For many millennial and latter-generation Beatles fans, collecting memorabilia on eBay is not just a pastime but also a way to connect with the experience of those who were actually there. Teen music magazines, like 16, Tiger Beat, Hit Parader, Flip, and more are often the objects of pursuit. (My own collection of these mags inspired the RAVER series here on REBEAT.)
Once in awhile, you get lucky and find not just the magazines, but authentic scrapbooks lovingly and painstakingly created by first-generation fans back in the 1960s. One of my most prized possessions is my Monkees scrapbook I found on eBay seven years ago. Many times, I thought about the young girl who pasted photos and clippings into its pages, drawing pictures, and writing the band’s names over and over again. I’ve wondered where she is today.
One Beatles fan, Tess Yarbrough, took this curiosity a step further. Tess, who showcases her love of all things “classic rock” across her various social media profiles, decided to track down Barbara, the woman who created her 1960s Beatles scrapbook. And, in true millennial fashion, she filmed the entire encounter for her YouTube channel.
Here’s how Tess “found” her fan:
The experience of finding Barbara [happened] in three stages, search, wait, and find. When the whole idea happened, it stemmed from an experience I had when I was little and a women showed up at our house and revealed my dad had multiple siblings he had no idea existed and they wanted to connect. I always thought that was so cool and probably aided in my love of people’s stories. I have a sweet spot for storytelling and sharing experiences.
Searching for Barbara was a surge of excitement that led to a waiting game. Out of this excitement, my best friend and I made up sort of a background of Barbara by making a joke about her filling out every mail-off [inside the magazines] but never sending them. That became a catch phase in our life: “Get Your Shit Together, Barbara.”
Two years later, she showed up, added me on Facebook, and was extremely chatty at 11:00 pm at night. I confirmed all her information, and we met less than a week later. I connected so much with her I confidently went alone to meet her without letting the fear of the internet stop me.
The video of Tess and Barbara’s meeting is compelling because it simultaneously demonstrates the strong bonds of Beatles fan across the generations and the subtle differences things like technology and social media make. As Barbara breaks out her hope chest, chock full of her (probably pretty valuable) Beatles paraphernalia, she practically turns into her teenage self, recounting seeing the Beatles live — an experience Tess missed by a few decades. Maybe this is the most prominent disconnect between generations: the inability of anyone born after the Beatles broke up to experience any of their career in real time… and the envy that obviously inspires.
Most people that have watched the interview say it was like I was interviewing myself; she is so bubbly, and I could keep up with all her ’60s pop culture. I felt like I had found a long lost friend, and we spent a lot of time off camera hanging out that day as well. I still talk to Barbara on… Facebook and text every now and again, I have her original Beatle “fan fiction” at my house ’cause she let me borrow it, so we plan to hang again.
But it’s undeniable that both women bonded over their love of the Beatles, and probably learned that although the way people come to Beatlemania might change, the feelings never do. Tess concludes:
What I took away from the experience actually made it hard for me to edit the interview because I was caught in tears a lot. I think about all these fans who are still inside these people and everything from their youth has been hidden, this is one of the big reason I try to help the older generation find modern music they love and the new generation keep the old music alive.
I know there are lots of fans like Barbara out there, and if I could reach them all just to touch their youthful memories over a silly chat, I would!
See the video of Tess meeting Barbara below, and join REBEAT staffers along with Tess and Vivek Tiwary, author of The Fifth Beatle, at the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans as we discuss “Beatles Fandom: The Next Generation!”