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Doug Clark: The twist and shout heard round the world

Tue., Feb. 4, 2014

“I hope I’ll have enough money to go into a business of my own by the time we do flop.” – George Harrison during an early interview on the future of the Beatles.

Beatlemania is once again sweeping the country, and I’ve been twisting and shouting as much as my arthritic knees will allow, which is pretty sad when you think about it.

But heck, almost a half-century of living has slogged by since the Fab Four invaded New York to make their culture-changing debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Feb. 9, 1964.

Just about every member of my generation sat like zombies in front of the tube that night as Paul and John and George and Ringo did their thing.

There were kids who weren’t watching, sure. But they wouldn’t admit that now to save their skins.

My 91-year-old mom can back me up on the fact that I was sitting transfixed on our hardwood front-room floor.

There wasn’t a word for it back then, but it was one of my first attempts at multitasking.

That is, I had to watch the TV while at the same time tune out the cynical remarks of my Old Man. Like young George, he never dreamed the Beatles would last, let alone endure the ages.

Of course, my dad had the same feelings about television, too.

Which is why I grew up watching the Wonderful World of Color on a not-so wonderful black-and-white RCA.

Give the Old Man credit, though. Five years later, when I made him listen to “Something” (in the way she moves …) off the “Abbey Road” album, he had to admit that he’d misjudged these lads from Liverpool.

Fifty years.

Exposure to those chiming guitar strings and piercing harmonies was transformational. It furthered my interest in playing guitar, writing songs and emulating what was then the planet’s coolest look.

So in honor of Sunday’s anniversary, I went on a treasure hunt that took me deep into the cluttered bowels of a bedroom closet.

Pawing into a corner, I unearthed what I was looking for: the pair of Beatle Boots I bought not long after that Sullivan performance.

Like mop-top hair and tight pants, Beatle Boots were an important accoutrement to anyone aspiring to, well, Beatledom.

Though covered with dust and a bit worn from my teen band days, the boots look essentially as they did when I bought them at 2 Swabbies, Spokane’s long-departed discount department store along East Sprague Avenue.

Pointy toes. Zipper up the back. Cuban-heeled. Genuine suede …

Totally rockin’!

They’re no match for the sleek, expensive boots worn by the actual Beatles, of course. Mine were simply the best knockoffs that a Spokane kid could buy with 10 or 15 borrowed dollars from his ma.

But here’s the best news of all: The damned things still fit.

Yeah, it took a few minutes to get into them.

First I had to shake them thoroughly upside down to dislodge any hobo spiders or cooties that could’ve been living there.


Then in went my left foot followed by a moment of straining, adjustment and zipping. Then on with the right.

Fortunately for me, I got my growth in the eighth grade. By the time I bought my Beatle Boots, my dogs had reached their full 12-D potential.

Unfortunately, a 1964 12-D is not the same as a 12-D of today.

So while I can still squeeze the boots on, an hour or so of wearing these things would probably hobble me for rest of my life.

But they got me thinking.

How many of you out there have stowed away some Beatles keepsakes?

If so, tell me about them or email me a photo along with your name and phone number. Use the contact information below and I’ll share your Beatlemania in a future column.

All together now:

Yeah-yeah-yeah …


Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or


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