I remember the first time I ever heard the Beatles. It was sometime in 1966 I think. It was on the last night of a play that my dad had directed at Paducah Tilghman High School. I’m not exactly sure which play it was but I think it may have been Ondine, a retelling of the little mermaid story of Hans Christian Anderson.
My dad was very disciplined about how he ran his plays. Everyone, cast and crew, had to help strike the set before anyone went home after the last performance. And striking the set was a very disciplined endeavor. There was no wild tearing apart of the set. It was carefully disassembled. The nails were hammered out of the lumber and the flats were carefully stored for the next production. Since he always had a relatively large cast and crew, this process rarely took more than an hour.
Then, he always had a cast party on the stage. Having been a teenager himself not that long before, he knew that the cast would have a party whether he sanctioned it or not. Unsanctioned parties were liable to be disreputable affairs with alcohol and all sorts of unsavory behavior. Instead, he held a party, my mom catered it, and he provided the soft drinks. The cast and crew brought records and many of them danced.
It was at such a cast party that I first heard the Beatles. They were just starting to gain popularity in the US. I was a violin student and liked all kinds of music. I liked the Beatles enough to find out who they were. This was in the era of I Want to Hold Your Hand and Twist and Shout.
I looked up to the high school kids. I had had my taste of the limelight and I was anxious to get back on the boards. I also related more to them than my schoolmates my own age. They were doing the things that I wanted to do. There was no outlet for the theatrically inclined in elementary school in Paducah Kentucky in 1966.
I was also interested in girls. Most of the boys my age hadn’t noticed girls yet. Most of the girls my age were paying more attention to older boys, largely because of the immaturity of the average fifth grade boy. So I turned my attention to the high school girls in dad’s plays. I had enormous crushes on some of them and they were, for the most part kind to me.
One time, my dad took a group from the play he was producing at the time to St. Louis to see a production of Camelot. I sat in the back of our station wagon and brushed one of my crush’s hair all the way from Paducah to St. Louis. She seemed to enjoy the attention.
I am thankful to my parents for who they were and the way they raised me. I had a magical childhood. I got to do so many things that none of my other friends even dreamed of.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.