|Photo taken on October 8, 1979, by Laura Choby|
It all started when Pat S., Laura C., and Pat D. decided to come to New York to hopefully see John. They came on Saturday, October 6 (1979), and stayed with me, as I live just outside of NYC, 12 miles from John. On Saturday night we stopped by John's, but it was about 8:30pm, and we really didn't expect to see him. We just wanted to make sure that he was here and not upstate at the farm or anything. Well, he was here. We were all excited as long as we knew he was at least in the City, we had a chance. We talked to the doorman for a bit and then came back to my house for the night, feeling very hopeful.
On Sunday, the 7th, we got to John's early in the afternoon, figuring John probably likes to sleep as late as the rest of us. We got there about 1:30 pm or so, and just as we got out of the car, out comes Sean and the nanny! It was quick and took us by surprise. Sean waved and said "Hi!" a couple times. He is SO adorable! He's got very long hair - as long as John's (if not longer) very small eyes (but then so does John), and he's got the Lennon nose! Off they went down the street, leaving us marveling at our luck and hoping to see Daddy!
We waited around for a while, getting colder and colder. A couple more people came around Laura decided she needed cigarettes (after we'd seen Sean and a friend, the nanny and an older man go off into the park we figured we'd be safe going then because they'd probably be there for a while so we wouldn't miss anything), so we went for a little walk. Coming back, we decided to walk a bit in the park. We went in, and Laura was taking a few photos of the many roller skaters we saw. I glanced over to the left, and in the distance, we saw the nanny. We looked ahead of her a bit and saw Sean running around with two other little kids. The man was there, and there were two women with them as well. They walked down one path, and Sean was throwing a Frisbee. They started back a little, so we went around and past them. The kids started playing a huge rock -- more like some sort of boulder stuck in the ground, and we headed towards there as well. Sean climbed up to the top and then would slide down the other side, and the other kids followed him. We hung around there looking very touristy but with our cameras hidden. Sean started playing soccer and then again with the Frisbee. The other kids came around, and they all started generally running around. We kept hearing them calling "Sean, Sean!" and it was just so cute.
The three kids were playing with the older man. He was a monster for a while for them. They were playing around in the grass. At one point, the man was on the ground, and Sean started pulling grass up out of the ground and throwing it at the man singing, "It's raining it's pouring, the old man is snoring." Another Lennon voice! Maybe we'll get an LP yet from a Lennon! After Sean, then the other kids started signing as well. Then while the man was still on the ground, he pulled on the cuff of Sean's jeans, and he said, "What's the matter, Sean? Doesn't anyone ever sew your pants?" Laura and I just laughed. They kept running around, laughing and having a good time, and we were just nonchalantly watching. It was so adorable. Sean is a doll with much energy, but at the same time, it kinda pulls on your heartstrings seeing Sean so happy romping around with this other man, whoever he was, and not John. I'm sure he does play around with John, but seeing that just made us think a bit. A lot more people would've been watching if it had been John Lennon and his son in Central Park. I doubt if anyone else around there that day knew who he was. Anyway, they started calling the kids together to go. They started walking towards 72nd Street, and we did too, far enough behind them, so they didn't see us. They stopped as the kids started eating oranges, but we were too close to stop. We slowed down a bit, pretending to be generally looking around, but caught up with them. We were right next to Sean. He was wearing Sassoon jeans, no less! (A 4-year-old!). There was a sort of fork in the path. They went towards the left, so we went to the right. We waited until they were ahead again. Then we stayed on the opposite side of the street from them. When we got to 72nd Street, Pat and everyone were still in front of the Dakota, and we motioned to them that Sean was coming. They saw him but didn't see us. They didn't go in the Dakota; they walked past. We waited a while, but as it got later, colder and rainier, we figured John wasn't going to come out. We were waiting after the others had left. It would've been polite of John to come down and say hello to the four of us. We talked to the doorman for a while, Tom and his friend Craig came, and we all went to warm up somewhere. Didn't see John but it was a good day.
On Monday we decided to go a bit earlier. Monday, October 8, 1979 - a day we'll not soon forget! We left my house at about 9am. We had breakfast and the Dakota Restaurant and then went over to John's. Sharon and Julie were there again and a couple of other people. At about 11:15 am a limo pulled in. Was it for John? The doorman confirmed it. He was coming out in a little while! Knowing he was coming, we just did not feel the old at all anymore. We were getting more and more excited with every sign of movement from the office/lobby. Every time the doorman walked in we were waiting for John to come out with him. The state these Beatles reduces us to!
