As far back as I can remember, I have loved Oz. The colors, the songs, Toto. I probably wore through several VHS tapes and put our DVD through its paces as a kid. I still remember the Tide commercial that was at the beginning of our VHS where kids were making costumes out of towels and whatnot (something I always wanted to try).
I know I only would wear shoes with red in them for a long time and was so excited when I got a pair of red low-top Converse – my own interpretation of the ruby slippers.
But when I FINALLY got a pair of sparkled knock-offs from Target? That was it. The end. I had died and gone over the rainbow. I wanted to wear those shoes all the time. I still have them, in fact, tucked away in my closet. Their sparkles have fallen off, but their luster to me remains.
My parents eloped in 1948 and went into the city (Cincinnati, OH) for the weekend as a honeymoon. They saw the Wizard of OZ live on stage for their first night as man and wife. My husband heard this story from my brother-in-law some time before we began dating. On our first official date, my now-husband took me to see the Wizard of Oz live on stage nearly fifty years later!
Now our children love it and we all watch it together!
My favorite memory is on March 30, 1984. The night before my wedding I was with my family and we were channel surfing after the rehearsal dinner. My wedding day was my grandfather’s birthday. What we did not know at the time was within 3 months my Pop, as I called him, would be dead from undiagnosed stomach and liver cancer. While channel surfing, we found The Wizard of Oz playing. Pop sat with not just me, but, his other 3 grandchildren and his 2 daughters and sons-in-law and we watched it again while sharing birthday cake.
Since I had watched with my Pop the first time I ever saw the movie, it makes that memory of his final viewing of it that much more special for me.
I began to really enjoy and reflect upon The Wizard of Oz movie as I matured in age. I am now almost 61 years old and I have been exploring my own inner journey, with the help of Dorothy, down the Yellow Brick Road for many years.
My fondest memory was watching The Wizard of Oz with my elderly mother each Thanksgiving during the last 5 years of her life. We cared for her until she was 83 and then we found an appropriate retirement center that could help my mom and our family. Every family celebration and holiday we would pick my mom up and take her home. (There’s no place like home) She looked forward to our weekly visits but especially the family gatherings. She loved movies and next to My Fair Lady, The Wizard of Oz was her favorite. I would prepare the popcorn, dessert, and serve a little beer. Yes, my mom liked beer with her popcorn. My dear mom was a very classy, artistic lady and she loved the color, style, and Hollywood dramatic flare in The Wizard of Oz. I can not forget, she loved Toto, too.
Even though the Great Wizard returned for my mom, Svea, in 2005, I have continued to travel along my Yellow Brick Road.
I remember waiting and waiting all year long for the annual airing of The Wizard of Oz on CBS. It could never arrive soon enough. The week before that wondrous night I’d dive into the TV Guide and absorb everything Oz it included. It has always been my favorite movie. To this day, if ever I’m asked what movie is my favorite, my answer is ‘The Wizard of Oz’. It always will be.
Though I’ve seen the film many times on TV and DVD, my absolute favorite time was viewing it on a projector screen. It wasn’t the best quality or sound. In fact, there was much to be desired since the picture was quite grainy and the audio sounded as if it were emanating from a tin can. But, nonetheless, it is my favorite.
It was March of 2009. The movie was shown in a small conference room at a hotel in Orange Park, FL. I’d guess about 30 people were present. Included in the ticket price was a bag of popcorn, a drink, and a candy bar. As I sat on the second row, I remembered those many times I had watched The Wizard of Oz as a child. It was actually hard to believe where I was because sitting directly in front of me on the first row were three legends – Three actors I had watched over and over and over again in Munchkinland. Margaret Pellegrini, Karl Slover, and Jerry Maren. The Flower Pot Hat Lady, The First Trumpeter, and The Lollipop Kid.
There they were! It was such an unbelievable treat to watch the scenes of Munchkinland with the actual actors sitting literally right there in front of me! I was able to hear them talk among themselves as they made comments about who they knew and saw on the screen. Of course, whenever any of the actors were seen on screen the audience cheered and clapped, generating laughter and giggles from these three movie legends!
It’s not often one gets to watch a movie with actors who were in it. And it’s extremely rare that one gets to do so with their favorite movie. But it happened to me, and it’s a very special memory that I will take with me forever and one day over the rainbow.