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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘The Beatles changed my life’: Avid Fab Four fan, her wife and their 4-year-old will be at Paul McCartney on April 28

You can’t buy Ayuko Momono’s love or her extensive and enviable Beatles collection. However, the latter might change when the uber Fab Four fan is old enough to sing “When I’m 64.” Classic Beatles dolls, a Fab Four Lego set and first pressing Beatles albums from the U.K. are the among the items, which grab your eye and ear in a bedroom/museum in her north Spokane home. And then there are the replica Beatles instruments.

There’s Paul McCartney’s Rickenbacker bass, which was purchased for $300, George Harrison’s Rickenbacker for $450 and John Lennon’s Epiphone Casino guitar to the tune of $800. Momono’s prized possession is the infamous “Butcher Cover,” which was the original art for the “Yesterday and Today” album. The cover, which features the Beatles in white lab coats with decapitated baby dolls and raw meat on them, was immediately withdrawn by their label, Capitol.

“I feel like the Beatles are in my room,” Momono said. “The Beatles are very important to me. They always have been.”

While growing up in Toyohashi, Japan, the Beatles helped Momono, 42, navigate childhood. “I didn’t have a lot of friends at the time,” Momono said. “The Beatles music was my friend. The Beatles saved my life because maybe I was mad at the world. The Beatles were better than the world. I love them so much. The Beatles changed my life in so many ways.”

One of those ways the Beatles altered Momono’s existence is by enabling her to learn English. After mastering the language, Momono is now an English-language development specialist for Spokane Public Schools, teaching at three elementary schools.

So Momono, who has lived in Spokane since 2004, had to attend Paul McCartney’s upcoming show April 28 at Spokane Arena. However, access to tickets was an issue until Christina Mitma, 45, opted to purchase a ducat for her significant other.

“My wife is the biggest, most avid Beatles fan,” Mitma said. “I was looking around and coming up empty, but then I saw a ticket for $1,650. I thought about it for a second, and I said, “I’m buying her this ticket.”

But that was just the beginning of the spending spree since Momono wanted Mitma and their 4-year old daughter Yulianna to catch the show, as well. The couple dropped $1,000 for a pair in section 118.

“The pair of seats are good,” Mitma said. “Yulianna and I are in a good spot. Ayuko is on the floor just six rows from the stage. She deserves the experience even though it’s expensive.”

Fortunately, a family friend helped soften the financial blow by donating $1,000. “That was really appreciated,” Mitma said. “I’m just so glad it’s going to happen for Ayuko.”

Momono saw McCartney during his 2002 tour in Tokyo. “Some musicians don’t attempt to communicate much with the audience in Japan, but Paul did his best to communicate with us,” Momono recalled. “Paul hired a bunch of translators. It was such a great show.”

The couple caught McCartney in Seattle in 2013. “We really enjoyed seeing Paul in Seattle, but the concert in Spokane is really special to us,” Mitma said. “We met while we were both in graduate school at Gonzaga 17 years ago, and Spokane is home.

“We saw Ringo Starr at Northern Quest a few years ago, and Yuliana was born here. It’s convenient for us, but it’s more than that. Paul is playing our town! This also might be our last chance to see Paul. We don’t just love the Beatles music. We love Paul’s music, as well.”

That was evident at their 2014 wedding since the couple danced to McCartney’s love song “Calico Skies.” When Mitma was pregnant with Yuliana, she and Momono purchased their daughter a special birthday gift.

“When Yuli was in my belly, we went to 4000 Holes and bought her (the single) ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ (on Record Store Day),” Mitma said. “We started her vinyl collection so she grows up in a vinyl world.”

And what does Yulianna think of the Beatles, and who is her favorite fab? “I love the Beatles,” she said. “Ringo is my favorite because he has a funny nose.”

Perhaps it’s time for a completion of the Beatles replica set with the addition of Ringo’s drum kit? “That would be fun,” Mitma said. “We just have to find that drum set.”

One day there will be a decision on what to do with the Beatles collection. “I think it’s going to be our retirement,” Momono said. “What we have is only going to go up in value. Maybe I’ll sell it when we get to retirement age, but I’m sure it will be difficult to part with.”