Morgan Minutemen – A Small World & Mystery Stamps
There were two things I had long been looking for every time I would go home and visit my Mom when she still lived in Morgan. The first was the 45 RPM record of “It’s a Small World” my parents bought for me at the 1965 New York World’s Fair from the Pepsi-Cola Pavilion.
This exhibit, which was fronted by a 120 foot tall mobile entitled “Tower of the Four Winds”, contained a 12-minute “Salute to UNICEF” boat ride where “Animated figures of children dance, play with droll animals, and sing ‘It’s a Small World.’” The exhibit and doll’s designer was the legendary Mary Blair and the song writers were two of Walt Disney’s favorites, The Sherman Brothers.
This was just one of four exhibits designed and built by Walt Disney. The others were:
- The Carousel Theater contained within General Electric Progressland.
- The Mr. Lincoln audio animatronic exhibit for the State of Illinois Pavilion.
- The animated dinosaurs on the “Magic Skyway” at the Ford Motor Pavilion.
Going to the New York World’s Fair with my family and our neighbors Andy and Al left quite an impression on me as a very young pup which I obviously carry to this day (hence this posting). By 1965, Disneyland was 10 years old (opened July 17, 1955). Expanding the Disneyland concept to somewhere on the east coast of the United States was in the back of Walt Disney’s mind but for some reason he wasn’t sure whether people “back east”, as they say here in California, would take to it. He looked for some way to experiment when the NY World’s Fair fell into his lap.
Walt’s four experiments were a great success.
After the fair closed, Walt trucked all of the exhibits back to Anaheim, California for incorporation into Disneyland. Walt was able to expand his theme park and have someone else pay for it! Today, the Carousel of Progress is located in the “MagicKingdom” at Walt Disney World where it was moved to in 1974. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln has been reopened in the Opera House on Main Street in Disneyland in Anaheim after a few year hiatus. The dinosaurs are still in Disneyland (Anaheim) and can be seen while on the Disneyland Railroad when traveling from Tomorrowland to the Main Street Station. It took me a few years to piece this one together. I had always thought the dinosaurs on the train ride looked familiar when one night I realized they were from the Ford Pavilion! It only took something like 40 years to figure that out! This was later confirmed in a Disney book I read. At the time of the fair, my Dad worked for Ford Motor Company and used to supply parts for this exhibit. We were able to move to the front of the line when we went!
Of course the “It’s a Small World” ride went on to be one of the biggest successes in Disney history. It is still in Anaheim (having been renovated in 2009) and still has long lines of children dragging their parents onto it. Every Christmas season, Disneyland puts thousands of lights on the building’s exterior and it is just beautiful to look at. This ride has also been incorporated into all of the Disney park locations around the world: Anaheim, CA; Orlando, Florida: Tokyo, Japan; Paris, France; Hong Kong, China. Interestingly, according to info on various web sites, there is presently no plan to have this ride in the Shanghai Disneyland set to open in 2015. They wish to keep it exclusive to Hong Kong Disneyland.
The second thing I would look for at Mom’s was a book of stamps. I’m not talking about S&H Green Stamps, which I did find, or postage stamps. Actually I couldn’t remember exactly what the stamps were for. All I remembered was that we would buy them, weekly I think, in class at Jesse Selover Elementary School; that they were images of Minute Men; and that we would need to lick them and stick them in some kind of booklet. The goal was to fill the booklet but I couldn’t remember what the reward was for filling it up.
The final result, while moving Mom out of Morgan in the summer of 2009, was 50/50, or really 25/25/50. While I found the Small World album cover, unfortunately I never did locate the record itself. This is probably very explainable as like every other kid then – AND NOW – I would repeatedly play this record over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over… No wonder it was never able to be found! Parents will understand what I’m [not] saying here.
Happily, I did find the book of stamps and can now tell you what the stamps were for – US Savings Bonds! This was an incremental approach which allowed for little kids to eventually be able to buy bonds, 25¢ at a time. $18.75 would get you a $20.00 savings bond.
You’ll note that the image on the Savings Bond stamps are of a statue entitled The Minute Man. This statue was created by Daniel Chester French and unveiled on April 19, 1875 at the 100th anniversary of the battles at Lexington and Concord. Another interesting note is that President Ulysses S. Grant was present at this event. Two months later, on June 25, 1875, President Grant rode south through Morgan on an excursion tour train on the soon to be opened New York & Long Branch Railroad!
But the story still doesn’t end here!! Little did I know while studying the Revolutionary War at our dining room table in 3rd or 4th grade while attending Selover – and thinking that the war happened SOOOO far away – that buried closer than the distance of a football field from my bedroom were (and still are) at least four real Revolutionary War Minutemen: James Morgan, Sr., James Morgan, Jr., Nicholas Morgan and Daniel Morgan.
Having Minutemen buried so close really made it, at least for me, a small world after all.
Originally posted on September 5, 2009.