It was the height of Beatles-mania in 1964 when the Beatles hit the U.S. for the first time, flying into New York City on a Friday.
High School senior, Gary Van Deursen, decided to drive to New York’s JFK airport with five friends in his Chevy Impala, borrowing it from his brother.
“There were just literally thousands of kids at the airport just screaming. It was crazy”, says Van Deursen who lives in Essex, CT, now.
It was so crazy, that Gary and the gang didn’t get to see the Beatles.
At least not until a chance encounter with their limos on the expressway, as the teens were leaving New York and the Beatles were heading to their hotel.
“We got to the rear car and Ringo Starr was in it and he goes like this (motioning) to roll down your window… so we roll down ours he rolls down his and says something like ‘hey love where are you from’ or something to that effect”, says Van Deursen.
Ringo snapped a photo of the New Jersey teens but Van Deursen, says he had no idea because it all happened so fast.
“The little blonde that was in back of me in the picture took her pinky ring and threw it in the car… from my car… we’re doing about 60 miles per hour – these cars were in a hurry”, he says.
But 49 years later, in Starr’s new book, “Photograph”, he includes what was for him, a photo of these “mystery-teens,” and USA Today put out a call to find them.
Before long, Gary and his friends were coming out of the woodwork.
Gary: “I had often wondered if I ever talked to Ringo, if I ever met him anywhere, and it’s like, you remember the very first day you were in the United States? The very first kids you actually talked to?”
Berman: “To see if he’d remember it?”
Gary: “Yeah and it turns out not only does he remember it but he actually had the photo and kind of cherished it.”
Sadly, Gary learned that his friend Matt, who is barely visible in the photo, passed away two years ago.
“There’s all those people who you should be in touch with and just see how they’re doing or where they are. You should do that”, says Van Deursen.
Ringo though, has reached out to the rest of the no-longer “mystery” teens and will meet them once again at his concert in Las Vegas next month.
While their high school classmates didn’t buy “the Beatles story” back then, Gary now has picture proof that they really did spend the day with Ringo Starr.
Now, they get to do it again.
“Nobody ever believed us really, I mean, I don’t think. The irony is that 49 years later it turns out Ringo’s actually looking for us,” he says.