As we were waiting, a delivery truck pulled up and the man took out these two HUGE boxes that were wrapped in white with big bows on top. We all noticed them I think, guessing they were for John and Sean. We joked that the boxes were so big that Ringo had probably sent them and Paul was in one and George in the other! We found out the next day that they were the gifts that John and Sean gave each other -- each gave the other a life-size doll of himself! Imagine getting a life-size John doll for your birthday! At 11:45am, out they came. The limo was in the driveway, so when we saw them come, we all moved toward the car. John came out first, got in the back seat, then Sean right behind him, and Yoko behind Sean. The nanny got in the front seat. What a shock seeing John! He looked so good! Tall, thin, dressed in black, with a ciggie. His hair is long again and he has a beard. He looks like he just stepped across Abbey Road - 1969 all over, except the beard is a bit thinner. As he came out and saw everyone, a big smile came across his face and he waved before he got in the car. I don't care what anyone says, he loves it as much as Paul! Sean was wearing a cowboy hat, and all I remember of Yoko is that she was wearing the big dark glasses she used to always wear. We stayed on the driver's side of the car as that's where John was sitting (behind the driver). As the car backed out of the driveway slowly, we just watched John. It stopped right next to us before pulling out into the street. John never stopped smiling and he was talking to Yoko. As the car pulled out into the street we moved out a bit, and as it started to drive off, John turned around to us and waved int he rear window. Laura and I were dying. This was the first time either of us had actually "met a Beatle" and seeing John in such a good mood and so obviously happy, well, it just made it that much better!
Okay, so they were gone. We figured they had to come back, so we'd wait. We sat around talking about John and how great he's looking. a few more people had come around. We began to feel the cold again. After a while, Pat went to get her car and double park in front of the building so we could still be on the lookout for John without freezing to death. Pat and Laura were in the front, Pat D and I in back. We were definitely warmer in the car, but we all were getting pretty drowsy. "Limo watching" is tiring. We were expecting John to come from the same direction which they had left; the direction we were facing. Thank God Pat had looked in the rearview mirror when she did. She glanced back and said, "Silver Limo!" and I turned around, saw the license plate number and said, "It's him!" We piled out of the car so fast. Laura got out with me right behind her. Pat swung her door open in the street, nearly hitting the limo. Pat D.couldn't get the lever that moves the seat forward to get out of the back, so she crawled through the tiny space between the seat and the car -- now we're becoming contortionists! Laura and I went up to the driveway as they pulled in, so that when he got out, we were right there. I dont' remember Sean or the nanny at this point, and all I remember of Yoko was that as she got out right in front of me, I saw she's the same height as me and had a lot of gray hair in the back. She went right in, but John stopped for a minute. As he got out Laura shook his hand. He got out and started taking out balloons and presents and things (we found out later that they'd gone to Sean's birthday party) and someone said they had a present for him, to which he replied, laughing, "I haven't enough hands!" and held up the balloons. People were calling him and he said we had to "keep it down or they'll kick me out!" to which we all laughed. Hearing his voice, that voice it's enough to melt me away! He had us pretty near tears I think. Then Laura said, "John, can I take a picture John, please John?"He said, "Okay luv, but make it a quick one." Laura took two and as I heard him say it was ok, I figured this was my chance. I picked up my camera, focused it, and then realized my shutter-release-button lock was on. By the time I got it unlocked, he was well under the archway. I snapped one anyway, but of course, you can only make out the outline of his head, which is completely blacked out. Just as he was about to go in, we called out "Happy Birthday John!" and he turned, gave us a big smile, waved and called "Thank you." Then he went in and as soon as he was out of sight, Laura and I grabbed each other and started babbling and laughing and jumping up and down.
Sure, we all miss hearing from John, but if he's that happy now just being with Sean and Yoko, then I think he deserves that happiness. Sure, we'd all love to hear from him again, but if he never records again, I think I'd understand.
We went by for a little while on the 9th, but there were a lot of people around and we really didn't expect him to come out. On Wednesday we were there for quite a while, and it snowed that day! Luckily we had found a parking space right in front. We knew he was in, and that alone is enough to keep us sickies waiting there. We talked to various doormen there a lot and found out little things. John's only got three apartments in the building (we had heard rumors that he had up to seven). According to one of the doormen, there's the one they live in, one for the nanny, and one is a studio. He's got three now and he's out to "buy the building," said one doorman. On Thursday, Sean was seen coming home for lunch, going back to school, and coming home from school again that afternoon. We didn't see John anymore. We saw his secretary, who said that as far as he knew, John had no plans to go out that day. We left some cards and gifts for John and Sean which the secretary took upstairs with him, and had to leave early as we were heading back to Cleveland that night to make it in time to see HELP on TV on Friday afternoon, and the Cleveland convention Saturday and Sunday.
One thing one of the doormen said that I forgot to mention. He said Paul had been there last spring. Also one time we checked out the Eastman's apartment and talked to the doorman there who said that Paul was due in the next day to sign a multimillion-dollar deal - the tour! We nearly had a stroke and proceeded to act like our usual mature selves while driving down Park Avenue. The next day though, Paul didn't show -- apparently he'd changed his mind and decided to come to NY at a later time.
We met John and Sean, we had a good time together. We met John! I still can't believe it. I wonder if I ever will.