Usually we read stories of fans who met the Beatles on this blog. This time we will read about a girl who was sadly going through a tragedy in her life in 1964 and was out of the loop about the Beatles. Yet she somehow found herself at the Beatles press conference in Pittsburgh (that part is somehow missing from this story) and became an automatic Beatle fan.
“One final thing for the Beatles,” an announcer said over the public
address system, “if you’d just line up (for pictures) with a little girl
for the local papers, that would be fine.”
An audio recording of the next several minutes is chaotic, individual
voices nearly impossible to distinguish, but one of the Beatles can be
heard calling out, “Where’s the little girl?”
Then, in a sing-song manner, as if calling for a lost child, “Little girl?”
A tiny, 17-year-old brunette named Barbara Shapiro emerged in the
midst of the Beatles. Barbara -- daughter of Sam Shapiro and a cousin of
Joyce Barniker, who’d been watching Paul doodle -- was surprised to be
thrust into the enviable role of the “little girl” posing with the
Beatles. In fact, the band meant very little to her. She couldn’t
understand the fans. All that silly screaming, the hysteria, the
worshipful adoration. It was demeaning.
“How’s it going?” one of the Beatles asked.
Under a mix of voices and noise, a young woman can be heard talking and, at times, laughing.
“Let’s sing for her,” a Beatle said. Then, the world’s most famous voices harmonize for a brief moment.
“Lovely,” the young woman said.
Barbara Shapiro was in the midst of an odd and eventful day, one that
would include moments of celebration and shock. For starters, she was
two days shy of her 18th birthday. Her aunt that day had given her an
early gift -- a $100 bill -- which Barbara stashed in her purse. Any
happiness Barbara experienced on this day, however, was tempered by
painful memories triggered by an event just a few days earlier: The
unveiling of her mother’s gravestone.
Pearl Shapira Shapiro had died several months earlier after a
two-year battle with cancer. It was, for Barbara, a horrendous
experience. She’d watched her mother waste away and, in some of the
worst moments, vomit blood. There were countless trips to the hospital.
All of this was hidden from her younger brother and sister, who wouldn’t
be told about their mother’s illness until the day of her death. It was
“Look at John,” someone called out to Barbara.
Which one was John? Barbara was perhaps the only young woman in
Pittsburgh who didn’t know. She’d not paid enough attention to the
Beatles to distinguish one from the other.
It was too embarrassing to ask, “Which of you is John?” So Barbara
started to turn to her right. There stood Paul. “I looked at him right
in the face,” Barbara recalled. “He was absolutely mesmerizing. I got
stuck on him.”
As for the rest of the Beatles, Barbara thought they needed a serious amount of dental work.
Someone suggested that Barbara pretend to faint, so she threw out her arms and threw her head back in a mock swoon.
Cameras clicked. Finally, much to the relief of Press drama critic Kaspar Monahan, the conference ended after 40 minutes.