As exciting as beginning the new house and the big hurricane were, something I had been waiting for for a long time had happened the spring of 1938. Mr. Walt Disney's movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had come to Meriden.
My mother had read the true story of Snow White to my brother and me. I couldn't wait to see it in the movies. I thought Mr. Walt Disney was the best artist I had ever seen (I already knew that I wanted to be an artist, too). I loved his cartoonsespecially "Silly Symphonies," Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the Three Little Pigs. But now Mr. Walt Disney had done the first ever full-length animated movieone and a half hours long.
I had been to a lot of moviesmore than Buddy, even though he was eight. Because I didn't go to school yet, my mother took me with her to the movies in the afternoons. We both loved movies. My favorite movie stars were Shirley Temple, the little girl with blonde curls who could sing and dance better than anyone, and Miss Mae West. (I called her Miss because she was grown up while Shirley Temple was about my age. We always called grown-ups Miss, Mr., or Mrs.) Miss Mae West was blonde, too, and she could sing. She didn't dance, but she was all shiny and glittery and all she had to do was walk and talk and everyone in the movie theater laughed and laughed.
Mom, Buddy, and I went to see Snow White on a Saturday. We got in line early at the Capitol Theatre so that we could get good seats. My mom bought the tickets, and as we went into the lobby, music was playing. She bought each of us a box of Mason's Black Crowslittle chewy licorice candies (they didn't have popcorn at the movies yet).
We found our seats. The lights went down. First we saw a newsreel (it was all the real things that were going on in the world). After that was the coming attraction about the next movie that would be shown at the Capitol. And finally, with the sound of trumpets, and glittery stars filling the screen, the words I had been waiting for: "Feature Presentation."
A big book appeared on the screen with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" on the front cover. The book opened. My mother read the words to me quietly: "Once upon a time..."
Music played, and there, in beautiful color, was Snow White, with white doves flying all around her. She was down on her knees, scrubbing the stairs in the Evil Queen's castle. Snow White asked the doves if they wanted to know a secret. They cooed yes. She told them they were standing by a wishing well. Then she sang a song about wishing for her prince to come.
WOW! I was really seeing Snow White, and it was the best movie I had ever seen.
Then the prince came on the screen and sang to Snow White. The Evil Queen, looking fierce and mean, watched. My brother sank down in his seat.
The Evil Queen went to her Magic Mirror and said the words I knew so well: "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" The mirror said it was Snow White, and the Evil Queen looked angrier than ever. Buddy sank down even farther.
But he really freaked out when the Evil Queen ordered the huntsman to take Snow White into the woods to be killed, and the woods looked just like Hemlock Grove. Tree limbs grabbed at Snow White, and yellow eyes stared down at her.
It was scary, and I loved it. But lots of kids didn't, and suddenly I heard crying and screaming all around me, even from Buddy. "I want to go home!" he yelled. "Come on," my mother said, standing up. "Let's go."
Copyright ©1999 by Tomie dePaola. Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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