Walt Wednesday: It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Walt Disney arrived in Marceline, Missouri when he was only 4 years old. It’s well known that his memories of the town were some of the most vivid of his childhood despite the fact that he had only spent four years on the farm his father bought in order to get out of “crowded and smoky” Chicago.  In actuality, Elias, Walt’s dad, moved the family because while living in Chicago, two boys had tried to rob a car barn and killed a policeman during the shooting. Like any concerned father, Elias worried about his kids getting mixed in with the wrong crowd so he decided to move to Missouri where his brother had recently purchased a small amount of farmland.

Everyone knows that Marceline was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street design (and later Disney World’s). Walt said, “For those of us who remember the carefree time it recreates, Main Street will bring back happy memories. For younger visitors, it is an adventure in turning back the calendar to the days of their grandfather’s youth.”

Indeed, the structures are made to look like a town in the early 1900s. Walt’s inspiration came from his memories and it also reminded me a lot of the movie, Summer Magic, with Haley Mills. The movie came out in 1963 and it’s about a widow from Boston who moves her family out of the city and into a small country town in Maine. The town they move to looks a lot like Main Street and despite being skeptical about it in the beginning, the move ends up being the best thing that could happen to the family.

Also, does this window look familiar?

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Osh Popham was a character in the movie played by Burl Ives and he was a shopkeeper that helped the family find a home and settle in. I always forget to look for this window when I’m there, but if you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favor and rent it. It’s nothing too fancy. Just like a small town, it’s relaxing and unassuming. The music, written by the Sherman brothers (of course) is sweet and “On the Front Porch” was Robert Sherman’s favorite song that he ever wrote for Disney films. Personally, I think Hayley Mills is amazing and she does not disappoint in this film. It’s one of those rare Disney oldies that no matter how hard they may try, I doubt they could ever replicate. They just don’t make’em like they used to.

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A book publicist who loves writing about Disney and books, and sometimes Disney books.

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