Tag Archives: memories

Magic Kingdom Memories

Annette in DLandn

Since the Dallas shooting, and now the Nice attack, I have been needing to rely on things that pull me up from the darkness, and shine some light once again inside my goofy old head.  One thing that always seems to make things right again is looking back on trips to the Magic Kingdom.  Some of the happiest times of my life revolve around family at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Ima mickey

You see, being an Iowa boy, born in the 50’s, raised in the 60’s and early 70’s, I had one of those rustic, bucolic lives that involved hard work, being frugal with money, and (like I told you yesterday) being around a lot of cow poop.  A great deal of my life was about what the future held, imagination and possibilities, and The Wonderful World of Disney in color on Grandma Beyer’s RCA color TV every Sunday night.  Those Technicolor dreams about things with no cow poop involved  came true for the first time when my family went on a summer vacation to Florida and Walt Disney World when I was in high school.  Oh, how I loved those E-ticket adventures with the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain!  I got to see Country Bears sing and play music on empty moonshine jugs.  We used C-tickets for Snow White’s Scary Adventure and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  We saw Mickey’s Cartoon Musical Review.  Did you know those last three things no longer exist?


We went back to Walt Disney World when my family was young, the eldest was six, the middle child was a cranky two, and the Princess was not yet born, though already causing my wife discomfort with six months to go before she made her debut.  That was the time we learned how much my mother really loved It’s a Small World.  We had to take that boat ride so many times that the song still plays relentlessly in my head every time I even start to think about Disney World.  We managed to go back to Disney World again when the oldest was a teenager and the other two were primed to be Disney fanatics.  That time we learned how slowly the other set of grandparents walked.  We also learned that you have to be a master planner to see everything that is good in 5 different theme parks that you just have to check out because, heck, you’ve already mortgaged the future to pay for it.


And we have been to Disneyland in California a couple of times as well.  We were there, in fact, when the Anaheim earthquake happened, knocking down a couple of Los Angeles buildings nearby and shutting down several rides in the park while damage checks were made.  In fact, it happened during the Star Wars lightsaber battle in Tomorrowland, making us think at the start that it was just a really cool special effect.  It also shut down the food vendor before our expensive hamburgers were cooked.  That part was not so cool.

You can see now at least part of the reason I am such hopeless Disneyphile.  Memories of times spent at Disney parks are the exclamation points on my whole creative life.  It influences my artwork and storytelling to a noticeable degree.  And it takes my mind off my troubles a bit just to stop and reflect, “Once upon a time I visited the Magic Kingdom.”

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Filed under artwork, battling depression, Disney, family, humor, Paffooney



My life always seems to come down to snow.  It is a theme that runs through my little teacher-life, my little story-teller-life.  Did you know that I was born during a blizzard?  Mason City, Iowa was snowed in during the November blizzard of 1956 when I was born, on this date in the wee hours of the early morning.  Some of my most vivid memories happened in the snow. Val in snow

There was that night when I was eleven and snow was falling heavily as choir practice at the Methodist Church came to an end.  The walk home was more difficult than I had anticipated when I started out.  The entire front of me was plastered with snow as I leaned into the wind and trudged like some kind of plodding living snowman.  I got as far as the Library on Main Street when Mrs. Stewart and Mrs. Kellogg called me into the library to thaw out.  They called Mom and Dad to come the three blocks from home and pick me up.  But Alicia Stewart was there.  The most beautiful girl in all of Rowan, as far as my young heart was concerned.  She sat in the row across from me at school.  I am fairly certain that my Math grades were so poor mainly from the time I wasted watching her sharpen her pencils and turning the pages in her textbook.  I had my Russian snow hat on that night and the ear flaps were pulled down.  I had the little bill on the front of the cap pulled down to shield my eyes, and it was caked and dripping with snow as I entered the library.

I pounded off some of the caked snow and said, “Gee, I think it might be snowing outside.”

Everyone laughed.

Alicia pulled up the bill of my cap and looked me right in the eye.  “Michael, you are so funny,” she said.  That smile she gave me that snowy night warmed my heart, and drove the cold out of even my frozen toes.  I still keep the memory of that smile in my heart to this very day, in a drawer where nobody can find it, and I haven’t really ever told anybody about it until here and now.


And snow keeps coming back to find me, even now that I live in Texas where snow is much more of a rare thing.  On February 14th, 2003 in Dallas we woke up to another heavy snow flurry.

The people I love most in the world were enthralled.  My wife squealed like a little girl.  She is from the Philippines and she told me she had never really seen the snow falling before that day.  My three kids were awake and romping in the snow almost from first light.  The gently falling snow was beautiful, though it was a bit damp and clumpy, falling like goose feathers from a pillow fight, and easily forming into snowballs.  We built snow men in front of Tatang and Inang’s house (Filipino for grandpa and grandma).  Dorin, Henry, and Cousin Sally were throwing snowballs and random handfuls of snow at me and each other for most of the morning.  The Princess, barely walking and talking at that stage of her young life, ate snow and played in it until her bare hands were red and hurting.  She threw a crying fit when we had to force her into the house to warm up her hands.  Even pain couldn’t make her want to leave the snow behind.  I never loved snow that much until I got to see it through their eyes.


I truly believe that one day in the near future the snow will come for me again.  I will probably not be living in a place where snow is frequent, so it may not even be real snow.  But it will come for me to take me away the same as it brought me to this life.  Not real snow, but that obscuring snow that falls as your field of vision fills up with whiteness and purity and fades away.  Being in poor health for several years now, I know that sort of snow all too well.  I know it will be coming again.  The magic of life comes and goes in the clear, cold beauty of snow.  And all the warm tangles and troubles of life will be smoothed out under a blanket of pure, white, and cleansing snow.


