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‘Cat in the Stacks: Chimney Stacks Edition

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I’m William Repetto, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is the “‘Cat in the Stacks” column. I’m your ‘cat. I’ll be posting about college life, about learning and growing here at Villanova, and, of course, about the Falvey Memorial Library’s role.

“In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun.”
Mary Poppins (1964)

A close friend of mine turned 52-years-old this past weekend, her name: Mary Poppins. The character herself dates back to a series of books written by P.L. Travers during the 1930s, but I’m speaking here, of course, about Julie Andrews’ rendition of the character in the 1964 Disney epic. While writing this blog post most certainly did not involve inviting my other ’cat friends over to the library for a viewing party, which also did not involve copious amounts of ice cream or pajamas, I do understand that some readers may need a refresher.

Mary Poppins takes place in early 20th-century Britain. The titular character herself descends from the clouds when the Banks children, Jane and Michael, wish for a nanny with a cheerful disposition. As the film goes on, the audience comes to understand that the children’s father, George Banks, has unreasonable expectations of punctuality and propriety due to his monotonous job at the Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Feduciary Bank. While George Banks mistreats both his children and his staff of maids, his wife, Winifred Banks, is easily distracted and spends time marching for women’s suffrage.

Penguins Gif

(Meanwhile, the children have some adventures of their own – credit:

In the end, the children cause a bank rush at their father’s bank, and he loses his job, but in losing his job, George realizes the value of his support system at home and of the admiration of his children. When he finally realizes his own faults as a father and a person, he begins to understand the meaning of Poppins’ most recognizable phrase: “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

The very beauty of this closing sequence underscores why the film remains popular today and why it is important to talk about here in this blog. You see, as a college students or as a young professional, one easily forgets about the importance of his/her supporting staff. With classes, and clubs, and internships, and activities on our mind, we sometimes even forget that a whole cast of people happily admire our own accomplishments and wish for nothing more than our continued success.

Those who support us are often those who have found considerable success in their lives as well. Note very well that the main characters of Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins and Bert, work jobs that are typically seen as background roles: a nanny and a chimney sweep – no mistake that they’re portrayed by the most recognizable actors on the cast: Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Even those actors themselves recognized the importance of their supporting cast. A picture below shows them spending time with the Sherman Brothers, songwriters for Mary Poppins who would go on to write score for The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Aristocats and even The Tigger Movie.

Actors and Writers

(Photo Credit: Disney; Accessed at

College students and most young professionals certainly do not have nannies, maids or songwriters as supporting staffs, but we do have two forms of support that sometimes go unnoticed. First and foremost is family; in my own years as an undergraduate, I know that the bustle of everyday college existence often chimney-swept me far away from the obligations of family. While their résumés may not be as impressive at the Sherman Brothers, families know our needs and personalities the best and are certainly the most excited to help out.

Another supporting cast that many of you wildcats may not know about is the team of experienced librarians who wait here in the Falvey to help you on your way to completing your next term paper, to nailing that next interview, or perhaps to finishing your research for your big thesis/dissertation. We have librarians dedicated to the humanities, to nursing, to business, and even to theology and philosophy. (Okay, so our curriculum vitae may actually be just as impressive as the Sherman Brothers.)

In a world that tells us that it’s every one for him or herself, the truth is that support systems surround us every day. Call home to check in and you won’t hang up without a pep talk. Stop in the Falvey, and leave with all the resources our brilliant librarians can muster. Don’t be a George Banks who walks around certain of his own ability to complete each task using only his own acumen. Reach out for some help, you might just find that it’s, well ­– supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.


Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

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Last Modified: August 31, 2016

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