I probably should be a little ashamed to admit this, but since I lack such good sense, I gleefully admit that I’ve been to not just one, but two Oz museums. The first as I was driving back home from a visit to Chicago. I saw signs begging me to abandon the highway and pay a visit to a little lonely house in Chesterton, Indiana.

“Oz museum?” I mused. “What could be more fun than that?”

Turns out, a lot. Mold, poisonous frogs, invading aliens, jagged rectal thermometers; they all would be more fun, I assume (especially that last one), than the Indiana Oz museum. Not because it wasn’t a clean and nice place–it was; nor because the people who ran it were vicious and carried studded whips–I’m fairly sure they didn’t; but because I was surrounded by schmaltzy movie memorabilia. Quite honestly, I don’t care much for the movie, and had wanted to see the original books and ephemera produced when L. Frank Baum was alive and churning out his turn-of-the-century fairy tales. That said, I did abscond with two mugs graced by the illustrations of John R. Neill, the Royal Illustrator of Oz.

A couple of weekends ago, on my birthday, I headed to the second museum in Wamego, Kansas. Wamego is a small, cute town with two museums (one dedicated to Wamego itself) and not much else. The museum I saw original prints of the books, the original color plates of the illustrations by both John R. Neill and W. W. Denslow (Denslow illustrated The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Neill took over the artists duties for the rest), as well as a 1901 board game, advertisements for stage productions of the day, and, of course, some schmaltzy movie memorabilia. Unfortunately, no mugs. But I did get a hat.

Which didn’t fit.

I forgot to take my camera with me, so all I had to grab a few quick shots was my phone. Which, of course, with the low lighting and lack of flash, didn’t produce masterpieces. (Not that you’re all clamoring to see a 1960s poster of some kid munching on Oz peanut butter.)

Here’s the thing, though: if it weren’t for the Oz books, I’m not sure I would have met and eventually married the Insta-Princess. When I first ran across the Insta-Princess, it was through an on-line message board; she had started a thread complaining about some e-mail she had received, and had listed her profile location as “Land of Oz”. Thinking that she, too, had read the books (although, these days, years later, I’m not sure what led me to that specific conclusion), I wrote the following as my very first words to her:

I wanna be your Phanfasm of passion, your Yookoohoo of yearning, your Tottenhot of tenderness, your Argonaut of affection and, most of all, your Winsome Waggish Warbler of wuv!

And if that doesn’t work, think I could bribe you with some silver shoes or a magic belt from an ex-Gnome king?

Rico, eh? Suave, no? To her credit, the Insta-Princess played along even though she had no idea what the hell I was talking about. I’m surprised, a week or two later, I managed to wrangle a first date out of her. Go figure.

It must be because I’m a Winsome Waggish Warbler of Wuv.

Posted Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 12:19 pm
Filed Under Category: Live A Little
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