My Dad’s job when I was a kid in the ’60s was at U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh. He was a big muckety-muck, running an entire division that was shut down in 1970 when the steel industry collapsed, resulting in every single person in the division being laid off, Dad included. Being young, I had no idea what the strain must have been like for him, what with four kids in various grades, and Diane approaching her college years. That’s not what this post is about, though. No, rather, it’s about some small awards Dad seemed to win every year.
Remember, I was five or six when I first heard about and saw them.
Dad was the chairman of the United Way committee at U.S. Steel in those days. He did all the leg-work for whatever it was that the company did in regards to the organization, and every year he and Mom would go to this big awards dinner held at some fancy hotel in Pittsburgh. He would give a speech and then accept this award at the end of the evening.
To a kid, hearing that your Dad is being given an award is a Big Deal.
When I finally asked Dad about the awards and what they meant, he simply said, “They’re Mickey Mouse awards,” and no more. This left my fertile imagination to run with it. My Dad was doing things that were noticed by Mickey Mouse! How cool was that?!
It wasn’t until twenty or so years later, when I saw them on a shelf above his desk at our house in Connecticut that I realized exactly what he’d meant by calling them Mickey Mouse awards. In the intervening years, I forgot all about them, but when I saw them sitting there, it all flooded back to me.
Obviously, he’d done the United Way work so it looked good on his reviews. I don’t know how much time it consumed, but just getting this little award and nothing more was a bit of a sore spot for him. When you’re a kid, though, sarcasm is totally lost on you. To add to it all, I remember Dad had a few boxes of slides taken on a trip he made to Disney Land at some point for work, and they became intertwined in my mind with the awards. Dad was traveling across America for the work he was doing for Mickey!
Oh, to be that innocent again.