Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The first day the Pats met George

Here is a story from the first issue of "McCartney Lovers and Friends" fanzine (getting my money's worth out of this one!).  It is a story we all know and love about when George Harrison fan club president, Pat Kinzer met George in 1969.  However there is a twist this time.   Instead of hearing Pat's side of the story (which you can read in her wonderful book), this is her friend, Pat Simmon's memory of the day. isn't the story of the day where they met George at his door and took all of the photos and had him sign all sorts of things.   Instead it is about when they first met him.   Nice little story.....

The year was 1968, Jul and August to be exact.  About six months prior to this, Pat Kinzer had mumbled on about “wouldn’t it be great to go to England” and I’d mumbled back a dreamy “yeah, sure would.”  So we decided to make the dream become reality, threw our money in the bank, rounded up a few other friends and pen pals, namely Joy Kilbane of Cleveland, Nancy Scharfe of Chicago, and Sandy Meckes of Pennsylvania/Dutch land.   I’m sure those of you who’ve been to England can remember back to when you went for the very first time, and how you got off the plane, looked around, and through that this couldn’t be happening to YOU, because it only happens to those who wrote for “Datebook” or other such gear-fab magazines.  Even when you’re in the bus on the way to the Pan Am terminal somewhere in the sticks outside of London, you keep looking out the window at the cars on the freeway caught in early-morning rush hour, and you keep thinking, “aren’t dreams weird, this HAS to be Cleveland, but everybody keeps driving on the wrong side of the road!”  I remember when we finally got to our hotel, which was around Paddington, a none-too-swift area of London; we had to sit in the lobby for about ten years before our room was ready, and our luggage the five of us took up practically the entire lobby. 
Finally, suffering through the time change, we stumbled our way to the underground and tried to get familiar with how to figure out the different lines, and we succeeded in winding up back at Paddington three times in a row.  Well, what can you except from you first day in London with no sleep and the hour being about 7:30 am?  After getting chased all over the place by the St. John’s Wood police, who seem to get some kind of evil glee out of threatening poor gullible Americans that they’d throw them in jail if they didn’t evacuate the vicinity of Cavendish Avenue, believing them and running off to Piccadilly where you also believed a guy in a record store who said an album cost around five pounds, forgetting that five pounds is not the same as five dollars, going down Carnaby Street in total fascination, visiting the Beatles Monthly offices, and doing hours of souvenir hunting, we returned to our hotel rooms, our feet burning so much we had to crawl around on hands and knees.  But to skep all the rest of the intelligent little happenings that went on the first few days of your fist big vacation without mommy and daddy, we’ll go on to That Day I Never Thought Would Happen, when we first talked to George.

By this time, in early August, we were staying in a hotel in Esher.  Pat, Sandy and I decided to roam around Esher for reasons obvious while Joy and Nancy checked out Weybridge, also for reasons obvious.  We found George’s private drive by asking a girl on a bicycle if she knew where you-know lived, and she very tolerantly led us to the gates beyond which there was a golf course, and somewhere beyond that the long driveway that led up to George’s gates.  I think I was in a state of shock that whole walk up the private road, which was so narrow, it was more like a bicycle path, and all gravel.  You keep thinking, he lives around here somewhere, but no, you’ll never see him, never talk to him, because that just happens to other people, not you.

The walk seemed to take forever.  Just when we thought we’d never find the place, we came across the end of the driveway, looked down in it, and sure enough, there was the famous high wall that surrounded his grounds.  And you thought, naw, this isn’t for real, you’re still dreaming.  Then we were standing in front of his house, the three of us trying to get up the guts to ring the doorbell.  I think it was Sandy who finally did, after considerable shaking.  The feeling I got when that door began to slowly open, but no, it was Margaret, who from gear-fab mags, we all knew, was George’s housekeeper.  Pat, who as most everyone knows, I think, had George’s club for many, many years, and also regularly wrote to 95% of George’s relatives.  George knew of her club because his mother always mentioned it and always got him to sign stuff for contest prizes and so forth.  Anyway, she had sent a registered letter of warning to him a few days before we left for England, saying she was coming over with four people on such and such a date, and would it be all right if we came by for talk on such and such a date, giving the poor man enough notice to evacuate the country.  Margaret said she remembered signing for the letter and that George was aware that we were coming but as it was, he wasn’t home – he was in London.  She said if we came back a little while later that day, he’d probably be back and we could talk to him then.  We talked to her for quite a while, she was so nice, and then in a trance, walked back to beautiful uptown Esher.  Was it really going to happen after all?  Were we really going to get to see him?  After all these years of wishing, hoping, dreaming, planning, was it really going to happen?

Somehow the time managed to go by that day.  How, I couldn’t tell you.  Later on in the afternoon, Pat, Sandy and I stumbled back up Claremont road again.  There was a huge cloud of dust way down the road, and I was beginning to think that perhaps we were in Esher after all, or even in Cleveland, maybe it was Africa!  But it wasn’t a mirage, and as the cause for all the flying gravel came closer, we saw it was a dark green Mini.  Sandy said, “That’s George in that car!”  Pat looked skeptical.  I said, “Naw, couldn’t be!”  The car came closer, and the gravel flew faster.  Pat went white, and said, “It IS George!”  I said, “Naw, couldn’t be.”  The car flew past us, screeched on the brakes, backed up, and the door flew open, and oh God, it WAS George.  The feeling…how can you describe it?  Long before you actually meet him, you keep reading in magazines and things how silly some girls acted, and you KNEW that if it ever happened to you, that YOU would never act that way.  So, our initial, simultaneous reaction, “Duh…it’s him!”  He looked so crammed in that little Mini that he couldn’t sit up straight.  When we later told Joy and Nancy what had happened that day, we tried to tell them what he was wearing and could only remember bright orange trousers and none of us could remember what color of shirt he had on.  He looked at each one of us and said, “One of you….”  Then he pointed to Pat, at which point she completely lost whatever color she had left, which by this time wasn’t much.  He said, “You’re Pat, aren’t you?”  Apparently Margaret had told him we’d been by before and told him what Pat looked like.  He shook her hand, and meanwhile Sandy brilliantly exclaimed, ‘You remember me George, I’m the one who dropped my rheumatism pills all over Paul’s driveway the other day!”  (Note:  Sandy unfortunately had rheumatoid arthritis and had to take pills for it, and when she, Nancy and Joy were waiting by Paul’s a few days before this, George had come out of his house and gotten into a taxi, which was right when Sandy’s pills fell out of her purse and scattered all over the driveway, while George looked on sympathetically and maybe a bit bewildered.)  George looked at Sandy as though to say, “Yeah ok kid, whatever you say…”  He said he’d talk to us, but he was “in bit of a roosh” right now, as he was on his way back to London, but then asked us if we planned to stay in Esher for a few days.  We told him we did, and he said we could come back the next day around 1:00 if we’d like.  While we nodded like robots being fed computerized instructions on what to do next, he zoomed (literally) off again.

If we thought passing just a few hours was hard before, passing a whole 24 hour day had to be next to impossible.  We even resorted to trying a séance, Pennsylvania/Dutch style with Sandy saying, “Make out the lights!” and “whoever is within our presence, make the shoe glow!”  and similar things.  Funniest séance I’d ever been in, but we had to do something to pass the time….

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Sara for all your passion and care to find and post this kind of beatles'stuff! I always enjoy your blog.
    a beatles' and George's fan.