I giggle to myself just now! A profound revelation: My Public Storage Unit is a home away from home. I knew about the Perma-Pak Portable Storage File for some time, but was a little afraid to look within. It contains my remote past, with many musty documents that tell some of the story of my teenage life, from the early to mid-1960s. But I opened it anyway, in spite of my fears for what I’d find. Suddenly, I remember; I aspired to be an artist, and worked in pastels at my humble desk in North Dallas.
One pastel retrieved from this ancient archive box, is a complete rendering of the designated leader of The Beatles, John Lennon, while the other pastel is an incomplete portrait of clever Beatles’ bassist, Paul McCartney. Well, some of it is starting to return to my feeble memory now. It’s August of 1965, my family pulls into a Fox and Jacobs house in suburban North Dallas, moves into the house (painfully), and attempts to settle into the neighborhood, ‘Friendly Dallas’ as it were.
It was hotter than Hell, and I relieved a good amount of tension I had by creating these pastels in my bedroom, fancying myself to be the next Van Gogh or the next Salvador Dali, yet knowing full and well, I was nothing more than the house yard boy, that was about to begin the seventh grade at a brand new school, Gooch Elementary. But when inside my room alone, I was King; Beatles’ singles and LPs were blaring out constantly from a cheap Sears Roebuck monophonic record player!
I do recall how tense things seemed there in Dallas; the Vietnam War was escalating then, and this may be part of the reason for a recognizable crackling whiff of tension and hostility, wafting through the atmosphere. The assassination had occurred only a year and half ago, but I was too young to see this might be why the social atmosphere was so tightly wound, like Fourth of July Black Cats about to fire off all around us (see Apocalypse Now).
So now I can see (by writing this out on paper) why I escaped into a fantasy world of Art and (was mesmerized by) the overflowing optimism, projected by The Fab Four. My pastels are not too good, but there not too bad either. I would purchase Beatles’ bubblegum cards up at the local 7-Eleven, and I would then copy the photos on the bubblegum cards with pencil first, onto my 24 sheet No. 36 Student Charcoal Paper Pad (purchased at S.A.G.E. for 51 cents), then fill it in with dazzling pastel colors.
Sudden Flash! Some more of the August of 1965 saga returns to me. I knew it would be painful to open up that box, since it contains so many memories I tried so hard to forget. I know you’ve heard people say the 1960s were so wonderful, but if the truth be told, they were actually very painful. But the time of the John & Paul pastels can be dated close to the release date of the movie Help! (John’s pain). I saw it at a Gordon McLendon theater (the Preston Royal) in North Dallas. Later on during the ’70s I saw Halloween here (when I managed a Baskin-Robbins IC store).
Around this same time, I began to indulge in some over-the-top Beatles’ Worship; especially towards John Lennon, who I thought was the greatest genius since Ludwig Van! I will explain away this worship (forty-seven years later) as an innocent form of escape. I needed to feel better about myself and fancied I might become a great musician (some day) and a brilliant songwriter to boot (just like John & Paul), or perhaps a gifted pastel artist, who could whip out a perfect portrait in mere minutes, with a few strokes of pencil and charcoal. I’ll show you my pastel of the famous dolphin Flipper sometime, if you like.