On the road to Oz

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Vince Luecke

editor@perry countynews.com


I caught the tail end of the “Wizard of Oz” a few weeks ago. I don’t watch a lot of TV but I devoted half an hour to watching Dorothy say goodbye to her friends in Oz and return to black-and-white Kansas.
I have the movie recorded in full, thanks to the marvels of digital TV. Who remembers trying to program their old VCR to try and record something?
The “Wizard of Oz” is nearing 80 years old now. The timeless tale of ruby slippers, Munchkins and good and bad witches is still a cultural draw and still has messages. Recent films and stage shows about Oz point to the interest we still have in Dorothy and the other characters, their hopes, dreams, fears and challenges.
In Tell City, the movie was set to premiere 77 years ago this weekend at the Ohio Theatre. The local papers heralded the movie’s star power, including Judy Garland as Dorothy, and its vivid color.
I’m a fan of the movie for several reasons, the main one being the important messages it offers to its viewers. “The Wizard of Oz” is filled with situations we all can find connections to. We’re all sort of like Dorothy at times, venturing through life with its ups and downs, finding situations fraught not only with our own challenges, but those about whom we are close to. We also come across friends, sometimes at just the right times, who help us on our journey and with whom we bond deeply.
While studying to be a priest, I took part in a conference, a combination religious retreat and self-help session that was focused on the movie. I and about a dozen other people were asked to reflect on the film, delving into our own dreams, fears and roads taken.
The session’s director told us to identify the challenges (wicked witches, if you will) we faced, those who had helped us through hard times (like the good witch) and who had traveled with us on the road, symbolized by Dorothy’s friends.
Finally, we were asked to think about where we had ventured off the road and what the detours had been like. Other people in the group seemed to get more out of the experience than I did, but I’ve never forgotten the personal connections with the film.
For me, it’s been the reminder that there’s no place like home. Not all of us can return there, but it’s natural to feel a quest to find places where we feel safe, be ourselves and enjoy friends. May that’s why some of our fondest memories are about home and family.
Friendship and overcoming adversity are major themes of the “Wizard of Oz” I like. We go through life meeting new people on the road of life and like Dorothy, who finds comfort and support from a scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion, we, too, take on the roles of newcomer or someone in situations where we need the help of others.
Few of us battle real wicked witches, but there are people who stand in our way, who create heartache or want to hurt us. Life brings its many hardships, many of them unfair and out of our hands. That’s life, no matter what road we’re on. We all need help at times in making it to our destination.
Life is a journey worth taking for all it’s worth, no matter the color of the bricks of the road, or who we meet on the road.
If you haven’t seen the film in a while, search for it on your satellite or cable system or grab a copy for a few dollars.
 With literally hundreds of channels offered by satellite TV and video games, lots of youngsters haven’t seen the movie. If your kids haven’t seen the film in a while, or have never viewed it, make it a movie night at home.
It won’t be many years before today’s children and teens will realize there’s no place like home.