Wamego #13


Sept 12, 2014    “JP”…AND HIS FAMILY OF OZ


Last week’s blog discussed some of the highlights of OZTOBERFEST 2014, which opens two weeks from tonight at The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. (Or, in other words: Synchronize your watches, dust off those ruby slippers, dry-clean the blue-and-white-checked gingham, pack up the luggage, and prepare to take to the road!)

And to just once more “hammerhead” home (see THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, chapter twenty-two…) the awaiting joy and enchantment, you’ll find a brief recap below that details the special proceedings of the weekend of Friday and Saturday, September 26th and 27th  -- and Sunday, September 28th, too!  Anybody in attendance who loves any aspect of L. Frank Baum’s original “magic kingdom” will find themselves steeped in “hoztory,” both past and modern-day, as this year’s OZTOBERFEST programming celebrates (among other events):

  • the 75th anniversary of the legendary 1939 M-G-M WIZARD OF OZ film;
  • Garland, Bolger, Hamilton – M-G-M’s unforgettable “Dorothy,” “Scarecrow,” and “Wicked Witch”;
  • the recent animated feature, LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN;
  • the latest, noteworthy Oz fiction in print; and
  • the apparently boundless glee of “collecting Oz”!

Best of all, the central OZTOBERFEST activities take place in the world’s first Oz Museum, which envelops visitors in literally thousands of extraordinary collectibles. A stroll through this amazing showcase enables everyone to trace Oz from its very beginnings -- one-hundred-and-fourteen-years ago! It’s a splashily-colorful time capsule of classic pop culture in terms of literary, illustrative, creative, manufacturing, and marketing accomplishment…for all ages. And while the Museum’s assets are on view year-round, such sights can be seen to no better advantage that they can during OZTOBERFEST.


That the Wamego edifice boasts so much astounding material largely is due to the generosity of one man. He – and members of his family before him – blithely fall into a happy category alternately (and affectionately) described as “Ozians,” Ozmopolitans,” “Ozoids,” or “Oz maniacs.” Thus, as one of this year’s exceptional programs, the Oz Museum proudly presents an opportunity to meet that man and hear about his own personal and professional Yellow Brick Roads. JOHNPAUL CAFIERO AND HIS “FAMILY OF OZ” will be offered on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., when “JP” -- a much-lauded, much-loved Franciscan Priest -- remembers his family's all-embracing passion for Oz, and the heartfelt emotion that led him to share their archive with Wamego. After more than fifty years of effort, the collection has grown to some twenty-five thousand pieces. Most of these are now onsite and are rotated in and out of the Oz Museum on a regular basis, thus enabling attendees to return again and again to see different Ozzy components.


JP’s history beyond Oz is as fraught with event and accomplishment as anyone could possibly imagine -- a statement borne out by details from his official website biography. A Franciscan Priest of the Sacred Heart Province of Chicago/St. Louis, Johnpaul Cafiero, OFM, was born and raised in the New York City metropolitan area. He is the oldest child of an Italian/Polish Catholic family and a former police officer who has worked as both counselor and chaplain at Chicago’s Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. During his assignment there, he counseled gang members and their families while simultaneously aligned with the gang-crimes unit of the Chicago Police Department. Coming from an alcoholic family himself, Friar Johnpaul has worked extensively with Adult Children of Alcoholics, both in private therapy and in twelve-step programs. This mission additionally brought him to minister, both in counseling and therapeutic massage, to survivors of physical and sexual abuse. A follower of St. Francis of Assisi, Friar Johnpaul's love of the poor and the outcast only is surpassed by his love of scripture, manifested through many international speaking and preaching engagements. He is the former assistant vocation director for his Franciscan order and former vice president of spiritual life and pastoral counseling at Hales Franciscan High School on Chicago’s south side; he now serves on their board of trustees. Currently, he is a pastoral associate and preacher at Holy Family Parish in Inverness, and chaplain for both AGLO (Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach) at Chicago’s Mount Carmel Church and for the Illinois State Police -- District 15, PSU (Protective Service Unit) & District Chicago.  


