Whatever happened to …

… Walt Disney and his pointer?

This week, it’s a twofer, courtesy of this inspiration from Alfred Thompson. I don’t think I’ve ever done a twofer before.

His inspiration was this message.

“Just saw an old picture of Walt Disney making a presentation. He was using one of those old rubber tipped pointer sticks. Does anyone use those any more? What ever happened to them?”

When I read it, I had to ask my wife. “Didn’t your Mom always talk about Walt Disney or something? Didn’t he go to your church?” (It’s one of those moments I knew that I should have paid more attention.

She remembered her Mom talking about him but not the details. So, she called her sister and came back to report from their conversation.

“It was Peter Pocklington that was in her Sunday School class.” Including three topics would be too much for a post so I’ll let that one drop.

Apparently, it wasn’t Walt Disney from Goderich Township but Elias Disney. My mother-in-law came from a Potter family and someone had married into the Disney family. There’s the connection. But, the Huron County and Goderich Township connection inspired a couple of interesting articles.

In the first article, there’s a picture of a signpost from the corner of Disney Road and the Fish And Game Line. That would be north east of their farm near Holmesville. I’m sure that it’s had its share of gravel runs. When I went to Streetview, I saw a sign that indicated that there was no winter maintenance. So, Spring, Summer, Fall gravel runs.

Then, there’s the pointer issue. I asked Alfred for a link to the article he had read but he didn’t have it. A quick internet search revealed this image

from the McNellisco site. There’s no mistaking that it was Walt Disney.

The article talks glowingly about his leadership and it reminded me of a business course I took at university. The professor just heaped praise and admiration for leadership demonstrated by Disney, Sam Walton, and others.

Disney’s influence appeared again in an early Powerpoint workshop. Disney was famous for the use of storyboards for creating his famous cartoons. It’s now built into so many digital applications.

In the picture, you’ll notice that he has that pointer and is highlighting something. Throughout my elementary and secondary school education, it was a standard in classrooms. It was used to point out letters tacked over the chalkboards when we were learning cursive and element symbols when we were learning chemistry. Those are two that come immediately to mind. The teacher could point out a topic without blocking the view of the chart.

Another, less frequent use, was to slam the pointer down on the desk with a mighty whack to get attention from the class. That took skill since the best effect and loudest noise comes when you hit the desk flatly. I can remember a time when it was also used to pop balloons off the overhead lights.

In my classroom, I had one but I don’t think I ever used it. I largely used an overhead projector and a sharpened pencil allowed me to point out things that I needed to highlight.

For a Sunday, how good is your memory?

  • what’s a gravel run?
  • there is Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Which one is in California? Have you been to either?
  • when was the last time that you went to a meeting that was men only and everyone wore suit jackets and ties?
  • beyond the theme parks, Disney had his name attached to a series for television. What was it called?
  • what cartoon characters are synonymous with Disney?
  • do you remember a teacher from your time as a student that used a pointer? What for?
  • do you have a pointer in your classroom? If yes, what do you use it for?
  • what’s the electronic equivalent to a wooden pointer? How do you use it?
  • do you use storyboards?

Aren’t Sunday mornings fun around here? I’d enjoy reading your comments about Disney or pointers or Disney and pointers.

All of the previous posts are available here.

Join the Conversation

  1. My teachers all used pointers and during my 32 year career in the classroom, so did I. Whereas overhead projectors and opaque projectors began to replace some of the lessons taught on the “board”, I generally resorted to lessons on the chalk board, hidden under maps that were pulled down to cover them until the appropriate “reveal” time and of course, the ever useful, rubber-tipped pointer. Interesting side story relating to such:

    It was my first year of teaching. My room was located on the second floor of a school built in 1904. That hot afternoon I was strolling down the aisles between rows of desks and lecturing the kids about something while occasionally giving a dramatic twirl of my pointer in the air to add “something” to the lecture (I have no idea what but as a 22 year-old teacher I assumed it gave me some sort of authority). And then – it happened. The pointer got away from me while I was standing near the windowed wall and out through one of the open windows it sailed, landing perfectly upright in a flowerbed below. Like a fool I ordered the students to remain seated (they had bolted for the windows) and open their math books for some exercise. Meanwhile I left the room to retrieve the pointer. I’ll never forget pulling it out of the bed, feeling dozens of eyes upon me and gazing upwards to the second floor to see all of my students laughing and pointing at me. One last shake of the pointer in their direction and I promised myself never to use it beyond the confines of the blackboard (by the way… a true, slate blackboard and not one of those aweful, green-painted metalic boards that followed in the 60’s and onward).


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