Each year, first around Christmastime then maybe at Eastertime, I eagerly awaited the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz. Even before we had a color TV I loved this movie. I hid my eyes when the Wicked Witch of the West first appeared in the forest, cried when Dorothy had to say goodbye to her new friends, and laughed through my tears when she was safely home again. My dad used to make fun of my crying each year because, as he pointed out, I’d seen it enough times to know the ending.
When I was in elementary school most of the “walkers” went home for lunch. We had an hour to walk home, eat lunch and walk back. My dad sometimes came home for lunch too, and on one of those lunchtimes, my dad brought me a large, flat, square paper bag. Inside was the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. The album cover opened like a book, and inside were scenes from the movie. I may have misremembered the time of day Dad brought this gift, but I won’t ever misremember my feeling of joy and excitement. Now I could experience the Wizard of Oz every day of the year if I wanted to.
Each lunchtime after I got the record, I’d finish eating my toasted cheese sandwich and bowl of tomato soup and run into the living room to put the record on the turntable. I always began with the first side of the album and by the time that was over, it was time to head back to school, so I learned the songs and words to the first half of the Wizard of Oz by heart. Often the sun would shine through the large multi-paned window on the south side of the house and those days I pretended the sunshine on the golden carpet was the yellow brick road and I’d skip around the path until I was worn out.
To this day I remember all the words (that were on the album) up to the poppy field scene. I annoy friends and family by quoting from the movie and reciting the words when we watch it (which is rarely these days).
It was a pure act of love that my father brought this gift to me. He was not a fan of the movie and didn’t necessarily like the music, but he knew how much I did and knew how much it would mean to me. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, and luxuries like this were somewhat rare, especially for a middle-of-the-year for-no-particular-reason kind of gift.