Screamers lined up outside the Missouri Theater on Edmond Street. This came with the ticket, shrieks, an unstoppable force.
It happened on Aug. 19, 1964, the premiere in St. Joseph of the film “A Hard Day’s Night,” starring the Beatles.
Twenty-seven weeks earlier, America had been transfixed when this band from England appeared on Ed Sullivan’s Sunday night variety program.
The group’s appeal only grew as the months passed, and this movie had such hype that the huge theater scheduled four showings that Wednesday, with souvenir tickets given away and special Beatles ID tags.
Even in the American Midwest, the mania had taken hold, a phenomenon of culture. St. Joseph got to take part.
On a different level — live and in person, and current — a rare spectacle has arisen in Northwest Missouri. It appears behind a yellow jersey with the number 15.
Technically, the whole of the Kansas City Chiefs means to enthrall people of our city and region. They wear red and white at their training camp now underway at Missouri Western State University.
But one of the guys wearing yellow, the cautionary quarterback garment designating “do not touch” status, is Patrick Mahomes II, last year’s NFL most valuable player, a humble superstar and our nearby Beatle.
The Chiefs have come to St. Joseph for the last decade. St. Joseph and fans from all around have welcomed them because, well, they’re our team.
But Mahomes has fueled the enthusiasm to an almost radioactive level.
I went to the training camp on Saturday. I usually go out once or twice a year, the entertainment being as much about the way men go about their work as about the way the team looks to be shaping up.
Crowds have been big at times. Crowds have been modest at times.
On Saturday, the crowd swelled beyond big. Officials called the attendance about 8,000. Cars filled every available parking space on the Missouri Western campus; soon, they found places to park on the grass. Attendees on Sunday numbered about 7,000, still staggering.
These followed a Red Rally Friday night in Downtown St. Joseph, where so many people wore so much Chiefs attire that an aerial photograph would have certainly appeared like the city had blushed.
An appearance in the AFC championship game last year and a taste for a long-overdue Super Bowl trip have stirred Chiefs fans. But Mahomes, this strong-armed and endlessly creative leader, the guy good on talk shows and playful with teammates, has folks captivated. No one can kill this buzz.
But a reality stalks St. Joseph. Most NFL teams train in their home practice facilities, a more easily controlled environment and one that limits access to fans.
For those camp followers under the St. Joseph sun, these practice sessions stand as close encounters with people they will see on television and in Sunday stadiums. For the Chiefs, camp is a workplace.
St. Joseph properly revels in the feel-goodness of these moments. It embraces the economic boost for no-vacancy lodging and wait-list restaurants.
The Chiefs have options, though. They can leave. All parties seem to like one another, but the team does what’s best for its business.
The most successful head coach in the league, New England’s Bill Belichick, has a mantra: “Do your job.” That is, in a team sport, be responsible for your own duties.
St. Joseph can’t control the business of the National Football League. But the city and university can do their job in hosting a training camp in the best way. Over a decade, they have done that.