On Fathers and Fievel

In a recent post, my blog-friend Kristen asked about the first movie we remembered seeing in a theatre. I have it on good authority that the first movie I saw in a theatre was Follow That Bird, though I have no real memories of so doing. 

I do, however, have a pretty solid memory of seeing An American Tail.


In 1986, the year said movie came out, I attended Jr. Kindergarten in Burke, Virginia. As an all-day program, we were required to take naps. I, however, was never very good at nap-taking. Little-Helena had more important things to do than sleep, and, as such, was constantly getting in trouble for making noise during nap-time and distracting other children from slumber. The following year, in Kindergarten, I won the right to read quietly during this time. In 1986, however, I was still required to lay silently for what felt like hours.

One day, while I was not-napping, I heard footsteps coming in my direction. Quickly, I pulled my green blanket up to my chin and squeezed my eyes shut in feint of sleep. While I likely wasn’t subtle, I was hoping my teacher – who I assumed was coming to tell me I was in trouble yet again – would be fooled.

The footsteps stopped, and I heard my name being whispered. The voice, though, was not that of my teacher.

It was my Dad! He’d gotten off work early and come to spring me from nap-prison. Better yet, we were headed to the movie theatre to see An American Tail. This was, clearly, the greatest day of my life.

I remember the plot of the movie quite well, but I’m pretty sure that comes from many subsequent viewings on VHS. The main song, Somewhere Out There, was quite popular on the radio for sometime thereafter. I was so taken with Fievel and his harrowing journey to American shores, that I soon acquired a mouse-shaped backpack. When worn, it looked like I was giving a larger-than-life Fievel a piggy-back ride. I wore that thing with pride for years.

While memories of the actual theatre-viewing have faded, my recollection of the joy I felt when I opened my eyes to see my Dad standing above my cot, come to whisk me away to the theatre, is one of the brightest of my childhood. We left Virginia shortly after I turned nine, and in subsequent years, memories of my time there has faded.

Fievel, however, is still a childhood hero.


About Helena

Helena lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and two cats. Her boyfriend thinks she's awesome. Her cats agree.

Posted on June 6, 2011, in Memory Lane and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I loved An American Tail! Such a good movie. “Oh there are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with che-ese!” And the first sequel, Fievel Goes West, was pretty good as cartoon movie sequels go.

    The first movie I recall seeing in the theater was either Bambi or E.T.. (I was not born in 1942 when the former came out, but it was in theaters again when I was little!) I am not sure which came first.

  2. Please, do everything in your power to find a picture of you with that backpack and post it!! I’ll come to Chicago and high-five you if you do (I probably won’t)

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