13 December 2017

Some Anthropologists

As we make our way through the shimmering living room and kitchen of the Carousel of Progress’ family, all decked out for Christmas, it is almost impossible not the feel like there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow. Yet, tucked away behind the computer monitor, pinned up on the family bulletin board, is a note that Marty Called Wants Changes. Perhaps one of the best known secrets of the park, this note is a reference to Marty Sklar, the wordsmith and Imagineering legend who passed away earlier this year. It is said that Marty wanted to see real change to the attraction that had been a part of the Disney lexicon since the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, as the final scene had fallen out of date with modern innovation. Some witty Imagineer took it upon themselves to place the note and make Marty’s aspirations known for all the world to see. While the note has remained, and the monumental changes have not yet come to pass, it isn’t the only thing worthy of our attention on the bulletin board.

We can actually find out a lot about our family from the postings on this board. There are plenty of family photos to explore, many of which feature Santa or a Christmas theme, likely photos that were included in Christmas cards, showing off how their relatives have grown over the past year. To drive this point home, there are even a couple of photographs that definitely look like wallet-sized school photos. Moving on, we can see some typical family scheduling, such as emailing for Rover’s vet appointment, a meeting with Melissa and Nicole at 1:30 on Friday, or the school meeting on October 20. Clearly, this being Christmas, this school meeting posting was just never removed, just as so many items are never removed from my refrigerator at home.

It seems clear that the daughter Pat, or Patricia or Patty, is fairly popular around the household’s phone. There is one post-it note for her to call Becky and on another we find that Corbin, Bryce, Drew, and Brooke called. Now, while this note isn’t specifically directed at Patty, we do tend to see her on the phone more often than her brother, Jimmy, throughout the attraction, and this message could just as easily be for him.

Then there are the newspaper and magazine clippings. Some of these postings talk about new computer programs or inspirational thoughts, you know, the original Pintrest. However, the one clipping that truly draws in my attention is the small cartoon that is barely visible in the upper right corner of the bulletin board, just below, and partially hidden by, Marty’s note. One of the more popular comic strips for cutting and posting, or passing around the office, has always been Gary Larson’s The Far Side. Our Carousel family is no exception, as here we find one of Larson’s favorite subjects, anthropologists. In the clipping, from October 27, 1993, we see a caveman running out of a cave that is engulfed in flames, the caveman is yelling, “Bummer!” The caption from the cartoon reads, “Some anthropologists believe that the discoveries of fire, shelter and language were almost simultaneous.” Definitely worth a pinning on a bulletin board if you ask me.

While Marty’s message may be the one we, as Disney enthusiasts, are attracted to, there is much more to be uncovered from this bulletin board that speaks to the everyday lives of the Carousel of Progress’ family. For many of us, this bulletin board is like a page from our own personal stories, as I’m certain many of us had very similar looking pieces in our own homes at one time. Using it as a window into the attraction and real world history makes us, dare I say it, Disney anthropologists in our own rights.

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