhouse. I heard some kids laughing and spotted the gate open about 2 inches. I peeked inside and there were Mary and Stella riding their bikes and having a great time. Heather was standing in the doorway but there was no sign of Paul or Linda. I waited another half hour before I got up enough guts to ring the door bell.
I had brought baby James a gift and asked if someone could come out and get it. Before long Heather appeared at the door and collected the present. I asked if her father was home, she said no and wouldn’t give out any other information except that Paul and Linda were still in the hospital with the baby. She was a great help. She wouldn’t even say when they would be back. I was leaving London that Monday, so my chances didn’t look that good. When I got back to the hotel, a daily newspaper printed a picture of Paul, Linda and baby James. They really were still there. I was getting more depressed as the day went on. I went to MPL Communications next in Soho Square. I spoke to a really nasty lady who said it was impossible to see Paul. What does she know? That was all she said and then I felt worse than ever. My husband told me not to vie up and that we could try Paul’s house again on Sunday. He said at least I had taken pictures of the house. Big deal. I was looking for the jackpot.
It seemed forever until Sunday, but it finally rolled around and we got to Paul’s house about 11:30. All the windows were closed and the drapes drawn. It was so quiet I thought for sure that no one was around. About 20 minutes later Mary and Stella were running around the yard screaming and carrying on so loudly that I figured with all that noise the baby wasn’t home yet, which meant Paul wasn’t. I knew this was my last chance and since my arms were full of presents for Mary, Stella and Heather I had to ring the bell so someone could take them from me.
I rang the bell and a man’s voice came over the intercom system asking who was there. I said I had some gifts for the kids and could someone come out and get them. I had no idea at the time that I was talking to Paul McCartney! All of a sudden the front gate opened and there he stood in the flesh. He just said, “Hi, how are ya?” I almost died. He looked fantastic, even better than in pictures. HE had on a blue stripped shirt with the sleeves rolled up, black pants and slippers. You could tell that he just washed his hair by the way it was so fluffy and shiny. He could tell that we were form New York and asked which part. When we told him Queens he said he likes it there. Stella was with him and I asked her if she wanted to take a picture. She ran behind her father and hid. Paul said that Stelly doesn’t like to take pictures. That’s what he calls her, Stelly. Martha and Lucky were there too. He signed a Wings press kit for me and asked if I could take his picture, he said why not. So I tried to focus it but I was shaking so much I thought for sure it would blur, so he said, why not take another one in case this one doesn’t come out. He was so wonderful. The second one he suggested we take together with his arm around me and all. He was so nice and pleasant and didn’t even mind talking with us. One of his neighbors came by and interrupted the whole thing. So we figured ten minutes with the main man was better than nothing, so we said good bye and took off. As we were leaving Paul called me back because he had my pen. I said he could keep it and then realized that he had touched it so I tired to take it back but he kept pulling on the other end. He got a great big laugh out of that. Imagine having Paul McCartney laugh at you. So I kissed him goodbye, thanked him again and when I was at a safe distance, I cried my eyes out. I couldn’t believe it had really happened. It was one of the happiest days of my life and I shall never forget it or how nice Paul was to us. It is certainly a traumatic experience though. I don’t know if I could handle it again if it ever came up, and I sure hope it does!

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