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Mickey Mouse Job
September 26, 2011 7:44 PM   Subscribe

The Ropes at Disney's - 1943 Employee Handbook. The good old days when women got twice as much sick leave, the Penthouse club was accessible by "men only! - sorry gals...", and a violation of the U.S. Espionage Act could get you fired.
posted by madamjujujive (52 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Google Docs isn't always open to the public.

Buy your ticket and come back, kiddies.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:52 PM on September 26, 2011


PDF version. Should swap this for Google Docs, I say.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:56 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


One rule which they seem to have left out was "On your first day, don't sit near the executives at lunch and describe your plans for a Disney porno, performing all the voices yourself." Harlan should have appealed.
posted by Spatch at 8:01 PM on September 26, 2011


The Great Brotherhood of the Wistful Thumb would make a great band name!
posted by yellowbinder at 8:03 PM on September 26, 2011


It is one of the better studio commissaries.
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:03 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Getting taken on by a new company that got the contract from the old - I can't help but look at this handbook and compare it with the dour, humorless style of the new company's handbook.

Somewhere along the way, humor seems to have been misplaced. (Probably in the '70s...)
posted by JB71 at 8:04 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Somewhere along the way, humor seems to have been misplaced.

Probably in the courtroom

Thanks for the PDFs, tlf, flt.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:08 PM on September 26, 2011


JB71: "I can't help but look at this handbook and compare it with the dour, humorless style of the new company's handbook."

On the other hand, I can't help but look at this handbook and see a bunch of regressive workers-are-the-enemy rhetoric, sugar-coated with cheerful cartoons and light turns of phrase.

I mean for fuck's sake, it shows the employees being held at gunpoint by the "off the lot" pass they're required to obtain if they need to leave work.

On a possibly-but-possibly-not unrelated topic, WTF is with the art in the "Unions" section? A disembodied set of footie pajamas with an open buttflap and a loop of rope for a head, reminding the artist that he has a union meeting tonight? Is this a reference I'd have to have a glass of hooch and a hankerin' for some gams that don't quit to understand?
posted by Riki tiki at 8:21 PM on September 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


"Our employees are represented by 33 separate unions. Your job will probably fall under the jurisdiction of one of them."

33 unions! And yet some people are not covered. Wonder who?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:23 PM on September 26, 2011


33 Separate Unions!
posted by willF at 8:24 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This pamphlet doesn't mention it, but Disney employees are now called "cast members". I just love that. It would be great if every business was like that. Bob in accounting, Mary in sales, Joe in maintenance... c'mon gang, let's put on a show!
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:30 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a thrift shop - years ago - I found this exact handbook. On the back was written "Property of Cory Doctorow - if found return to said owner".
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:36 PM on September 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


shows the employees being held at gunpoint by the "off the lot" pass they're required to obtain if they need to leave work.
at least its slightly more up-front
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:39 PM on September 26, 2011


The very first page depicting the guy and gal employees (pg. 3) shows him (and his ID badge!) checking out her ass. Then he proceeds to do it again (pg. 8), and again (pg. 9), and again (pg. 13). Then he checks out the waitress (pg. 17)!

Page 7 possibly has him grabbing her ass. Page 12 he's behind her on a double bicycle (not too bad in itself, but by now this is a pattern). On page 6 the fucking sun is checking her out -- twice.

"How about a date much much later, honey" indeed -- a date with a workplace free of institutional sexual harassment.
posted by troll at 8:46 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


On a possibly-but-possibly-not unrelated topic, WTF is with the art in the "Unions" section? A disembodied set of footie pajamas with an open buttflap

It's a visual pun. That's a union suit.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:48 PM on September 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


33 Separate Unions!

Oh Jeez, I just realized how they got the name for Club 33, the secret members-only club hidden in Disneyland, discreetly above the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square. This is only hinted at in the "Penthouse Club" part of the pamphlet (Men only! Sorry gals...)
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:52 PM on September 26, 2011


...and yet
posted by obscurator at 8:58 PM on September 26, 2011


Harlan should have appealed.

I don't think it would have crossed his mind to be appealing.
posted by zippy at 8:59 PM on September 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


The gal employee is wearing a bullet bra and seamed nylons.

