After two weeks of slowing drawing out the recounting of our trip across the country to drop Miss Molly off at school, I write the final installment. It has been crazy busy at Patchwork Farm…as you can well imagine…and the task of finding stolen moments to blog has been especially challenging. We find ourselves neck-deep in wedding preparations, back to school busyness, and the craziness of large-family living, but I wanted to share our last road trip adventure before flakes of snow begin to fall and another month or two escapes me…
Back in 2016, as part of our epic six week bus trip around the country we made a special stop for Rusty’s 15th birthday. Per his request, we stopped in Marceline, Missouri to pay homage to Rusty’s personal hero, Walt Disney, and it was the highlight of the trip for Rusty!
Three years later, as we worked our way back across the country, passing through Missouri on our way home, Rusty asked if we could visit Walt Disney’s hometown once again. So we did…
This time with Braden!
The United States has three permanent museums devoted to Walt Disney. Each is terrific in a different way. In San Francisco, the Walt Disney Family Museum is the most spectacular—a real “E” ticket. In Central Florida, Walt Disney, One Man’s Dream, a “must see” attraction for Disney fans at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is the most convenient to visit—at least if you’re a Walt Disney World guest. And somewhere near the center of the continental United States, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum is the most personal.
We drove into Marceline, Missouri (pop. 2230) on Tuesday morning, reacquainting ourselves with this small Midwestern town that seems trapped in time, looking much as it might have when Walt was a young boy walking down Main Street with his mother.
While there we drove over to Walt Disney’s childhood home.
Walt’s family came to Marceline when Walt was only 4 years old. They moved from Chicago in an attempt to keep Walt’s older teenage brothers out of trouble and live a simpler life on the family farm.
Walt’s father purchased a plot of land from his brother who owned land in Marceline and they proceeded to build a home and establish themselves in this small, Missouri town.
Walt lived here from age 5 to age 9. While not a long period of time, it was a time that greatly affected his life.
Behind this home sits another important part of Walt’s time in Marceline. This area is opened to the public. Just past Walt’s childhood home sits a small parking area with this sign:
It was down a grassy path that we found Walt’s Dreaming Tree.
. Daydreaming under this tree, a young Walt would observe the nature surrounding him. He later called these adventures “belly botany” and drew from these moments in his early works. He apparently never outgrew his need for inspiration from his favorite spot. On trips back to Marceline, Walt always put aside time for reflection beneath it, spending hours alone with his thoughts, back under his Dreaming Tree.
The Original Dreaming Tree, the place where Walt sat as a boy and let his imagination take him on incredible adventures, was hit by lightning a few years ago.
Instead we visited the Son of the Dreaming Tree, a sapling planted from a seedling of the original Dreaming Tree with soil brought from Disneyland and water from Disney World.
As we walked along the grassy path to Walt’s barn, we passed signs that gave us even more insight into Walt’s childhood there and the significance it had in his later life.
In the barn, also known as Walt’s Happy Place, visitors are encouraged to sign the walls and leave messages of love and hope.
By his own account, Walt’s happiest childhood memories were of his time in Marceline and the family farm there. Walt and his sister Ruth spent many happy hours playing in the Barn. Visitors from all over the world have come to Marceline to spend time at “Walt’s Happy Place”, located in its original place on the Disney family’s old farm in Marceline.
Visit this very special Barn, which was rebuilt by volunteers in 2001, and leave your mark among the thousands of signatures, messages and memories already there to share with the rest of the world. There’s no doubt about it, when you come to this Barn, you’ll feel a special heart connection to Walt.
When we visited the barn during our first trip, we found it incredibly moving to read the words of previous visitors, and witness the profound effect this humble, inspiring man has had on so many lives.
What a joy it was to add our own names to the thousands of admirers that had been there before us…
Rusty adding a new signature to the mark he left in 2016.
And what a joy it was to reflect on that experience as we sought out our previous signatures from three years prior.
And then Braden added his name to the barn beams.
From there we headed to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.
The visit to the museum began with a guided tour of the first floor, where the volunteer (who was a personal friend of Walt Disney) walked us through the story of Walt’s life in Marceline, beginning with his childhood in Marceline and ending with his visits back when he was an adult.
The museum is housed in the town’s old train depot…
A fitting location for Walt’s museum since he was an avid fan of trains his entire life. In fact one associate said, “Walt got more joy from hearing the sound of a train whistle than he did from an arm full of Oscars.”
In the museum there are 3,000 artifacts from Walt’s life,
The elementary school desk where he carved his initials “WD”:
A car from the Autopia ride he had built in Marceline for the children of the town:
The audio recording he made from the interview he did with his parents at their 50th anniversary party:
The Mickey Mouse dolls that were a gift to his parents on that anniversary:
And the TV he bought for his sister, Ruth.
When he invited Ruth to the opening of Disneyland she informed him that she didn’t like crowds, so he purchased a TV for her so that she could watch the opening ceremonies from the comfort of her own home:
The first floor of the museum is filled with Disney movie memorabilia, hand written letters by Walt, receipts, and other family heirlooms. It really is a treasure for Disney fans!
The second floor of the museum contains:
A replica of Walt’s front porch and the story of him convincing his younger sister to paint the house with tar,
A piece of the original Dreaming Tree,
And a miniature model of Disneyland.
Marceline, Missouri…the birthplace of Disney Magic.
I’m so glad we could visit again!