My childhood was dressed in mouse ears from Disney and birthday cakes in the shape of princess dolls. My parents celebrated every holiday with gusto and every breath that I took. I am lucky. When I was sick, my mother would bring me noodle soup, present me with art supplies from the drug store, lay cool wash cloths on my forehead, and make sure that clean ironed sheets were on my bed each afternoon after my bath. Yes, I am lucky.
When I think of childhood, I think of our den, the small square room to the left of the front door on the first floor of our little Cape Cod house. Later, the den would become a bedroom for my grandmother who came to live in our home through her battle with cancer. From there it became a guest bedroom, a luxury for a small house.
When I was four years old, the den was the center of our family’s activity. The tiny corner beside the brown and white checked sofa was my space. This is where the doll house that my grandfather had built stood. It was electrified with Christmas lights, protected from the weather with thin plastic tacked over the windows, and decorated with the skill of my mother’s sewing ability. Curtains hung in every window. Small braided rugs protected the imitation hardwood floors, and bedspreads warmed each plastic bed. My dolls lived in grand style, with a side porch for entertaining, a separate formal dining room and columns on each side of the front door. The siding was painted in white, and the shutters were dark green. My dollhouse was a little girl’s dream.
I played with my dolls every day until the late afternoon when the Mouseketeers danced across the screen of our only television. We were proud of our black and white TV. We were the first in our neighborhood to own one. At four o’clock, this, the most coveted item in our home, belonged to me.
The Mickey Mouse Club Show was the first television program for children and about children. It debuted in 1955, when I was four years old. I sat in my rocking chair with my mouse ears on my head, and rocked back and forth to the rhythm of Annette Funicello singing of her dreams for the future.
“Hey there, Hi there, Ho there. You’re as welcome as can be!”
This was my time before the television. I rocked to the cartoons. I rocked to the guest entertainers who danced and sang for the daily half hour show. I dreamed the dreams of Walt Disney and his glamorous young gang. I knew that I was lucky to grow up in that Cape Cod house. At four in the afternoon, I knew that my future was limitless.