From 318Central.com and Jude Southerland Kessler
What was it like to be an independent, bold, daring 16-year-old Beatlemaniac living in Cleveland in 1964? Well, for most it was frustrating and okay, a little boring … a lot of dreams deferred and a good many, “I sure wish I could somehow meet The Beatles!!” sighs. But that was not the case for Janice Mitchell, who spent her entire life savings on a one-way ticket to London and Liverpool … on a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet John, Paul, George, and Ringo in person. This true-story escapade will inspire you and thrill you, but it will not let you sleep! I stayed awake three nights and four days in a row to get to the end of her book, My Ticket to Ride! (But it was worth it) And here – a 318Central.com Exclusive – is incredible adventurer and author, Jan Mitchell with her behind-the-scenes scoop, just for you!
Jude Southerland Kessler: Jan, give us a glimpse into your wonderful book about the real-life adventure that you and one of your friends dared to undertake in high school. What did you dream … and then, do!?
Janice Mitchell: The day after Christmas in 1963, I was listening to the transistor radio in the kitchen while working on a homework assignment. I was a fifteen-year-old Catholic high school girl trying to make the best of a terrible year with two major losses: my uncle Mac, who was my only ally in life, and President John F. Kennedy. Since I was about 4 years old, music had always made me happy. I loved all kinds of music from “On The Good Ship Lollypop,” to Bach, to Blues, to Gregorian Chants to “Louie Louie” by the Kingsman. But nothing could shake me from the dark time I was in. That is, until a disc jockey introduced a new group with a sound that brought me back to life! “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles! A sound I never heard before! From that moment on I was a Beatlemaniac and was determined to live and hang out where The Beatles came from and where they wrote and played their music. Beatleland! My best Beatle buddy and I planned throughout the summer of 1964 to see The Beatles concert in our hometown of Cleveland, to get our passports and one-way TWA tickets to London, to pack all our clothes and leave the morning after the concert. We didn’t breathe a word to anyone. The morning after the Beatles concert on September 15, 1964, we boarded a plane and didn’t look back.
Kessler: Now, you planned and carried out this daring trek to the U.K. in hoping to “Meet The Beatles,” as it were. But what about readers who aren’t Beatles fans? Will they enjoy My Ticket to Ride? What is the “take away” of your book for young readers or for readers who have no interest in The Beatles whatsoever?
Mitchell: My story is about the power and the magic of music and how it can save you, transform you – give you hope and embrace you with love and understanding. It’s also a story about how to believe in yourself and how to follow your dream; and if you do, how far you may go, and how no matter where your journey takes you, you can face the challenges if you stay close to your dream and believe in yourself. Think big. Visualize your goals and work towards them.
Kessler: What were some of the amazing lessons that you learned during the summer that you bought a “Ticket To Ride” and ventured out into the world on your own?
Mitchell: Going out on my own into the world and arriving in another country at age 16 taught me that I could trust my instincts and that I could meet any challenge that came up. I learned that people can be pretty nice, if you give them a chance. I learned that I was strong and could figure out things on my own. I saw that I was able to be happy by following my plan toward my dream.
Kessler: Jan, during that magical summer, what is your happiest memory of the days in England, and what is your saddest memory?
Mitchell: I have many happy memories, but among my happiest was the realization of just how much I fit into the culture and the lifestyle of 1964 England. I was right in the midst of a cultural change that included the power of music, new music, British invasion music! It was a time of transition from the age of innocence into an era that had not been fully defined yet. My saddest memory was having to leave and come back home to Cleveland. I never intended to come back. I was very happy in London and Liverpool.
Just to give you an idea of some of the adventures I encountered that magical summer in London, here’s one of my favorite scenes from My Ticket to Ride in which one of two of the friends we had met in London – Roy and Paul – took my friend Marty and me to a “cool” British dance club for the first time:
Mods and rockers?” I asked.
“Mods are young people like yourselves, like us, who enjoy dressing stylishly, listening to
The Beatles, and driving around on scooters,” Roy continued. “Rockers are a scruffy lot who
wear blue jeans, heavy leather jackets—like Elvis Presley—and tear around on motorcycles.
That’s the simplest way I can put it.”
“Never been an Elvis Presley fan. I’m too young for that,” I said.
“Why would they fight over who wears a nice suit jacket or who wears a leather jacket
and whether you like The Beatles or Elvis Presley?” I did wish I could afford a dressy leather
laughed. “Except where are your scooters?”
They both shrugged their shoulders and laughed.
“Roy’s got a car. We don’t need a scooter,” Paul said. “Don’t think you’d want to ride a
scooter from Soho to Holland Park, right?”
“I’ve never been on one,” I said. I was intrigued, though.
“Sounds cold and windy,” Marty said.
The crowd of Mods outside the club was growing. Now that I knew I was a Mod myself, I
started to feel right at home.
down to the depths of the Scene Club, shall we, ladies?”
He led the way as we walked past a neat line of parked scooters and pushed past the
green doors that led to the Scene Club and headed down the stairs to yet another basement club.
Music filled the room, and kids danced like they were at an endless party. Slow-dancing Mods in love.
London, it “seemed a bit of all right.” We all had soft drinks. Paul and Roy smoked cigarettes.
“Paul, I hate to be a wet blanket, but after last night I’m running out of steam fast.”
“We’re here to serve,” Paul said. “Roy, let’s run these mod gals back to Holland Park.”
Kessler: I love that! Our readers can see why I couldn’t put My Ticket to Ride down. It took me back to a time and a place that was like none other … London in 1964. You made it come alive, Jan!
Now, I know you were recently a speaker at the Fest for Beatles Fans in New York. Looking ahead, what’s up next for you this summer?
Mitchell: Coming up this summer, “the big event” will be the International Beatles Week in Liverpool during the last week of August. I’ll be interviewed on Convention Day at the Adelphi Hotel by the Cavern Club representative. I’ll also have books available for sale on that day.
I’m also involved in several local events in the Cleveland area; for example, I’ll be the emcee for a fundraiser for the Gathering Place, a non-profit cancer center. I’m a 9/11 World Trade Center Survivor; I worked there and had to continue to work in the zone for weeks and months. Although we were all assured that the air was safe to breathe, I developed cancer due to exposure of toxins in the air. But as of six months ago, I am very happy to say that I’ve been pronounced cancer-free! The fundraiser event has been dubbed “Love Muffin Palooza,” and it takes place on John Lennon’s birthday, Oct. 9! Adam Rich of Love Muffin Records hosts this fundraiser yearly, and this year it takes place at The Bop Stop, a hot music venue!
We’re currently looking for sponsors and donations of things that people can draw raffle tickets for. So, if anyone is interested in helping out, please click on Donate to make a tax-deductible donation. We really want to help others who are battling this disease and to celebrate life. So, we’ll have lots of bands and raffles at the fundraiser, and we’d love to have people come out to support the Gathering Place. For more information, go to: cancer.org.
Kessler: Well, I have to say once again, Jan, that I was fascinated with this edge-of-the-seat true story!! I can’t recommend My Ticket To Ride enough! How may people buy your book and follow you on social media, Janice?
Mitchell: My book is available on Amazon online, Barnes and Noble online and in stores.
MyTicketToRideBook.com is where an autographed copy can be ordered.
On Facebook: Go to Ticket to Ride Beatles Fan Book at https://www.facebook.com/Ticket2RideBook/
My website is https://janice-mitchell.com/ if you’d like to read more.