The Wonderful World of Oz!
# 1 -- A Lover of Oz
Where does one begin when talking about and sharing a subject that has emotionally elevated, entertained, enlivened, and enriched hundreds of millions – or perhaps billions -- of lives across one hundred and fourteen years?
Oz and its many incarnations are topics about which I've been writing since I was a preteen. Somewhere in a filing cabinet or box at home, there's a two-page essay – rapturously titled "Onward With Oz!" -- that I’d painstakingly pounded out on my green (!) Smith-Corona portable typewriter when I was about eleven years old. (I'd sold an elaborate electric train set to help pay for that typewriter just a few months earlier.)
Around the same time, I also excitedly discovered and joined The International Wizard of Oz Club and began a subscription to its The Baum Bugle – a membership and readership that continue uninterrupted to this day. Within my first few months in the Club, and at the request and under the guidance of its secretary Fred Meyer, I was able to “write up” and contribute an item to the periodical's "Oz in the News" column by briefly describing a two-page picture spread in the April 10, 1962, issue of Look magazine. The art showed the reactions of a little girl, photographed the preceding December by her father as she watched for the first time the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, The Wizard of Oz, which was then more-or-less at the onset of its unprecedented career as an annual, national television event.
The details I submitted about the Look feature comprised my very first “published” Oz writing, and I was beyond happy and proud to be credited for them in the Bugle. As Fred sagely observed, “Now everyone will know that you are an Ozmopolitan!”
At age eleven – and, in my world, ever since – that’s what’s known as pretty hot stuff!
The Look feature was headlined "A Lover of Oz" – four words which will describe anyone reading this blog as well as the grateful journalist who’s been given the opportunity to contribute it to the Wamego Oz Museum website. In truth, and despite all the Ozzy journalism I’ve done over the past six decades, this kind of writing is something new for me. I hope to cover a lot of topics, share a lot of memories, and strike some diverse emotions among any interested enough to check in on a weekly basis. (The plan is to post a new mini-essay every Friday for the next year.) If you have Oz-fan friends, please invite them to “come along” as well. I can guarantee that we’ll be celebrating everything we can about that undeniably magical country -- and the characters, stories, songs, and sentiments so dear to those fortunate enough to have fallen under its extraordinary, pervasive, and wondrous spell.
My heartfelt appreciation to Clint Stueve of the Oz Museum for this opportunity to “meet” with all of you here. And many thanks for reading.
John Fricke is an Emmy Award-winning and Grammy-nominated producer and journalist. He has written four books about Oz and three about Judy Garland, M-G-M’s unforgettable “Dorothy Gale”; his newest is The Wonderful World of Oz (Down East Books, 2013). John returns to Wamego to emcee and offer Oz programming at the annual Oztoberfest, September 26-28, 2014.
Article by John Fricke