Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Babysitting Mary

So I have had photos of fans babysitting Mary McCartney for quite awhile and I always wondered what the story was behind the photos.   I found that story this week in the July/August 1972 issue of "5 Bites of the Apple" fanzine.    

Before I post the story, let me say that I do not think that Paul and Linda were bad parents.   Quite the opposite.   I think that Heather here at the age of 9 was acting like a pretty normal 9 year old (and I teach kids every day from the ages of 5-11, so 9 year olds are something I understand).    She was trying to act older to impress these girls (the "balls" conversation) and she was exaggerating things a bit. I do not believe that anyone hit her, however I am sure that she was disciplined if she did not do her chores.   I also think Heather was going through a difficult time adjusting to her new life and was acting out on some of her feelings.    All normal behaviors for a child her age.   

I left out the last part of the story because the writer really said some unkind things about Paul and Linda as parents.  While this is how this person felt in 1972,  it isn't really something I want out on the internet in 2014.    I felt a bit uncomfortable putting this story out there in the first place, but it is very interesting.   It also reminds us that we live in a different age and I do not think anyone would allow strangers from another country to take their children to the park.   I am sure that Bea is watched and guarded at all times.   

So read this story through the eyes of 1972 and remember that young Paul fans wrote it. 



Written by Goldie and Robin
5 Bites of the Apple
July-August 1972

The date was July 6th (1972) and it was our 8th day in London.  We were to meet Heather at the park near Cavendish on that day.  The day before we had been introduced to her by Pat Miller, where we went to Regents park and played games and got “beat up.”  It’s hard to believe that all this was happening.   Heather is a normal 9 year old brat whose main line was “gimmie Gimmie” and “do this and that for me.”  She thrived at being the center of attention.  She complained constantly about the way she was being treated at home and about all the responsibilities she had.  

The second day was the best so we’ll deal more into that.   We met Heather in the park with Mary.  Mary was a bit shy in the beginning and clung to Heather although she later became very close to us.  She is a very protective child Heather and Heather’s game is hard to retaliate with Mary crying, “don’t hurt my Heather.”  In order for Heather to wrestle with the girls she was only too happy to unload Mary on us and let us take her for a walk.  We took her to the High Street where the shops are and she would look in all the windows and comment about the dolls, rings and things.  She was very sweet and loved when we took photos of her.  She had the sweetest smile, big blue eyes, a cute little pug nose with freckles on it.  Every time she smiles she would wrinkle her nose and roll her top lip under her mouth.  Her hair was dark brown and all in different chopped up layers, and she had on side tucked behind her ear.  She wore a dirty blue pajama top and little playsuit panties, with suede brown shoes.  She had a mad passion about carrying one of the girls pocketbooks and loved to look like a “lady.”  




 I know a lot of you would be interested to know some of Heather’s comments about Paul and Linda.  Here are some scattered comments.  When we were playing in the grass the 1st day she asked us if we smoked and we answered, yes and she said “not cigarettes, grass (She picked up some grass from the ground) You know, pot.”  So then we said, “No.  do you?”  And she said yes!  So we said, “come on, get out of here.”  “Alright, I don’t’. But I know 5 people that do.  Promise not to tell, they’ll get arrested.  Mommy, Daddy, and the rest of the band.”  “They don’t give you any?”  “No….”    Then she also complained that she had too many chores to do and she would get “hit” if she didn’t do them.  “It’s not fair.  I get hit at least once a day.”  She had to be by 5 so that she could feed the babies, clean the dogs and feed them and make dinner.  She would imitate her mom yelling at her in a slang nasal American accent.  Once she said she liked the band except for her mommy and daddy.  At one point, Goldie commented that it was  a shame that they didn’t have a ball to play with.  Heather said, “Ball?  Do you know what balls are?”  Goldie said, “Yes, but you shouldn’t because you don’t’ have any brothers.”    “But I have fathers….” She complained about not being able go to the movies because “Rosie’s children go and they’re much poorer than we are.”  She said Ruth, Paul’s step sister was in love with David Cassidy and her favorite idol was Mick Jagger.  Someone asked if she ever saw him, and she said, “Are you kidding?  Mommy and I knew him real well in New York.  She photographed him.”   






