Bill Emmons started his employment at the Disney Studio in the summer of 1940 as a trainee/traffic boy. It was the bottom rung of the studio hierarchy, but to get even that far required a certain level of skill and talent. Someone at the studio must have spotted the promise of the nineteen-year-old Emmons, who was barely a year out of high school at the time. His daughter Charlene Craig remembers that her father had done some art training at the Chouinard Art School, which may be how my father’s name came to WDP’s attention.
Bill Emmons worked hard during those few months, but the studio was competitive and he did not make the cut. The studio let him go in the fall of 1940, citing that he needed more art training and drawing experience. Though his family knew that he had worked at Disney, Emmons rarely discussed the experience while he was still alive. Looking through her father’s files, his daughter recently discovered a stash of Disney keepsakes that he kept from his time at the studio.
Bill Emmons saved many mementos from his time at Disney, including a letter from the studio expressing interest to hire him signed by Disney exec Vernon Caldwell, several of his Disney pay stubs, and an original menu from the studio Animation Coffee Shop. Among the most fascinating artifacts left behind in Emmons’ files is a letter that he wrote in September 1940 to his sister Doris, who was living in Manila, Philippines with her submarine officer husband, John.