Sweet Beatle Dreams: The Diary of Mary Mack Conger

I bought Sweet Beatle Dreams: The Diary of Mary Mack Conger as a remainder for only one dollar. I acquired it long after its publication date, 1989. I was drawn to it because I myself was a diarist and could certainly identify with Conger (then Mack). She wrote in her diary from 10 April 1964 to 28 November 1965, gushing over the Beatles and sharing her anxieties over rumours of Paul McCartney’s secret marriage and other such nonsense which nonetheless drove teenage girls mad with worry. The first three quarters of the diary were from 1964 (when Conger was fourteen) which was the height of Beatlemania, yet by the following year her interest in writing about the Beatles had waned. She wrote about her plans to see the Beatles in concert in Chicago and her successful trip there from Iowa. That was the longest diary entry, at three pages.

Many of her diary entries had me in titters as I relived my own discovery of the Beatles’ music. I was already a diarist at fourteen in the spring of 1980 when I discovered them. I will reproduce some of my favourite diary entries here:

April 19–
I just finished redecorating my room. It looks more “Beatle-ized” now.
I’m really in for it tomorrow! I didn’t do any of my homework. All I did all day was listen to records and the radio. I also wrote a letter to Johnny Dean in London for a subscription to the “Beatles Monthly Magazine.”

April 27–
Sue isn’t going to be the only one with “Love Me Do.” I found out today that they are selling it down at Parkers Department Store. I still haven’t used my record certificate that I won on KSTT, so I can get it free.
I really get tired of Sue always bragging about how much Beatle stuff she has. I remember when she had six Beatle magazines and I only had one. She sends away for everything as soon as she finds out about it.

June 13–
Well, Ringo’s all better now. He joined John, Paul and George yesterday.
I wish the Beatles would hurry and get a new record! People are starting to say they are has-beens!

June 20–
Well, Sue and I are at it again. She is mad at me because I told her that I can’t go downtown today. I just don’t have the money! Just because she gets as much money as she wants doesn’t mean that I do. She’s a spoiled brat! I just hope and pray that we’re friends by September, or I’ll be out of a ride to Chicago!
Last night Mom asked me if I changed the color of my hair. I said I had, and do you know what she said? She said she liked it! That’s rather shocking, if you ask me!

June 22–
Do you know what some people are doing? They bought up a whole bunch of tickets to the Beatles performance in Chicago. Now they’re selling them for $50. That’s plain scalpering!! I’m happy that we got ours when we did, but I imagine that if I had $50, I’d spend it on a Beatle ticket.

August 17–
While we were waiting for my parents to pick us up, we met some girls who are also going to Chicago to see the Beatles. Guess where their seats are! The tenth row! Those scums.

September 5–
[an excerpt about the Chicago Beatles concert, Conger’s longest diary entry]
When THEY finally started singing (after Jackie DeShannon and the Righteous Brothers), you couldn’t even hear them. Not at all. It was one solid scream. John told the crowd to clap their hands instead of screaming. Of course, that didn’t work. It just made us scream louder.

October 26–
EEE-GADS! I had a dream last night to top all dreams! It was a perfect set up, but something fouled up somewhere. It went something like this:
The Beatles were going to come to Iowa State, and they were going to stay with my brother. Anyway, they were going to spend a quiet night in the house, and Tom said I could come over if I wanted to.
Oh, my God, this was a chance in a lifetime, I thought. At last I was going to get to know George.
When I was ready, I went to Tom’s house. I rang the doorbell, and I heard four Liverpudlian voices call out, “Come in, Luv.” I opened the door and walked in.
Now this is the crazy part. I went inside, and who did I see?
Sprawled all over the living room furniture, relaxing and enjoying themselves, were the Beatles…yes, they were the Beatles…but they were NEGROES!
Now figure that one out, if you can.

March 15 [1965]–
Mom is really upset with me today. She says that the Beatles have ruined my whole personality. She says if I don’t snap out of it pretty soon, I am never going to amount to anything.

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