When I was 14, I was the oldest I ever was. I’ve been getting younger ever since. – Shirley Temple
i’ve always been a sucker for old movies. “gone with the wind”, “to kill a mockingbird”, “giant” and “ben hur” are some of my all time favorites. but more than any other movie, i remember so vividly sitting in a big chair in front of my nonnie’s television watching movies when i was a kid in the early 1990s. sometimes it would be alfred hitchcock movies, which started my suspense obsession. “the birds” still freaks me out to this day though!
but often i would put in a VHS tape of a shirley temple movie into the VCR. i would watch for hours. she was so magnetic. i was hooked. i would watch a movie and listen to my nonnie’s sewing machine running behind me as she worked on a new project. then, we would take a break, and she would feed me homemade beans and cornbread.
those memories are so precious to me now that my nonnie is gone. even that house is gone. it burned halfway down a few years ago, and the new owners rebuilt it. it’s unrecognizable now. (for some reason, that makes me feel happy instead of sad.)
my sister chase is obsessed with “the wizard of oz” so whenever i think of shirley temple, it reminds me that she was up for the part of dorothy. she only lost it because her contract wouldn’t allow for her to work for that studio. i wonder how that film would have been different with her instead of judy garland. not better or worse, just different.
shirley temple brought joy to kids during the great depression, including my nonnie. and her legacy continued for me and even for children today. of course, she grew out of show business. but her life didn’t end. in fact, it may have started after her career ended. she became a mother and wife. she ran for congress. she became an ambassador and worked for the UN. she was an amazing woman. and i’m thankful for the memories she gave me and the connection she helped to create with my nonnie.