Back to Mary.  She was the average 3 year old that loved to watch the budgies (pigeons) and follow them around in the park.  We were all very thirsty and went to the nearest bake shop to get something to eat and drink.  At first Mary said that she wasn’t hungry b ut after offering her a big doughnut, she agreed.  There were little flowers on the table which she picked up and had everyone smell.  When the owner told her not to play with them she just smiled and said, “they’re the ladies.”  She ate the doughnut and got the sugar all over her hair and face.  She was very polite and offered pieces to everyone.  Then Heather came looking for us because we were gone for so long.  We went back to the park to the little bathroom there to clean Mary up.  She had a little cut on her face and screamed and cried when we washed near it. 





 We met Heather the next day and she said that she would be gone tomorrow.  She said that she hated touring, it was very boring and she had to sit in the hotel room all the time.  We saw Mary again and she was half naked (no bottoms on) and she waved at us and smiled.  Mary is a very sweet, kind and pleasant baby.  She was reserved and friendly.  Heather on the other hand, was very aggressive, clever and bratty.  But she enjoyed us as friends and seemed upset when she knew we had to leave. 

 

15 comments:

  1. this is all true and many of us have original copies of the pics from back then - P & L were very heavy pot smokers then as well

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  2. 1.) I guess this is written maybe by Goldie Friede and Robin Titone?

    2.) This was the 70s. My parents smoked weed openly in front of me, and so did all their friends. (my parents were 20 when they had me, in 1969, I'm the same age as Mary). Obviously, after we blabbed to someone or other, our parents told us to keep it on the down low, which we did. And given Paul's high profile, and getting busted....it's no surprise they gave the same instructions to the kid.

    3.) Ditto the openness with nudity. It's so funny that the whole sexual revolution of the 60s really just led to us being as juvenile about nudity and sex as much as we ever were....at the time the idea was to be adult about it. I don't know if the pot and the nudity comes into play with the "nasty" section that was edited out, regarding their opinions of Paul and Linda as parents, but if it was, I think that's worth noting. I'll take pothead parents over alcoholic parents ANYDAY.

    2.) I concur: Heather sounds just like I was when I was 9, and how my niece was when she was 9, and how my nephew is now that HE'S 9.

    3.) Touring IS boring. Exceedingly boring. Long drives, long waits, and then a quick burst of playing. Then you start the whole cycle again. It's boring. So's going to school. (i love that she loved Mick!!!!)

    4.) The 70s weren't today. And the EARLY 70s - so close to the 60s - was definitely not today. I wouldn't trade being raised in the 70s for anything....though on the other hand the 60s generation gave birth to us slackers! Most of the people I knew were latchkey kids, with divorced parents (me included). So as much as I love so much about that time period, their parenting maybe WASN'T the best.......The truth is though that the McCartney kids seem to be, for the most part, well-adjusted. And people's ideas of what good parenting is....well.....I see a lot of messed up people, so......you judge the tree by the fruit. I think they did pretty well. And Paul wasn't out philandering, or abandoning the family ala John so even better!

    Thanks for posting this very interesting article!!!

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  3. Wow ... What were those girls thinking taking that baby away from her sister and parading her out in public? You better hope that Paul McCartney doesn't read this and decide to go after them, 43 years later or not. That wasn't babysitting, it was kidnap! I don't care how old these 'fans' were - they were all nuts. No understanding of boundaries whatsoever.

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  4. I remember buying some of those photos from Robin at very early Beatlefests in the 1970s. There were a bunch of Heather in a reddish shirt. I also met someone in 1980 who taught at Heather's London school (before the family moved south) and he said that she was often left there alone after school. It was the 70s; this would never happen today.

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  5. it is what it is or was...

