Louis Roney: People

Mickey Rooney sat down at the grand piano and said, "So you're a singer? - so sing."

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  • | 9:02 a.m. April 17, 2014
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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• Mickey Rooney, who died April 7, at 93, told me when we got down to statistics, that he was four months older than I was. Mickey was a perky 5’2” guy, high-handed, and quite “pushy.” He sat down at the grand piano and said, “So you’re a singer?— so sing.” He played a bit of a song from the 40’s and I sang along and interpolated a high B-flat. “Ya’ got it alright,” he said. A cameraman clicked Mickey and me and I have that photo on my office wall.

Mickey said that Elizabeth Taylor even as a small child was “as beautiful as they come.” He also recounted his long friendship with Judy Garland. Mickey married Ava Gardner and the marriage fell apart in a few months. He married 7 more times, and the last one endured for more than 30 years. But I’ll never forget seeing Mickey in his early movies in Winter Park’s Baby Grand Theater where we kids could get in for a dime, and let Mickey, Elizabeth, and Judy show us what really talented kids could do...

• Will our shrinking military— per orders from President Obama— cause us to lose prestige around the world? Of course it will! And Obama seems to be doing everything he can to diminish our stature everywhere.

Ubiquitous commentators have stated that they feel Obama is in many ways fundamentally inimical to this country’s best interests.

• When people find out that I graduated from Winter Park grammar school in 1932, they assume I should know all about old Winter Park. Well, I guess I do. When I was around 10 years old, I took Winter Park pretty much for granted, and didn’t realize until I got to college in Massachusetts, how very special it was to live in this balmy climate, and in such beautiful surroundings.

I do, however, remember riding my bike around on rather empty red brick streets, and playing 100-pound football at Harper Shepherd Field.

I also remember catching bass, perch, and bream while sitting on the end of one of Rollins’ two wooden docks on Lake Virginia. Afterwards, when I had to clean the fish, I thought seriously about the wisdom of catching the darn things. However, the Depression was in full force, and a good fish breakfast with scrambled eggs brought smiles from my family.

Winter Park was never really poor during the Depression unless you crossed the railroad tracks going west, or observed the orange-pickers in the many groves, or visited some of the less pecunious members of the Rollins Faculty which was made up of primarily of well-off Yankees who were happy to live and teach here.

During the War, when I was a Naval officer, I ran into a fellow officer, Dr. Malcomb MacClaren, whom I had known as a friend of my Father’s on the Rollins Faculty.

Winter Park people had their fine homes and their fine automobiles all during the Depression as far as I could judge. In those Depression days I wore shorts, tee shirts, socks and tennis shoes, whereas today b.w. dresses me up like an organ-grinder’s monkey. I still believe in the simple things even if I had, for a long time, to doll

myself up a bit as a distinguished professor at UCF. I recall, in the ‘30’s, several enormous chauffeur-driven open Cadillac and Lincoln convertible sedans in Winter Park with their owners riding around town in the back seat on view for all us less-rich folks to admire. There were also Hispano-Suizas, Auburns, Cords, Pierce-Arrows, Franklins, Rolls Royces, and such automotive exotica. If money could buy it, WP had it even in those Depression days. My Father explained it to me by saying, “In Depressions, rich people are only less-rich—they are never poor.”

• “ Patriotism means to stand by your country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official.” — Theodore Roosevelt