Apparently the nylon shortage was severe enough that a lot of women just painted the seams on because nylon was scarce. I remember my mother telling a story about going to a party at a very posh home with a white carpet. People were all sitting on the floor, and to her humiliation, when she got up, her leg makeup left a discoloration on the rug. The horrors!
posted by madamjujujive at 9:00 PM on September 26, 2011


the Penthouse club was accessible by "men only! - sorry gals
"United in 1953 introduced "Executive" all-male passenger flights. The men enjoyed free gifts such as cigars, which the stewardesses often lit for them."
posted by unliteral at 9:11 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


From unliteral's link:

United in 1953 introduced "Executive" all-male passenger flights. The men enjoyed free gifts such as cigars, which the stewardesses often lit for them. A reporter for Playboy magazine wrote, ". . .the only girls aboard are a couple of unobtrusive stewardesses. . ."

That's what's always most astonishing to me about that era. Not the sexism per se, but the need for separation of sexes. Same with the private club in the Disney handbook. When you're kicking back and having a drink, don't you want to have some ladies around?
posted by roll truck roll at 9:19 PM on September 26, 2011


WTF is with the art in the "Unions" section? A disembodied set of footie pajamas with an open buttflap and a loop of rope for a head, reminding the artist that he has a union meeting tonight? Is this a reference I'd have to have a glass of hooch and a hankerin' for some gams that don't quit to understand?

Historical context: The Disney Animators' Strike of 1941. More context from The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:22 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's what's always most astonishing to me about that era. Not the sexism per se, but the need for separation of sexes. Same with the private club in the Disney handbook. When you're kicking back and having a drink, don't you want to have some ladies around?

Well, of course you do. Those asses won't stare at themselves. The Company, on the other hand, wants you to get together informally to talk business and build relationships among decision makers in various departments -- and these are all men.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:35 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's some video footage from the Disney Animators' Strike of 1941, which is, unfortunately, not very interesting. More interesting is this corresponding YouTube comment: Notable people in the Disney strike: Kenneth Muse, Ray Patterson, Ed Love, Bill Melendez, Preston Blair, Grant Simmons, Art Babbit, Bill Tytla, William Shull, Jack Bradbury, Emery Hawkins, Walt Kelly, Ted Bonnicskin, Alfred Ambranz, Cornett Wood,Maurice Noble and many others. Try to point out these names on any Warner Bros. or MGM cartoon from the 1940s.

The idea that the people who made cartoons were pissed off enough during a time of war to stop all cartoon production... well, I mean, that's kind of interesting.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:40 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]



The very first page depicting the guy and gal employees (pg. 3) shows him (and his ID badge!) checking out her ass.


I noticed that too! I expected the accompanying text to be the sexual harassment policy and it just occurred to me now that they didn't have those back then.
posted by bleep at 9:46 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


An advert: Smoke you pipe or cigar, if you wish, and make yourself more comfortable by using the pair of slippers provided.
A story:
Now for a funny story, told to me by a UA flight attendant in the late 60's. In the early 60's, UA, with drinks, served a snack of Macadamia Nuts in small round foil containers. One afternoon, after leaving the gate, a weather hold was put in place at EWR, so drinks and the macadamias were served. Back then there was no rule about tray tables and seat backs being in the upright and locked position, and there were no overhead storage bins, the racks were open, nor was there a rule about picking up glasses before takeoff. So after sitting on the ground for a while, the captain or 1st officer phoned back to tell the stews that they were ready to go. A rather new flight attendant then got on the intercom and made the following announcement to a plane full of males:

"Gentleman, the captain has informed me that the tower has cleared us for takeoff, so if you will make sure your seat belts are fastened, and hold your drinks in one hand, and YOUR NUTS in the other, we will be on our way to Chicago."
It's also mentioned in that thread that the male only flights were in competition with the men's smoking cars on deluxe trains.
posted by unliteral at 9:52 PM on September 26, 2011


The idea that the people who made cartoons were pissed off enough during a time of war to stop all cartoon production... well, I mean, that's kind of interesting.

Technically we weren't at war until December 8. But after that, the tenor of the times got a little interesting.

