'F' as in Frank

The Beatles and Budapest

The other night on PBS I saw a film about how the Beatles supposedly brought down the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc through their appeal to young people.

Of course, the U.S. military's might and our soldiers in uniform were I feel most responsible for making inroads with the Soviet Union.

That's one reason we remember our veterans today, for protecting us during the Cold War and all the wars before and after, including the current war on terrorism.

The film was in recognition that 20 years ago this month the Berlin Wall fell, marking an end to 40 years of brutal Communist rule in Eastern Europe.

I was pretty young during the heyday of Beatlemania, but I do remember the appeal of Beatle haircuts, Beatle shoes and even Beatle cartoons.

The program the other night had some vintage Beatle clips and that was fun. So was watching the fall of the Berlin Wall all over again.

Joni and I moved to Eastern Europe, Hungary, six years after the wall fell and the PBS film reminded me of one brief moment during our five years there. A moment when I saw firsthand how the Beatles had somehow managed to make a great impact on a generation closed to the West. Letting them see there was life beyond the iron curtain.

That moment came when I went to see a showing of "A Hard Day's Night" in one of Budapest's cinemas. I had never seen the movie and I thought it would be neat to check it out on the big screen.

I didn't anticipate many others in attendance, the movie was at that time more than 30 years old and Hungary had all sorts of Western culture already at its disposal.

But as I went into the theater to find a seat just before the movie started, I was immediately greeted by the sight of a room full of older people, folks - mainly women - who appeared to be in their late 50s, or 60s and even 70s.

I was the youngest person in the room and it seemed odd for an audience to be so predominantly of one generation.

Since then I realized these folks were young adults when the Beatles were around and never had a chance to see them on television or at best barely got to hear a few songs by sneaking a listen to late night radio.

Their viewing of "A Hard Day's Night" 30 years later was their chance to see a glimpse of the Beatlemania they missed.

In retrospect, the Beatles may not have brought down the iron curtain, but they apparently poked a few holes in it with a then-younger generation.


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