1999-08-30 04:00:00 PDT PALO ALTO --
On Aug. 31, 1965, the Fab Four were holed up on the top floor of the
eight-story Cabana Hotel in Palo Alto, watching TV and ordering room
service after two sold-out shows at the Cow Palace.
the frenzied 500 -- teenage Beatles fans, mostly girls -- swarmed the
parking lot along El Camino Real and the property across the street,
causing a traffic jam unheard of in those uncongested days.
After the Beatles left
the next day, hustled out in a delivery truck, their sheets were cut
into small pieces and sold in the parking lot. The room service dishes
and cutlery disappeared. Eventually, the celebrity appeal of the Cabana,
a prototype of Caesar's Palace and managed by Doris Day's
brother-in-law,Jack Melcher, also slipped away, and the hotel closed in
the newly renovated Crowne Plaza Cabana Palo Alto has decided it's time
to get back, so to speak: The management is looking for memorabilia --
and memories -- of those fevered 48 hours when fans camped out before
and after the concerts in Daly City. A few items have already been
installed in the Beatles Room, number 810, which officially opened
Saturday night. Hotel officials were planning to meet today to decide
what the room's rate will be.
Gonzalez of San Leandro never forgot her brush with the Beatles at the
Cabana. She was "16 or 17," and having a nose job done at Stanford Hospital when she heard that her beloved band was staying nearby"I
begged my father to take me out of the hospital and drive me by the
hotel just in case I could see them," she recalled. "He thought I was
nuts because I looked so horrible -- my face was all black and blue, my
nose bandaged -- but he did it, and then he took me back to the
teens tried to pass themselves off as journalists to gain entrance to
the heavily guarded hotel, which had 23 members of the then- University of
Santa Clara football team stationed at elevators, stairwells and the
lobby. A few girls managed to slip past the security force outside and
began clambering up the grillwork for a look at their favorite moptop
before being dissuaded.
Hudson of San Jose still speaks with envy of her then-teenage
girlfriends who drove from Bakersfield to Palo Alto "and stayed for the
whole time" during the Beatles' brief visit. Hudson, a free-lance writer, and Gonzalez, office manager of Health magazine in
San Francisco, finally got to go inside their former idols' inner
sanctum this weekend. While the real memorabilia is under management's
lock and key, hanging on the Beatles Room walls are authentic-looking
framed reproductions from the personal archives of Vienna Watkins, the Cabana's original director of sales and marketing.
an artist and co-owner of galleries in Murphys and Bear Valley, Watkins
gave the hotel a three- page, 27-point mimeograph from Beatles manager Brian Epstein detailing
security measures ("no children unless accompanied by an adult"); the
yellow "welcome Beatles" ribbon that staff members had to wear for
identification, later autographed by Paul McCartney; and news clippings from the Palo Alto Times.
In one photo, 14-year-olds Rocky Keith and Sue Moore of Palo Alto "sob with joy as they tell of seeing the Beatles leave" the hotel.
said those two were not the only ones shaken up by the visit. A mother
of young children at the time, she recalled that the lads from Liverpool
looked like "four scared kids" when they returned to the hotel -- and
with good reason.
limousine was dented on the top, on the sides, and the back from all
the fans pressing against it," Watkins said. "This place was filled with
inside the hotel, they were safe, she said. "We had the Santa Clara
football team -- they were big! We had security, we had our badges, and
we parked our cars and stayed here for 24 hours."
the new Crowne Plaza's executive sales director, says he has been
surprised by the lasting impression the Beatles' short stay made.
was at a Hewlett-Packard golf tournament recently, and everybody who
was in a certain age group came by and said they had tried to dress up
like the press with a suit and camera to try to sneak in to the
Beatles," he said.
course, the Beatles actually stayed in two rooms on the eighth floor --
no one is exactly sure which -- and the story goes that Ringo didn't
spend the night there at all (he was with a woman). Hotel officials hope
to clear up some of those details in October, when they plan to host a
Beatles night for fans to bring in their mementos.
for Gonzalez, hotel visitors will soon be able to say, in Beatles
style, they saw her standing there -- her portrait will also be going on
the Beatles Room wall.