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  1. #1

    • "I Break Things"
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    A matter of Character

    There is a story I was told when I was younger. I always passed if off as a myth. This evening I was reading through Steve DeGaetano's book Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad, and there it was. To his credit, Steve credited another author with the story. This story can also be found in Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas. I have never seen it on here, but I thought since everyone has a habit of quoting Uncle Walt, then they should be able to read this.

    "During the final days of construction, the Disney Studios received a letter from a mother in an Eastern state. Her seven-year-old son had been stricken with leukemia, and he has expressed a desire to do two things: meet the comedian Pinky Lee; and to ride on Walt Disney's train. The family had already left for California, hoping to fulfill the boy's wishes. When the family called the studio they were told to report to Disneyland on Saturday morning. They arrived in their road-weary automobile, and Walt drove up shortly afterwards.

    "I understand you want to see my train.-well let's go" Walt said lifting the boy into his arms and striding off to where cranes were transferring the railroad cars from flatbed trucks to rails. When the train was assembled and fired up, Walt took the boy in the cab.It was [one of] the first trip[s] around the park for the Santa Fe and Disneyland railway and Walt pointed out the attractions that were still-a-building.

    When he returned to the administration building, he went to his car for a package. It was one of two gold framed pictures that had been made from artwork of Lady and the Tramp; the other had been sent to Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco as a wedding gift. He gave the package to the boy. "Well, we really saw the place; he liked my train" Walt said to the parents. To a Disneyland employee, Bob Jani, who had witnessed the visit, he gave the order "No publicity."
    I generally do not quote books. I highly recommend both books mentioned. Even now this story is making me tear up. So if you feel compelled to quote Walt, or theorize as to what he may or may not have done... please think of this story and remember what he did for one little boy!

    As a minor plug, both of Steve's books can be found here http://www.steampassages.com/ I highly recommend them for anyone who is a fan of Railroads, Walt Disney, or Disneyland.
    Last edited by techskip; 04-07-2008 at 07:39 PM.
    "Happiness is a Low Water Level"


    "Creating magical memories and making Managers cry since 1955!"


  2. #2

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    • Skeevy Ray Vaughan
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    Re: A matter of Character

    Great story Tech. Thanks to you for posting it and to Steve for printing it.

  3. #3

    • For You!
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    Re: A matter of Character

    Such a sweet story!!! Thanks for sharing the book passage!

    Will trade husband for Disneyland and DCA Pins!

  4. #4

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    Re: A matter of Character

    It is a great story, and highlights one of the very ideals that makes (and has made) Disneyland such a special place--that ability to go just a little bit further to make someone's day just that much more special.

    Thanks, Steve, Techskip, and most of all, Walt!

  5. #5

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    Re: A matter of Character

    I wish I could be a higher up at Disney, this is exactly what I want to do besides making Disney a better place....

    Did you guys also hear the story of the crying boy? I think its common, but Walt saw a boy crying and when he asked him what happened, the boy said he lost his wallet. So Walt went to a Disney store, bought the boy a wallet and i think put some money in it and told him that no one should cry at Disneyland.

  6. #6

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    Re: A matter of Character

    Where Dreams Come True - from the start. Great story.


    Eddie: You mean to tell me you could have taken your hand out of those cuffs at any time?
    Roger: Not at any time. Only when it's funny.

    ~<8O]

  7. #7

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    Re: A matter of Character

    Thanks guys.

    Interestingly, recently another version of this same story came to light (actually, it was previously published--I just hadn't seen it), and was posted on Jim Hill Media. It's told with a little more flourish and emotion than Thomas' telling, but the fact that many of the major details are similar makes me think the story is true.

    http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hi...u-to-hear.aspx
    Last edited by Steve DeGaetano; 04-08-2008 at 05:52 AM.

  8. #8

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    Re: A matter of Character

    True or not, the story highlights what kind of a man Walt was. Personally, I believe the story to be true, but this is about who he was and what he was willing to do for people. He was truly an amazing person who cared a great deal for giving to others. I think he believed that a small act of kindness was more important than some huge gesture.

    Thank you for sharing the story guys.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  9. #9

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    • Blind to His Own Faults
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    Re: A matter of Character

    "The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he has means, time, influence, and educational advantages, but what he will do with the things he has."

    --Hamilton Wright Mabie (turn-of-the-century American writer)


    Good story. Hopefully also a reminder to do what you can with what you already have.

  10. #10

    • "I Break Things"
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    Re: A matter of Character

    The part that really hit home is "No publicity." There are many stars and high profile individuals who will turn any act of kindness into a media circus. They visit the troops overseas and the moment they get back it is all over the news, on every channel. Then there are other individuals who do so much, and give the same order of "No publicity." Adam Sandler comes to mind. While I was stationed overseas, Adam sent us his new movie "Anger Management". BEFORE it even opened in theaters back home. Instead of the standard previews, the movie "opened" with a scene of the New York Skyline at night. Then the camera turned and you see Adam in a sweatshirt and jeans holding a glass of champagne. He spent the next 15 minutes talking to the camera, saying thank you to all of us, and explaining that this was the "wrap-up" party. He also introduced a couple other people like Jack and the director, and then said "enjoy the show." I When I came back to the States I started asking about that, no one had ever heard about it. I actually ran into Adam at Disneyland and mentioned it. He smiled, I guess he and Jack decided to do it as a "thank you" and refused to use it for publicity.

    That was kind of my point in posting this. Walt was a showman in so many ways. He was a genius when it came to publicity, but he specifically chose not to make this public. I personally think that speaks volumes about his character.
    "Happiness is a Low Water Level"


    "Creating magical memories and making Managers cry since 1955!"


  11. #11

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    Re: A matter of Character

    That's kind of what I was getting at with the "small act of kindness" idea. It doesn't have to be a huge thing (media circus), you just need to do something to make the world better. And I love that Walt knew when to involve media and when to let an act of kindness stand on its own and be a special moment between a few people.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

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