Write me an epitaph that includes the snow;

He was born in a blizzard,

And he knew the secret of snow.


Filed under humor, Paffooney, Snow Babies, Uncategorized


A new doll bought to combat depression.  Part of a collection of Tinkerbell fairy dolls.

A new doll bought to combat depression. Part of a collection of Tinkerbell fairy dolls.

I have basically written an awful awful lot about my toys.  (The awful is repeated on purpose because I have been having a really awful time this week for reasons I will post about if I survive them).  And there is a reason a retired old man who seems to be rotting away into a second childhood is so obsessed with toys.  Playing is my primary goal for every day right now because darkness is closing in and, while play for children is practice for life in the future, play for an old man can be the reanimation of all the good things in life.

A Lego steam engine and a 1000-piece puzzle that my wife bought me to cheer me up.

A Lego steam engine and a 1000-piece puzzle that my wife bought me to cheer me up.

I have been a toy-maker and a toy-restorer as a part of my over-all quest to be an artist.  I even made some money with an online e-Bay store where I sold collectibles and restored toys.  I bought toys from Goodwill and re-sale stores, repaired them and cleaned them, and sold them for twice the sum I bought them for.  I also made a few porcelain dolls in a kiln I bought in the 1990’s when my mother and I became porcelain doll-makers.  I would show you some of my babies, but the real live children have managed to break all the dolls except for a couple my mother made.  (Well, toys are made to be played with, right?)  But I do still have many of the repaired and cleaned toys that I either didn’t sell or couldn’t bring myself to part with.

Toys in every corner of the house, dang it!

Toys in every corner of the house, dang it!

I have also been a model railroader since childhood, spending countless hours building tunnels and repainting rolling stock, and making buildings and scenery from kits and plaster.  I haven’t rebuilt my layout since moving north away from South Texas, but maybe I will get to that too in my retirement and second childhood.

I do still have some trolley street scenes on the tops of book cases.



And toys serve as memory objects.  They can do magic with time and space.  I have saved many of my toys from childhood.  Toys were precious and mostly Christmas and birthday gifts.  I learned to save and salvage them because they treated me well, and… well, I owed them the same in return.  My own children were not like that.  They loved toys to pieces and even sometimes ate them, to a point where many of them were un-fixable junk.  But toys bring things back to life from the long-gone past.  Take for instance the toy in this next picture;


No, I don’t mean the baby doll.  He grew up and joined the Marine Corps.  I mean the stuffed white tiger in the background. That was the first toy I ever bought for baby Dorin.  And it is still with us, though not as fluffy and pretty as it was in the picture.  My daughter, the Princess, inherited it and christened it “Baby Tiger”.  That is, of course, still its name to this very day.  I look at it and see all three of them… my super-destructo toy-flinging and clockwork-wrecking children.  And it is the toys that we have all played with that still link us all together even though they are almost grown.





Filed under humor, photo paffoonies, playing with toys

{Old Photographs}


One of Facebook’s gifts that I actually appreciate is the connection it has given me to old photos.  Being connected to family members and old high school friends that live far away and I haven’t met face to face for a very, very long time gives me access to shared photos that have existed for a very long time.  I never would have gotten access to them if somebody hadn’t posted it on Facebook.  Example number one is a photo of Son Number One who is now a Marine stationed in (No the government did not remove this portion.  That is paranoid old me.)  The picture shows Dorin as a ring-bearer at a family wedding in the Philippines when he was not yet two.  I was teaching at the time and couldn’t go with them, so, though I have seen copies of this Photo in relatives’ houses, I never had access to it until photo-mania hit Facebook.


Here’s another case in point.  There was a time when my Iowegian farm family had lots of four-generation photos and even some five-generation photos.  This one makes me a little sad.  Only the two little girls in this photo are still living.  Great Grandma Hinckley (I can use her real name here because she’s been gone since before desktop computers… who is going to be able to exploit that in any way?) lived to be almost 100 years old.  This shows not only her, but her eldest daughter, that daughter’s only son, and that son’s three kids.  John was younger than me, but his heart did not last anywhere near as long as mine has at this writing.  My own three kids would never have even an inkling of who these people were and their blood connection without the Facebook posts of a cousin who is still kicking. (Thank you for that, Louise.)  Four-generation photos have not occurred again in my family for a long time now.  And before this photo was taken, Iowans did not live long enough on average to do photos like this.  My Great Grandma (who actually was pretty Great and doesn’t get the Great just for being old) took a lot of these, as did both of my Grandmas.  Big farming families generate lots and lots of family photos.

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The photo from the train station in Yugoslavia was a gift from a time when my cousins hosted a foreign exchange student and the whole family got to broaden its world.  I am able to be Facebook friends with the Yugoslavian girl (Whose name translates to Snow White in English) even though she has lived most of her life in Eastern Europe.  I can even collect pictures of her grandchildren if I wish.  (Can’t return the favor, though, as I don’t have any grandkids and probably won’t for a few years.  Mom has to settle for a three-generation picture.   And it is harder and harder now to get the whole clan together, (especially since my younger brother has become a Tea Party Republican and swore off both logic and the use of facts in shaping his thinking).   But I think the best gift of all is how these old photos can keep my family alive for me in ways mere memory can’t manage.  We lost Uncle Larry a couple of years ago now to lung cancer.  Still, life and love and laughter live on…



Filed under autobiography, humor, nostalgia