By C.E. Hanifin
Enquirer staff writer
Dig out your go-go boots, because Beatlemania has returned to Cincinnati.
Laurie Schalk holds her Ringo Starr doll, which was once actually touched by the Beatles drummer.
The Enquirer / CRAIG RUTTLE
The Beatles visited Cincinnati on Aug. 27, 1964.
To commemorate the Beatles' first invasion of the city on Aug. 27, 1964, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is hosting a Fab Four-themed exhibit.
Dubbed the Beatles Magical Library Tour, the tribute features memorabilia from local fans' private collections on display through Aug. 29 throughout the main library, downtown. Performances by local tribute bands, crafty kids' activities and other events also are planned, and visitors can record their own Beatles memories in guestbooks located at the main library and each of the branches.
From 45s to figurines, hundreds of Beatles items were loaned to the library from an organization of local Fab Four followers, the Beatles Boosters Club (Web site). The club members spent months putting together the show, says vice president and historian Linda Androit. The Westwood native, who saw the Beatles perform in 1966 on their second Cincinnati stop, helped create the club in 1996.
Although the collections on display could fetch major cash on eBay, its owners consider the memories evoked by the items priceless, says Andriot, 51. She offered her most treasured piece of memorabilia for the exhibit, a Paul McCartney autograph her dad obtained for her at the '66 concert.
"Everybody's got a Beatles story, hundreds of Beatles stories," Andriot says.
Some of the boosters told us their tales behind items in their collections that are part of the exhibit.
IF YOU GO
Beatles Magical Library Tour
When: Exhibit runs through Aug. 29; library hours are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sundays
Where: Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County's Main Library, 800 Vine St., downtown
Information: 369-6945; Web site
Events go beyond the Beatles exhibit
Do you have a fab story about your Fab Four memorabilia? Share it with us by sending your tale to email@example.com. Please include your name, phone number, neighborhood and age (optional).
David Rauh, 54, bought his first Beatles record in 1964, and he's been obsessed with the group's vinyl recordings ever since. Many of the American releases in his collection are on display at the library, and he'll give visitors a peek at albums released in 36 other countries on Wednesday and Aug. 14 at the main library.
Although Rauh, who lives in Miami Heights, says he usually snagged Beatles records right as they hit stores in the '60s, he didn't rush out to get the 1966 compilation Yesterday and Today because he already had pressings of most of the songs on it. His hesitation sent him on a 10-year search for a copy of the album with its original cover. The record's artwork, which featured the Beatles clad in butchers' aprons, holding chunks of meat and dismembered dolls, caused such a furor among store owners that Capital Records recalled it and reissued the album with a much tamer cover.
In the mid-'70s, Rauh finally tracked down a Cincinnati collector who was willing to sell his copy of Yesterday and Today - for $200.
"Then, that was ridiculously high to me," he says. But he really wanted the album, so he paid it.
Now, the rare record is worth thousands of dollars, Rauh says.
Laurie Schalk, 44, began building her collection of Beatles dolls 15 years ago, and now has about a hundred. She's got likenesses of John, Paul, George and Ringo in all sizes and styles, including cloth dolls, plastic figurines and a set of Russian nesting dolls.
Schalk's favorite is a Ringo Starr doll dressed in a pink Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band outfit. That's because the real Ringo has held that doll.
When Schalk attended Starr's concert in 1992 at Riverbend Music Center, she brought the doll with her to her second-row seat. During the show, Starr spied his stuffed lookalike.
"He took it right out of my hands. We almost touched," Schalk says.
When Starr handed the doll back, Schalk told him to keep it.
"That's when he said, 'No, thanks, I've got the real thing right here,' " she says.
Laurie's 47-year-old husband, Tom, isn't as passionate about the Fab Four as she is - he began hunting down Beatles toys, games and other items so he could share the hobby with Laurie.
"We wanted something we collect together," he says. "Instead of fishing or golfing, we just collect Beatles."
After years of amassing memorabilia, the Beatles' faces can be spotted in every room of their Cleves home. Fellow Boosters call the Schalks' house the Cincinnati Beatles Museum. Laurie drives a lemon-colored Mini Cooper with the license plate "YLLW SUB."
For the exhibit, Tom has put on display some of his rarest finds, including a 1963 tin of talcum powder from England, four handblown Christmas ornaments made in Italy in 1965 and a blue lunchbox with thermos, also made in 1965, that was one of the first Beatles items the pair acquired.
The couple gets a kick out of trawling shops and conventions together in search of Beatles goodies to bring home. But Tom nabbed one collectible that Laurie covets: A set of 1964 paper-mache bobblehead dolls.
"They're still in the original box," Tom says. And he wants to keep them there, safely in his collection's domain. But Laurie wants to take them out and add them to her doll collection.
For now, the bobbleheads sit in a case at the library with other items that belong to Tom.
"But that status could change at any moment," Laurie smiles.
Remembering The Beatles
Events go beyond the Beatles exhibit
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