NPR logo A Trip Down the Yellow Brick Road

A Trip Down the Yellow Brick Road

Theo Balcomb, age 4. family photo hide caption

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The Wizard of Oz is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. My parents tell me it was the first movie I ever saw, though I don't remember actually seeing it for the first time. Somehow, it seems to have always been part of my consciousness. It's not surprising. It completely overloaded my senses. The first scenes of the swirling tornado, the wooden doors banging and the hay bales rolling. The shock of Oz with scads of smiling, shiny people, brilliant yellows and greens, a falling shingled house and striped stockings. When it felt like it was all too much to handle, there was the soothing voice of Glinda. She was the epitome of calm, cool and collected. But all that was interrupted by the overwhelming terror of the Wicked Witch of the West. She petrified me to the point that I could not go into a dark room without hearing her signature cackle or seeing her in my mind, zooming through my brain on her broom.

I identified most with Dorothy. And by identified, I mean that I thought I WAS her. The hair alone was a dead giveaway. But then I had the ruby slippers, the ribbons and the light blue ankle socks. I also had something extra special. I had my own blue gingham dress. My mom made it for me for Halloween, really made it, stitched it carefully and perfectly. Then I got my braids and my basket and I was ready to go.

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This weekend, we'll interview the president of the International Wizard of Oz Club. We'll even hear from one of the actors who played a Munchkin in the film. He's 94. In preparation, I'm curious about what you all remember about the movie. I know I'm not alone in my desire, every now and then, to slip into my ruby shoes and skip down the yellow brick road. What are your memories of watching the film? Let us know what you remember about the merry old Land of Oz.

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