A Club for Kids

Every Boy’s Sweetheart:  Annette Funicello

Every Boy’s Sweetheart: Annette Funicello

On October 3, 1955, I walked over a mile to Warrensville at the corner of Northfield Road and Van Aken to see a movie; but I was more interested in what was going to be on T.V. when I got home. Although I ran at what for me at the age of ten was top speed, I only missed a few minutes of “The Mickey Mouse Club.” I did not make that mistake in days to come: there were kids like me, cartoons, special guests, and various other little daily features.

And there was that ultimate sexpot of the 1950s.No, not Marilyn. The shorter one: Annette Funicello. In darkened living rooms all around the country, little boys were sighing as their hearts went pit-a-pat.

Disney really made it happen for me. That same year, he was going to open a theme park in Anaheim called Disneyland. It was to be an unattainable place of dreams.

Unattainable, at least, until the tail end of 1966, when I came out to Southern California to go to graduate school in film at UCLA. Our old neighbors from Cleveland, the Gurals, took me to a ball game in Anaheim to see the Cleveland Indians lose to the (then) California Angels, after which we went to … DISNEYLAND!

I am not one of those people who are too old and too sophisticated for Disneyland. Granted, the greasy kid stuff at Fantasyland is de trop for me, but I still love New Orleans Square and, nowadays, Toontown. I have yet to visit the Calfornia Adventure theme park next door, but I will eventually.