Altamont, May 22, 2014
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! All I have to do is close my eyes and I can see the monkeys flying through the air. A quick blink, and they are gone, replaced with a beautiful good witch. This collage of memories came flooding to mind when I heard a recording of the song “Somewhere over the Rainbow” from the famous movie The Wizard of Oz.
You all know that Jim, my husband, and I love to travel. We take day trips around the area with as much enthusiasm as we have on a cruise. The Wizard of Oz reminds me of a day trip Jim and I took to Chittenango, NY.
The tale of Dorothy and Toto, and that nasty old wicked witch are famous worldwide. But I am sure that you do not know that Central New York is the birth place of the “Great and Powerful” Wizard of Oz.
Just a short distance from Syracuse are green hills, and valleys, which creates quite a different picture from the gray expanse that is Dorothy’s home state of Kansas in the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This lush landscape brings to mind the forests and fields on the outskirts of the Emerald City which was the fabled metropolis of spires, and turrets through which Dorothy and her friends ventured.
Dorothy’s fictional mission to find the wizard can be your own. As the Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz movie advise, just “follow the Yellow Brick Road,” (or “the Road to Oz,” as the author wrote it), to find the man behind the myth in the appealing village of Chittenango.
L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which is one of America’s most beloved childhood stories, was born in 1856 in Chittenango. During the mid-1850s, the bustling canal town was home to more than 1,000 residents, and numerous thriving businesses that both benefited from, and supported its waterway connection. One of these enterprises was the Baum Barrel Factory, owned by Baum’s father.
Although Baum spent only the first four-and-a-half-years of his life in the village before moving to Syracuse in 1860, Chittenango is as proud of their native son as any parent would be. The town abounds with Oz paraphernalia, right down to the yellow-painted and stamped concrete sidewalk that travels along both sides of downtown’s Genesee Street.
Entering Chittenango from the west, you are greeted by the Tin Man adorning a large welcome sign. Along State Route 5 is the Land of Oz and Ends store, which travelers may pass when in town for the annual Oz-Stravaganza festival, which will celebrate its 36th year in 2014. The Oz and Ends store was-organized by and is a volunteer-run store that houses a collection of L. Frank Baum memorabilia, including his vast holdings of children’s literature.
Stepping through the doors of All Things Oz, a visitor is transported back to childhood memories of munchkins, witches, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!). Flying monkeys, a life-size cutout of Dorothy and Toto, and MGM’s film The Wizard of Oz playing on a big screen TV, all bring a touch of youthful nostalgia:
We are little again, camped out in front of the television, wearing pajamas, munching on popcorn, and trembling at the site of the Wicked Witch of the West. These were the memories that the real wizard, L. Frank Baum, wove for every child who reads his books or watches the movie.
Co-directors of the museum are Ms. Barbara Evans and Ms. Cynthia Baum Tassini. Evans, who also works at the local high school, is fond of telling her students stories, and reminding them of the profound impact that L. Frank Baum has had far beyond their village. As she likes to put it, “You don’t have to come from a big town to make a big difference.” And as L. Frank Baum of Chittenango proved, you don’t have to come from a great city to be a great wizard, either.
Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Here I go again. This line is chanted in the movie. What is the meaning of “lions and tigers and bears, oh my”? Someone said that it means the speaker is fearful of a rumored threat. There was no song accompanying this quote, though Dorothy, Tin Man, and Scarecrow chanted it rhythmically as they proceeded through the Spooky Forest.
