The Beatles Are Back!

Fifty years ago, the Beatles played their second and last Florida show as a band at the old Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.  This was a particularly exciting and dramatic time for Floridians and for the Beatles.  The band’s movie, A Hard Day’s Night, had recently premiered in the United States. Record breaking crowds were screaming at their shows while millions of viewers were swooning and shaking their Beatle wigs in front of the television. “Beatlemania” had taken hold in Florida and across the country. Yet this particular show was nearly canceled due to Hurricane Dora, racial segregation and the illegal sales of live Beatles footage. Recently, the State Archives and Florida Memory was privileged to receive never before seen photos of this nearly doomed event along with an eyewitness account from beginning to end.  Read on as Annette Ramsey shares about the Beatles, her father’s dedication to getting her to the show despite the bad weather, and these incredible Fab Four photos.

Annette Ramsey:

I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show and loved them! Especially Paul! My dad found out that they were going to tour the U.S. and would be performing at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. So he bought tickets from a radio station. Our tickets cost $4.00 each and we sat in the bleachers. For $5.00 you could sit in front of the stage!

Annette Ramsey at her Beatles-themed birthday party (1964). Photo courtesy of Annette Ramsey.

Annette Ramsey at her Beatles-themed birthday party (1964). Photo courtesy of Annette Ramsey.

Annette Ramsey's Uncle Bern dressed as Ringo Starr with a Beatle wig (1964). Photo courtesy of Annette Ramsey.

Annette Ramsey’s Uncle Bern dressed as Ringo Starr with a Beatle wig (1964). Photo courtesy of Annette Ramsey.

So the day of the concert came. It was September 11, 1964. I was 9 years old at the time and my dad was 39. A hurricane was predicted to come through…Hurricane Dora… and it did come the day before the concert. Because of the destruction my dad and I could not drive to Jacksonville as we had originally planned. My dad said to my mom “We have to find a way to get Annette to the concert and once we get there, we can figure out how to get back.” So my dad found a friend of a friend who had a commuter plane and he happened to have two seats available. It was my first plane ride! The Beatles plane landed right before ours and ours was still in the air but you could see them walk down the steps. The women in our plane took their shoes off and started beating them against the windows of the plane! Daddy was scared to death! When our plane landed everyone tried to run after the Beatles! But they were long gone.

The Beatles having a hasty dinner and press conference at Jacksonville's George Washington Hotel (September 11, 1964). Photo courtesy of Annette Ramsey.

The Beatles having a hasty dinner and press conference at Jacksonville’s George Washington Hotel (September 11, 1964).

John Lennon at the George Washington Hotel press conference in Jacksonville. The Beatles did not sleep at the hotel and nearly canceled their show in opposition to racial segregation in the city (September 11, 1964).

John Lennon at the George Washington Hotel press conference in Jacksonville (September 11, 1964).

Since we had arrived several hours before the concert, my Dad decided we should go downtown and have dinner. He was in the mood for a nice steak! So we went to a restaurant that happened to be across the street from the George Washington Hotel. While we are waiting for our meal my dad saw a reporter with a badge that said “Tampa Times.” At the time we had two newspapers in Tampa, the Times and the Tribune. So Daddy asked him if he had seen the Beatles. He said yes that he had covered an interview with them across the street at the George Washington Hotel. He was a photographer and his name was Vernon Barchard. He said he would show us where they were going to come out. Of course I wanted to go right then but Daddy was going to have his steak! After we finished eating we went across the street with Vernon to the parking garage at the George Washington Hotel. After what seemed like hours to me (but really wasn’t) they got out from the elevator and they were literally pushed against the wall by all the screaming fans. Vernon positioned himself to take a picture and my dad held me on his shoulders. When Paul came out Daddy pointed at Vernon and said “Tell Paul to smile and take the picture.”
It was very hard for the Beatles to get into their car and leave. Female fans jumped on the car and beat the windows with their shoes like on the plane!

Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison leaving the George Washington Hotel for their show. Annette Ramsey is seen at top right (September 11, 1964).

Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison leaving the George Washington Hotel for their show. Annette Ramsey is seen at top right (September 11, 1964).

