The Beatles

Now that’s a VERY long and winding road! Two US schoolgirls who ran away to Britain to meet The Beatles were sent back in disgrace…only to learn 58 years later that Paul McCartney had wanted to meet them!

  • Nearly 58 years ago Janice Mitchell nearly met Paul McCartney in Liverpool
  • Aged 16, she and a friend skipped school to catch a flight from the US to the UK
  • However the runaways, posted as missing, never got to meet the Fab Four 
  • While researching for a book, she realised McCartney had agreed to meet them 

Gripped by a teenage crush on the Beatles, Janice Hawkins skipped school and caught a flight from the US to London.

She and fellow 16-year-old superfan Martha Schendel were determined to meet the Fab Four, so hitchhiked their way to Liverpool.

But when they were posted as missing in 1964, their wild schoolgirl escapade sparked an international manhunt, with the American embassy organising posters to be displayed at British police stations and post offices.

Almost 58 years on from their failed mission, Janice Mitchell has discovered that her hero Paul McCartney (pictured in 1963) had been willing to greet the teenagers after all
Almost 58 years on from their failed mission, Janice Mitchell has discovered that her hero Paul McCartney (pictured in 1963) had been willing to greet the teenagers after all
The wild schoolgirl escapade sparked an international manhunt, with the American embassy organising posters to be displayed at British police stations and post offices
The wild schoolgirl escapade sparked an international manhunt, with the American embassy organising posters to be displayed at British police stations and post offices
Now, as Janice Mitchell, she has written a book about her adventure, My Ticket To Ride and it was while researching it that she found the Mail report
Now, as Janice Mitchell, she has written a book about her adventure, My Ticket To Ride and it was while researching it that she found the Mail report

By the time their adventure ended, without them ever meeting the Beatles, the two runaways had made headlines around the world – and when they got back to Cleveland, Ohio, they were locked up as ‘delinquents’.

Now, an agonising twist to the story can be revealed: almost 58 years on from their failed mission, heartbroken Janice has discovered that her hero Paul McCartney had been willing to greet the teenagers after all. ‘I nearly fell off my chair,’ she said.

And she found it out from a copy of the Daily Mail, published in October 1964 after they were found and were being sent back home.

The Mail revealed: ‘As they took off for New York, a Beatles spokesman explained, “We arranged to get Paul McCartney to see them off, but then the embassy told us they did not want to encourage the girls.”‘

Janice Hawkins and Martha Schendel in London, They were determined to meet the Fab Four, so hitchhiked their way to Liverpool
Janice Hawkins and Martha Schendel in London, They were determined to meet the Fab Four, so hitchhiked their way to Liverpool

The US embassy refused to pass on the message. Now, as Janice Mitchell, she has written a book about her adventure, My Ticket To Ride. It was while researching it that she found the Mail report.

Of the US embassy’s approach, Janice said last night: ‘It broke my heart and angered me.’ But her feelings were bitter-sweet: ‘I was, of course, also delighted to think that the Beatles knew about us.’

Janice said: ‘When I came across that edition of the Daily Mail I got such a shock. I found out that Paul McCartney wanted to see us, and it was stopped by the officials.

‘It is so sad. It would have been wonderful to have had even just a fleeting ‘hello and goodbye’ before our flight, but it was not to be.’

Janice’s adventure started in December 1963 when she heard I Want to Hold Your Hand on the radio and recruited her neighbour Martha to Beatlemania.

The transfixed duo hatched a plan. They drained Janice’s savings from babysitting and Martha’s bank account of her $1,900 college fund – about £15,000 in today’s money – and bought two one-way tickets to London.

The Mail revealed: 'As they took off for New York, a Beatles spokesman explained, "We arranged to get Paul McCartney to see them off, but then the embassy told us they did not want to encourage the girls."'
The Mail revealed: ‘As they took off for New York, a Beatles spokesman explained, “We arranged to get Paul McCartney to see them off, but then the embassy told us they did not want to encourage the girls.”‘

The day after attending a Beatles concert in their hometown in September 1964, they boarded a TWA flight from Cleveland.

They rented a flat in London and spent two weeks hanging around Soho, the epicentre of the Swinging Sixties, hoping to see their idols.

Then they hitchhiked to Liverpool, but when they got there the Cavern Club, where the Beatles made their name, was closed, and they returned to the capital.

Three weeks after their arrival in the UK, a London bobby recognised Janice and they were put in a holding cell. Sent back to the US, the girls were held in custody and charged with delinquency.

Fans greet the Beatles in Toronto, Canada in 1964. The day after attending a Beatles concert in their hometown in September 1964, Janice and Martha boarded a TWA flight from Cleveland
Fans greet the Beatles in Toronto, Canada in 1964. The day after attending a Beatles concert in their hometown in September 1964, Janice and Martha boarded a TWA flight from Cleveland

A judge in Cleveland warned of ‘the evils of rock and roll music’ before releasing them back to their families.

It led the city’s mayor to impose a two-year ban on pop concerts by big acts such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

After their escapade, it was the end for Janice and Martha’s friendship too. Janice said: ‘I caused a lot of trouble. I think her parents were pretty strict with her. I never saw her again.’

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