In the Beginning……
We all have it. That one thing we relate to when we were a child. For me, it was Sunday evenings in front of the TV for The Wonderful World of Disney (and its other iterations) and the annual family trip to Disneyland. My first was in the Summer of 1966. I am probably the rare egg in that I had a great childhood for the most part. But the one thing I can always go back to is the Disney memories. All my great family memories seem to revolve around Disney. People always say to me, but it is so expensive! I respond, “How much are memories you will have for a lifetime worth”? They are priceless to me.
Walt’s childhood experiences were not as positive as mine. His father struggled to make ends meet and often put the Disney boys to work to help support the family. The well-documented paper route, where Walt would get up so early to deliver papers, he would actually nap in foyers. He would have to deliver papers in snow drifts as high as he was tall. These trials and tribulations describe what he experienced.
Many theorize Walt’s love of animation and model trains (and real ones too), stems from the fact he pretty much missed most of his childhood. Many who worked with this great man said Walt was childlike but not childish. Walt would often talk of his time in Marceline, in fact, he built a replica barn like the one he had when he lived there in his backyard at his Holmby Hills home for his Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Walt was quoted as saying:
“More things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since, or are likely to in the future.”
The impact of this small town is unquestionable in the growth of this great man. Try not look up anything related to Americana and not find a reference to Disney or the Disney Parks. One can tie much of this back to Walt’s inner vision of small town America. Walt was famous for keeping one foot in the past and one in the future and he walked in the present.
This is all reflected in Main Street USA. Main Street was patterned after Marceline, MO, and specifically, to Walt’s minds eye. Main Street is the first impression, the opening, the welcome mat to all the park designs. It is Walt’s design to make one feel at home.
Marceline recognized Walt’s passion for their little town, naming one of their elementary schools The Walt Disney Elementary School.
In Marceline itself you will find the Walt Disney Museum, the aforementioned Elementary School (not open to the public for visiting), and a little auto ride donated in 1960. D23 sponsored a trip to this town that influenced arguably the most famous of its population, and it is already sold out. The importance of the impact and influence of small town America cannot be understated, and is recognized by all of us who love Disney.
We all go back to our beginnings to anchor ourselves at times, we escape to the childlike feelings that is our hearth. Walt shared with us his and its impact, what is yours?
Sources: D23, Disney Secrets, Stories and Magic.