By Sue Piper
No matter how many times I go to Disneyland, it’s always the same “magic kingdom” I fell in love with on my first visit. When my parents announced to my brothers and me that our 1956 summer vacation would take us to Anaheim, where Disneyland had opened just the year before, I was filled with joyful anticipation. (left: Perry, Sue & Ned Piper at Disneyland, Feb. 2012)
Already a budding Mickey Mouse Club fan mesmerized by the show every day after school, I would develop into a hard-core “Disney girl,” becoming about as loyal and engaged a Mousketeer as any kid watching Mickey Mouse Club on TV could be. Disneyland was my Mecca.
When June finally rolled around, we headed south, stopping to watch the Rose Parade in Portland. Wearing my Mickey Mouse ears and my special shirt and blue pleated skirt, I stood patiently at our spot on the curb along the parade route.
I was only 6 but I knew mine was not a genuine, official Mousketeer shirt. For one thing, the neckline was wrong — a crew neck, not a mock turtleneck. I also had to wear it backwards.
This was before the days of “branded” merchandise widely available in stores or sold via mail order or online. The closest thing my mother and I could find was a kid’s T-shirt at Tobiason’s dime store in downtown Longview.
It was a feeble knock-off, however, with the Mickey Mouse Club emblem printed not on the back, but on the front, where the Mousketeer’s first name was supposed to go. So I wore the shirt backwards, making the neckline a bit odd-looking and uncomfortable, but authenticity was more important to me than comfort.
When the gleaming white, rose-lbedecked convertible passed before my eyes, carrying a cluster of Mousketeers — including the famous duo, Cubby and Karen — Jimmie Dodd looked right at me and smiled. “Hi, Susan,” he called out.
My parents used to say I was a “precocious” child, but the next part of this story makes me wonder. Utterly amazed and thrilled, I turned to them, wide-eyed, and said, “How did he know my name???!”
Of course, my ultra-supportive mother had done her best to fulfill my wishes by hand-cutting S-U-S-A-N out of black mending tape and ironing the letters onto the “front” (actually the back) of my shirt.
In many ways, Columbia River Reader is my grown-up Mickey Mouse Club. We have a happy cadre of writers, readers and advertisers all coming together to celebrate the good life. Through the publication, we explore our world, discover new things, tell stories, celebrate learning and have fun. And at the heart of it all is a certain whimsicality and good cheer.
Just as the Mousketeers sang in the “Mickey Mouse Club March,” Columbia River Reader invites anyone who hears the music to “come along and sing a song and join the jamboree.” You can all be part of the CRR “fun club.”
We recognize each other in a crowd and always say “Hi.” And — if we’ve ironed them onto the front of our shirts — we even call each other by our first names.