Whenever I sit down to put down my thoughts about “back in the day,” I seem to be going through “Six Degrees of Separation,” because inevitably I have encountered someone, through someone else, that I never thought I’d connect with. My trip to Houston on the Monkees tour is a prime example of that.
In 1962 I was working at Disneyland (2 miles from my home) and when I got my first paycheck, I bought my very first record album “Jan and Dean’s Greatest Hits.” I’m pretty sure it was $4.50. Along with James Darren (who I fell in love with as Moondoggie watching “Gidget” starring Sandra Dee), I had Jan and Dean’s pictures taped to my closet door. Loved their music, dreamy to look at and I was totally into surfing (not as a surfer girl, but spending hours on the beach with my girlfriends watching the surfers!). It was a 30 minute drive from my house to Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.
Once the Beatles came on the scene, my Jan and Dean album stayed in the back of my closet and it’s not one I moved with me when I moved away from home and got an apartment in Hollywood. Like everyone else, on April 12, 1966 I was horrified to hear of Jan Berry’s car crash which almost killed him. He survived but the accident left him with severe brain damage, unable to walk, speak, and paralyzed on his right side. Publicists presented his condition as “he’ll be fine.” But he wasn’t. And as quickly as the accident had happened, Jan was rarely mentioned in the news again. Flash forward to August 1967.
My two days in Dallas were a blast (see my post from August 23rd “The Monkees Great Escape,”) even the scary moments. After the concert in Dallas, I flew down to Houston. I remember landing at the airport about one in the morning, and as I walked down the airplane ramp (no jetways yet!), across the tarmac and through the terminal, when the sliding doors opened it was like a blast from hell. I had never been in such a humid, hot climate. I climbed into a cab and the trip to my hotel was more than uncomfortable. The cab had no air conditioning and even at that time of the morning I was soaking wet by the time I got to the hotel!
After a welcome night’s sleep in the air conditioned hotel, I spent the day exploring Houston on my own. I was scheduled to meet up with the Monkees for dinner before their show at the Sam Houston Coliseum. Davy had heard of a British restaurant one block from our hotel, so he gathered everyone up for an authentic English meal. Mike was the only Monkee who didn’t join us, because he took a group of his relatives to dinner elsewhere.
At the “Red Lion” restaurant, Davy encouraged everyone to order steak, kidney and mushroom pie with Yorkshire pudding. I’m pretty sure I stuck with a slab of prime rib with my Yorkshire pudding. As we waited for our meals, Peter and Davy carried on for fifteen minutes acting out the various British accents. Really fun!
A special guest of Davy’s that night was, have you guessed? Jan Berry. Davy had become a friend of Jan’s and felt it would be good for his rehabilitation to experience a Monkees concert and “hanging out” with the band. Davy and Jan sat directly across from me. I was dumbstruck when I first saw Jan walk unsteadily in and take his seat. The brain damage had made him like an amnesiac, he had to learn everything as if he were a newborn baby. At this point in his rehabilitation, he spoke, like a five year old, he drew with crayons on pieces of paper and proudly showed them off for everyone to see and praise him. At one point he was talking just to me and he said, “I know my A, B, C’s.” And he proceeded to slowly tell me the letters of the alphabet. Everyone treated Jan with great respect and I felt so fortunate to observe Davy’s kindness and friendship to a fallen angel.
Good times. . .Ann Moses reporting about “back in the day.”