More and more I find the Olden Days interesting to me. I like the comfort of childhood I guess. Then again, maybe age causes confusion about just what year I am in, especially if former years were memory makers and I would rather be there on a given day. I was standing in line at Wal-Mart when I noticed a LIFE cover. LIFE?
LIFE and LOOK magazines were eye-fetching magazines when I was in fifth grade and I was searching their pages for current events articles for class. Another look at this LIFE showed it was not the magazine I remembered but one of those collector editions now being put out. Ah, furthermore this whole issue was devoted to the movie The Wizard of Oz and saluting its 75th birthday. You kidding me? Wow, a cornerstone in my Kansas life! The magazine jumped into my shopping cart (what publishers and Wal-Mart alike hope for at the checkout) and I toted it home for a visit to 1956 by way of 1939.
I first became acquainted with Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz when my mother read me a chapter a day at nap time each afternoon. I loved the story. My mother had seen the movie in 1939 when it was released and she was ten years old. I was a little younger than ten when the movie first played in homes on the televisions. That night my dad went to bed due to work the next day, and my sister was down because she was only three years old.
It was a rare occasion: time for just Mom and me in the dark, late night. Oh, I loved the story all over again with a little bit of fear (tornados), happiness (songs along the way), dogs (Toto) and friends (a scarecrow, tin man, and lion). We followed the Yellow Brick Road all the way to intermission sharing the sofa and being real quiet in the small bungalow where the rest of the family slept. At intermission we went to the kitchen and got glasses of milk and saltines. (I love saltines to this day.) Then the show began again, this time with flying monkeys and melting witches! I have believed in the power of ruby slippers ever since that night.
The LIFE issue is full of pictures and tidbits about this famous movie like how many of the stars were second choices. Did you know they wanted Shirley Temple to play Dorothy? But it was Judy Garland that put Somewhere Over the Rainbow on the big hit list. And Buddy Ebsen was first choice for the Scarecrow…then he moved to the Tin Man but was allergic to the aluminum dust necessary to play the part. He ended up in the hospital and went on to become the character of Jed Clampit instead.
How wonderful it must be to be a writer and to generate a story that holds both children and adults in hearts for years. To have created flying monkeys that are still in our lingo today...or lines that threaten with few words like “I’ll get you my little pretty!”
The year 1939 was great for movies and many were made from books: Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Of Mice and Men, Wuthering Heights, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Stagecoach, and more. I have watched many of these originals or the remakes in my lifetime. The power of a good story lives forever…and often takes me ‘home’ with the turn of a page and a click of my heels.