“On Friday afternoon, Feb. 14, 1964, Mr. Daniel Jeran’s sixth grade class from Longfellow Elementary School in Colorado Springs, Colo. was preparing for their end of day Valentine’s party. With the classroom decorated and the sugar highs kickin’ in, the class sat in excited anticipation for their glimpse at America’s, no, the world’s hottest new sensation, The Beatles. They would be appearing live in this very classroom in mere moments. As the classroom door opened, a few girls started to scream…it was them! At lunchtime recess, I was approached by a fellow classmate (probably Craig Warner or Bruce Baan, but my memory is a little foggy on that detail) to join him and two others to do a skit at this afternoon’s party. The plan was to lip-synch; just like we saw our favorite singers and groups do all the time on American Bandstand, to a song by The Beatles. With less than a week under our belts from seeing these four Englishmen on Sunday’s Ed Sullivan Show, they were ripe for parody and adulation from our other classmates. I quickly agreed to be one of the mop tops! An older sister of one of our group owned the “Introducing the Beatles” album and had allowed their sixth grade sibling to bring it to school for our party. Under threat of death if anything happened to it, I might add.
"Little did anyone in our class know that the Fab Four themselves would be making a Valentine’s appearance at Longfellow Elementary! Mr. Jeran was in on the plan and let the four of us leave the party and go across the hall to the school’s music room, where we could get a good ten minutes of lip-synch rehearsal in, and don our four Beatle wigs, also generously supplied by our classmate’s older sister. Upon reflection, I wonder what she was doing with FOUR wigs ?!
"But I digress. I don’t actually remember which song we were rehearsing, but I knew that I wanted this album immediately! It sounded great. Or FAB! I had my mom already take me to Altone’s Record Round-up on Monday after school to buy the 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' 45, and I had plans to save allowance money for the “Meet the Beatles!” album.
"Now, after hearing these new songs, I had another album’s worth of songs to save up for. A financial dilemma, “Beatle Savings,” that I deal with to this very day!
"Mr. Jeran walked into the music room and collected the album, while telling us to get ready. He headed back to our classroom to put it on our record player, ready for our debut. It was now SHOWTIME and we scurried back across the hall and gathered outside our classroom door, waiting for our big introductions. Oh, the small item of having guitars and drums was taken care of with three brooms and a stack of cardboard boxes from our janitor’s closet, waiting at the front of our classroom. Our stage manager teacher had thought of everything.
"We could hear Mr. Jeran ask everyone to take a break from their partying and return to their seats. He announced that he had received a phone call earlier in the day and had been asked to invite four special guests to our party. He went on, schmoozing the fidgety crowd, the audience’s sugar high building. Then, in his best Ed Sullivan impression (it was bad) he said loudly, “Here are The Beatles!”
"Playing along, our class erupted in delighted cheers and screams as we came running into the room. We hurriedly grabbed our broom stick guitars as Bruce Bann bravely sat on a stool behind the cardboard Ludwigs, two wooden rulers in hand, ready to channel Ringo Starr. I really don’t remember, nor care, who the other two guys portrayed, I just knew that I was JOHN!
"It was obvious to me from the first moment I saw the real group on Sullivan, I wanted to BE John Lennon. Mr. Jeran dropped the needle and we did our thing. We jumped around a helluva lot more than the real Beatles did, but we were just releasing a joy that, for a brief few minutes, we could BE the Beatles! We shook our long hair, and the class went wild. There was as much laughing at us as there was clapping and screaming, but we were having the time of our lives.
"All too quickly the song ended, we four quickly looked at each other and made a mad dash for the door. Mr. Jeran yelled to the class that we had to get back to England right away and to give our special guests a big round of applause.
"A few minutes later we slowly wandered back into the classroom, sans our wigs and instruments, and blended into the sea of sixth graders dancing their heads off to the rest of the “Introducing the Beatles” album. But, I was hooked….on The Beatles, on performing and on the buzz of that crowd. It was the start of a wonderful life."