Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Childhood Favorite Revisited - Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet

For years I’ve attended Paper Shows—I have a weakness for paper ephemera: old photos, postcards and artwork for collage and painting inspiration. And I always take the opportunity to look for childhood favorites to add to my collection of Hallmark storybook and international cards, Golden Books, Calling All Girls magazines and Classic Comics, later Classics Illustrated, a forerunner of graphic novels.

One thing I haven’t been able to find is a companion book to an animated film I dearly loved as a child: Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet.  I’m old enough to remember when cartoons accompanied the feature film(s)…. Note I wrote films. I still haven’t gotten over feeling cheated/unsatisfied by today’s movie theaters showing only a single film per price of admission. When I was a child there were two films plus one or more cartoons plus a newsreel plus previews and maybe a serial installment (no advertisements!) I’m spoiled forever apparently.

I’ve looked online for the book also, but never found it there either. Recently—eureka! I found the film on YouTube. Although it perhaps doesn’t have the same charm it possessed for a 4-5 year old, it’s like an old friend—maybe a bit dated, but still loved. I believe most of us have a soft spot for our childhood passions and, yes, I do feel something of that passionate complex childhood joy has remained. The romance, the tragedy, the tears and the fear of a sorrowful ending, the joy of the happy conclusion--it has everything a good book should have! It was an early (child size) lesson in telling a story. It made a huge impression on me, like my Hallmark cards and my favorite picture books. They helped plant the seeds of appreciation for a lifetime love of books, film and art. I love them still for the happiness they gave me and the part they played in the life I had as a child.

I always imagined I was the only one who remembered the two hats who fell in love in a shop window, but the film appears to be a cherished classic. Here are a few comments from the internet:

“All those years I’ve been looking for it.”

“I grew up watching it.”

“My ultimate favorite cartoon short.”

“I loved it and I love it now.”

“One of my all time favorites.”

“The heartache and devotion felt in the characters……”

“I’ve been searching so long for this…”

“….been looking forever—could kiss your feet.”

“Makes me cry even today….”

Whether they saw it many years ago in theaters at kiddie matinees or quite recently on TV, there was a similarity in the comments.  So this little film still inspires love and passion.  I wonder what other artifacts of childhood are being dreamed about and searched forhaving inspired a lifelong devotion.

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