Wamego # 52
June 12, 2015 IT’S GOING TO BE SO HARD TO SAY “GOOD-BYE”….
[Above: An illustration by the incomparable John R. Neill for THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ by L. Frank Baum (1910). This was the author’s sixth Oz book, and had Baum had his way, it would have been the finale of the series. Despite a vast readership and decade-long, ever-increasing mania for his tales about Dorothy and her companions, he longed to write other, non-Oz fantasies for children; given the Baum imagination, he even found an ingenious way to achieve that goal. He concluded the narrative of THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ with an episode in which the entire marvelous land was “cut off” from communication with the rest of the world through a protective magical spell cast by Glinda the Good. As a consequence, the “Royal Historian” had no means of hearing – and then sharing -- the latest Oz news. Neill’s art reflects both the accomplishment of the Great Sorceress and the “inability” of Baum to write further Oz lore, as The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman bid a sorrowful adieu to their rabid fans on the first page of the Oz book for 1910.]
“Now it’s time
“To say good-bye
“To all our company….”
Some of the pop culture veterans (or revelers!) who read here will recognize that brief lyrical quotation; it’s lifted from the closing song performed daily by “The Mouseketeers” on episodes of the 1950s television delight, THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. The program itself sprang from the prodigious imagination and production forces of Walt Disney, who was -- in his own way -- the L. Frank Baum of his day.
The words were written by cast member Jimmie Dodd and seem a likely segue into today’s blog: this entry concludes the year-long weekly series requested of me by The OZ Museum of Wamego, Kansas, and its concerns. I can only speak for myself on such an occasion, but what a wonderful (wonderful, wonderful) journey it’s been. This is the first time I’ve ever been asked for such a sequence of reminiscences, and the resultant combination of “hoztory,” research, and remembrance has made for a happy -- if admittedly rambling and oftentimes heavily personal – journalistic compilation.
I want to thank everyone in Wamego and the environs who have worked with me across these past twelve months: Imagemakers, Inc., for their set-up of the site in general and the specific blog itself, and Madi Holmes and Alyssa Smith, who posted the material and photos – no matter how much in advance of (or after) the deadline the text and art reached them! I should add that the first seventeen submissions were illustrated “in house”; it wasn’t until we got into the swing of things (and I learned to use a scanner…) that I was able to contribute on a pictorial level. So I also appreciated the artful glamour with which those in charge topped off the verbiage across last June, July, August, September, and into October.
My special gratitude goes to Clint Stueve, Executive Director of The Columbian Theatre Foundation, Inc., The Columbian Theatre/OZ Museum, and all-around Ozian honcho. It was he who first approached me with the suggestion for these writings – and encouraged and permitted me to prepare and offer whatever I liked. Although I can’t judge his composure and equanimity from half a continent away, he has even maintained silence in face of that fact that I (almost immediately and somehow) trampled into the dust his original counsel that each blog need only be a few hundred words in length.
Seriously, however! My sincere hat-doff and huzzah to Clint & Company for their acceptance and enthusiasm; to The OZ Museum staff and volunteers, who have ceaselessly championed me across these years of our general acquaintance; and – especially – to any and all who might have given their time to (as noted above) “read here.” Those who have privately commented or responded over the fifty-one prior installments have personified grace about (and mutual enthusiasm for) the various Ozzy topics – and as the sharing of all this is paramount to me, such reactions are a matter of very gratified, if quiet, jubilation here.
If you’ve perused the caption for the illustration at the top of today’s essay, you’ll both comprehend that selection of art and know a little bit more about the history of the Oz series itself. To further expand upon the events of 1910 and beyond, it’s important – and very nice! – to note that Baum did, of course, return to Oz, even after Glinda’s powers of sorcery made that seemingly impossible. The author’s non-Oz novels in 1911 and 1912 were fine, fantastic tales, but the loyalty and love of children for the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, et al, amounted to an insurmountable popularity. As a result, Baum’s new books didn’t sell as did the old, and the scribe was once again propelled “over the rainbow” in 1913. It was plain common sense and necessity, predicated by the basic needs of the Baum family household, plus his very real 1911 bankruptcy after a praised and innovative theatrical project drained his exchequer. He thereafter published a new Oz book every year through 1920; the final and fourteenth Baum title, GLINDA OF OZ, appeared posthumously in 1920.
Fervent Ozzies are aware, of course, that the official Oz series continued through twenty-six more titles and seven more authors by 1963. Further detail about those authors may well be forthcoming, for -- like Baum -- I’ve been a MOST willing recipient of an invitation to continue to write here about Oz. So it seems probable that there are future blogs to come, with an approach and starting date to be determined. Those interested are asked to please watch this space and the Oz Museum’s Facebook page for formal announcements about the launch and format of a “reappearance.”
And -- even better! – be on the lookout for the soon-to-be-proclaimed details of this year’s OZTOBERFEST!, in which ALL are invited to convene in Wamego on September 25th and 26th. It’s going to be an especially exciting festival this year, although all I can say right now is that those involved have been (for months!) “sitting on” the news of some AMAZING ACQUISITIONS made by The OZ Museum for its collection. These new additions to their prodigious archive will be unveiled and presented to the public for the first time during OZTOBERFEST!
a) Keep an eye out for the heralding!
b) Make your plans now to trundle to Kansas for September’s magic!
c) Join me (please!) in my gratitude to those who have made these writings possible, accessible, and colorful.
And d) thank you, thank you, thank you to one and all who have joined this fellow “Lover of Oz” at any point in a fifty-two week excursion to THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ. Such memory trips have been a privilege and honor…and I’ll never forget the treat.
God bless you!
Article by John Fricke