This is a story I rarely tell, one that ends with John Lennon holding my hand. It was nearly 40 years ago, and my friend Debi Gerson (Locke) and I wanted to do something to help the patients being mistreated at Willowbrook Hospital.
Donna Screder Reis, and John
Geraldo Rivera was the new guy on ABC News, and he received a call from John saying that Yoko Ono had learned of this terrible treatment of adults and children. Geraldo exposed this to the public, and John soon announced that he would do whatever he could to help.
But instead of merely staging a concert — which was wonderful — John also insisted on taking the patients out for a day in Central Park beforehand.
Deb and I were only 15. But we got in touch with ABC, and, before we knew it, we were each assigned a patient.
It was a great day for all of them, in a glorious event spread throughout the park. And although Deb and I were split up, we knew we’d eventually find one another.
As the event came to a close, I walked my child back to the bus. Covered in mud from playing in the park, I looked around for Deb. Meanwhile, my new friend and I walked toward a makeshift podium.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a man in an Army jacket next to a smallish woman with straight black hair.
I must have looked like I was in a trance. I walked straight toward him, no fear in my teenaged heart, and stuck out my hand.
John Lennon put one of his hands over mine and the other beneath it. He looked at me earnestly and thanked ME for helping HIM!
Debi and I spent many a day down in the ABC basement preparing for this day, and it was great. Then John told us he purchased tickets for all the workers to see the show.
We had already scraped together enough money to buy tickets of our own, but I didn’t care: JOHN LENNON HAD JUST ENGULFED MY HAND!
The concert was great, the ability to help was wonderful, but nothing beats that gesture of gratitude. As he spoke to me, he wasn’t an ex-Beatle, a former member of one of the greatest musical acts in history. He was just a regular guy. The best!
PHOTO at right courtesy Joan Athey. Please visit: www.peaceworksnow.com
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.