Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Coming Home-Disney Style

By Beth Skarp 

If I haven't mentioned it before, Disney friends are the absolute best. I have a sweet friend, someone who is like a sister to me. In fact, we claim each other as sisters. Her name is Catherine Cole, the best friend anyone could have. We have known each other for a while now. We have weathered many, many things together—things that only a true family could understand. We have helped each other through not only happy times, but sad times as well. Cath, as I call her, knows my family well and I hers.

Cath recently took a journey from her home state to visit family up North. While traveling, she and her lovely daughter visited an antique shop to do some looking around. I know, you are probably wondering how in the “World” this relates to Disney. You need a bit of back-story, so bear with me. It will all make sense and get back on track, I can assure you of that.

While Cath was in the store, she noticed a train. Not just any train mind you, but a rather old Mickey Mouse wooden pull-toy train. It was not in the best of conditions, but Cath knew right away that this train was special—that it somehow “belonged” to someone in my family. So, she purchased the train.

Cath and I were to meet up at Disney soon after her adventures up North. She was going to give the train to me to give to my husband, a true train lover in his own right, but also a great lover of all things related to Disney trains.

My husband grew up loving trains. His grandfather worked for the Union Pacific railroad long ago. My husband was always around trains, from the small metal trains he had as a child (yes, that probably shows our ages) to the wooden trains that he collected over the years as a child. My husband always wanted a specific train—The Mickey Mouse pull-toy train. My husband came from a simple family with a single mother who raised him. Money was indeed tight. However, my husband did eventually receive The Mickey Mouse pull-toy train for his 6th or 7th birthday. He was beyond excited. Nothing pleased him more than to wheel his wooden Mickey Mouse pull-toy train around the room. How he enjoyed listening to Mickey ring the bell over the steam tender as he wheeled the train along. So much fun for a little boy who grew up loving trains.

When my husband reached age 10 his family was forced to move. In the course of the move, his beloved Mickey Mouse train got lost. Oh, how sad he was when he found out that Mickey had somehow gotten “off track” and did not move along with the family.

My husband's family eventually moved to California. He found out about Walt Disney's Carolwood Barn and the train at Griffith Park. Every opportunity that he could, my husband was down at Griffith Park to not only ride the train but eventually work on the train and barn, becoming a part of the train society, known as the Carolwood Pacific society. My husband even purchased train track and model railroad cars—HO gauge—to build his own train layout. Every thing on the train layout was done to depict either Marceline, Missouri (where Walt grew up) or Disneyland. 

Fast forward a few years, and my husband got a job working for MAPO, or Mary Poppins, a division of WED Enterprises, which did the manufacturing and testing for rides at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. He did not work on the steam engines, but he did work on the ride controllers and braking systems for the Monorail and the WedWay People Mover, among several other things. In fact, some of my husband's work can still be seen on these rides today. But I digress.

We have always had a small train lay out in our home—down-sized from HO gauge to N gauge size. Several of our train cars and building reflect Disney in one way or another, including a full running model of the Carolwood Pacific train.

Nothing ever reflected the Mickey Mouse pull-toy train that my husband had as a child. My husband often looked online to see if he could find a replica of his Mickey Mouse pull-toy train, but never seemed to find one. He doubted that he ever would.

When Cath met me at Disney World this past week, she gave me a small green bag. She told me the story of how she went to an antique store with her daughter recently. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was curious about what the bag contained. Cath gives the best presents. She told me the bag was for my husband, but really it was for both of us. As I gingerly unwrapped the protective paper holding her gift, I gasped in surprise. Was I dreaming....is this for real?!?

You see, Cath unknowingly had picked up the EXACT same train that my husband has been been searching for—for YEARS!! It was not in the best of conditions, and not every thing works on the train. But, the train is just what we have been looking for. What makes this train special, other than the fact that it is a Disney train. The love with which the train was given.

I see now why my husband loved this train so much. Mickey looks so whimsical. He seems to be having so much fun as he works the gears to make the train go. 

When the train is rolled along, a special mechanism on the bottom of the train allowed Mickey to ring the bell, alerting others that Mickey was a coming through. Of course this bell no longer rings, but the clarity of my husband's memory allows him to hear the bell clearly.

Look at the detail on the tender box. It is amazing the detail the artist(s) put into the pictures. It was made by Fisher Price for Disney. If you look carefully at the one picture, you will notice a yellow box under the tender box. I wish you could see the words, but it states “Made in United States”. How rare is that!

Look under the steam, just above the wheel for the "made in United States" symbol.

This train holds a place of special honor in our home. Not only did our sweet sister get it for us...but my husband's Mickey Mouse pull-toy train has finally gotten back on the right track to come “Home”. We could not be more pleased. We never thought this would happen.

Yep, Disney friends are truly the best. Thank you Cath for bringing the Mickey Mouse pull-toy train home to us. Oh, and did I say thank you? Well.....THANK YOU!!

1 comment:

  1. Disney friends are the best. And that train! How wonderful for your sister-friend to find that for your husband. It is an amazing piece of Disney history and your husband's history.


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