my summer of the beatles, chains, and lots of gum.


way back in the day (1964)

I was six and 3/4, not yet seven

my sister and best friend and i

spent much of our entire summer

‘working’ for free for our friend’s teenage sister

who had plans to go to see the beatles

at olympia arena

when they landed in detroit.

we were recruited by her

to spend our time creating

‘the world’s longest gum wrapper chain’

that she planned to present with her fan club

to the beatles at the concert.

she funded our gum and provided us each with a cigar box

and we sat in the yard for hours upon hours

just talking and laughing

and listening to music on her transistor radio

and creating the chain

until we’d get called home.

we never questioned the project

as were we caught up

in the whirlwind of her excitement

 when the time came

she went to the show and presented the chain

 later regaling us with the stories and craziness of the concert

and suddenly it was over

our summer of working for free had ended

and I looked forward to my own concerts ahead

wondering who I could recruit to make my paper chains.


The Beatles

“It was like hearing the future.”

–Tom Hanks

“They blew the walls down for everybody else.”

–Barack Obama

“We’ve never seen anything like this before, ever. Never. Not even for kings and queens.”

–Unnamed airport official

how to make a gum wrapper chain:

what you’ll need:

  • Gum Wrappers: You’ll need a ton of these. We made our dress using paper wrappers, but you can use foil too. The process is the same!
  • Patience: You’ll also need a lot of this.

1. Fold It in Half

Take a single wrapper and fold it longways, or hot-dog style. Do this three times. Try to fold the jagged edge inside because it can get in the way when making the chains.

2. Fold It Through the Middle

Fold the wrapper in half the other way, right through the middle. It should make a “V” shape. Next, fold the sides into the middle, making a little “v.” This little guy will be one link on your chain.

3.. Repeat

Before you proceed, you’ll have to repeat these steps to make another chain link. Once you have two, you’re ready to connect them!

4. Connect the Pieces

Just take the two ends of one and push it through the two holes in the other. This is why you’ll want your gum wrappers to be folded neatly—if the jagged ends stick out, it can get difficult to see what you’re doing or where to push the wrappers through and connect them. Keep it neat!

5. Keep Going

Keep on going forever and ever this same way. Eventually, you’ll have a long and fairly sturdy chain!


credits: ‘The Beatles’ Patrick Julian – Beyond Olympia Stadium, Pinterest, felt magnet


66 responses »

  1. I love this post, Beth! I was 14 back then, already a huge Beatles fan. When I introduce music in my class to inspire art, I bring in my old record player, a classical music album, and… you guessed it, the Beatles. Last year, “Love, Love, Love” turned out to be the children’s favorite song. We sang it nearly every day. So, the Beatles and my old albums still live on. ❤️

    I love your paper chain story. How delightful! And to think that chain went or the Beatles. Sigh!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sounds like a great Summer! I was 3 then…. don’t remember much, we were in France for holidays apparently. I remember a smell though from a special tree then and when I smell it I think of France. Very strange!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love this! My older Sister kept a newspaper heralding the arrival of The Beatles to Seattle in 1964…I still have it – The Beatles were the entire pages 2 and 3…why weren’t they page one news? Because the entire front page was the first ever picture of the Earth as seen from the Moon!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. that is a great story. sometimes I wish I was about 10 years older so that I could have gotten caught up in the excitement of the Beatles coming to the U.S. for the first time. I wonder what your dentist had to say about all that gum..

    Liked by 1 person

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