“On the Good Ship Lollipop” and “Animal Crackers in My Soup” were the big hits. I had her albums and would play them over and over again. My grandfather recorded me as a 3-year-old singing these songs, forgetting the lyrics here and there, but still powering through. I didn’t see any of her movies until I was much older — she was a golden girl with the voice that inspired me to sing regardless of my lack of tone or pitch. The positivity, confidence and joy that came through in her performances lit a spark in me as a toddler. Perhaps I felt her youth and it made me feel like I could do anything.
As I got older and followed her diplomatic career, she just kept on inspiring me. While I was not yet attuned to oddity of a celebrity becoming an ambassador, it seemed only to be a natural choice for some who would best represent America and be a constructive force for change. I even used to order Shirley Temples at bars when I was the designated driver for the evening. Man, those drinks were sweet! I guess meant to reflect her sweetness and innocence. Having been a child star, she must have seen and been through a great deal. I haven’t investigated, because I need to keep that ideal memory safe.