I expected the accompanying text to be the sexual harassment policy and it just occurred to me now that they didn't have those back then.

It was an expected feature of business life at the time that single women would work until they found a husband. Does nobody watch Mad Men?
posted by dhartung at 9:56 PM on September 26, 2011


I do watch Mad Men, that's the sad part.
posted by bleep at 10:01 PM on September 26, 2011


Technically we weren't at war until December 8

Good point. I guess now I'm used to wars that go on for ten years... I'd forgotten how short U.S. involvement in WWII really was and I backdated from the end.

But now we get further and further away from Mickey Mouse...
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:03 PM on September 26, 2011


Here's some video footage from the Disney Animators' Strike of 1941 , which is, unfortunately, not very interesting.

Wut? Not interesting? Did you not see the picket line part oh so politely when Walt Disney drove in, and then later, out of the studio in his convertible?

The Union movement in Los Angeles, and the movie studios in particular, is one of the most interesting series events in modern US history. Violent union busting like Hollywood Black Friday was the driving force in Union suppression laws like the Taft-Hartley act. Studio union busting was a direct instigator of the era of McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee that caused the Hollywood Blacklist. The studio system was anxious to divert attention from an anti-trust actions that would prevent them from being both talent agents and movie producers that would hire only their own talent. One mob-controlled studio, Universal, got special exemptions from the government if they would provide a witness that would finger commies in the studios. They provided one actor for that role: Ronald Reagan. In return for his devotion to his corporate and mafia masters, they funded his race for Governor of California, and he continued to grant the studios special protections as a quid pro quo. And you know the rest.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:04 PM on September 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Mickey Mouse begat Reagan who begat Mickey Mouse presidency.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:09 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


One more thing... I don't understand the line in the "Forbidden Fruit" part which says "Neither can you improve on the air-conditioning." They seem to be telling employees not to screw with the air-conditioning, and there's a drawing of some guy crowbarring a window, but was air-conditioning such an annoying thing that employees regularly broke the windows? So much so that they had to mention it here as some kind of "forbidden fruit"?

The history of air-conditioning... possible grounds for a future post.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:40 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Soundtrack to this FPP
posted by not_on_display at 10:59 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I doubt broken windows were a problem, as much as just annoying open ones defeating their AC.
posted by floam at 11:10 PM on September 26, 2011


There doesn't seem to be much info around about The Penthouse but I did find this:
"Walt had been a member of the Hollywood Athletic Club. One of the staff members was an ex-Olympic wrestler named Carl Johnson and Walt worked out regularly with him. When Carl heard that Walt was building a new studio, he suggested a gym so that the employees could keep in shape. Unfortunately, the plans had already been approved and the main building was already well under construction.

Something like that never stopped Walt so he decided to add a penthouse with a gym, locker room, steam room, barber shop and kitchen. For seven dollars a month, employees could use all the facilities, sun bathe and get private workouts from Carl Johnson. Carl's favorite workout used the old medicine ball. Carl developed arthritis and left the studio in 1949 and passed away in 1952. The penthouse became less of a gym and more a place to play ping-pong and poker."
and:
"By the way, the thing I remember most about the Penthouse Club were the nude Freddy Moore girls that adorned the walls."
[my added Freddy Moore link]
posted by unliteral at 11:18 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Women employees are entitled to ten days sick leave each year, but not more than five consecutive days at one time. Male employees are entitled to five days sick leave each year, but not more than three consecutive days at one time."

Huh.
posted by l2p at 11:51 PM on September 26, 2011


Is "Day of the Eagle" some sort of euphemism for payday? I can't find anything online, except as a song, but it seems to be what they're referring to on the payday page.

Huh.
posted by disillusioned at 12:35 AM on September 27, 2011


Running list of potential band names:
Day of the Eagle
The Great Brotherhood of the Wistful Thumb
Old Man Misery
Mr. Micawber
Department Head
posted by bleep at 12:46 AM on September 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


disillusioned: Google "eagle day payday". It's WWII US army slang.

