Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Main Street - 1984 - Meeting "Arthur"

I first met Arthur in 1984 while covering a day shift on Main Street.

I was in Day Custodial and my assignment was to sweep the Hub. Arthur was a charming old fellow who had been coming to Disneyland for just about ever, it seems. He was a guest and he showed up almost daily at the Park. He would shuffle slowly and steadily down Main Street until he found his spot along the curb (usually on the east side of the street, in front of the Plaza Pavilion). He would then spread out his old afghan blanket and set down his bag and cane. Arthur would sit down on the curb and wait for the afternoon parade. He would come back for the first showing of the Main Street Electrical Parade many times, too.

Arthur loved Disneyland and all the cast members I knew loved Arthur. I dug around but could not locate a photograph that had been taken of Arthur with several of my sweeper friends. Too bad, I would love for you to have at least been able to meet him in a picture.

One of the "old timers" I worked with on Main Street was a sweeper named Helmuth. Arthur, who had yet to learn my name when we first met, would always, always ask me: "Where's Yomo? Heoff today? Heezoff. Heezoff."

"Yomo" was Arthur's best attempt at pronouncing "Helmuth." Arthur would then dutifully ask me, "You busy today?" and note: "Busy day" or "Slow today," depending on the number of guests in the Park.

Arthur was a character. A little slow and in his early 70s, he had a great smile, even despite missing several teeth. A stroke and the aforementioned dentition problems combined to contribute to his unique speech pattern, which sometimes made him hard to understand, but never detracted from his warmth as a person or from his acceptance into the Disneyland family by the Cast Members who knew him. This simple man was much loved. He was at home in the Park and he connected with all who had encounters with him there. Perhaps you met him yourself or walked by as he sat on the curb waiting for the next parade. As a guest, you might have thought him to be a little "off" or perhaps a wayward transient that had somehow gotten past Security. If you noticed him at all it was probably because of his blanket spread out on the ground (he always spread it out enough for two people, even though he only occupied one half of the blanket), his checkered hat (with "Arthur" written across the front) his red windbreaker jacket, and his open-toothed smile. In any event, he was there most days and chances are you may have run into him as you walked along Main Street as a guest in the early to mid 1980s. Hopefully you said hello. He definitely would have responded with a hello of his own.

I came across this article from Ken Pellmanand was happy to see that someone had memorialized Arthur in print and---as shown in this photograph from Ken's article---in brick (apparently, several Cast Members chipped in and bought the brick to honor Arthur---whose full name was Arthur Holmson):
Arthur, I expect you are somewhere right now, enjoying a parade on Main Street or chatting with a cast member at the Park, since Heaven for you must certainly include Disneyland. Here's to you, old friend!