On Feb. 9, 1964, I was a sophomore at a Catholic high school in New Jersey. The holidays had come and gone, but dark clouds still lingered in the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination in November.

Americans were acutely ready for the rollicking effervescence of the Beatles. It’d be a few weeks before Sonny Liston would lose a prize fight dramatically on Feb. 25. I vividly remember that night, too. The Beatles and the fighter then known as Cassius Clay — in the same month? Fugeddaboudit!

We all gathered ’round our 15-inch, black-and-white TV. Dad adjusted the rabbit ears and set the vertical/horizontal hold. Eventually, Ed Sullivan delivered his inimitable introduction: “Ladies and gentlemen … THE BEATLES!!!!

Suddenly, there they were! First up: “All My Lovin,” followed by “Till There Was You” and “She Loves You.” A second set was promised shortly, as the audience hysteria continued. Sullivan (flirting with decapitation) threatened, “If you don’t be quiet, I’ll send for a barber!”

The Beatles eventually returned, offering “I Saw Her Standing There” and closing with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Then it dawned on Dad: “Hey — Ain’t we missin’ Bonanza?”


Thirty-five (yup, 35) years later, I proposed to my high school sweetheart in Morris Catholic’s hallway — on St. Patrick’s Day! I’d arranged for “If I Fell” to be played on the school’s sound system. Because, by then, I surely had.

In retrospect, 50 years later, it seemed the whole world adjusted its rabbit ears that night — to more clearly see history being made. But certainly no one, including the Beatles and Ed Sullivan, could have predicted the extent to which those few fleeting moments would so profoundly affect our lives.

It was a glorious time to grow up. I’ll be eternally grateful to have witnessed it.

Buddy Doyle, Gardiner

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