“Freda, you were there at the beginning. You were there in the end.” George Harrison to Freda Kelly when the Beatles Fan Club closed down.
It all started back in Liverpool in 1962 when a seventeen year old secretary was invited to see a band at the Cavern Club during her lunch hour. What happened next changed her life. It was that day when Freda Kelly became hooked on a band called The Beatles. While most of us are piling salad onto a platter or munching a sandwich during lunch, Freda was witnessing first hand, the beginning of a musical revolution. If you haven’t seen the 2013 documentary “Good Ol Freda” – you should get on this. Freda’s story is remarkable. A young girl who became the secretary to the most famous band in the world, who didn’t really want to talk about her past – until she felt it was time.
Freda was a devotee right from the start. As a constant attendee during lunchtime Beatles concerts at the Cavern, she developed a friendship with the band, with their manager Brian Epstein (whom all within the inner Beatles sanctum called “Eppy”), and as they great famous – with Beatles fans across the world. She not only answered phones and typed letters, she was the head of The Beatles Fan Club, giving out word of the latest Beatles news, answers to Beatles fan questions, and treated fans worldwide as her own. After all, she was a fan herself.
Freda’s Beatle work was a remarkable testimony to pure passion and belief in the job at hand. Loyal, devoted, trustworthy, unwavering, Freda wasn’t out for fame or wealth. She was the liaison between the band and the world. The boys loved her. Their families loved her. She was a constant. Yet, as the Beatles began to go their separate ways, she was happy to leave on her own terms. She was married and expecting her first child. Freda wanted to get on with her life.
As the years and decades rolled by, Freda became a housewife and mother, and in time, became a granny. No one knew of her illustrious past except her own kids, but she never went on about it. She wasn’t impressed with it. It was in the past. Her attic held boxes of old fan letters, tickets to events and pieces of George Harrison’s hair – but it was no different than our own boxes of old report cards, diplomas, high school yearbooks and varsity letters. Her years with the Beatles were buried in cardboard. Except her memorabilia could garner her big bucks. Something she has never been interested in claiming.
Her son always asked her about the Beatles and her days supporting the lads. Yet, she always pushed his questions away claiming that it was behind her. It wasn’t anything to discuss.
Then, her son sadly passed away. One has to imagine her years of skirting her son’s questions lead her to participate in the documentary about her past. She mentions the film is for her grandson. She did it as a part of her legacy. In doing so, she touched the hearts of many secretaries and administrative assistants who not only marvel her front in center view of the biggest band in the world, but they empathize with the tedium, the tasks, the admiration you gain from bosses who need your help. The only difference was her bosses were Epstein and The Beatles. Just you try telling the moody John Lennon to apologize for pretend-firing you just because you hung out in the Moody Blues dressing room too long.
We are all a microcosm of Freda. We hold stories we think mean nothing to others, but they mean everything to a stranger across the world. Look at the blog and book “Humans of New York” – a pictorial of regular everyday people walking the streets of New York or anywhere in the world. We walk past human histories, tragic memories, damaged minds, heartbroken and fragile, romantic and sad without realizing it. We are human history. It’s powerful to know this.
Words – when chosen with purpose and light, with history, depth and/or levity – are powerful. We should chose them wisely. Like Freda, we should tell our story – before it’s too late.