Sunday, June 4, 2017

CVGS Program Review -- Patti Beatty on "From Chula Vista to the Mouseketeers"

Patricia Kutch Beatty was the program speaker at the CVGS General Meeting on Wednesday, 31 May 2017, with 28 in attendance.  To support her presentation, she displayed a series of photograph boards on the stage along with Disney and Native-American artifacts and ephemera.

Patti's story begins with her birth in 1943 in San Diego, where her father (a Native-American from Idaho) was in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II.  They moved into military housing on Hilltop Circle (about where Hilltop Middle School is today, on the southeast corner of Hilltop Drive and J Street).  When she was four years old, Patti contracted rheumatic fever, and after she recovered her family put her in a dancing school to provide physical activity.  She also learned how to ride horses and appeared in shows and rodeos.

In 1955, Walt Disney was looking for young teenage boys and girls who could sing, dance and ride horses to appear as Mouseketeers on the new Mickey Mouse Club TV show, and to support the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim.  Patti applied and was one of the first 30 to be accepted and she worked on the show and at Disneyland for two years.  This was a wonderful experience for Patti, and she has stayed in touch with the group through reunions over the years.  From this, Patti has many artifacts, ephemera, and photographs that were displayed on the photo boards, including a star on the Disney Walk of Fame.

In 1957, she was in the Fiesta de la Luna parade in Chula Vista.  She went on to attend San Diego City College, where she met her husband,  and San Diego State University.  Over the years, Patti performed in the Starlight Opera and Old Globe.  She worked for 30 years with the Fairest of the Fair beauty contest for the San Diego County Fair.  In addition, she was a dance teacher and a photographer.  For the 50th anniversary of her Mouseketeer experience, she was interviewed by Ted Leitner on his radio show about her life.

The second part of her presentation was about Patti's family history.  Her father was the oldest of 11 children, and her mother was the oldest of 14 children, both from the Pocatello, Idaho area.  Consequently, Patti and her brother had 37 first cousins.  The family spent many summers on the Shoshoni Indian reservation near Pocatello, and she learned about all of the family stories and oral history of her father's tribe.

In San Diego, Patti studied genealogy with Kathleen Lund, and was able to fill out family group sheets and pedigree charts, and write down the family stories of her parents and their families.  The result of this is her book Feathers in the Wind: A Family History About The Descendants of Thomas LaVatta and Tilford Kutch which provides the family history of all of those cousins and their ancestors and descendants, with photographs, record images, and genealogy reports.  Many of the photographs had never been seen by the family members.  The cover of the book is of the Idaho sky with clouds reflecting the sun and tepees on the ground.

Many attendees reviewed the photographs and artifacts on Patti's photo boards and the stage, and several bought a copy of her book.  This was an interesting autobiography of a successful life along with the family history aspect.

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