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Thirty-four Miles from the Yellow Brick Road

August 13, 2014


Thirty-four Miles from the Yellow Brick Road


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



The Yellow Brick Road first appeared on the silver screen 75 years ago at the Strand Theater in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin–thirty-four miles from where I currently live.  On August 12, 1939, attending the world premiere of the magnificent movie The Wizard of Oz at the Strand Theater cost 25 cents for a matinee, 40 cents for an evening showing, and only a dime for a child’s ticket.  Since the film’s executives wanted the movie to be first shown in America’s “Heartland,” the world premiere was in Wisconsin while the Hollywood premiere did not occur until three days later.  Although one may not be certain why Oconomowoc was the chosen city, historians note a couple of connections between the film  and the area of Wisconsin.  For example, the actor who portrayed the Munchkin mayor was from nearby Watertown.


On this 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, Oconomowoc continues with its annual outdoor showing of the famous film.  Even though the Strand Theater was razed decades ago and the location is currently a parking lot, a historical marker is displayed at the site; and the city (whose name is derived from the Potawatomi word for “Waterfall”) happily celebrates its historical significance.


While I know I have enjoyed the theatrical production Wicked once in Chicago and once in Milwaukee, I could not begin to count the number of times I watched the magical movie The Wizard of Oz.  In the 1950s, when I first began watching the film on television, the broadcast coincided for a number of years with the Holiday Dance at Perona’s Hall, in Blanford, Indiana.  Thus, while my parents were getting ready to go to the dance, I was trying to watch Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and Toto.  However, I remember that for a few broadcasts, I went behind the wall whose archway separated our living room from our dining room–for protection from the frightening parts of the remarkable story.  As I grew older, I thoroughly enjoyed the film from the black-and-white opening to the closing credits.  On this 75th anniversary, I know that throughout the remainder of my movie-watching days, I will periodically be captured by the wonder and mastery of The Wizard of Oz.


While I have a special place in my heart for the acting of Shirley Temple in all her childhood movies, I am thankful that Judy Garland–not Shirley Temple–played the role of Dorothy.  No other singer and actress could portray Dorothy like Ms. Garland–she did deserve those ruby slippers.



Paw-script:  Of course, Leader Dog Zoe gives a “four-paw” review to the wonderful dog that portrayed Toto.


Happy Movie-watching!

Alice and Zoe


August 13, 2014, Wednesday



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  1. Wow! I can’t believe that movie is seventy-five years old. I watched it every year when it was on television as a kid. We had it on video tape for Matt. He watched it so many times that we all had the whole thing memorized. At one point he was calling it “the Lion King,” which was out at that time. We didn’t have that one since it was sold out. I asked him why he thought it was the Lion King and he said because the lion sings “if I were king of the jungle.” He also decided to follow the witch’s example, and put his toy broom in the fireplace one day. then he set it on the floor and said, ‘mom, my bwoom have fiowe on it.” When I asked him where his broom was, he said, “I don’t know. Never mind.” I found the plastic broom, felt the flame, and screamed for my husband who was in the basement. We had a small burn in the carpet, and Matt got one of his few spankings.


    • Mary-Jo: Thank you so much for sharing your remarkable anecdote on my blog. Your little story is truly memorable for all who read it. What a special addition to my post! Many thanks–Alice

  2. Alice, this was one of my favorite movies. Thank you for the history.

  3. Such a wonderful tale through the ages. Such a grand beginning that swept across the lives of America. Such magic, only a click of the heels away. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. This film was an iconic event in our living room every time it came alive on our television in Little Falls Maine. Great post Alice.


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