Donald Duck's 75th Birthday - June 9, 2009
Technically, I should probably post this next Tuesday, but it makes a good Flashback Friday entry. And this way, you can all be prepared to celebrate Donald Duck's birthday if you feel like it next week.
One of the cool things my kids liked to share when asked about their heritage is that their great-grandfather worked as an animator with Walt Disney, and that you can find his name in the credits for Peter Pan, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. He was also part of the team that designed the original Donald Duck. Here's what he wrote about that in his biography:
"The studio was now feverishly working on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the first full length feature cartoon ever attempted and the morale was extremely high. It was a joy to work at this remarkable studio and associate with a group of very talented, colorful young men, most of whom were under 30 years old. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for me, I was not assigned to "Snow White" but worked on a new charater which was just evolving called Donald Duck. The studio was attempting to develop new animators and some of the more promiseing ones were given a test project, the winner of which would become a full fledged animator. Mine was judged to be the best and with my promotion came a nice raise in salary."
Donald Duck debuted on June 9, 1934 in a Silly Symphony cartoon titled 'The Wise Little Hen'.
Now the rest of this is for my kids.
The Great Depression hit just before your grandfather was born in 1932. Your great-grandparents were living in St. Louis where Judge worked for a newspaper. The newspaper was dissolved and he was laid off. Fortunately they had been thrifty and had saved about $1,000. Even more fortunately, their bank didn't go under. Rent was $50 a month, bread was 5 cents a loaf and milk was 6 cents a quart. He wrote, "Even with these cheap prices our thousand dollar savings account would soon diminish with nothing to replenish it. In the meantime I was doing all I could to find work, and I wasn't confining it only to the line of work I was trained to do."
After the baby was born, they moved to Chicago and lived with Judge's brother Ferrin. It wasn't any easier to find work there, although he was able to pick up a little freelance work. Through other artists he learned about Walt Disney and sent him some samples from his portfolio. The Disney studio wrote back and was very complimentary and said that while they weren't hiring at that point, if he was ever in the area to stop and see them. So, Judge and Dorothy and little Billy decided to go back to California and live with their parents. Judge was able to get a job with Disney - for $25 a week - but it only lasted for a month before an earthquake hit and he was laid off. After a year of working odd jobs to help make ends meet, he was rehired at Disney. Years later he left to start the motion picture studio at BYU, but that's a story for another day.
Don't forget the lessons your great-grandfather taught through his example - perseverence, self-reliance, providing for your family, humility, integrity, working hard, persistence, importance of family, and many, many more.