Wamego # 19
Oct 17, 2014 If Ever, Oh EVER, a Club There WOZ! -- Part Three
[Note: Last month’s OZTOBERFEST in Wamego, Kansas, once again underscored the fact that Oz fans are – and have -- ever more fun when gathered and banded together. With that in mind, the two most recent blogs in this series launched a memoir that attempts to commemorate and revere the long-time, extraordinary, and very best meeting place for “all-those-Oz.” Or, to put it less obliquely, we’re currently in the midst of a pure-and-simple written celebration of The International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc., discussing both its history and my own as a member since I was eleven years old. For those who believe “it’s always best to start at the beginning,” please see the preliminary installments for October 10th and 17th. For those for whom chronology doesn’t count, just jump right into the finale below! Meanwhile, anyone anywhere who finds a happy haven on the Yellow Brick Road is encouraged to become an Oz Club colleague, and I refer you to the conclusion of this account for additional information.]
Before I began these entries about The International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc. and our thus-far fifty-two year association, I outlined a number of points about the organization and my “memories of membership” that I hoped to address. If you’ve read parts one and two of this journalese, you’ll realize it’s already taken something like three thousand words to detail only the first six years of the Club’s existence (1957-1963) – and the first eleven months of my involvement.
To cover all the remaining points would involve weeks of surplus rambling, as well as a bit more personal focus than I think should be endured by readers (especially after the past two segments). I also have another topic and anniversary to commemorate in next Friday’s “chapter.” So I’m now going to merely summarize -- as simply as possible -- a raft of additional, emotionally-resonant Club occasions. Perhaps they and others can be expanded upon later in the lifetime of this blog.
For now, however….
This seems as good a place (and as ongoing an admission) as any to curtail these remembrances – even in summation as opposed to detail. For the record, though, there has followed a pretty much limitless range of other Oz Club-related highlights in my subsequent forty-five year history with the organization: stints as a member of the Board of Directors, as Vice-President, as President, and as editor-in-chief of THE BAUM BUGLE; participation in countless auxiliary conventions on the East and West Coasts, as well as in the ongoing Midwestern conclaves (at which I’ve spoken, sung concerts, prepared and/or participated in radio show and stage musical recreations, etc.); and the establishment of many individual friendships and the memories thereof.
The supreme, ongoing, and ceaseless delight remains in the by-mail receipt – three times annually! – of THE BAUM BUGLE.
Across these decades, The Club itself has hit new peaks of its own, topping out -- at best -- at nearly three thousand renewal members. They have sponsored publications of new sequels to the Oz series; original Russian Oz stories in translation; bibliographic histories; Oz maps; and reprints of rare Baumiana in book form. Club honchos and scribes have enjoyed commercial distribution of such wonderful volumes (among many others) as THE OZ SCRAPBOOK, THE ANNOTATED “WIZARD OF OZ,” THE BOOK COLLECTOR’S GUIDE TO L. FRANK BAUM AND OZ, QUEER VISITORS FROM THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ, and I, TOTO. Finally, the Club’s communal highlight came with THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ “Centennial Convention” in Indiana in 2000, attracting over four hundred partakers and warranting a front-page NEW YORK TIMES feature article.
As indicated above, a number of those momentous events -- and the attendant ardent recollections thereof! -- might get a further hearing in later writings. J But for now, may I just say a heartfelt acknowledgement to ALL of the Ozzy “fellow travelers,” past and present, who have informed and enlivened and enriched my life; who helped bring me up; and who taught and propelled and “privileged” me to know and associate and socialize with them.
Finally: For incomparable Ozian bonding and reading and partying and exchanging, I urge one and all who share any of these passions to head DIRECTLY to ozclub.org -- and join in the fun. (If you start right now, you’ll have at LEAST this much of your own personal hoztory to relate in the year 2066….)
Thank you for sharing these reminiscences!
Article by John Fricke