Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th Birthday! You Should Of Been An E Ticket!

Happy 200th Birthday Mr. Abraham Lincoln!

(And shame, shame, SHAME on Google, again. Last year they didn't bother to give Lincoln's birthday a nod via a re-do of the Google logo.
But...I figured they would probably acknowledge the big 200th birthday though.
I was wrong. Today they acknowledged Charles Darwin's birthday instead.
Because, you know, Charlie D. has done soooooo much for mankind.

Thinking about Mr. Lincoln brings back a memory that perhaps other my age share.
A time when we had to chance to sit before Mr. Lincoln, and see him stand up and talk about his dreams and visions for mankind.

An opportunity that most of us took mostly because it was hot outside, the room Mr. Lincoln was seated in was air conditioned, and because it didn't require any ticket to get in.
That memory came back to me the other day while I was chatting with B. about Disneyland "E" tickets.

Those of us who grew up in the '50's and '60's in Southern California know exactly what I mean by that phrase. To get everyone else up to speed, let me explain the significance of an E ticket:

It used to be, long, long ago, in a far away galaxy called "Disneyland" people would purchase ride tickets in booklets. The booklets had A, B, C, D, and E ticket which corresponded to the amusement park's rides.
E tickets allowed you to ride the really BIG rides, like the Matterhorn. There were something like eight E ticket rides in the park; the booklets only contained six E tickets.

You had to chose which ride you would have to miss.

Or at least most of us had to chose. The purchase price of an extra ticket was substantial, and "back in the days," parents had no problem staying in budget AND letting kids learn that you can't have everything they want. That was just part of life, and it was good to learn that fact at an early age.
Today Disneyland has one price entry fee for ALL rides, and you can even make reservations so you don't have to stand in line for an hour and forty five minute to take a ride that would last 45 seconds. (This is a true life experience: we did exactly that with our kids when they were little, and just HAD to go on the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride.)

Now there were always more D tickets than E tickets, more C tickets than D tickets and so on. The most tickets in the booklet were the A tickets. The A tickets were to stuff that little kids would like, like the Merry-Go-Round, and a kiddy car ride.

And there was one attraction in the park that required NO ticket at all: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, sponsored by Lincoln Savings.

Disney had just perfected the animation technique which would later be used to make those wily pirates come to life in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. But while we were kids, all that Mr. Lincoln could do was (amazingly!) stand up from a seated position, and talk, moving his head and mouth and hands as he "talked" through his famous speeches.

I (and most other kids) found the speech to be pretty dull. But as I mentioned before, it was a place where you could sit in a nice theater seat in an air conditioned room and take a break from all that standing in line stuff.
I can still see Mr. Lincoln's blue eyes opening and closing as he talked. I just can't remember a word he was saying.
The conversation with Bernie about E tickets drifted to the free exhibit of Mr. Lincoln. Why, we wondered, did Mr. Walt Disney feel so strongly about Abraham Lincoln that he dedicated an entire building to him?
Mr. Lincoln was originally present at the New York World Fair in 1964...right around the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. There were still enough folks around that had family members that had fought in the Civil War that it all must have seen pretty important still.

Our conversation drifted to today. If Mr. Disney was to create an entire theater to showcase just ONE historical figure, who would he choose?
Sadly I think I know. He likely would have chosen the man for whom a major street is named in every American town (unlike Lincoln...or even Washington for the matter.)
He would likely have chose the man for whom parades are still held, and in the City of Houston, TWO parades are held each year.
A man that has his own holiday day. Lincoln and Washington now share a single day designated as "President's Day." I'm afraid most school children would be unable to name the two people who were presidents and who used to each have a holiday for celebrating their February birthdays.
He is the man that children have told me WAS a president. (He wasn't...)

Yes, I believe Mr. Disney would have capitulated to popular culture and would have build a theater to present another assassinated historical figure: Dr. Martin Luther King.

When we were kids, we wiggled and squirmed and got very little out of the "Great Moment" with Mr. Lincoln. The adults that shepherded us around the park rarely made much of the speech or the man.

I wonder...if it was today, and it was MLK, would all children be allowed to give scant heed to what was being said?
I don't know. Perhaps by 2060, we will be over the popular culture greatness of MLK.

I just never imagined that by 2009, America (and Google...) would be so over Mr. Lincoln as well.

Looking back, I think a Great Moment with him should have rated an E ticket at the very least.
(You can experience the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln via YouTube at this link. Good stuff, huh? Even when you don't need a place to sit in air conditioning!)


Vicki said...

Again, Jill, this is a great post. I'm just baffled that I've heard no mention at all about today being Abe's birthday (oh, and happy birthday to my darling niece, Bekah!) outside of my hometown paper in KY.

I've never been to Disneyland, but I've visited Disney World several times. I remember the ticket books and I remember when the park closed at 7pm in late May and we were racing to use up all of the tickets. WDW didn't have the Lincoln exhibit, but it did have the Hall of Presidents (animatronics, of course) and another exhibit with Mr. Twain and Mr. Franklin as animatron narrators. Thanks for the youtube link...that was interesting!

Julie said...

We watched a documentary about Abraham Lincoln that put him in rather a negative light, and listed the ways he and Charles Darwin shared life details.
It made me feel sad!
I have always admired Abraham Lincoln.

I'm with you Jill, why in the world should Charles Darwin have his own holiday? According to him we're all just all once removed from monkeys and have no purposeful future... So why name a holiday after a man who had nothing to celebrate ?

Lovella said...

Jill, I sure did appreciate this post. Popular culture is amazingly convincing to the majority of the population, and that is very sad.

Gotta Garden said...

What a terrific and interesting post! You are so right! Shame on google...Darwin, indeed. It is a strange time in so many ways. You are not alone!