February 1974 had been particularly brutal. With record snowfalls and below freezing temperatures, much of the accumulated snow was still on the ground through the entire month of March. By then the temps were still chill to the bone, even though the calendar said spring had arrived on March 21. It was not a good idea to be standing around outside for long periods....
Not long after I met Linda, JoAnn and Evy in 1971, they made it their personal mission in life that I meet Paul the next time he was in New York. Just to be clear, I had no problem with that. Trouble was, we kept missing the opportunity. Having lived at the Stanhope Hotel for months during the recording of RAM in 1970, Paul and the family had been in and out of town only very quickly since then, staying just a few days at a time. By the time we would hear of their visit, they were already gone. Frustrated, but forward thinking, we decided to start forming our network of “assistants”. These folks understood that we would absolutely keep their confidence. We appreciated their willingness to divulge whatever tidbit they were privy to, and they knew we would not jeopardize their trust or share the information. We didn’t want crowds of people around anyway, and it was understood that the knowledge was only for our little foursome. I truly think they enjoyed the idea of being our informants, all secretive and stealth. It was fun and exciting for us all. Of course now it’s called stalking....
Then we got the phone call.
Joe, our main man at the Eastman’s, was on the other end of the line with the three words we would never get tired of hearing him say: “He’s comin' in!”. He managed to find out that the family was arriving on Friday, March 29 and only staying over the weekend. They would be flying out on Sunday, and we presumed they were heading to LA for the Oscars after all. I purposely tried to keep my hysteria about what might be happening on a low simmer. I know how “that person told this person and then they told me” stuff can work out, but I have to admit, we were all jumping out of out skins. The other girls had not seen Paul since the everyday days at the Stanhope during RAM, and now they were finally going to be there to see my dream come true. Despite the excitement, the four of us were clear headed enough to arrange to meet across the street from the Eastmans (so we wouldn’t be conspicuous - really??) that Friday afternoon. We would just wait for their taxi to pull up. And wait, we did.
Did I mention that the weather was still freezing cold in New York? On that particular Friday, the temperature hovered around freezing until the sun went down, then dropped to the mid 20s. We arrived at the Eastmans about 4:30pm, shortly before dark, and waited until after 11. Taxis had been pulling up to the entrance all evening, just not the right taxi. We had quickly become four popsicles, but nothing was going to get in the way of this important meeting.
As we wrestled with the idea of admitting defeat and giving up for the night, yet another taxi pulled up to the front of the building. The driver popped the trunk and got out to unload the contents, just as the rear passenger door opened.
And there he was.
He unfolded himself from the back of the cab, all in slow motion just for my benefit. I still remember thinking he seemed so tall as he got out, and the taxi seemed so much smaller than normal. Linda, Heather, Mary and Stella began to spill out from the backseat, and I was reminded of clowns in a Volkswagen - I couldn’t believe they all fit back there! Heather and Mary ran inside the lobby to get out of the cold (smart move), and as Paul took Stella in his arms, they turned around to greet us. Amazingly, Paul remembered the girls from the RAM days and prior meetings in London, and stopped to chat for a moment and catch up. It was only a moment though, because the wind was howling and it was late. He saw that we were frozen and said thanks for coming out, now go get warm and see you next time. Then he was gone. There it was. We had done it. I had done it. I had actually met Paul McCartney. Of The Beatles. I realized I hadn’t said a word to either of them the entire time. I just took it all in. Once Paul, Linda and Stella went inside, the four of us celebrated for a few minutes and then got taxis of our own to go home and defrost.
The next day we were back in exactly the same spots we had left just a few short hours before, however this time the sun was trying to shine through heavy clouds and the temps had warmed a bit. As I recall, we only waited a few hours before they all came out of the building. This time, I was determined to find my voice and ask permission to take a picture. As the girls and P&L continued to talk, and after he said yes to me, I put my camera to my face and looked through the viewfinder. That’s when I stopped breathing. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing through the lens, but yet there he was, and he was looking at me, waiting for me to press the button. But I couldn’t focus. I was so overwhelmed by these fleeting few minutes, that my hands were shaking. He continued to turn towards my camera until I finally snapped a picture. When I put my camera down, he was smiling and asked “Didja get it?”. I laughed and said sure, but I wasn’t sure at all. As you can see, it wasn’t a great first attempt, but in time I got better....
On Sunday, we were expecting them to be leaving and in fact they did. By now word had gotten out that the family was in town, and for those Beatle people in the know, they had figured out where P&L were staying. There was a small gathering near the front entrance of the building, and now that the crowd had taken over we realized our solitary time with Paul was done. The four of us immediately moved toward the back of the bunch, and I got one more picture.
Two nights later I watched the Academy Awards and saw Paul and Linda lose when “The Way We Were” was chosen as Best Original Song. I was still reliving the events of the prior few days, and thinking about the next time I might be lucky enought to see Paul in the flesh. Because there was absolutely going to be a next time. It was not going to end here.
That’s all for now.....Thanks for reading, see ya next time!