Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beatles arrive

Beatles arrive
By C.W.  Gusewelle
Kansas City Star

There must be something sad and unfulfilling about being the rage of your age at 2 o’clock in the morning, with the rain pelting down and maybe 100 wet persons looking at you from behind lines of policemen who will not let them touch you.

 The four young men came singly out from the plane and down the steps – George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon (although later, among the waiting 100, there was some uncertainty about the order of their emergence).

What the eye remembered was a sharp image of the faces of enthusiasm and indifference, of arrogance and imitated joy.  And, of course the hair.

The hair of the Beatles is undoubtedly coiffed and sanitized beyond suspicion.  But there is no escaping that it is the way you see hair worn by gandies and alkies and forgotten men, hanging lank and forlorn over the backs of their collars. 

The small crowd surged forward against the police line, waving and crying out in a brief spasm of excitement.

Then the limousine carried the Beatles away.  A youth in shorts and a sweatshirt ran a little way beside it, grinning in through the window and pointing frantically at his own shaggy hairdo.
The car outdistanced him and he stopped, looking embarrassed, his legs spattered with water from the tires.  No one fainted.

“I got three pictures of him,” screeched a girl with a box camera, the cords standing out in her neck.  “I got three pictures of George Harrison.”

Following Beatles fans is like fighting the Viet Cong:  they are possessed of a mystifying mobility.  Already some of the same ones had gotten to the entrance of the Muehlebach Towers.

Policemen barred them from the elevator doors that led to Mecca—the 18th floor suite where their heroes had settled in.

Seven bellmen wrestled 200 pieces of luggage.  Another, John Shamel, 24 years old, waited to take their orders for room service.

Three buckwheat cakes and tea for Ringo, Shamel reported.  Two orders of bacon and eggs; one grilled cheese sandwich.  Also four orders of coffee, a plate of sliced tomatoes, two glasses of milk and a pitcher of orange juice.

They were sitting around a table, Shamel said, with their coats off, playing cards.  Pitch, he added discreetly. 

Already in the room were a Missouri country ham, apple cider, a mincemeat pie and a watermelon, gifts from a Kansas City actress.

The cider was open, Shamel noted.  The pie was cut and the watermelon eaten.  It was going on 3 o’clock.  No wonder the boys had looked sallow.

Below, the stories were endless and tragic.  The girls who had gone to the wrong airport, Mid-Continent International in Platte County… Others who still clutched long-stemmed roses they hadn’t been able to deliver. 

One who had waited at the hotel since 3 o’clock, had gone out for a package of cigarettes at 2 o’clock and had missed the completely.  She sat now, alone with her misery, at a table in a darkened ballroom.
By the slim margin of the last police line of defense, two girls were deprived of immortality.  They found a single, unguarded elevator on the floor below the main hotel lobby, rode it to the third floor and walked to the eighteenth.  

“Hi,” they greeted the waiting detective.  “You’ve got the wrong floor,” he told them and ushered them back downstairs. 

More coffee, Shamel reported at 4:30 o’clock, and an order of toast.  More of the mincemeat pie had been eaten.

“They’re real nice fellows,” he said.  “They called me by my first name.  It was a pleasure to serve them.”  The card game wore on, but Ringo, he noticed, had gone to bed.

Later a physician was called to the suite to treat one of the musicians, he believed it was Ringo, not for indigestion but for a sore throat.

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