For a few years in my early childhood, she was my very best friend. And since she was about 8 years older than me, I looked up to her and she was my role model.
Annette Funicello when she was a Mouseketeer. Wire Services
In our time she was a superstar. In fact, her star shone so bright that she was known only by her first name like Cher, Madonna or Beyoncé. Yet when she passed away last week there was barely a mention in this newspaper.
I suspect that was the case with most media. Unless you grew up with her, you wouldn’t know what an icon she was. She’s been out of the limelight now for over 25 years. And, she passed on the same day as Margaret Thatcher. Predictably the loss of the Iron Lady would generate more news than a former Mouseketeer.
My folks started a chicken ranch in 1955. My father continued to work full time to bring home a steady income as my mother managed what would become a 10,000-laying-hen egg business. I stayed out of Mom’s hair, playing with my collie, Lassie, riding the big red tricycle handed down from my cousin Joe and living in my “Annie Oakley” fantasy world.
In those days my silver cap gun hit the bull’s eye of every target I aimed at as I rode my mighty steed “Trike.”
But in the fall of 1955, when kids my age were heading to kindergarten, Mom designed a one-room schoolhouse at home. Before I could go outside and play I had to print the alphabet, practice writing my name and phone number and do various other “assignments” my mother dreamed up.