She has a long journey ahead and there is always traffic to consider. This is the 1960’s and streams of young people are heading for San Francisco, to be in the center of the Flower Power generation, and many girls were wearing flowers in their hair. The FBI just announced that a record number of 90,000 runaways were headed there in 1967. They quit school, or stopped working at their jobs, basically following the Timothy Leary philosophy of, “Turn on tune in drop out” getting away from the establishment and leaving the straight society, for a supposed freedom.
One such teenage runaway was Melanie Coe, a pretty 17-year-old blonde the daughter of John and Elsie Coe from Stamford Hill, London. The schoolgirl seemed to have everything, she owned an Austin 1100 car and she had a wardrobe full of clothes, which were both left behind and her parents couldn’t imagine why she ran away. The February 27th, 1967 issue of London’s Daily Mail featured an article about her disappearance with the heading “A-Level Girl Dumps Car And Vanishes.” Coe didn’t go to San Francisco, she briefly rented a flat in Paddington with her boyfriend who worked as a croupier and who she met in a nightclub, and she returned home around 10 days after the newspaper report was published. Her parents were able to track her down because she told them where her boyfriend worked. Melanie stated that she left her home because her parents never told her that they loved her. She reached the end of the road feeling unloved, leaving behind her cushy lifestyle and a couple of confused parents.
Before Melanie left home, she went to a doctor and he said that she was pregnant, but only after she left home. Her best friend at the time was married to Ritchie Blackmore, so she hid at their house in Holloway Road. This was the first place her parents came to look, so she ran off with her boyfriend, who was a croupier, although he had been ‘in the motor trade’ like it says in the song. Her dad called up the newspapers and her picture ended up on the front pages. He told the story like she must have been kidnapped, because why else would she leave? They gave her everything fur coats, cars. but she indicated not love. Once her parents found her, she had an abortion.
Paul McCartney read the newspaper article, and he began to write the song ‘She’s Leaving Home’, which came out on the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. This article gave Paul enough information to create a story line and then make a song out of it. Years earlier in the fall of 1963, Coe appeared on the pop music TV show Ready Steady Go! in a contest with three other teenage girls that involved miming (lip-synching and dancing) to the Brenda Lee song ‘Let’s Jump The Broomstick’ where Paul was the judge. He was impressed by contestant No. 4, the 13-year-old Melanie Coe, and he presented her with a Beatles album as her prize.
Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Sunday Writing Prompt hosted by Michael – The End of the Road.