H Alice HowellA Woman's Journey Through the Early 20th Century
Long Time Friends
Below is a transcription of a letter sent from H Alice Howell to Walter Disney from 1933, during a correspondence that spanned over thirteen years. Disney was known to refer to Howell as “boss,” a habit leftover from their days at the canteen. They remained good friends, as evidence by the visits Howell made to Hollywood and the position of honorary pallbearer that Disney had in Alice Howell’s funeral.
July 3, 1933
My Dear Walter Disney,
Where do you suppose I am?
Back in dear old Neufchateau and quite naturally you are one of the first people I think of. Our good old canteen has been replaced by a French building but the old town is the same, only vastly quiet. I am visiting my French family which is very dear to me as I lived with them for over a year. One of the daughters has married, has two children, and became a widow since I was here last.
I asked the little six year old boy if he knew “Mickey Mouse”, he immediately drew free-hand the enclosed copy. So you see Mickey Mouse is one of the children in his mind, he then showed me a wonderful Mickey Mouse toy that turned summersaults and danced gayly and then he showed many books with pictures and stories of your M.M.
The two children were greatly in love with Mickey and the little girl had told her mother that when she grew old enough she wanted to go to America and work in your studio. They were, of course, very greatly interested to learn that you been there during the war. So, I assure you, you are one hero who will not be without honor in Neufchateau.
The weather here is beautiful. The air is soft- as only French air can be. The sky blue and the whole country bright with poppies and other gorgeous flowers. It is not raining. We went to Domremy yesterday. The people here see only their friends and familiar streets and environs but I see French and American armies marching thru the streets up to the front. I see our hundred of hungry American boys rushing off trains into the canteens, oh I see so much that is sacred and beautiful and terrible. This visit has stirred me deeply.
Don’t forget that when you come east you must stop and see me. Please tell Mrs. Disney that I have a room all in readiness for your trek.
Paris is as ever attractive and filled with the strange charm that one finds no where else.
I am traveling with a friend. We are going to England for a sojourn after a week or so but I hate to leave France.
Hoping all things are well with you and wanting you to know that my thoughts are on you in this our old camping ground,
H. Alice Howell
1 rue de Bergerie