Come along on a wild trip to the Catskills and see Davy display all the qualities that would later make him the world’s top teen fave!
As you know if you are a 16 regular, I’m Jeff Neal, a 13-year-old New York City boy who first met Davy Jones in June, 1963, when I was, one of the kids in Oliver! and he was the Artful Dodger, leader of our “gang”. Davy not only became my friend, but he also became very close to my family, and as the months went by he began to spend more and more time with us. The weekend that I am going to tell you about was one of the few times that Davy and I managed to get away and relax during the run of Oliver!
Davy’s biggest “splash”!
My mom and dad had made a reservation for us at the Raleigh Hotel, a luxurious Catskill Mountain resort two hours distant from New York. Since we worked Saturday night, our “weekend” would actually consist of all day Sunday and two-thirds of Monday—for we had to be back at the theatre and ready to go on by 8 o’clock Monday night.
Sunday at 6:30 a.m., Mom woke Davy and myself—or should I say, she did her best to? We walked around in a daze for 30 minutes like two wind-up dolls while Mom packed our overnight bags for us. On the highway to the Catskills we stopped at a cafeteria for breakfast, and that’s when Davy and I began to wake up.
“You know, I’m not a bit hungry,” Davy said to me quite seriously, as we pushed our trays along the counter. Well, all I can say is I hope you never see him hungry—for when he got through selecting, his tray was overloaded with French toast, jelly, orange juice, scrambled eggs, bacon and milk.
“You forgot the tea,” I chided him.
“No room,” Davy mumbled, still serious. Whereupon he wiped out every morsel on his tray.
Just before noon, our car turned a curve and ahead of us, we saw one of the most beautiful hotels ever. It was three stories of sprawling luxury nestled in the rolling green Catskill Mountains. To the left, you could see a huge out door swimming pool, and on the right there were volleyball and baseball courts. In front, there was a fountain with a landscaped garden, and off to the left you could see the beginning of the golf course. The lobby was full of two interesting things: lots of shops and lots of groovy-looking chicks. I don’t have to tell you which drew Davy’s interest and held it!
After we saw our rooms, which were huge and beautiful, Davy and I rushed off to visit Bobby Rydell, who was headlining the show there. At that time, the ever-popular Bobby was America’s biggest teenage idol, and David was very excited over meeting him (little did he dream that he—Davy Jones would one day become the world’s greatest teenage idol!).
Soon it was two in the afternoon and time for Davy and I to start seeing the “sights”—which to Davy meant (and still means) finding some girls to flirt with. We settled for the indoor swimming pool and, let me tell you, Davy put on quite a show! At that time, long hair boys were not very common, but—just as they do now—the girls loved it. So that was one strike in Davy’s favor. By the time he finished his afternoon “performance”—which consisted of a brilliant demonstration of his free-style and backstroke techniques, three super-tricky dives from the high board, with a few cartwheels around the pool for a wind-up—Davy had gathered himself quite a crowd. And the fact that 100 percent of that crowd consisted of fascinated teenage girls only made Davy more happy and enthusiastic! Believe me, when it was finally time for us to leave it wasn’t easy to get Davy to say farewell to his “audience”.
“Have I gotta girl for you!”
After a groovy dinner, the high point of our weekend came. We all went to see Bobby perform. Before he went on, comedienne Totie Fields did her bit (I hope you’ve seen her on The Ed Sullivan Show—she’s really outasite). At one point, Totie introduced Davy as the “…star of Oliver!” After the applause for him died down, Totie yelled out, “Have I gotta girl for you!” (Meaning her teenage daughter.)
Davy brought the house down by jumping up and exclaiming, “Where? Where? Where?”—in his best Manchester accent!
After Bobby’s sensational performance, we all met in the Raleigh Lounge. The Lounge is really the place where all the young people get to meet all the other young people they’ve been eyeing all weekend! Once again, I am proud to say, Davy came through with flying colors. As a matter of fact, my folks had given me a curfew of 10 p.m., and the last thing I saw over my shoulder as I left the Lounge was Davy, surrounded by teenage admirers, singing, signing autographs and exchanging bits of conversation with his pretty new friends.
In spite of the late hours he had kept, Davy work up early the next morning—bright-eyed and bushy-tailed—and we began one of the most unforgettable days of my life. Put on your running shoes, cos here we go!
First, we went ice-skating in the large indoor arena. Next, we went to the ball park, formed teams and played six innings of baseball. Then we had a fast lunch at the coffee shop and played two sets of badminton. After that we formed more teams and played two games of volleyball. Next, we went swimming in the outdoor pool (Davy doing a stunning repeat of yesterday afternoon’s stellar indoor pool performance). After that we flopped down for a combination sunlamp treatment and real sunbath. Then we hopped up and ran to the Health Club, where we finished off our afternoon’s activities with a steam bath and massage.
In case you didn’t get the point by now—Davy and I were sandwiching a whole week’s activities into one after noon! And what a gas it was—just like a romp on The Monkees show! When we finally found Mom and Dad, they were nervously waiting for us in the lobby. “Come on, boys,” my dad said. “We have to start right now or you’ll be late for tonight’s show.”
Before we left, however, Davy’s Catskills’ “following” gathered with him in the lobby long enough to take gangs of pictures and get gangs of those precious autographs, and little did those girls dream then what fantastic popularity the future held for Davy. I hope they saved the photographs and autographs of he who is today’s teen king!
Davy and I slept in the back seat of the car all the way home. When we got to the Broadway area, Davy indulged in one of his secret passions and had a big corned beef sandwich and frankfurter at the Sixth Avenue Deli before we hurried backstage and into our costumes—ready to begin another night in Oliver!
How would you like to have a party thrown in your honor and have the surprise guest turn out to be Davy Jones! It’s gonna happen in the October issue of 16—on sale August 22—so meet me here and find out how you can share in all the fun!