When Dawn saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan she understood what those women in her mother’s dirty books were talking about. Her life changed from sunshine and lollipops to a screaming fit of juvenile ecstasy more powerful than an atomic bomb. Bye, bye, Frankie and Annette. Hello, John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
Dawn squealed from the front seat of her father’s black Cadillac de Ville. She glanced back at her best friend, Judy. “Look,” she said, feeling her braces scrape the inside of her cheeks. She winced and pointed to the Hollywood Bowl’s marquee. Tonight 8:00 P.M. “The Beatles In Concert” Sold Out. “I think I’m going to faint.” She lifted the Brownie to her eye and clicked the camera’s button.
Hundreds of kids rushed along Highland Avenue. Police guided traffic, waving their arms, blowing whistles.
“My God,” Dr. Murphy said. “You’d think it was V-Day.”
He drove his car into the side entrance and rolled down the window. “My wife’s on the board,” he said to the security guard, pointing to the sticker on the windshield. “I’m dropping off my daughter. I’ve never seen anything like this. Kids all the way down to Hollywood Boulevard.”
“They camped out overnight,” the guard said, shaking his head. “It’s crazy.”
“Dawn, don’t do anything to embarrass your mother.”
“I’m not a baby.”
“Hang on to that camera. I’ll pick you up at 10:00.”
“Thank you, Dad. You’re the best.”
“Thank you, Dr. Murphy,” Judy said.
Dawn and Judy walked down the incline, the strap of the Brownie gripped tightly in Dawn’s hand, photography as much a mania for her as the Beatles.
Girls dashed out from the underground tunnel. They jammed the footpath, bodies spilling over inside the moving walkway—a stampede of teenagers with zits, headbands, and Aqua Net flips. Their mothers’ Jean Nate perfume whiffed through the frenzy.
A yellow haze circled the warm August evening below a pale blue Los Angeles sky.
“Everyone’s gone ape,” Dawn said. “Including me,” she shrieked, grabbing the sides of her head. “Let’s go, Judy.”
Dawn squeezed her chubby body through the crowd, dragging her friend behind.
At the gate, she reached into the pocket of her lavender peddle-pushers, pulled out two green tickets, and handed one to Judy.
“I know where to sit,” Dawn said to the attendant. “I come all the time.”
Dawn hurried through the gate. Reserved Section Row J 17 38. “Eee, look at our seats,” she cried, sweeping her blonde bangs out of her blue eyes.
“Box seats. Second row. Center,” Judy said, clutching her heart. “I am so stoked.”
Inside the box were four seats. Dawn and Judy took the front two. Dawn turned and snapped a picture of the rising tiers as thousands of girls crammed the aisles. She took photographs of people in trees and the surrounding Hollywood Hills.
Giddy she aimed the Brownie at the stage with the pool in front. She took a picture of Ringo’s drums sitting high on a platform.
The sun ducked behind the canyon as teenagers reached their seats. The lights in the Bowl turned on.
Dawn wriggled her shoulders and moved her bra straps—something new since she’d grown boobs as big as her mothers. She straightened the pink bow above her bangs, made sure the clip was tight and centered—just in case Paul looked at her. Because of her braces, she refused to smile when Judy took her picture.
At 8:00, a man walked on stage. When he said the word Beatles, Dawn and over 18,000 girls screamed a mating call to their heroes.
The host introduced Jackie deShannon. She sang her hits. The Righteous Brothers followed. Dawn clapped politely, drummed her foot, propped her flip with the palms of her hands, and waited for the fab four from Liverpool, England.
When the last act left the stage, a hush spread around the amphitheater.
The host came out and presented the KRLA deejays. In unison they said, “And now here they are, The Beatles.”
Dawn and everyone erupted into screams. The noise so great Dawn couldn’t hear herself.
Girls stood in the aisles. Camera bulbs flashed. The Hollywood Hills twinkled with lights.
Tears rolled down Dawn’s baby-fat cheeks. She raised the Brownie, but with the emotion of seeing her idols up close—the sexy way John sang, Twist and Shout with his legs slightly spread and, oh, Paul, so dreamy—Dawn stopped snapping pictures and just let herself bawl.
She peeked at Judy pulling her hair, wailing.
If Dawn wanted to be another Margaret Bourke-White, she thought, she’d better get with it. She wiped her eyes, lifted the camera, and aimed it at Paul. But the girls in the first row kept jumping up down, waving their arms, and the clutz next to her was jabbing her elbow into the side of Dawn’s head.
Dawn pushed past the bozo and grabbed the edge of the box-seat. Girls ploughed into each other. Dawn forced her way down the steps until she stood behind the pool.
She lifted the Brownie. Bad angle. Standing on tiptoes, she held the camera above her head. Someone shoved her, and the Brownie went flying over the pool. Dawn lunged, caught it in midair, bellyflopped into the water with her arms extended saving her camera from ruin. “Ohh,” she yelped. Drenched. Her teeth chattered, face hot. But what a vantage point.
Dawn waded to the ledge, put her elbows on the platform, and clicked pictures a pro would be proud of. She saw a cameraman in the wings with a press pass pinned to his shirt taking pictures of her. Oh no, if her mother found out she’d ground her for a year.
Fans leaped into the pool, splashing and slopping water, trying to heave themselves onto the stage.
Guards arrived and fished the girls out.
Dawn looked up at Paul. He winked at her and grinned, a smile that gave her heart wings.