How big an influence has Disney had on my life? Uncle Walt was personally responsible for two of the most unusual experiences of my childhood.
I remember my first Disney memory was watching the “Disneyland” TV show. It was an episode of Davy Crockett fighting Indians under General Andrew Jackson, so it must have been “Davy Crockett — Indian Fighter” which first aired on December 15, 1954, according to Bill Cotter’s excellent book The Wonderful World of Disney Television: A Complete History. The timing was about right — I would’ve been six years old. This was actually my mother’s idea; she led me to the TV and told me what a creative man Walt Disney was. I think she even watched it with me. This was unusual because it was the only time I can remember my mother telling me to watch TV. All other similar memories were trying to lure me away from television, especially during football season.
The other unusual event was a day a little while later when I announced that when I grew up, I would get my children nothing but Mickey Mouse-themed toys. Mom immediately said something like, “Oh, don’t count on that. I doubt Mickey Mouse will be popular when you’re grown up. When I was a little girl, I liked Betty Boop and I said the same thing. Now nobody’s heard of her.” Well, Betty Boop may be more of a nostalgic curiosity now, but Mickey is still going strong. This was unusual because it’s the only time I can remember my mom being wrong about anything.
And Mickey is showing no signs of slowing down.