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The Mickey Mouse Trap

[Story related by Jean Koch August 30, 2014 regarding Forest Service plans in the 1970s for the Disney Company to develop a major ski resort in Mineral King.]

Did I tell you about when we picketed Disney Land? In fact, I carried this. It's a Mickey Mouse caught in a trap. It had a sign that said, "Mineral King is a Mickey Mouse trap"; That was an experience! The Anaheim police were there; they had a helicopter circling overhead... [article continues below picture]

Mickey Mouse in a trap

Did I tell you about when we picketed Disney Land? In fact, I carried this. It's a Mickey Mouse caught in a trap. It had a sign that said, "Mineral King is a Mickey Mouse trap"; That was an experience! The Anaheim police were there; they had a helicopter circling overhead. Earlier, in the whole proceedings, this group from UCLA organized picketing the Disney stockholders meeting in Burbank. We went to that, too. Maybe 30, or 40 people showed up for that. We had agreed that our signs would be in good taste. I remember one guy, a sort of hippie looking guy, had hitchhiked up from San Diego to take part, and he had a sign that was NOT in very good taste at all. He asked me, "How's this?", and I told him that he'd better hide it when the police come by. People were coming into Disney Land with their families, glaring at us.

It was for the Mineral King Film Fund. Bruton Peterson had been offered a job by Disney. But he loved it up here in Mineral King, and he had been a forest ranger, down on the Kern. He and his partner Jim decided that rather than working for Disney, they would work on this film and get their MA’s in cinema. They got acquainted with a really activist group of young people at UCLA who were involved in getting together information, and that was when we started our newsletter. We called it “The Optimist.”

I wrote letters to as many cabin owners as we had addresses for, asking for donations, that we would be tax deductible, to get this film going. And I did something that I don’t like being done to me; we suggested an amount...it would be nice if they donated $100 to get it started. So, we were able to start the film fund.

I also put a sign by our post office box, out in front [of the Koch Mineral King cabin] that said, “Save Mineral King,” and I had a petition that people could sign, and I think we had a coffee can where they could put donations, and we had bumper stickers there. It was quite successful.

One morning, I looked out and there was a ranger dismantling my whole display. It was attached to our mailbox, to the post. He had a pickup truck, and was putting stuff in his truck, and I went up to him and asked, “Could I have the petitions?” and he wouldn’t look me in the eye. He said, “You have to talk to the District Ranger.”

He took everything away. He took it down to Porterville. I tried to call the Sierra Club headquarters from the public telephone near the store, but wasn't able to get through. I tried a number of calls and wasn't successful. A friend went up there with me, and stayed in the car. One evening, he said, "you know, there was a guy behind that tree who was listening." It got real crazy.

A week or so later, I got a letter from the Forest Service about this situation saying that on or about my property at Mineral King they had taken this material and I could have it back if I sent them a letter, something to that effect. So I did, requesting the material, and they sent it all back, but said that I was not to do anything else like that again.

Right about that time, we had a personal friend who got elected to Congress—Jerry Waldie. When he got elected to Congress, he was just wonderful, if we had any disputes with the Forest Service, like for instance after they confiscated my materials.

When the film was finished, we had a premier showing at USC. We had a really nice dinner at the Town & Gown right on the campus. Jerry Waldie came and spoke after the dinner, and I remember Douglas Leese the Forest Service ranger, came and I don't remember who all else. We filled the Boulevard Auditorium for the premier showing of the film. It was terrific, so good, everybody responded so much. They showed it a second time that night, and Jerry Waldie gave a talk at that showing.

I think that the Mineral King film was really one of the effective things in saving Mineral King. We got invitations to present that film, at Sierra Club meetings. I have a letter here from the Orange County Pediatric Society. Dick [Koch] had presented the film there. Every time we made a presentation of the film, we had a place for people to sign up to get our newsletter, and they could order T-shirts and bumper stickers, and they could get information about writing letters of support. I know I spent a lot of time going to meetings.

[In 1978, the plans for development of a major resort were stopped with the annexation of Mineral King into the National Park Service. Copies of the video taped movie will be available at the Three Rivers Museum Mineral King Room in August 2016]

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www.MineralKing.org - Last updated June 20, 2016 - Questions or Comments?