JP’s presentation is sure to be of interest to anyone who has ever collected anything – or to anyone who has ever followed a passion of the heart. His lecture on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. is one of five Ozzy events that day, free to all who purchase admission to the Oz Museum during OZTOBERFEST weekend. The remainder of Saturday’s schedule includes:


10:30 a.m.   Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return – Visitors will thrill to exclusive footage of the premiere of this spring's sparkling animated feature film, captured by nationally syndicated radio commentator and NBC affiliate TV critic Ryan Jay (RyanJayReviews.com). His coverage includes interviews with the movie’s stars, including Lea Michele, Martin Short, and James Belushi, and will be presented in Wamego by Oz/Judy Garland historian and best-selling author John Fricke. (And be sure to get your copy of LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN itself, newly available on DVD with fabulous extras.)


12 noon   Being a Modern Day OZ Author -- Paul Miles Schneider discusses his highly-acclaimed new novels, SILVER SHOES and THE POWDER OF LIFE, in which a Midwestern sixth grader and his friends discover the alchemy and reality of Oz in the twentieth-first century. Schneider’s superlative books deliver a potent mixture of adventure, drama, humor, and fantasy for all readers.


1:30 p.m.  Johnpaul Cafiero and His "Family of Oz" – See above.


3 p.m.   "The Wicked Witch of the West: Friend and Pen-Pal" -- Paul Miles Schneider happily recounts his meeting as a boy with Margaret Hamilton (M-G-M's legendary "Wicked Witch of the West"), as well as their subsequent year of correspondence. Those who saw Paul's talk at a past OZTOBERFEST will thrill to this newly-expanded version, including rare video of Hamilton herself.


4:30 p.m.   M-G-M's The Wizard of Oz: The World's Best-Known and Best-Loved Motion Picture! -- Celebrate the film’s 75th anniversary as Emmy Award-winning producer John Fricke shares exultant anecdotes about its legacy. He’ll talk about his teenage experience of seeing Judy Garland in concert – and meeting her after one of the performances. There will also be delightful footage of "Dorothy" and "The Scarecrow," singing, dancing, and reminiscing about the film itself, twenty-five years after the fact, as Ray Bolger appears in excerpts from a 1963 episode of THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW (1963).


[IMPORTANT SCHEDULING NOTE:  Paul Miles Schneider’s The Wicked Witch of the West: Friend and Pen-Pal will be repeated on Sunday, September 28th at 11:30 a.m., and John Fricke’s M-G-M's The Wizard of Oz: The World's Best-Known and Best-Loved Motion Picture! will be repeated on Sunday, September 28th at 12:30 p.m.  Depending on museum attendance that day, there may also be an informal question-and-answer session with Schneider, Cafiero, and Fricke at a time to be determined.]


And, finally, don’t miss the exciting “launch” of OZTOBERFEST 2014 on Friday, September 26th at 7 p.m. – the one-time-only benefit event, “A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.” Details are easily accessible on the Oz Museum website or on Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/ozmuseum?ref_type=bookmark   Suffice it to say here that guests on that occasion will see the costumed Oz characters come to life in the halls of the Museum itself. They will enjoy major hors d’oeuvres and drinks -- and the opportunity to privately view the Museum’s holdings. At 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., local pianist Kally McConkey and I will salute the M-G-M movie’s stars with a five-song mini-concert of show tunes they introduced in other vehicles. (It is suggested that you make your reservations for Friday night now, as attendance is limited.)


So, come one, come all – and all aboard for OZTOBERFEST 2014!  And be sure to stop by and say hello; I’ve been way into hanging out with other Oz fans since I was a preteen!



Article by John Fricke


OZ Museum
511 Lincoln
Wamego, Kansas 66547

Toll Free: (866) 458-TOTO (8686)
Local: (785) 458-8686
Email: info@ozmuseum.com

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