Fifty years and a week or so ago, my sister bought "Meet the Beatles" at Woolworths in the South Windermere Shopping Center.

Fifty years ago yesterday, the Beatles landed at JFK Airport to the frantically adoring screams of a huge crowd.

Fifty years ago tomorrow, the Beatles made their triumphant American debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

And though the Beatles were physically in New York City 50 years ago today, their transforming impact, starting a half century back, extended across the nation.

Their epochal first weekend in America will be marked by enlightening looks back in Sunday's Post and Courier, including Parade magazine.

Back to 50 years ago today, when the Beatles rated top-story play in The News and Courier under the headline:

"Rag Mops In U.S., 'Fab' Beatles Paid Homage"

From that Associated Press dispatch, accompanied by a picture of the charismatic quartet at JFK: "Britain's way out Beatles, equipped with rag-mop hairdos and guitars, invaded the colonies Friday. Thousands of delirious teen-aged native girls paid them tribal homage when they landed at Kennedy Airport."

However, many adults of that period deemed the "Fab Four" as just another passing fad that would soon follow Fabian, hula hoops and phone-booth stuffing into relative obscurity. Most grown-ups who looked at that Saturday, Feb. 8, 1964, News and Courier front page were less interested in the "Rag-Mop" headline than in this one: "$231 Million Budget Bill Predicted By Sen. [Rembert] Dennis"

Gee, our state government used to be a lot cheaper.

Youthful insights

Most kids, though, went straight to that lead story about John, Paul, George and Ringo.

And after the "Fab Four" sang five songs - live - to a vast television audience the next night, lots of us youngsters in Charleston and beyond knew something that few oldsters did.

We knew the Beatles weren't flashes in the cultural pan.

OK, so my mom liked the Beatles from the start.

OK, so while the Beatles impressed me, my early "British Invasion" tastes were much more in tune with the Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" than with "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

In the latter hit, the Beatles' first No. 1 single in the U.S., the words "I can't hide, I can't hide, I can't hide" sounded to me like "I get hives, I get hives, I get hives."

And who wants hives?

But the tender love ballad "I'll Get You" on "The Beatles' Second Album," released later that year, did put me firmly in the John Lennon, rather than the Paul McCartney, camp.

Now back to this scene-setting front-page headline in the Monday, Feb. 10, 1964, News and Courier: "House Is Geared To Pass Sweeping Civil Rights Bill"

Back to a lighter note from a Page 6-A headline in the Tuesday, Feb. 11, 1964, News and Courier: "Infestation Of Beatles Spreading Fast In S.C."

That AP story, datelined Columbia, reported that more than 100 Beatle wigs sold, for $2.98 each, sold "in the first two hours they were on the counters" at a Belk's in our state's capital city.

Above that news was a large photo with the caption: "Three Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers from the University of South Carolina chomp away on beatleburgers in a Columbia restaurant."

Yet the Beatles' reach into South Carolina's schools wasn't confined to institutions of higher learning.

Thank you, girls

A fellow fifth-grader - a pal of mine - showed up at St. Andrews Elementary with a Beatles wig a few weeks after their arrival in America. He stashed it in his desk. I took it when he wasn't looking.

About 15 minutes into recess, he apprehended me as the culprit and forcibly repossessed his hairpiece property.

Still, that was long enough for me to attract admiring attention - from both sexes - by wearing that image enhancer on my head.

So predictably, my haircuts started coming less frequently - and removing less hair.

And it was around then when more kids started having more doubts about our elders' judgments.

A bunch of us even started playing guitars and forming rock 'n' roll bands of our own.

Back to that Feb. 11, 1964, News and Courier for this revealing Page 9-A headline:

"Billy Graham Fails To Dig Beatles"

From that AP story: "He called the Beatles 'symptoms of uncertainty of the times and confusion about us.' He said they are 'part of the trend toward escapism.' "

Hey, when the times they are a-changin', as they still are, we all need to occasionally escape.

Especially after we see Bob Dylan, at 72, selling cars in a Super Bowl TV commercial.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.