My friend Allison had a groovy mother who let her buy all the Beatles' new 45s the week after they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. bWe were in the fourth grade and we played them over and over again on her baby blue portable phonograph. Allison's favorite song was "All My Loving" and her favorite Beatle was John, probably just to be different because the rest of us were ga-ga over Paul.

We were too young to have known Elvis; John-Paul-George-Ringo were our first musical fixation and our first foray into records. Gum became a staple of our diet. For five cents, you got a slab of cheap bubble gum and a couple of color photos of the Beatles, which you collected and traded. Allison kept all the photos of John over her bed and used them as bookmarks.

i still have all of my Beatle cards in a box with my first pair of glasses (harlequin shaped), the lace hankie with the Holy Ghost embroidered on it that the nuns gave us for Confirmation, and a dried-up corsage. About once a year, I go on a mad cleaning spree and vow to throw out all that sort of useless memorabilia. The next time I'm tossing stuff, I'll come to that box. I'll see the cards with John Lennon's baby face and I'll think of Ed Sullivan, of Yardley pink lipstick, of white go-go boots, of Allison, of growing up in the '60s. And then I'll put them back in the box, close it up and place it carefully back in the closet.