Judith Reed West, author of “A Date With a Beatle” as Judith Kristen, was 17 when the Beatles played Shea Stadium on Aug. 15, 1965 (she was just 17 if you know what I mean, as the song goes …). She was among the huge crowd that attended the monumental concert. The day after the show, she penned a lengthy diary entry with a detailed account of what it was like. Reading it is like being there – a seven-page handwritten view of the show through a fan’s eyes with details that range from emotional to humorous to amazing. It’s reprinted in text form here with her permission. The original diary pages can be seen in the slide show.
In the diary, she refers to a dream-come-true encounter with George Harrison. It’s fully detailed in her book, but she gave Beatles Examiner a brief summary of what happened.
“When I ran into George, (it was in) Atlantic City in 1964, their only concert in Atlantic City. August 30, 1964, I stole a ladder off a paint truck, scaled the back of the wall of the Lafayette Motor Inn, and once again, me and the boys in blue were very tight (laughs).
“I got carried down to the lobby and my parents were going to be called. And it was about 3 o’clock in the morning.” She said the group was watching “A Hard Day’s Night” with some “special ladies.”
“And George took a break and, I don’t know if on purpose went to the lobby feeling safe or whatever it happened to be, but the elevator dinged and I looked up from my soaking wet state after being hosed down by the Atlantic City Fire Department. I can only gather George decided to take a walk, get out as much as he could. (But) there he was five feet away from me. And I went, ‘My God!’
“He wasn’t a fan of the cops, either, which was to my advantage. So he was more George Harrison than he was a Beatle. He let the cops know that this was no big deal and told them to let me go. But I had about 15 to 20 minutes (with him). I got away with it. I got kicked out of the hotel, but I got to see George. He gave me a Coke right out of the Coke machine and his beautiful white handkerchief that had his initials on it. It was divine intervention. That’s all I can say,” she said. “I met the real George Harrison .. and what a sweet, take no B.S. kind of guy he was.”
When she looks back on it now, she says, “I read it and then I see it all again right before me… and I feel the joy and fun, the excitement and the love of it all. 50 years later and it’s still magic to me… which means… it really WAS magic. And the stars will never align like that again.”
Here’s the first half of her wonderful account of the Shea Stadium show. (Note: Aside from a few minor punctuation fixes, it’s as she wrote it. You can see the original diaries in the slide show.)
“August 16, 1965
“I feel like I’m sitting here on a big fluffy cloud, a piece of Beatle heaven!!!! Last night was, I can hardly find the words for it – other than it was like magic. Really it was. The ride up was cool and we laughed and talked about George and Paul and listened to the radio and sang a few songs, too. WABC said there was about 10,000 girls at the Warwick, but it looked like even more than that when we got there.
“No way we could get in. I’m so glad that last year was easier at least I got my dream come true. Lots of these girls would never be as lucky. GEORGE!!
“I had a hotel reservation like I did last year but the cops wouldn’t even look at it. They just said “NO.” We even showed our respect for the few people (old) getting out of cabs and limos and asked if they would take us in with them, but again, NO. (When I’m old I’ll help people out.)
“We went to Nedicks (a local chain of fast-food restaurants) and ate and then decided to go to the Fair (Editor’s note: the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing, New York). We went back to General Motors, sat at the globe for a while, saw The Pieta again, and visited Clairol and then to the Village for some Belgian waffles. They are so good.
“I tried to call the hotel seven different times. I was Cynthia, Maureen, Pattie, Jane, Aunt Mimi, Aunt Gin and Freda Kelly. Nothing worked.”
Then a note: “My hand is getting tired. I’m going to get a soda and come back and write more. BEATLES 4 EVER!!
“I’m back! 8/16/65 – 9:20 p.m. We had fun at the Fair and some guy told us the Beatles were coming to the stadium in a helicopter. So every time I saw one fly overhead, I would stop and spread my arms out wide and spin around in a circle, my hair flying in the breeze because I thought if that was George up there maybe he’d notice me because I was different from everyone else below him just walking around the Fair.
“Anyway, I’m writing a LOT because I’m taking this into work with me tomorrow. Pat, Priscilla and everyone else is going to want to know what happened and I’d L-O-V-E to tell them but I can’t TALK! So the paper has to say it all! (HEY! No Laughing, Guys!!)
“Our seats were very high up – over second base. We sat next to two sisters from Yonkers named Barbara and Carolyn. We got there early. Cops were all over the place. The Beatles played in the middle of the field, way far away from everyone. It was nothing like the D.C. concert last February. I was inches away from George when I leaped at him as they entered the stage area. Last night I felt 20 miles away. Also, opening acts. People booed and we didn’t, but it wasn’t cool.
“When things got going we knew Sid Bernstein introduced Ed Sullivan, who then introduced the Beatles!! He said something about being “decorated by their Queen”?? OH GOD!!!!”
(In part 2, Judith writes about the concert.)