For fear that you might get tired of hearing me ramble on about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I have invited a good, good friend of mine to give her thoughts about the Oz phenomenon. Abby and I have known each other for 20+ years, worked at a library together, graduated high school together and now live just 20 minutes away from each other. She is very dear to my heart and I am so excited for you, my readers, to have the chance to hear from her.
“There’s no place like home.” Unless you have lived under a rock since 1900, you know exactly what I am referring to. Images of terrifying flying monkeys, glimmering red slippers (or silver), a glorious green city, and meek Dorothy Gale might pop into your mind. For those who have seen the movie or read the book, most have some kind of emotional connection to the tale.
As a child, I loved the movie, but the book allowed me to create my own images. I remember wanting so badly to have the kind of adventure that young Dorothy went on, all to come back home safe and sound. She was a courageous protagonist, but still simply a young girl. I was shocked when I first saw the movie and noticed that the silver slippers were a shocking color of red!
When The Literary Wife asked me to write a bit about “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, I wasn’t sure what specific part I needed to focus on: the 1939 movie, the book, the memorabilia, the myths, the munchkins, the crazed fans, the author, the fan fiction? As a reading teacher, I wanted to focus solely on the book, but decided to describe the impact of the 1900 novel.
I had the opportunity to work at a museum in my hometown that focuses on one hundred years of Oz. Although I worked there for only a year while in college, I gained a ton of knowledge and met even more interesting people. I was already familiar with the tale because my mother was the curator at this museum for five years. I had no idea what it really meant to so many visitors.
I can’t count how many times I saw someone start sobbing as soon as they walked through the doors of the museum. People would drive across the country just to walk through the museum and then claim it was the best moment of their entire life. I have met many women whose names were Dorothy and many dogs named Toto. I have seen numerous Oz related tattoos that people would proudly show. I have seen men, women, children, and dogs dress up as the characters. I have held people back from rushing the living munchkins from the 1939 movie, L. Frank Baum’s grandsons, Judy Garland’s son, or prominent Oz collectors. The amount of books related to Oz is astounding. From Pink Floyd, to Michael Jackson, to Kristin Chenoweth, you can easily relate the Wizard of Oz to many of great entertainers of our time in some way. I have heard hundreds of stories about what the story means to people. You would be surprised how many adults are still scared of the flying monkeys to this day! The impact that the original book has had on the world is absolutely amazing and speaks volumes of the timelessness of the tale.
I would encourage you to go back and read the original 1900 tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Get lost and allow yourself to remember how you first felt when you initially heard the true American fairytale.