A friend sent me a text this afternoon that read, “OMG, just heard Davy Jones died.” Memories came flooding my mind. In 1967 I met Peter Tork. I loved the Monkees. Yeah..I know all the bad press about them not playing their own instruments on the show, etc. But I did love them. While most girls loved Davy, I had a 15 year old girl true love for Peter.
In 1996 I saw them again (minus Michal Nesmith) on their Reunion Tour while living in Reno, Nv. Davy was wearing a cast on his leg and had to sit on a stool a good bit of the time. But I didn’t care. I was 16 years old again and being taken to another place and time by the Monkees and their music.
Below is an edited blog from several years ago:
The summer of 1967 was my first airplane trip and my first visit anywhere other than a yearly trip to West Virginia. My biggest adventure during those long drives up to the mountains was reading the old Burma Shave Signs. If you don’t know what a Burma Shave sign is then you may be too young to really appreciate this unbelievable birthday surprise.
I was raised by grandparents after my mother left when I was 4. She moved to Chicago in 1957 and from there she and her husband moved to Los Angeles, Ca. I was 15 before my grandmother finally allowed me fly out for a visit. By the time of my visit in 1967, my mother had established herself in the “entertainment community” in Los Angeles. She had many friends who were in the “industry”. She knew people from record producers to Roller Derby stars.
For most of my life music and books had been the tools of my survival. They allowed me to escape my reality. I had a radio in my room long before most kids I knew. I was head over heals “ga ga” for Peter Tork of the Monkees. Most girls loved Davy but I loved Peter. Jimmy Hendrix commented on several occasions that Peter was the “most talented one of the Monkees.
During my trip I had my hair cut short in a Beatle Bobb (see the picture with Peter). I went to a “love in” at park and saw Jesus Christ Superstar. I got my ears pierced and I was able to buy the most awesome hippie clothes. No one in Charleston had anything like them. When I got off the plane at home, the expression on my very conservative grandmother was priceless. I was wearing a purple “dress” with big pink polka dots. It looked like a disco dress. In fact, my clothes were so wild that my nickname in school that year was “Flash”.
My mother, her husband and his father (an ex semi pro ball player for the LA Dodgers B team) went to Dodger Stadium in LA to watch the Dodgers play. During the game the electronic billboard lite up with fireworks graphics and the entire country saw and heard….Happy 16th Birthday Cathy Altman from Charleston, SC. I couldn’t imagine this trip getting any better.
My mother knew that Peter was my obsession. She knew someone with the record label and was able to get the address to his home. We got in her dark green convertible MGB and drove up into the Hollywood Hills. She said she had a surprise for me. We pulled up in front of a really cool house and parked across the street. She told me this was the home of Peter Tork. She said I could go up to the door and ask for him autograph and to take a picture with him.
I was terrified….a pretty common state for me …but even more so that day. I froze. My mother was annoyed and finally coaxed me out of the car. I followed her across the street. She knocked on the door. Terror…Panic…What if I pass out or say something really stupid.
We waited. A young woman came to the door (in a white bikini bathing suit-not underwear.) My mother told the young woman that it was my 16th birthday and what we wanted. She invited us in. She took us into the room where Peter was on the phone. He stopped and listened to what we wanted. He talked to me for just a minute. I was too terrified to talk. I must have said something, but I am still not sure what it could have been. My mother took some pictures and Peter gave me hug. I couldn’t speak. This picture is the only one I have. Claudia kept this one and gave it to me when she found out I didn’t have them any longer. The other pictures and the postcard with his picture he autographed for me were lost during my “drinking days.”
So that is the saga of my 16th birthday. It was truly a summer of change for me. For the first time, I was away from the tight-fisted control of my grandmother and my alcoholic grandfather. I started the school year with a new-found courage and belief that I was just maybe a little bit special.