Back in the mid-1950s, the original Mickey Mouse Club celebrities brought Hollywood sparkle to our central Ohio town of Mount Vernon. Some of them were in elementary school just like us or the teens we would soon become.In fact, we “Mouseketeers” lived on a landscape that replicated another Disney stage – Main Street USA. In our case, the real was just as iconic as the imagined.
Our mothers, actual June Cleavers, used their sewing machines to make our pale blue Mouseketeer pinafores trimmed with black rickrack. We mail-ordered Mickey Mouse ears and club T-shirts with our names emblazoned. We created our own variety shows, staged them in our basements and charged entry to our friends. “Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E…” – carefree dreams of stardom that the fantastic new mid-’50s TV technology brought into our modern ranch-style homes. I was going through some mementoes the other day and found a plastic Mickey Mouse Club pin.
My father, the artist, never purchased a store-bought card, and we always looked forward to his creations. Here’s the front and back of a valentine he sent me during that time. Note my stylish ’50s ponytail (!) and forgive his spelling…
Annette, who died two weeks ago at age 71, was the core. She was the one we always wanted to become. Looking back, it’s a hoot and a sigh – the innocence of those happy childhood fantasies. So good-bye Annette. You helped us transport ourselves far beyond what we could then imagine as achievable for ourselves. We’ll never forget you!