It's not unusual for unimportant things to seem enormously important when you're 6 years old. It makes sense, your catalog of life experiences is small, your points of reference limited. How often do we go back to visit places from our childhood only to be shocked at how much smaller, and less magical they seem now. Rarely, if ever, do we experience something as a child, and it turns out to be bigger, and so much more important than we thought.
I was just about 6 weeks shy of my 7th birthday on Feb 9th, 1964. From my limited knowledge of family history, I know that day was my parents wedding anniversary. But from remarkably vivid memories a half a century old, I also know it was the night the Beatles became a part of my life.
Like just about everyone I knew, my family watched the Ed Sullivan show religiously. I stared at the TV, thrilled as acrobats flew through the air, jugglers spun plates, and a little mouse named Topo Gigo begged "Eddie-- Keesa me goo'night!"
But that Sunday night was different. When Sullivan waved his arm and said "Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Let's bring them on!", all the young girls in the audience screamed, and my 11-year-old sister screamed right along with them. 73 million Americans were watching Ed Sullivan at that moment, many of them gripped by the early stages of a mania sociologists and psychologists would study for decades. Some said it was timing, that Americans needed to experience some unfettered joy after the national period of mourning brought on the Kennedy assassination. Some claim it was an unlikely cure for a sense of dread caused by years of Cold War mentality. For a 6-year-old boy, it was much simpler than that. Everyone in my living room was dancing, at the same time, to the same music,and laughing and hollering. In most lives, whatever that feeling was that we all felt back then, is in short supply. But I can reconnect with it simply by playing the music, or watching the videos on YouTube, or even just thinking of that night. A 6-year-old might not know how important that is, but this 56-year-old does, and I am taking a moment to be grateful for it.