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  6. 70's or not was no excuse for absent parenting

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  7. I was there in 1973. The kids came outside on their own, half dressed or poorly dressed. Mary and Stella were so little and friendly. Heather kept telling us to go away and that she didn't want us there. Poor kid. I felt bad for her. It seemed like she was responsible for her tiny sisters and very unhappy. I think Heather has had a very hard life. My friend used to know Linda's NYC doorman, before she met Paul, and he told her Linda would often leave Heather with him at night, rather than getting a babysitter.

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    1. And did you go away? The kid obviously didn't want you standing outside her house, gawping in. By the way, it was quite normal for older kids to take younger siblings to the park in the 1970's. It wasn't normal for complete strangers to stalk and take pictures of those kids, much less kidnap their younger siblings. Jesus, this whole story is wrong on so many levels, I can't believe it!

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    2. It was totally normal for kids to go out in public without adult supervision in the 70s. I was a kid of the 70s and we took this freedom for granted. We went to the park, trick or treating, sold Girl Scout cookies---never thought to even ask for an adult to be with us. However, since these kids were famous in their own right, I'm not sure this was the best judgment on the part of their parents.

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  8. Well, yeah, since the little one got dragged off by four strangers and the parents weren't even aware of it, I'd have to agree that the whole thing shows shocking judgement on their part. Of course, they might have been in the care of the nanny or housekeeper or whatever she was at the time. Even so, it's pretty appalling.

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  9. I find this story appalling also. Regent's Park is not just down the block from Cavendish Ave, so how did Heather and Mary get there - walking all the way? unsupervised? And Heather was obviously too young to be babysitting Mary if she allowed fans to take Mary out of her sight. I saw Mary at about age 7 running around in Paul's neighborhood by herself and if I had been a kidnapper, I could have snatched her easily. I guess until December 1980 none of the Beatles had any reason to think that their fans were anything but loving, but, still, I think this babysitting episode indicates that Paul and Linda were pretty careless of their children's safety.

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  10. It's just hard to believe that not one of these photos has the faces of the 'fans' that were 'babysitting' Paul's kids. People do forget that Linda wasn't exactly virginal when she was living in the city and running around taking photos at the Fillmore East...and yes she left Heather with the doorman on many occasions...Just keep in mind that London, back when this story supposedly happened, was not like America, full of hillbilly rednecks toting guns.America has always been an extremely violent country, and it continues on today

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    1. I do have photographs from this day with the fans in the photos. I just chose not to post those photos.

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  11. lol - when this DID happen ( with Paul & Linda being not so great parents at the time as the kids were OFTEN running around the neighborhood half clothed) America and London both had violence

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  12. This story brought back fond memories of the 70's for me, a much more freeing time. I'm a year old than Mary McCartney (but American, not British). I remember my older brother (who was 10 when I was 3) "babysitting" me by taking me to the park and all around the neighborhood with his friends for hours during the summer days (this was in Detroit). Younger people who are used to helicopter parenting don't fathom was it was like back then. From the time I was in first grade, I was expected to get home from school by myself and be alone in the house for several hours until my parents got home from school and my brother got home from his after school activities.

    In this story, Heather sounds like a typical bossy nine year old. I laughed when she said she smoked pot, then was called on it and was like, er, no, but Mommy, Daddy and the band do! Something very similar happened with my brother.

    I find it funny that people are complaining about Paul and Linda being too lax as parents but then in the story Heather is complaining about having too many chores to do!

    To be honest, the only behavior I find odd and out of place in the story are the fans. I get meeting a Beatle's kid by chance, but making plans to play with a Beatle's kids in the park is weird. Pretending to be the kids' friends in order to take their photos and sell them to a fanzine is weird. Separating the baby from her older is weird. Interrogating the kid about her home life is weird. Telling Heather she shouldn't know what balls are is definitely weird and out of bounds (by the time I was that age I not only had seen my brother and naked but had been already been given a simplified version of "the talk".)

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