About the Author
Marie Hammontree (1913–2012) was born in Indiana and lived there her entire life. She was the author of several books, including Will and Charlie Mayo, Boy Doctors; A. P. Giannini, Boy of San Francisco; Albert Einstein, Young Thinker; Mohandas Gandhi, A Boy of Principle; and Walt Disney, Young Movie Maker.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
FOUR-YEAR-OLD Walt Disney sat on the edge of his seat and swung his legs. For some time he had watched the people in the busy Chicago railroad station. Everybody seemed to be in a hurry. Walt was anxious to get started too.
“Roy,” Walt called to his brother, “why are we waiting?”
“We have to wait until they call our train,” Roy explained. “Here, come sit down by me. We’ll listen for the call together.”
Walt climbed up on the seat beside his brother. He was very quiet as he listened. Somebody was calling a train now.
“Detroit. Lansing. Flint. Port Huron. Toronto. Montreal. Train on Track Four. All abooo-a-rd!” The sound echoed up and down the station and back again.
“What do they mean, Roy? All aboo-a-rd!” Walt spoke in a loud voice, just as if he was calling trains. People all around stopped and looked. Then they laughed.
Thirteen-year-old Roy laughed. “They mean anybody who wants to ride on that train had better hurry and get on it. The train will leave in just a few minutes.”
“Well, come on!” Walt tugged at his brother’s hand. “We don’t want to miss it.”
“Wait a minute, Walter. That’s not our train. That train’s going to the wrong place for us. We’re going to Marceline, Missouri.”
“Oh!” Walt sat down in his seat again, trying to be patient.
Mr. and Mrs. Disney sat across the aisle from Roy and Walt. They both laughed, but their older sons, Herbert and Raymond, didn’t even smile at their small brother. They sat beside their parents and were glum as could be.
Mr. Elias Disney nudged Herbert’s foot with his. “I wish you boys had a little of Walter’s eagerness. I know you will like our farm at Marceline when you see it.”
Seventeen-year-old Herbert shook his head doubtfully. “I’m not sure I will like it, Dad. I’d like to stay in Chicago.”
“Me too,” said Raymond, who was fifteen. “I’m glad we still have a few days left to be in Chicago. I’m not at all anxious to leave the city for a farm at Marceline.”
“Well, those days are going to be busy ones,” said Mr. Disney. “We have a lot of packing to do, and we’ll have to work fast. We want to join your mother as quickly as possible.”
“I hope you’ll hurry,” said Mrs. Flora Disney. “I’m sure Roy and I will need all the help we can get on the farm.”
“We’ll work as hard as we can,” said Herbert. “But, Mother, you know our hearts won’t be in it. We don’t want to go.”
Mrs. Disney understood. She knew how unhappy her two older sons were. She knew how they hated to leave their friends and their life in the city. She spoke gently. “It’s hard to change homes, but a person can never really tell about a place until he’s tried it.”
“Your mother is right. Someday you will be glad you had a chance to live in the country,” Mr. Disney said firmly. “That’s exactly why I bought the farm. Why, look at you—soft, no muscles! City life is unhealthy for boys. Sometimes city boys get into bad company, too. Then they get into trouble.”
Mrs. Disney could feel another argument coming. Elias was a good father, but he just didn’t understand boys. “Now, Elias,” she said, “don’t be too hard on Herbert and Raymond. It will take time for them to get used to farm life. They will miss Chicago. They will have to make new friends. It’s not going to be easy.”
Herbert and Raymond didn’t say a word. They knew their mother had listened to many arguments between them and their father. They knew she was sorry to leave Chicago too. But Mr. Disney had made up his mind. He had bought the farm, and now they had to move.
“Maybe Roy will like the farm,” Herbert spoke at last. He knew he must be more cheerful for his mother’s sake. “And there’s no doubt about it. Walter will like the farm. Walter will love the animals.”
“Ruth doesn’t care at all that she is leaving the city,” Raymond added, trying to make a joke. “She’s sound asleep.”
Mrs. Disney hugged the little girl lying in her arms. “Well, our Ruth is only two years old. This has been a big day for her.”
“It’s a wonder Walter isn’t asleep,” said Mr. Disney. “He must be tired. He was up long before daylight this morning.”
“It surprises me, too. But I expect Walter is too excited to go to sleep. This is a new experience. After all, this will be his first long ride on a train. You know how curious Walter is about everything he sees.”
Just then Walt jumped from his seat. “They’re calling our train!” he announced.
Indeed they were, and loudly! “Joliet. Streator. Chillicothe. Galesburg. Fort Madison. Shopton. Marceline. Carrollton. Kansas City. Track Two. All abooo-a-rd!”
“All abooo-a-rd!” yelled Walt. “Hurry!”
Once more everybody laughed. This time Herbert and Raymond laughed. They couldn’t help themselves. They were excited too.
The whole Disney family hurried to the train. They got on the train too. Of course not all of them stayed on the train. Mr. Disney, Herbert, and Raymond soon said good-bye. They stayed only long enough to make certain the baggage was properly placed and Mrs. Disney and the children were comfortably settled.
Walt didn’t stay settled for long, however. He ran from one window of the train to another. He didn’t want to miss a thing. He especially wanted to see the man in uniform standing by the train steps. “Roy, what’s that man down there doing?” Walt called.
“That’s the conductor,” Roy explained. “He’s about to give a signal to start the train.”
Walt pressed his nose against the window glass.
The conductor did appear to be giving a signal. He held his right hand high in the air. At the same time he looked at his watch in his left hand. Then, all of a sudden, he gave a loud call. “Booo-a-rd!”
In a few seconds Walt announced, “I think we’re moving.” He was right. The train picked up speed. It creaked and it squeaked. It rounded a bend in the track. It swayed.
“We’re on our way to Missouri!” Walt sang. “We’re on our way. We’re on our way.”
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