By Steve Flores
The year was 1984 and my wife, Susie, and I were excited to travel to New York for the first time. She was going to be in training for one full week in Manhattan. She would be focused on her stock brokerage training while I made sure I saw as much of the city as possible.
What's bringing up these memories from this long ago trip to New York? It's the recent celebration of The Beatles' 50th anniversary of coming to America.
Yes, I am a fan. Well, I am more than just a fan. I know just about everything about The Beatles. Like so many others, The Beatles inspired me to play and write music to hopefully attract more girls.
Visiting The Dakota apartments near Central Park where Beatle John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, lived was on the top of my list of places to see. As you may recall, Lennon was shot and killed at the entrance of The Dakota in 1980.
On our first full day in Manhattan, I rode the taxi with Susie to make sure she made it to training, than I headed straight to Central Park.
I had no idea what I would do when I got to The Dakota. When I arrived, I stood there and looked at the immense gothic-style building. And although it had been four years since the killing, The Dakota looked as though it was still mourning. If a building can look sad, The Dakota did.
I was transfixed with the entrance archways. Mine was not a morbid fixation of where the killing had taken place but more of my mystic attempt to somehow connect with Lennon's spirit. Crazy, I admit, but perfectly reasonable to millions of other Beatles fans who have visited The Dakota to pay their respects and through shaman osmosis, try to connect with Lennon's love and peace approach to life.
And of course Yoko still lived there. I just knew she would look out her window and see this sad boy from southeast Bakersfield standing forlorn on the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West. My despair was so evident and overwhelming that she would invite me up to her apartment for a spot of English tea to help console me.
Of course that didn't happen. But something close to it did for my younger sister "Espie" Aurora Cruz.
Aurora and her husband, Edison, went to visit family in New York in 1985 and The Dakota was on her list of places to visit. She was much more of an optimist than I. She explained with total certainty to her husband that her intentions were to visit The Dakota, pay her respects and meet Ono.
Edison tried to explain the likelihood of seeing Ono was about a gazillion to one. Nonetheless, Aurora proceeded to Central Park West with her husband and with total intentions of meeting Ono.
When they arrived, she stood in awe of The Dakota. Edison gave Aurora her time to engulf the magnitude of the size and meaning of The Dakota to Beatles fans. Then he nudged her and explained it was time to go.
Saddened, she walked across the street to Central Park to head back home, when she heard someone say, "There she is. It's Yoko." And sure enough, Aurora turned and there she was. It was Ono with her bodyguard walking toward Central Park for her daily exercise.
Not to be undeterred by a huge bodyguard, Aurora would not be denied her opportunity to capture this epic moment in Beatles lore and asked the bodyguard if she could take a picture with Ono. Ono nodded yes and Aurora's place in Beatles/Flores history was sealed forever.
As you can see in the picture, my sister and Ono are standing on the corner with The Dakota in the background.
So on this 50th anniversary of The Beatles coming to America, I celebrate with equal enthusiasm my sister going to Central Park and living one of her Beatles dreams and one of mine. I am so proud of my sis.
And please remember, all you need is love.
-- Steve Flores is a contributing columnist for The Californian. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.