A Birthday of Magical Proportions

Helicopters. They capture our attention for sure. This past Sunday during the South Pasadena Police and Fire Open House I watched the helicopters majestically rise up and land gently down. It reminded me of a birthday a very long time ago. I don’t know exactly how old I was, maybe five, six, I don’t know, but I was young. Just a little fella. And this birthday involved Disneyland and a helicopter.

My dad wanted my birthday to be special. Don’t all dads want their little fella’s birthdays to be special. I sure do. I would always try to make my sons’ birthdays memorable. It was a great joy for me. An honor actually.

Let’s set the stage. I was five or six, maybe seven, but I think more like five. Disneyland had just opened to the public in 1955. It was a huge deal.

The day of my birthday, he said we were all going to Disneyland. That was something. Disneyland! There was nothing like it anywhere in the world. Magical worlds constructed for kids; Tom Sawyer Island, Tomorrowland, a Peter Pan ride where you flew over the city below, Snow White and the seven dwarfs and so much more. In the mid-1950s, this was pure fantasy turned reality in a child’s imagination. What a great birthday. Right? Well, my dad had a little something extra planned as well.

As we all piled into the wood-paneled station wagon, nobody noticed we were not driving toward Disneyland. We were going someplace else.

My dad pulled the station wagon up to a gate and we were passed through onto an airport tarmac. There waiting for us, in all its glory, for my birthday, was a huge helicopter. At least for a little fella at five or six, it sure looked huge. And it sat my mother, my father and my two brothers and me with comfort. I couldn’t believe it. None of us could.

We took off, flying over Los Angeles, skies clear and blue, looking down at the world below and then we saw from the air, Disneyland. We started to descend, and then we touched down, softly on the ground. The excitement was so profound I thought my little heart was going to explode. My curly hair had straightened. My eyes were the size of saucers and my hands, feet and body were pumping enough energy to light up an entire city. Then we disembarked onto a red a carpet where we were met by Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan and other Disney characters. Talk about memorable. A day in a life that will be forever.

I remembered this because I turned 68 last Tuesday and although I didn’t have that day, I will always have that memory. Talk soon.

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Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.