Mickey Mouse

I Am Thankful For Mickey Mouse – Day Eighteen – 23 Days of Thanksgiving

As every Disney fan is well aware, November 18 is the “birthday” of Mickey Mouse. It was Disney archivist Dave Smith who established the “once and for all” birthdays for Disney characters, based on their first film appearance for the public. Some may quibble with that, but I for one am thankful that Mickey’s birthday places him in the midst of the holiday season.

It is not just Mickey Mouse in general for which I am thankful, however. It is, quite specifically, the Mickey of the 1930s. He was a bit rough around the edges when he was “born” in 1928, and after the 1930s his edges were so smoothed over that he became, frankly, a little too bland for me. But when I see that colorful fellow with the big grin, the syncopated bounce in his step, and those pie-cut eyes, it just makes me happy. That’s Mickey in the 30s.

It really shouldn’t be, you know. I was not around in the 1930s. I have no vivid memories of Mickey on the big screen. They were not showing cartoons in theaters when I was a kid. I am a child of Saturday morning, and half hour long programs devoted to such exotic characters as Top Cat, Milton the Monster, and the Beatles. (Yes, they were also a Saturday morning cartoon.) 

I do not know when I first became aware of THE Mickey Mouse. Likely it was when I bought my first truly expensive book: Christopher Finch’s “The Art of Walt Disney.” I still have my first edition, with the clear plastic dustcover more or less in one piece. Initially I was intrigued by chapters devoted to Disney’s theme parks (this was long before the internet laid that mythology bare). But earlier chapters devoted to the Silly Symphonies and the early cartoon shorts were a revelation. The Mickey in these illustrations, drawn from titles like “The Band Concert,” ”Clock Cleaners” and “Thru the Mirror” was so beguiling that I couldn’t help but smile. For a child of the 1960s, it was like discovering the wild youth of a beloved, if somewhat stodgy, relative.

It was fortunate for me that others were making the same discovery around this time. Interest in the early styling of Mickey Mouse translated into all manner of newly licensed products. As demand drove up the prices of authentic memorabilia of the 1930s, new items in the same style appeared, making it possible for this less well-heeled devotee to have his own bit of the Mouse that makes me happy.

My single biggest collection of 1930s style Mickey is Christmas ornaments and other decorations. The Mouse that make me happy meets the time of year that makes me happy, so to speak. Starting with some “Midwest” ornaments from J.C. Penney, I ended up with enough pieces from a wide variety of sources to decorate a whole tree, and eventually a whole room. During the holidays there is much to be happy about. But for me, “pie-cut eye Mickey” is the happiest of all. And for that, I am thankful.

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NOTE: The photo and video of the tree are from Walt’s Carolwood barn, when the tree was set up for Christmas 2021. The music heard on the short video is the Firehouse Five Plus Two.


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