It was probably around 1955 when I became a member of the Mickey Mouse Club. I had the T-Shirt and the mouse ears. Actually I had two sets of mouse ears, because my little brother destroyed the first set. The memories are still vivid of sitting in front of the big console with the little black and white screen, watching as the Mouseketeers marched into the picture announcing their names, Cubby, Annette, Doreen, Bobby, Jimmy and the others. I would proudly march from the front bedroom into the little living room, wearing my shirt and ears, and announce, "C.J." Like thousands of other kids across America I really felt like I was part of the club. I was always a little puzzled by the old chubby guy named Roy. (I still don't know why he was in the club). Mickey was a happy, familiar little rodent, with a high pitched voice. I loved him and also enjoyed the talent roundup, Spin and Marty, and other features at the clubhouse. Donald Duck, on the other hand, bothered me a lot. He was a jealous little guy with an obnoxious voice, and way too high of a stress level.
The thought of Disneyland (way out in California) was only a dream to this West Virginia kid. It was awesome to see on the Walt Disney Hour on Sunday evenings, but it was far enough removed from our town that I had no dream of ever visiting there. Not only did I think I would never get to visit the magical place, I only knew two kids personally who had ever been there. The Vallance boys had visited Disneyland with their parents on a cross country trip, back in the late 50's. Although I was a little jealous, I still enjoyed seeing the grainy home movies of the trip.
Once Walt Disney began to transform Orlando from a non destination in Central Florida to the tourist Mecca of North America, I was detached enough from my former youthful relationship with the Mouse, that I really didn't care so much. Furthermore, limited budgets, old used up cars, and staying busy in bi-vocational ministry and community activities forced most of our family "vacations" to be brief in nature and usually within a day's drive from home.
Well, here I am, 55 years removed from my initiation in the Mickey Mouse Club, and today Linda and I are going to the Magic Kingdom with Jay, Michelle, and grandsons Quint and Canon.
Personally I could do without all the walking in the 95 degree heat (and 98% humidity) but it is a wonderful opportunity to turn back the hands of time a bit, and to spend some special time with two of our grandsons. My only wish would be that grandsons Will and Asher could also be with us today. But we'll look forward to doing something special with them later in the summer.
In the mean time, like the Seven Dwarfs, it's time to pack up our stuff and march off humming the tune to "Hi Ho, Hi Ho..."
Should I survive the trip (and I'm sure I will), I'll be posting again tomorrow before we head for the east coast and a visit to NASA. But for now, "M-I-C (See you real soon! ) K-E-Y. (Why? because we like you!) M-O-U-S-E!"