I don’t remember how we got from the parking garage to the concert. We may have taken a cab? And I don’t remember any of the opening acts. The Beatles portion of the concert was late because photographers had been traveling around taking unauthorized film footage of them. The band wouldn’t start until they left. We sat in the bleachers. Our tickets cost $4.00 each. The bleachers shook because the women stamped their feet and you could hardly hear the Beatles because of the screaming! I have read that their set only lasted 37 minutes. It seemed longer to me.

Beatles drummer Ringo Starr at the Jacksonville Gator Bowl show. His drums had to be nailed to the stage due to the remaining high winds from Hurricane Dora (September 11, 1964).

Beatles drummer Ringo Starr at the Jacksonville Gator Bowl show. His drums had to be nailed to the stage due to the remaining high winds from Hurricane Dora (September 11, 1964).

The Beatles on the windswpt stage at the Gator Bowl, September 11, 1964. Concert-goer Annette Ramsey recalled that the cardboard letters spelling out "Beatles" were eventually ripped away from the side of the stage by the wind.

The Beatles on the windswept stage at the Gator Bowl, September 11, 1964. Concert-goer Annette Ramsey recalled that the cardboard letters spelling out “Beatles” were eventually ripped away from the side of the stage by the wind.

After the concert we met Vernon at a pre-arranged place and he drove us back to Tampa. A week later he mailed me these photos. I am happy to share the photos with other Beatles fans. I am planning to return to Jacksonville in October to see Paul McCartney. My dad said he’ll pass this time and let me go with my husband!!

***

If you have photos, film footage or great memories of the Beatles in Florida please contact the State Archives.  We would love to share your memories with the rest of Beatle fandom and the world!

 

Reubin O’Donovan Askew

Known for his overwhelming honesty and integrity, as well as his belief in the benevolence of government, Florida’s 37th governor Reubin Askew died today in Tallahassee.

Askew is considered one of the greatest and most popular governors of Florida and served from 1971 to 1979. He was recognized by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School as one of the top 10 governors of the 20th century.

Reubin Askew was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1928 and moved with his family to Pensacola in 1937. In 1946 Askew entered the Army as a paratrooper, serving for two years. During the Korean War, Askew served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1953.

Reubin Askew in his paratrooper uniform (1947)

Reubin Askew in his paratrooper uniform (1947)

A graduate of both Florida State University and the University of Florida Law School, Askew began his public career as Assistant County Solicitor for Escambia County in 1956. He went on to represent his district in the Florida House and Senate, serving as president pro tempore in 1969-70. In that same year he won the election as Florida’s governor and subsequently was re-elected to another four-year term.

Governor Askew poses for a photo with his family: Tallahassee, Florida

Governor Askew poses for a photo with his family: Tallahassee, Florida

As governor, Askew pushed through corporate income tax legislation, supported desegregation of Florida’s schools through busing, and championed open government laws that endure today and are unique to this state.

Florida's 37th Governor Reubin Askew

Florida’s 37th Governor Reubin Askew

After his term of office ended, Askew served in President Carter’s cabinet as U.S. Trade Representative and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. presidency in 1984.

Jimmy Carter and wife with Reubin Askew and his wife

While continuing his legal career, Askew served as a professor of public policy at the Florida Institute of Government which bears his name. He will be remembered as a consummate leader who was true to his word and values and as a governor who was able to work across party lines for the benefit of the people of Florida.

Letter to Governor Askew from Barry Goldwater, 1972

Letter to Governor Askew from Barry Goldwater, 1972

 

Letter to Governor Askew from John D. Rockefeller IV, 1972

Letter to Governor Askew from John D. Rockefeller IV, 1972

The Beatles are Coming!

Fifty years ago this week the Beatles arrived in Florida for the first time in order to begin rehearsing for their second appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.

The Beatles in Key West, 1964

The Beatles in Key West, 1964

Their performance was broadcast live from the Deauville Hotel’s Napoleon Ballroom in Miami Beach on February 16. About 3500 people saw it live, and approximately 70 million watched on television. The Beatles were the opening act, and dancer and singer Mitzi Gaynor was the headliner. Beatle mania was in full swing.

