Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I Saw This!

There's no overestimating the impact Mary Poppins had on my life. The first movie I ever saw in the theater, it began my lifelong love affair with film. One of the clearest and dearest memories of my childhood is of lights going down and the big red curtains at the State Lake Theater opening to reveal that first memorable scene, the rooftops of London.

So when we went to The Museum of Science and Industry yesterday, I was hoping that the much-talked about Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit would include my girl, Mary. After all, to me that nanny is every Disney Princess, all rolled into one. But I was worried because none of the PR releases I'd read in advance even mentioned her.

Oh, Gal of Little Faith! There was a trove of Maryphernalia! I saw original sketches of the famous "Jolly Holiday" (penguin) number and authentic costumes and a deleted scene (no sound, but still!) and the actual alphabet blocks that magically fell into her name during "A Spoonful of Sugar." But best of all, I saw this ...

 The actual globe she's holding in her hands was on display! The snowglobe that inspired her to sing "Feed the Birds!" I saw it! Kathy was amused that I actually fell to me knees to get a closer look at it in the case, but I refuse to be embarrassed. I was thrilled.

When I got to work this morning, I mentioned this to two of my coworkers, who also remembered being piled into the car by their parents and driven to the theater to see Mary Poppins. It was a lovely collective memory of 1964.

Here's the clip of the scene. I love it, love it, love it.

Day at the Museum

My friend Kathy and I spent Monday at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. As my birthday gift, she encouraged me to think of something I want to do but can't get anyone to do with me, and so I chose MSI. It was my favorite when I was a kid -- hell, it's every Chicago kid's favorite. But I haven't been there in decades.

We toured it from 9:30 till 2:30. While MSI is decidedly high-tech and interactive, I wanted to revisit all the favorite exhibits of my youth. First of all, Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle. Everything is built to scale for a 5" tall prince and princess. When I was a tiny gal, I loved it because the lights and water actually worked and because everything in each overstuffed room is handmade and handcarved. Yesterday I learned details that weren't of interest to me as a wee one: the chapel includes the world's smallest Bible and an actual relic, a sliver of silver from The True Cross, a gift to Colleen Moore from Ambassador Clare Booth Luce, who received it from the Pope himself.

When I was taking that picture of the castle, I was sorry the mom and daughter were in the shot. But now I'm glad. Look at her hand, reaching to get closer to the magic inside. That was me and every other little girl who has seen it over the years.

My second all-time favorite place in the museum is Yesterday's Main Street, which represents Chicago of 1910. The streets are brick, just as I remembered them. I saw the corset shop and the grocer's and the old time dentist. But best of all was the nickelodeon, showing silent movies around the clock. The theater is much smaller than I recalled it, but it was in the same spot and she was there. I loved this ticket window when I was a little girl, and thought that ticket taker was the best job ever. It made me so happy to see her again. Then we had real ice cream sodas at Finnigan's Ice Cream Parlor.

This is the first time I've ever been to the museum at Christmastime. Which is a shame, because for more than 70 years, MSI has been celebrating Christmas Around the World. There's this one big tree in the main hall, surrounded by smaller trees representing more than 50 other countries, and decorated  by volunteers from Chicago's ethnic communities. I learned that in the Czech Republic, the traditional Christmas meal isn't turkey but carp (ew!) and a barley/mushroom casserole that sounded pretty yummy; that in Scandinavia, St. Nick doesn't have elves, he has a companion named Black Pete; that in Poland, all pets are included in Christmas celebrations because it was animals who witnessed Christ's birth in the manger.

In the gift shop I saw a t-shirt that read, "Talk Nerdy to Me." I almost bought it. Because if there's anything that yesterday reinforced for me, it's that I'm such a geek. I truly can't think of much I would have enjoyed more than my day at the museum.