February 10, 1964: The Morning After
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Randy woke that morning feeling like he’d discovered America, or something even greater, his America. The sights and sounds of the previous evening played and replayed and replayed in his mind’s eye and ear. Each “whooooooo” and “yeahyeahyeah”, now etched in his memory like genetic code, caused his heart to rise.
He and his sister Tori, 2 years his elder but also smitten by the spell of the sound, sang the tunes in broken voices and bad British accents. Their older brothers looked on with the practiced condescention of the high school undergraduate. Excited, but too cool to let it show.
Steve, the eldest son of Andy and Peg Church , is the gangly schemer with the winning smile and pretty good heart and is the bane of his younger brother Eddie’s existence. Always the oldest, still the smartest, Steve is tall and thin, quick witted with dark, flashing eyes that seem to invite while sizing you up where Eddie is essential square shaped and,unfortunately, dense in every sense of the word.
“Hold still,” Peg laughingly admonished Randy who was playing air guitar as his mother attempted to comb his hair,”my little Beatle.” Randy just whoooooooo-ed and yeahyeahyeah-ed out of the kitchen, down the short which hall led to the staircase to the second floor where their bedrooms were. But Randy made a right an bounced into the living room where Gramps was sitting in his great green recliner, drinking coffee and reading te Daily News.
Christopher Morgan John Church, Gramps to his grandchildren and their friends,had moved in with his middle son Andy and his wife shortly after Randy was born. It had been a difficult childbirth for Peg. A spell of sorts came over her that Thanksgiving of 1955, her face suddenly turned ashen and she fainted at the table. The doctor was called and Peg was ordered to bed, where she stayed until Randy was born in late May. Andy, now an over-worked truck driver in his own right, asked his father to come and help his now
weakened and emotional wife in the day to day raising of the kids. Randy idolized him.
“Wow, that was terrific last night, wasn’t it?” Randy repeated for perhaps the hundredth time that morning. He was referring of course to the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, an event that was in the process of polarizing everyone.
Gramps put his paper down, took a sip of coffee and stared in mock disbelief at Randy. “Terrific?”, he said as Randy laughed, “Terrific? Oh, yes that was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen! Bigger than Caruso, they’ll be! All that yelling and head shaking”. At this Gramps shook his head and mimed playing guitar, the combination of his snow white crew cut and the fact that he was 82 years old and had no teeth made for the type of comedy Gramps and Randy shared and which made them both like little boys. “Brings me back to the days I danced the old soft shoe for celery tonic on the Rutabaga Theater circuit. ‘Sugar ‘Church, they called me and all the girls loved me like I was a Beatle! ‘Yeahyeahyeah I’d sing and dance up a storm. But, if you really want to hear a good singer”, he said, suddenly serious -another part of their game, “You really need to listen to Bing Crosby, or better yet, Russ Columbo. He sang just like Crosby, only better. He put his records out the same time as Crosby, but nobody bought them. Said he sounded too much like Bing Crosby. So everybody bought the Bing Crosby records, but not Columbo! Why was this? Nobody knows, but.......”
“Randy, hurry up” yelled Peg from the kitchen,” We have to pick up the Sisters on the way this morning and we have to leave now.”
“But Mom, it’s only 7:00, we don’t leave until 7:30.....”
“There’s no two ways about it, we’re leaving now. You don’t want to keep the Sisters’ waiting, do you?” The Sisters being Sister Mary Barbara, Sharon and Joanne, the elderly nuns that Peg drove from the convent to the school once a week. Randy, in his worst moments, would rather leave them waiting on an ice-floe, drifting inexorably toward a waterfall, but this was the first day of Beatlemania, the first day of in a brave new consciousness and Randy was just one of the many wearing new smiles of identity that cold morning. Not even an ice floe full of nuns could touch him now.