|Wizard of Oz musical production c. 1902|
Wandering around on Pinterest this morning, I found this vintage photo of the musical The Wizard of Oz. It made me smile, recalling having read L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz when I was in third grade. That's when my mind really lit up with reading. My teacher was a smart cookie. I didn't like going out on the playground at recess and being pushed around (and I was), so she encouraged me to read in the library (which I did). The beginning of my interest in old books? I think so. I fell headlong into Baum's fantastical world. I wasn't alone, since Americans have been in love with Oz for more than a century. However, most people only know the 1939 movie starring a teenage Judy Garland, who gives the most Schadenfreude-laden performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow ever. It's so iconic: no one can touch it. But the movie didn't come out of nowhere. Baum's books inspired a generation we've lost touch with. Old photographs, like old books, can help us peer back into that past: one that is nearly - and should not be - forgotten.