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Remembering Shirley Temple Black, the gracious children’s theater ticket taker

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on February 11, 2014

Shirley Temple Black in 2005

Growing up in Menlo Park, I, along with what seemed like the whole neighborhood, attended children’s plays, I think performed at Sequoia High School. What the plays were, I don’t recall, although I enjoyed them.

What I do remember quite distinctly is one of the ticket takers, undoubtedly pointed out to me by my mother, who had felt the effects of the Great Depression as a young woman. She, like many of her contemporaries, was cheered during those years by Shirley Temple movies.

Shirley had become Mrs. Charles Black by the time I encountered her. My mother and I would also spot her when we were shopping at the Stanford Shopping Center. And I seem to recall that her daughter was in one of my Sunday school classes.

As a kid, it was always a little hard to reconcile the child star Shirley — I, too, loved her movies — and the adult wife, mother, and community volunteer in the 50s and 60s. She always struck me as “regular,” and I mean that in the most positive way. Here was someone who had achieved such fame at a young age, but now was just like the rest of us — or so it seemed.

In my second stint in Menlo Park (moved “back home” in 1990), I haven’t spotted Mrs. Black out and about as much. Of course, she was busy with other things on a more international stage in her role as diplomat.

I remain thankful that she brought joy to my mother during the Depression and made me feel a bit special because my children’s theater ticket was being taken by “America’s Little Darling.”

Note: Woodside resident Shirley Temple Black passed away on Feb. 10 at the age of 85.  A remembrance from her family can be read on the Shirley Temple website.

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