There was never a moment in my life I wasn’t aware of the story of Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz. In that quiet time when the evening becomes a silvery twilight, and I was very very young, my Mother would read to me. It was the children’s hour. And this book. This fairy tale of witches and wizard. This story of a brave girl and her trio of unlikely saviours became an integral part of both my childhood and my adult years.
My own copy of the book, The Wizard of Oz, was long lost. For many years I searched for it. I few weeks ago I discovered a copy of the book waiting patiently for me on a Thrift Shop shelf. Not just any book but but one published in l931. The book cover was a little worn. The edges of the pages a little foxed. But the coloured illustrations are as bright and vivid as I remembered them.
The movie The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939. Up until that time our Saturday afternoons movies (generally Westerns) were in black and white. To sit and watch the Oz movie turn from black and white to magical, brilliant colour was an experience I will never forget. I really was in the land of Oz. And all those years later Oz is still very much a part of me.
Nine years old and I would settle for nothing but red shoes. I was obsessed with the ruby slippers Dorothy wore in the movie. In the 1940’s children’s shoes were special occasion black patent Mary- Jane’s or brown leather lace ups for school. There was very little choice in small town in Northern Saskatchewan. I found red leather shoes in our only department store – Eaton’s. Unfortunately a size to large. I was desperate for them. My obliging Father had a shoemaker sew a strap on so I wouldn’t walk out of my beautiful red shoes.
I still love red shoes ; loafers, sandals, pumps,high heels, court heels, shoes with red beads, with gold buckles, with velvet bows. All a version of those famous ruby slippers
Then there was the Siamese cat. In the last scene of the Wizard movie Dorothy holds a Siamese cat. I wanted a cat with blue eyes . That exotic breed did not exist in our northern town. Twenty years later my first Siamese purred his way into my heart. In the years that followed there was always one or two of these elegant creatures ruling my home.
Dorothy’s journey to the Great Oz takes her through a dangerous but glorious field of fiery red poppies. The image remained with me through the years until finally I was able to grew my own field of poppies in our home in the country.
Finding one’s heart desire is not the easiest of tasks. Finding a Wizard who can grant it is even harder. L. Frank Baum wrote fairy tales that were also very much parables. In these modern times it appears we need them more than ever.
“Home – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all. And – oh Auntie Emm, There’s no place like home.”
Indeed. There is no place like home.