Fifty years ago, I was a fourteen year old school boy living at a home for poor, white (the civil rights act of 1964 was passed that year and changed the "white" bit), male (this also changed) orphans. The school/home for boys, or as referred to by the initiated as the "hum", was Girard College. It is located in North Philadelphia, PA.
Girard College was founded in 1848 and was established and built thru the execution of the late Steven Girard's will. I don't want to go on about "Stevie the One-Eyed Pirate", as some of us poor, white ,male orphans" lovingly " called him, but to talk about the night of February 9, 1964.
We lived a very structured life at Girard. With a variety of whistles and bells the day was planned for us from the moment lights went on in our dormitory till they were turned off at the end of our day. Again for the uninitiated, a dormitory is a " real big bedroom". We wore uniforms( not real stylish, to say the least), recieved "bad military-type" hair cuts every two weeks, brown shoes for everyone and if you wore glasses, "high fashion" light pink plastic ones. Yeah, really! We were under the supervision of Teachers, during school hours, and Governesses and House Masters during all other times. Yeah, really!
As you got into the upper grades a little more "free time" was built into your schedule. So was the case on the night of February 9 ,1964. The buildings we lived in, or were housed in , had livingroom type areas. I was living in Merchant Hall, as it was designated for 8th and 9th graders.
On that sunday night, the Beatles were making their debut on national television via the Ed Sullivan Show. We had a tv in our "living room" and thank God we were allowed to watch the show and even allowed to stay up a little later to watch it. Again, thank God and the House Master( his name is lost to the mists of time).
In a paragraph..... After seeing the Beatles perform, watching along with 25 other boys in bad uniforms, bad hair, brown shoes and light pink plastic glasses ( yeah, I was "issued" a pair) my life was changed forever. It was the music, the suits, the hair, the screaming girls, that gave me a vision of a world and life over the 8ft wall surrounding Girard College and out of the doldrums I had been living in.
I soon thereafter bought a guitar and in my mind I've never gone back.