Archive for May, 2011

The Pioneering Disney Animator Living In My Neighborhood: A Follow-Up

A year and a half ago, I had a handful of sidewalk conversations with one of the most interesting women the Marigny has to offer: Eva Schneider. In halting English — weirdly broken for someone who’s lived in the U.S. for most of her life — she told me about the years she spent working at Disney Studios. Shortly thereafter, I began receiving little missives in my mail slot: short letters offering more detail of her career as a professional animator. They were sometimes hard to follow, so I skimmed them and filed them away, hoping to transcribe them at some point.

Apparently, I’ve reached “some point”. I recently sat down with Eva’s letters and started to type, keeping her curious capitalizations, spellings, and punctuation intact.

In the end, I’m sorry to say, there’s not a lot of new information about her or about Disney & Co. In fact, sometimes, she repeats herself, occasionally on the same page. And her story follows a predictable path: an artist working in a medium that’s changed by emerging technology — technology that she finds cold and inferior. She dismisses the computer-animated Disney films of today, and it would be easy to write her off as yet another person who’d rather bash technology than adapt and use it.

Unfortunately, she talks very little about her experience as one of the few women working in a field dominated by men, or about her impressions of Walt Disney’s political/world views. But even though I didn’t get what I was hoping for, the act of writing seems to have been cathartic for her. And so, I kept transcribing. Because I know that when I’m her age (90, I’m guessing), I’d want the chance to be heard.

I haven’t seen Eva on the street in months — maybe a year. I don’t know if she’s still alive, but I can’t find an obit for her. Perhaps she was taken in by her relatives. Or maybe, knowing her, she’s taken them in. She’s kind of spunky.

If you’re interested in what she had to say, the transcriptions are after the jump.

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