Last night, in a fit of pre-holiday malaise, my husband and I were toodling around on the Internet looking at movie trailers and spotted one for Saving Mr. Banks, the new Disney film opening December 20. The movie is about Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) desire to bring “Mary Poppins” to the big screen (because he promised his daughters) and his wooing of its reluctant author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). What draws me to this movie is not the actors so much (although both are excellent and I am a huge fan of Emma Thompson), but the subject — Mary Poppins.
I admit it — I’ve never read “Mary Poppins.” My entire experience of her rests in the Disney production starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke (and his perilously awful Cockney accent). Seeing the trailer for Saving Mr. Banks brought back memories of the time (the only time) I saw Mary Poppins. It was in 1964, the movie was a new release to theaters, and I was seven years old.
My best friend at the time was a girl name Dolores Hayner, a first grade classmate at the soon-to-be condemned Jonesville Elementary School. Dolores’s mother invited me along to see the movie. (At this late date, I can’t recall if it was part of a birthday celebration, if there was a group of kids, or if it was only Dolores, her sister Gail, and me). Those details don’t really matter. What matters is that I was invited, my first such invitation, my first introduction that such things existed. Because, you see, my parents were not movie goers. Or, if they were and I’m misremembering, they certainly had nothing to do with children’s movies (or parties or anything much having to do with kids).
I do remember being rapt as the movie commenced, totally absorbed in the story of the affluent but miserable Banks family and their unanticipated savior. So rampant became my fandom that I managed to wrangle the soundtrack out of my mother at Christmas, and proceeded to play the grooves out of that record. (Although I was never one for dolls, I also received a Mary Poppins doll that came in her own satchel.)
The following year, Mrs. Hayner invited me along to The Sound of Music which blew my socks off.
But this post isn’t really about Mary Poppins or even “Mary Poppins” or The Sound of Music. It’s a shout-out to Stacia Hayner (always a class act) who opened my eyes and mind to movies and musicals, and helped forge one of my life-long loves. Thanks, Mrs. H.