(The irony of an Australian knowing this, and linking to a UK site as support, should never be lost ;-)
posted by Pinback at 12:50 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Women, er girls, got more sick days but men (not boys) got to be executives and visit the Penthouse. Bet the men did not have a French Provincial toilet at Club 33. Balance?
posted by Cranberry at 12:55 AM on September 27, 2011


"Women employees are entitled to ten days sick leave each year, but not more than five consecutive days at one time. Male employees are entitled to five days sick leave each year, but not more than three consecutive days at one time."

Huh.


For child care obviously. I don't imagine Disney was providing on-site child care in 1943 and the men of the GREATEST GENERATION would never stay home with a sick kid when there was a woman around to do the job.
posted by three blind mice at 1:10 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


...Why does the page about the Selective Service have a drawing of a man standing in a chimney lassoing a baby being carried by the stork?
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 1:14 AM on September 27, 2011


That's what's always most astonishing to me about that era. Not the sexism per se, but the need for separation of sexes. Same with the private club in the Disney handbook. When you're kicking back and having a drink, don't you want to have some ladies around?

Of course you do. But you don't want WIVES around. That's why you make it men only and then employ waitresses in suitably appealing outfits.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:02 AM on September 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


WRT the lot pass - during WWII, and the early part of the cold war in the '40s, Disney made a lot of films for the military, showing mechanics and technicians how to service what was then top-secret equipment. So that part's understandable. It actually seems like a fairly progressive workplace for the '40s - having 33 unions to keep happy was probably a big factor in this.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:16 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Re sick days, For child care obviously.

Noting above that most of the working gals would have been single, I assumed the extra days were for The Curse.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:20 AM on September 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


For seven dollars a month, employees could use all the facilities, sun bathe

Oh so that explains the drawing on the Penthouse Club page.

Bet the men did not have a French Provincial toilet at Club 33. Balance?


That toilet is from the Club 33 located in Disneyland not the Penthouse Club at the studio. The Penthouse Club was a gym for men, the Club 33 was/is a private club with restaurant for Disney executives to impress their family and friends.

The very first page depicting the guy and gal employees (pg. 3) shows him (and his ID badge!) checking out her ass.

For some reason the drawing that jumped out at me was the one in the library where she is reading and he is leering at her tits (or ass-- hard to tell.)

I assumed the extra days were for The Curse.


Yes, except that 10 days per year doesn't add up to a monthly curse leave. Plus if you do waste your time on that, then if you get the cold or flu you are screwed. I'm also surprised at the no more than 5 consecutive sick days for women and 3 for men. So if you are a guy, you need to man up and get out of that sick bed!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:44 AM on September 27, 2011


I assumed the extra days were for The Curse.

I assumed it was 5 days union negotiated ogle-free time
posted by the noob at 6:02 AM on September 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


twoleftfeet: 33 Separate Unions!

Oh Jeez, I just realized how they got the name for Club 33, the secret members-only club hidden in Disneyland, discreetly above the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square. This is only hinted at in the "Penthouse Club" part of the pamphlet (Men only! Sorry gals...)


This is innacurate. By the time Club 33 opened in 1967 there were not 33 unions represented at Disney. The leading theories on the name I think belong to the number of corporate sponsors they had at the time at Disney Land (33), and/or its actual "address" inside Disneyland (33 Royal Street? I Think?)
posted by cavalier at 7:20 AM on September 27, 2011


(Not as inaccurate as my spelling, however)
posted by cavalier at 7:21 AM on September 27, 2011


Club 33 is the only location within the park that has an actual street address since they had to have something to put on the licquor license. As far as working at the studios, there's a reason they call it "Mousewitz".
posted by Standeck at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2011


What is the font used in the note on the back of this photo? Was this from a typewriter? The As and Es look like block print.
posted by zippy at 12:25 PM on September 27, 2011


zippy, I'm certain it was a typewriter (not many other options, and that looks like a gummy label that was typed and stuck to the photo). As to why it has a sans serif small cap (or more properly, petite cap -- half size) for the A and E, I'm not sure -- it could have been a faulty repair using the wrong typebar, or it could have been a specialized typewriter where those characters were needed for legibility or compatibility. There were dozens of even major manufacturers and thousands of typewriter service technicians who were all pretty much independent operators and could scare up any modification you would need -- or a place as big as Disney was likely to have its own in-house staff.
posted by dhartung at 1:01 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


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