Friday, August 17, 2012


While growing up in 1950s Brooklyn, if I ever admitted I was a big fan of The Mickey Mouse Club on TV, it would have meant a guaranteed ass kicking in the schoolyard. I really liked only one part of the show, a segment called "Spin and Marty". This is how the ad promo described it: "The most popular serial ever shown on the original Mickey Mouse Club was a low-key story about fourteen boys spending the summer on a ranch. The two central characters were an orphaned rich boy, and a cool, lower middle-class kid with no father. Their rocky path to friendship, and their interaction with the other boys, horses, and adults on the Triple R made a lasting impression on viewers."

Spin and Marty certainly made a lasting impression on me. The show aired in 1955 at which time I was 13 years old, about the same age as the boys on the show. Most of my heroes back then were cowboys, so the idea of boys my age living on a ranch, riding horses, and just having fun held strong appeal for me. At that age the only horse I had ever seen belonged to Steve the junk man who, in summer, became Steve the fruit and vegetable man. The horse who pulled his wagon should have been named Elmer because he was about one stumble away from the glue factory. But I digress. Every afternoon when the MM Club show was broadcast, I was at my post in front of our 13" black and white RCA television ready for my vicarious adventures with the boys on the ranch. 

The plot of the series centered around the conflict between Spin Evans, a popular, likable boy who is comfortable around horses, and Master Martin Markham, a recently orphaned rich boy with a chip on his shoulder who initially disdains life on the Triple R ranch and rebuffs offers of friendship from Spin and the other boys. Al, one of the kindly old ranch hands, takes Marty under his wing and teaches him the skills necessary to compete in the annual rodeo competition against the Triple R's rival, North Fork Ranch. Marty, who soon becomes an accomplished ranch hand and confident in his own achievements, is now ready to finally accept Spin's overtures of friendship, as all the boys meet for the last campfire of the season. 

The story hooked me good. The interplay and growing sense of competition between Spin and Marty, the alliances that grew up around each boy, and finally their coming together in friendship and uniting to defeat the North Fork boys at the rodeo were all themes with which any 13 year old boy could identify. Even in the streets of Brooklyn there were cliques who competed, whether in sports, for the attention of neighborhood girls, or bragging rights of any kind. These rivalries played out every day, but if any group outside the neighborhood decided to come into our territory, the cliques would join together to discourage them. 

Later in life I had several chances to ride horses and came to the sad conclusion that I never would have made it at the Triple R ranch. It was fun injecting myself into the company of Spin and Marty though, and I have to tip my cowboy hat to Walt Disney who, even in 1955 knew what kids wanted and happily gave it to us.


Children's Craniofacial Association

1 comment:

Joseph Del Broccolo said...

Been there done that with horses, same results. Thank God someone else other than us had to tame the 'Wild West!"