Postcard view of the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach

Postcard view of the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach

After the show the Beatles enjoyed some much needed rest and relaxation in the balmy climes of South Florida. On February 18, they flew from Miami to London. As a band, the Beatles only visited the Sunshine State one more time, in the fall of 1964.

Don Barton, Jacksonville Filmmaker (1930-2013)

Jacksonville filmmaker, producer, and director Don Barton died this month. Barton spent much of his life promoting the motion picture industry in Florida. These days, he is best known for his 1971 feature-length cult classic Zaat about a radioactive half-man, half-catfish monster bent on destroying the world. However, the greater body of his work included documentaries, training films, and commercials promoting Florida. Several of these films are in the collections of the State Archives, including:

Design for Winning Florida Department of Citrus promotional film featuring Steve Spurrier

 

Sailfish City Florida State Advertising Commission film on fishing for sailfish off Fort Pierce Inlet

 

A Day at the Zoo Promotional film about the Jacksonville Zoo

 

Fire It Up…

May is National Barbecue Month. Some etymologists believe the word barbecue comes from the Timucuan Indian word “baribicu” meaning “sacred fire.”

"Mode of Drying Fish, Wild Animals, and other Provisions," from an engraving by Theodor de Bry

“Mode of Drying Fish, Wild Animals, and other Provisions,” from an engraving by Theodor de Bry

There is no doubt that barbecue and barbecuing is sacred to many Floridians today and was certainly enjoyed by the Timucuans of yesterday. From the meat lover to the vegan, Florida’s beautiful spring weather demands that we come together for a barbecue!

Barbecue at the Koreshan Unity, Estero, ca. 1945

Barbecue at the Koreshan Unity, Estero, ca. 1945


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National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. Florida, called “[t]he State with the most beautiful name…” by poet Elizabeth Bishop, has been the home and inspiration for many famous and not so famous poets over the centuries.

James Weldon Johnson, ca. 1920

James Weldon Johnson, ca. 1920

Robert Frost with two Florida State College for Women students, Tallahassee, ca. 1940

Robert Frost with two Florida State College for Women students, Tallahassee, ca. 1940


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Graf Zeppelin

May 6, 2012, was the 75th anniversary of the Hindenburg disaster. The Hindenburg’s sister ships Graf Zeppelin (LZ-127) and USS Los Angeles (originally LZ-129) were also built by the German Zeppelin company. On October 23, 1933, Miami welcomed the Graf Zeppelin. The Graf Zeppelin also shared several German crew members with the Hindenburg, one of whom died in the Hindenburg disaster.

Arrival of Graf Zeppelin: Miami (October 23, 1933)

Arrival of Graf Zeppelin: Miami (October 23, 1933)

Mayor E.G. Sewell welcomes the crew of Graf Zeppelin (October 23, 1933)

Mayor E.G. Sewell welcomes the crew of Graf Zeppelin (October 23, 1933)

Airship Los Angeles over Miami (1925)

Airship Los Angeles over Miami (1925)

Women’s Basketball

With the annual hoopla surrounding the beginning of March Madness and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, many forget that the NCAA women’s tournament occurs simultaneously. The inventor of basketball, Dr. James George Naismith, envisioned basketball as a sport for men and women. In fact, women’s high school and college basketball teams played an important role in promoting the game and coincided with the earliest men’s basketball teams at the beginning of the 20th century. So with this, Florida Memory highlights women’s basketball in Florida from its earliest days.

Stetson University women’s basketball team: Deland, Florida (1907)

Stetson University women’s basketball team: Deland, Florida (1907)

 

Florida State College for Women’s basketball team sitting atop Westcott gate on College Avenue: Tallahassee, Florida (ca. 1920)

Florida State College for Women’s basketball team sitting atop Westcott gate on College Avenue: Tallahassee, Florida (ca. 1920)

 

Florida A & M College women’s basketball team: Tallahassee, Florida (1929)

Florida A & M College women’s basketball team: Tallahassee, Florida (1929)

 

Pierce Junior High School women’s basketball team: Polk County, Florida (1937)

Pierce Junior High School women’s basketball team: Polk County, Florida (1937)

 

Lincoln High School’s women’s basketball team: Tallahassee, Florida (1950s)

Lincoln High School’s women’s basketball team: Tallahassee, Florida (1950s)