Some songs associated with the film are: “Over The Rainbow” with Judy Garland as
Dorothy Gale; “Come Out...” Billie Burke as Glinda, and the Munchkins; “We Thank You
Very Sweetly”; “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead”; “The Lollipop Guild”; “We Welcome You
to Munchkinland” ; and of course, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”, and “You’re Off to See the
Wizard” Judy Garland as Dorothy, and the Munchkins. Others also included: “If I Only Had a
Brain”; “We’re Off to See the Wizard; “If I Only Had a Heart” “If I Only Had the Nerve” “If I
Were King of the Forest,” and “In the Merry Old Land of Oz”
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the most well-known and commercial adaptation based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The film stars Judy Garland; Terry the
dog, billed as Toto; Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke,
Margaret Hamilton, with Charley Grapewine and Clara Blandick, and the Singer Midgets as
the Munchkins, with Pat Walsh as leader of the flying monkeys. Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score, and unusual characters, over the years it has
become one of the best known of all films, and part of American pop culture. It also featured
what may be the most elaborate use of character make-ups and special effects in a film up to that time.
Technology is becoming more elaborate, and complex each day. We have multi-billion
dollar chip factories (that’s computer chip not potato chip) that are being built to manufacture larger disks to produce more chips to accommodate the increasing needs of technology. Even with all of the growth of computers, technology, and memory chips we cannot duplicate the memory storage of our minds. The look-up, and retrieval methods of computers may at times be better, and faster, but our minds still hold a wealth of information that can be triggered by a thought, smell, touch, or sound.
If you become fearful of a rumored threat, perhaps you can find your own wizard inside of you, just as the Tin Man found a heart, the Scarecrow found a brain and the Cowardly Lion found courage. There may not be a song to accompany your trip through the Spooky Forest, but, you too may be able to find your own Wizard to help.
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
A hearty thank you is expressed to the many who participated in this past Sunday’s Memorial Day parade sponsored by the American Legion Post 977 and the VFW Post 7062. The weather was perfect for this annual event. It was great seeing the sidelines cheering the units as they passed by with the American flag flying in the breeze.
The Grand Officers Association of the Order of Eastern Star held their spring meeting at the Altamont Masonic Hall on Maple Ave., this past Sunday. The gathering was hosted by Past Grand officers from Helderberg Chapter 331. Past Grands present included members from Albany/Fort Orange, Ella Nicholson Chapter 12, Beukendaal/George Hope 271, Palestine Star Chapter 167 and Van Rensselear Star Chapter 256. President Gerald Irwin presided.
Appreciation was extended to Beverly Harrington and Pat Irwin, and other members of Helderberg Chapter for hosting the meeting. Following the meeting all enjoyed the covered dish supper complete with delicious desserts.
The fourth quarter interim marking period in the Guilderland district ended today, May 22.
Schools in the Guilderland district will be closed on Friday, May 23, and Monday,
May 26, in observance of Memorial Day.
Board of education
Members of the Guilderland School Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, May
27, at 7 p.m., in the high school large group instruction room.
The sixth grade concert at the Farnsworth Middle School will be held on Wednesday,
May 28, at 7:30 p.m.
Interested? Van Rensselaer Star Chapter invites interested persons to attend a performance of 42nd Street on Thursday, July 10, at 8 p.m., at the MacHayden Theater in Chatham. Cost is $30. For additional information contact Nancy Condo at 477-7101 or go online to .
The Guilderland Public Library invites interested Guilderland residents to view the film
Fahrenheit 451 on Thursday, May 29, at 6:30 p.m.
Dodge ball tournament
Congratulations to the Pillsbury Throwboys who won the sixth annual Guilderland High
School Dodge Ball Tournament earlier this year. The tournament raised $3,870 for the
Altamont food pantry through its ticket sales donations and sponsors.
Happy Birthday wishes are extended to:
— Katie Jones, Eric Smith, and Tom Wright on May 23;
— Olivia Anderson, Kristen Casey, Steve Connors, Kevin Hulihan, Bev Jensen, Jimmy Liegeot, Rebecca Neet, Melinda O’Connor, Lynda Thomas, and P.J, Vona on May 24;
— Mary Beth Cardone and David Perlee on May 25;
— Dan Godfrey, Pat Miller, and Dave Sebast on May 26.
Jean Krull, and Courtney Restifo May 27th;
Jinia Allan Barnum on February 28th;
Stanley Barkley, Christopher David Cowan, Matthew Stephen Cowan and Christie
Purzycki on May 29th.