Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Temple Tuesday: Go To Shirley World!

Like so many people lately, my friend Melissa and I were discussing the often incomprehensible situation brought on by the pandemic/panic from the COVID-19 virus. Things of this nature bring out the best and sadly the worst in folks. Hoarding is in full swing as toilet paper disappears from shelves as soon as it is stocked and bananas are nowhere to be found. Bananas?!? They spoil within days; what good can hoarding do? IT’S BANANAS!!

Closures increase by the day; the workplace, schools, restaurants, gyms, and...BROADWAY! Told to stay at home, it hasn’t taken long to hear the complaints of those feeling like they’ve been imprisoned.

Whenever I wanted an instant smile as a kid, I knew that watching a Shirley Temple movie was a good cure. Back in 1935 during the darkest days of the Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt was quoted as saying:

"During this Depression, when the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles."

Millions of Americans did just that, including my parents, who grew up during those lean years. In “The Littlest Rebel,” Shirley is a little girl living in the south in the midst of the Civil War. Her mother is on her deathbed and her father is fighting a losing war. Shortly after, attempting to get his daughter to safety, Shirley’s on-screen father is put in prison and given a death sentence. What’s a little girl to do?!?

She takes to the streets with Bill Robinson to sing and dance and earn money so she can go to Washington, DC and beg Abraham Lincoln for a pardon. Does she get it?

Of course she does! And his autograph, too, according to this publicity shot!

That was the magic of Shirley Temple. Against insurmountable odds, she overcame every obstacle with a smile, a song, and a dance. Corny as it may sound, there’s a lesson in there for all of us, even during these times of fear of the unknown and what may be around the corner.

Count your blessings and focus on the things that make you smile. My friend Melissa’s husband tells her to “Go to Shirley World!” when she has an anxious moment. Shirley Temple may not be your thing (perish the thought!), so find your own “Shirley World” and go there. In the meantime, be kind and understanding to others and try to avoid getting caught up in situations you would normally avoid (aka hoarding and panic). I’ll leave you with this appropriate song “Be Optimistic” from “Little Miss Broadway,” sung when Shirley’s character is sent back to the orphanage and her adopted father is about to go to the poorhouse.

Is there a happy ending? Of course there is; it’s Shirley!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.


"Lou and Sue" said...

My father (Lou) was born in 1929 and lived those depression years. Yes(!), movies did bring that generation lots of joy! Though my dad's family was poor, his older working brothers would sometimes get the few cents together and take my dad to the movies to see Frankenstein, Laurel and Hardy, and, yes - Shirley Temple! My dad still talks about having had a little boy crush on Shirley and having his dad help him write a letter to Shirley. He never heard back from Shirley, so he still wonders if his father ever mailed that letter. :)

Yes, we're out of bananas here! Oh well . . .

Thanks, Dave! Happy St. Patty's Day, everyone, and stay healthy!


Chuck said...

Yes, we have no bananas here, either.

Thanks, Dave, for taking the time to post such a positive post in this uncertain time. I really appreciate it. We're all going to need a little kindness and understanding to get us through.

Daveland said...

Hi Lou, Sue, and Chuck - Let's not give up hope....bananas will be available soon! Thanks for the comments!

DBenson said...

Apropos of nothing, as a kid I was especially impressed by that number in "Little Miss Broadway" where the courtroom turns into a miniature NY with a rear-projected Times Square behind the judge. Being fairly literal-minded, I waited for some explanation. Maybe Jimmy Durante and his buddies snuck in at night and wired everything up, but it was never stated. In any case, nobody seemed unduly surprised or concerned.

Maybe no crazier than all those movies where a number in a real theater ends up covering a whole sound stage, or kids putting on a show -- sometimes younger kids than Judy and Mickey -- whip up sets and mechanical effects that would stun Ziegfeld. But a courtroom?

As a preteen boy I watched the Shirley Temple movies every weekend on local TV, tolerating the fact Shirley was a girl because in her films, the world was all about kids. Yeah, there might be a grown-up romantic subplot but it was mostly the adventures of Shirley, who had the power to turn all adults into respectful, applauding audiences whenever she went into her song and dance. That, I envied. Myself, I'd only get two or three jokes out before they gave me the figurative hook.