Sunday, February 3, 2013

Growing Up With Nine Old Men


Growing Up With Nine Old Men


            Peter Pan was just released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download. Besides the wonderful movie of Peter Pan the Blu-ray has amazing Bonus Features. After looking at all the Bonus Features, and enjoying them all I found my favorite was, “Growing Up With Nine Old Men.” The Nine Old Men were Walt Disney’s elite circle of legendary animators.
One of Frank Thomas’ sons was thinking about his childhood and growing up with one of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men. He was thinking how different his life was from the “normal”. He thought it would be interesting to go and talk with the other children, now adults with children of their own and grandchildren of the Nine Old Men. He wanted their perspective on growing up with such a legendary and creative fathers. He wanted to see if his perspective was different from theirs.
            I will not get into the blow-by-blow of this amazing documentary. Instead I’m going to tell you the feelings stirred in me.
            For many years I’ve read about Walt’s Nine Old Men. Many of us fans know about Ollie’s backyard small-scale trains and Ward’s full scale backyard trains. The fact that Ward was also a member of the Firehouse Five jazz band is also well known.
I had not thought much about these amazing men being fathers or what it would’ve been like to have been one of their children. Seven of them were fathers. While some of them were the quintessential doting dad’s others were not really that interested in being fathers but still did their best.
The thing I found most interesting was the one thing they all seem to have in common, and insatiable curiosity and drive to create. All of the adult children talk about how their fathers would give them the tools to create and encourage whatever endeavor they were interested in. It did not matter if it was pencils to draw, paint and canvas or horses for jumping and go karts to race they encourage the kids to try whatever interested them.
Another thing I found most interesting was that Disney was not necessarily a part of their day to day life. Many said there was not much in the way Disney memorabilia around the house. But on their birthdays all stops were pulled and Disney came out.
Several of them talked fondly about how dad would sit one chair, mom in another drawing or doing the newspaper crossword puzzle while the kids were on the floor at their feet coloring and drawing.
Another fun thing was a questioned that was asked of each of them, “Do you remember what your father had in his pockets.” For some it was pencils, nail clippers to sharpen pencils, silver coins that jangled, or nothing much and for Ward it was thimbles to play the washboard.”
All of this got me to thinking about how I raised my now young adult daughter. I tried to encourage every creative endeavor she wanted to try. I would sit and tell her stories and encourage her to tell me her own. All three of us would sit and draw together.
For those of you with young children I encourage you to watch this documentary about the children of Walt’s Nine Old Men and think about what you want to impart to your child. What do you want them to remember you having in your pocket or purse? When they want to try a new artistic endeavor or maybe even something risky like jumping horses will you let them? I hope you do because our world needs another generation of dreamers and creators.

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