Saturday, September 13, 2014

They came, they saw, they conquered

The Beatles Came, Saw, conquered
By Peter Schneider
The News American

Sirens blared, teenagers screamed, and three cars--one of them with four shaggy maned occupants screeched up to the Hopkins Place entrance of the Civic Center.

The Beatles were here.

A young blond girl, her face twisted with emotion, darted across the street and barreled into a burly policeman, sending him sprawling to the pavement.

Screaming, "I love you.  I love you," she clawed at the door of the black Cadillac limousine.  Thousands of other youths heard the commotion, responded with a roar, and stormed up Hopkins Place.

The felled policeman with reinforcements tore the sobbing girl from the car and
 joined a cordon to head off the stampeding mob.  The British moppets, surrounded by blue uniformed officers, dashed into the building and disappeared behind the descending street door.

It was a brief, but terrifying moment.

A woman rushed up to the girl and shouted into her face "What made you do a thing like that?  The girl stopped.  And with a look that seemed to sum up the teenager's attitude toward those puzzled by the Beatle phenomenon, answered, 'Because I love him, that's why."

She went on , then to join the 14,000 others packed into the Civic Center.

They were polite even orderly, as they patiently applauded the preliminary performers.  But they were there for only one reason, and their shrieks at the mere mention of "Beatles" was chilling

How do you describe the moment the Beatles appeared?  As a comedian once limply excused when his best line fell that "You would have had to been there."

The roar was deafening.  It reverberated off the walls and ceiling and rolled in a solid wave of sound over the teeming, screaming, mass of youngsters.

Flashbulbs fired with the staccato pop-poppity-pop of popping popcorn.  In the darkened hall the flashes were like lightning in a severe storm, or fireflies on a summer night.

The Beatles sang and it was pandemonium.

Adulation radiated from tear-streaked faces.  Thousands of arms and heads waved and bobbed and flailed as if from one frenzied body.

And for the two performances together -- 75 girls were treated with ammonia capsules, iodine and ice packs in an emergency first aid station.

Between shows, the Beatles appeared for a press conference.  Their words weren't exactly candidates for Bartlett's Quotations, but in case you're interested:

Paul McCartney, who plays bass guitar, says he doesn't like to be asked what he'll do when the Beatles popularity has waned.

George Harrison, who plays lead guitar, says he isn't worried about competition.  "After all, " he said, "there's enough money for everybody."

John Lennon, who plays rhythm guitar, says he's backing Eisenhower in the current U.S. Presidential contest.

And Ringo Starr, who plays drums says he'll undergo a tonsillectomy this year, but it'll be done in England, "where it's for free."

Just prior to the press conference, a group of girls pulled the ancient "Trojan Horse" routine and tried to smuggle two of their clan into the Beatles' dressing room.

The stunt failed, but you have to admire their initiative.

The girls were in a cardboard box, which was tied with a large red ribbon and labeled, "Beatles fan Mail."  A guard checked the box as it was wheeled into the Civic Center, and the jig was up.

At every entrance, ushers, Civic Center guards and city police constantly were retrieving determined teenagers who slipped through their straining fingers.

One girl made it all to the mezzanine corridor before she was stopped.  Others, when caught at the entrance, battled ferociously.  At the close of the evening performance, the 360 policemen detailed to the Civec Center were augmented by K-9 patrolmen and mounted police.

The numbers were necessary to handle the mob that surrounded the Holiday Inn, which as 'Hotel X" turned out to be the worst kept secret since the Liz Taylor - Eddie Fisher rift.

All in all, it was a Hard Day's Night. 

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