My home town had a movie theater, the El Lago, which showed films starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson, nature movies, and anything featuring Elvis Presley. We never missed a show. My friends and I would walk downtown to the theater, buy some popcorn, and revel in people and places outside our daily life. I first saw Blue Hawaii, starring Elvis, Joan Blackman, and Angela Lansbury, when I was eight years old. That last wedding scene is emblazoned in my mind. I immediately developed a fascination with Hawaii. I researched and wrote reports about it during my school years. I read everything I could find, both fiction and nonfiction. I watched every movie and TV show that featured Hawaiian scenery (“Book ’em, Danno.”) I haven’t made it to Hawaii yet. It’s on my bucket list. I’m grateful for the Christmas song, “Mele Kalikimaka,” sung by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters. It transports me to sandy beaches in my Christmas imagination … someplace warm.
When I was 10, our school librarian put Mary Poppins in my hands. “I think you’ll enjoy this.” She had no idea. The book lit a fire inside me. I fell in love with this cranky nanny and the family she was determined to help. I read all of the books published up until that time and wanted more. I wrote a letter to P.L. Travers, asking if there would be more books. She answered me with a postcard. I cherish that card to this day.
On August 27th of that year, Walt Disney released the movie version. It wasn’t exactly like the book. This Mary Poppins was stern but you could tell she had a sense of humor. Her loving nature was more apparent than the book’s Mary Poppins. What’s more, there was singing and dancing. My mother took me to the movie and she bought me the LP. I look at the LP now and it’s quite worn. I remember every word to every song in that movie, most especially “Feed the Birds.” We didn’t have access to interviews from every angle about everyone in and behind the movie. It was all magical.
And now there will be a movie sequel. It’s about time. I am grateful that I still feel the magic so strongly that I’m excited to see the new movie! That’s just one of the powers that books have.
Some days are challenging enough. At the end of the day, I crave the comfort of a Hallmark Christmas movie. I’m grateful for them. Now you know.
How does a society descend into horrific intolerance? I grew up in a school system that emphasized the history of the Holocaust. We learned through reading, lectures from Holocaust survivors, film, but it was this movie, Cabaret, based on Chrisopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories and the play based on those stories, I Am a Camera, that put all the pieces together for me. I was a senior in high school when it was released. My friends and I saw it several times. We cheered when it won so many Academy Awards (although it didn’t win Best Picture). The images from the film, the scenes, the music still play in my mind today. I am grateful for this movie for opening my mind and heart.