Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Gift of Imagination

When I was little, Mom took me to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi. Everything about these animated films enthralled me—the characters, the story line, the art, but especially the songs.
            We caught a streetcar both going and coming back. For the whole of the return ride, I’d sing the songs from the movie we’d just seen. My favorite from Snow White was “Heigh-Ho.” For Pinocchio I seesawed between “I’ve Got No Strings” and “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee.” Bambi gave me “Little April Shower,” my birthday month.
            Not only did I shrilly sing those songs, I danced up and down the streetcar’s aisle, acting out the words.
            I was Doc marching off to the mines to the beat of “Heigh-Ho.”            
            I was Pinocchio gleefully waving my flesh-and-blood arms and proclaiming “I’ve Got No Strings” or  proudly announcing to the world that I was an actor who could “Hi-Diddle-Dee.”
            I was Bambi lifting my sweet face to the “Little April Shower.”
            I danced and sang and acted—and giggled—while the other riders clapped and sang along. They, too, had heard the songs on the radio. Some of them had probably taken their own children to the movies. I discovered that my delight delighted them.
            Because of that, I think I became a real ham. I can’t just tell a story, I have to act it out with body language, twitching eyebrows, and an accompanying song and dance.
            Still, today, I can remember those songs and that time in my life. Daily, I hold one of the cats against my shoulder and dance around the kitchen, singing those songs. The cats stare, long-suffering, into the distance. I pretend to be a working dwarf or a wooden puppet or a woodland rabbit.
            I owe Walt and his movies gratitude for encouraging me to imagine. I probably also owe him my thirty-year commitment to being a vegetarian and my life-long love of animals.
            Moreover, Fantasia opened for me the world of classical music. Since first seeing that film, I’ve never listened to music without imagining an entire story complete with characters, setting, and plot. Movies and music have taken me to a world beyond myself.


  1. Ah something we have in common my friend. Music can make me laugh or cry. It touches me when other things leave me cold. I often sing and dance just for the fun of it. My kids learned to do this at an early age to and often we will be in the store singing and dancing in the aisles. Disney has also been a huge part of our lives and has brought about many delightful adventure. In fact my daughter used to call my mom Mary Poppins because she sings all the time.

  2. Oh, the gifts Mr. Disney gave us all. When I was a kid, Disney movies were the only ones we were allowed to see. Your post brought all those old songs right back into my brain.

    What a great picture - you dancing with a cat in your kitchen! :-)

  3. Hi Dee,
    I loved those movies, and pretty much every movie, Disney ever made. I was ecstatic when the movies became available in VHS because then I could share them with my daughters. My youngest insisted on watching Dumbo every day for what seemed like years. Even now as college girls, they still want to curl up on the couch and watch the old Disney movies together. And of course, the music is just the best there is. Thank you for the lovely reminder of those wonderful memories.

  4. I enjoyed reading this! Yes, I also love Disney movies and their soundtracks, but I'm more familiar with the new ones. I also try to sing them the way the Disney characters sing. And yes, the scenes would flash clearly in my mind as I sing.
    Thanks for sharing your memories and reminding ours.

  5. I know a few people who are dogged in their loyalty but totally lacking in imagination...it is sort of tedious. ~Mary