The Birches Assisted Living Revisits Beatlemania

Residents from the Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, Ill. bonded over The Beatles at a recent family night.

Clarendon Hills, IL, July 22, 2017 --( When Birches Assisted Living resident, Dorothy Reip thinks back to The Beatles concert she attended in 1964, she is struck by one memory in particular - the noise.

“The noise was so overpowering, I thought, ‘I’m probably going to be deaf from now on,’” said Reip.

The noise, which came from hordes of screaming pre-teens, teens and young adults (including Reip’s two young daughters and their friend), filled Chicago’s International Amphitheatre so much that she could barely hear The Beatles’ music.

“They could have been singing anything. They could have been chit-chatting. They could have been talking on the phone. You couldn’t hear anything over all that screaming,” said Reip.

Reip is one of the few Birches Assisted Living residents who actually saw The Beatles in concert. But anyone who lived through the 1960s remembers when The Beatles came to America, even if they didn’t get to personally experience Beatlemania like Reip did. That’s why Birches Activities Director Katie Klitchman recently decided to host a night of entertainment for Birches residents and their families dedicated entirely to The Beatles.

“I think residents enjoy reminiscing about The Beatles. Even if they didn’t listen to The Beatles themselves, their kids did or they saw them on The Ed Sullivan Show. They were such an important part of that time in history and a lot of people’s personal histories,” said Klitchman.

The Beatles-focused family event took place on July 13 and included a presentation from College of DuPage Adjunct Professor Gary Wenstrup, who talked about The Beatles’ history, music and continuing influence on pop culture.

Wenstrup says that even though Birches residents weren’t in the generation that was most influenced by The Beatles, they didn’t escape the group’s cultural impact.

“I think that even in an older generation, it opened minds a little bit,” said Wenstrup. “Like in their early days on the Ed Sullivan show with their longer hair. It helped older people appreciate a different look.”

Although The Beatles cultural influence spanned across generations, not everyone in older generations liked that influence, says Wenstrup. Those in the Greatest Generation and Silent Generation were primarily in their late-twenties through early fifties when the Beatles hit their peak. They were focused on their families and had traditional values that acts like The Beatles didn’t conform to.

That said, Wenstrup feels there was a difference between how men and women in older generations dealt with the cultural shifts The Beatles helped bring about.

“I think women are very open-minded about things that are different and sort of accepting of them, whereas men I think kind of resist it,” said Wenstrup. “The women generally felt that the Beatles were kind of interesting and enjoyable and the men, it really rubbed them the wrong way.”

As a woman in her 30s during the 1960s, Reip was certainly open to The Beatles culturally and musically. She even owned some of their records. Her favorite Beatles were George because he was a “sweet guy” and Paul because he was the “good-looking one,” although her daughters preferred George and Ringo.

Her son was more of a Johnny Cash fan at the time. But he was in the mood for a bit of Beatlemania reminiscence himself recently. Reip said he asked her to dig out her old Beatles records, and they bonded (more than fifty years after Reip saw the group live) over a shared love of Beatles music.

According to Klitchman, that type of bonding experience was the ultimate goal of her Beatles-focused family night. She wanted to bring Birches residents and their families together over some classic Beatles music, interesting trivia and engaging historical footage.

“We really wanted to do something that brought back memories for Birches residents and their children,” said Klitchman. “It had to be something both generations could enjoy and bond over, and The Beatles certainly fit the bill.”

The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, Ill. offers professional services to support the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual growth of the older adults who make it their home. The Birches offers purposeful programming and activities designed to promote a healthy aging lifestyle and a strong sense of community. For more information about The Birches, call 630-789-1135 or visit:
The Birches Assisted Living
Jenny Smiechowski