"Cats Used to Follow Him Home!" - Aunt Mimi

The following interview appeared in the 1964 magazine The Beatles Are Back.

She's the lady who ordered John to leave The Cavern...she's the lady who threatens to cut John's hair...she probably knows more about John than anyone else...She's Mrs. Mary Smith, John Lennon's aunt, who has brought him up ever since his mother died when he was just fourteen.
Mrs. Smith lives on Menlove Avenue in Liverpool, and can tell you lots of stories about John-and his fans.
"I remember John's first musical intrument. He got it when he was eight-a tiny mouth organ! He played it once on a long bus journey and the bus conductor was so impressed by his playing-for such a small boy-that he gave him a beautiful almost-new harmonica. I thought that was just wonderful."
John's harmonica is now a big feature in Beatles' recordings. ("Love Me Do," "Please Please Me," "From Me To You," "Little Child" are recorded examples of John's harmonica talent.)
"I've got three cats, two of them are really John's," Mrs. Smith continues. "One followed him home, or so he said. The other one he bought for seven guineas ($20.00) when he heard her crying in a cage in a pet shop. She's a beautiful Siamese, and we've grown quite fond of her. We call her 'Suki.'
"John has always loved animals as well as music. And he's a very good artist, too. I've got a beautiful water color he did when he was only ten. I always thought John was more of an artist than a musician. The first time I realized he was serious about music was when he got a laboring job-up at five in the morning and a long day's work-just to make money to buy his first guitar.
"It cost forty pounds, and as soon as he saved that he gave up the job and began to play his guitar. He began wearing jeans and an old leather jacket and playing at The Cavern with the other boys who hung around there, often day and night.
"Then I found out he was missing his art school classes to play at The Cavern. That's when I went down there and ordered him right out of that place-with all those girls screaming for him, too.
"Even then the boys had that something that gets the girls. Dressed in their scruffy jeans and jackets and that hair! It's sort of a trademark now, but when John was a boy I made him have a haircut once a fortnight. Now when he visits me I joke that I'll cut off his fringe when he falls asleep. That would be some joke.
"I'd get even more letters if I did that! Angry ones! I've received about five hundred letters addressed to me and thousands for John. The ones the fans send to me personally make me feel quite famous myself, I must admit.
"I've a great idea for keeping John's fans happy. I get lots of them coming to the door begging for something of his. I give them a button from a big tin of buttons that I cut off his old clothes when buttons were scarce during the war. Even so, our front gate has completely disappeared with all those fans breaking off bits and pieces to collect for souvenirs!"

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