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Comics are all they're quacked up to be

Movie night prompts a little Disney reminiscence.

Boomer Grandpa — Loren Else column sig

I recall Tinker Bell zapping some colors on the television screen with her magic wand as the “Wonderful World of Color” theme song started playing. It was the beginning of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.”

All of that was sort of cool, but there was one problem. My household didn’t have a color television set, so I just had to guess what that wonderful world of color looked like.

Eventually, my family would get one of those fancy color sets. Then I could view all those colors on the NBC Peacock.

Many boomers grew up immersed in some way with Disney. Both my older brother and I were Disney fans back in the day. My brother Ron was a big fan of the original "Mickey Mouse Club." The initial MMC group was televised from 1955 to 1959.

Ron reminisced with me over the phone that Disney, years ago, did an excellent job showing a variety of stories, including educational segments, along with the Mouseketeers' performances in music and dance. The show included serials Spin and Marty and "The Hardy Boys."

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My older brother was a comic book kid way before it was cool. He was a big Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge guy. He has no idea how many Disney comics he still has. He said comics taught him creativity, irony, and something that he was good at — sarcasm.

Donald Duck Comics.jpg
Walt Disney Comic #145 (1952), left, and Walt Disney Comic #92 (1948). (Contributed photo by Phillip Else)

Ron also mentioned that Carl Barks’ Disney comics were well written and grammatically correct. Being a reader of comics early on in his life made him a better communicator and better writer.

After Ron retired, he and his wife became used book dealers. They have been at it for over 20 years, and are still operating a store in Denver. There are not many of those independent, used bookstores left.

I was a fan of Disney shows "Davy Crockett" and "Daniel Boone" myself, but those two characters sure looked the same. (Both characters were played by actor Fess Parker.) I never did get one of those coonskin hats (thankfully).

One of the Disney kid actors who performed in quite a few Disney films years ago was Kurt Russell. Now Kurt Russell is 70 years old. The whole reason for this Disney reminiscence column is because my wife and I recently decided to pick out an old Disney movie to watch.

We were in the mood for simple times — a movie with no violence, foul language, gore, nudity, death, weapons or sex. We selected the 1969 production of “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” starring a young Kurt Russell.

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It was a perfect choice. It was enjoyable, humorous, and checked all the appropriateness boxes, despite being made in 1969. It’s precisely what family entertainment is meant to be. I can watch it with my granddaughter.

The movie featured Mr. Russell in some fabulous 1969 fashions, like a mod turtleneck, pinstripes, and a psychedelic pattern scarf.

One of the stars of the movie, the computer, was the size of a room. The film's other technology included a listening device, transistor radios, tape recorders, and good old rotary dial telephones.

The film had good and bad guys, fast cars, and some great character actors that you will recognize if you watch it. There are lessons in the movie, including sticking together and friendship.

The plotline leads to a pinnacle in a college bowl academic competition. (Remember those?) The winning university would take home $100,000. Can Kurt Russell’s character save the day for Medfield College?

We enjoyed it, so now it's time to say goodbye, so I’ll see you real soon — why? Well … you know.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at news@postbulletin.com .

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