“There’s no place like home” – Dorothy’s home, that is…
Yikes! The Wicked Witch of the East’s legs with her ringed black stockings and ruby slippers dart out from under Dorothy’s house as it plunged back to Earth during a fierce tornado. Many in the younger generation may not know the significance of my above photos, but they’re readily recognizable to those of us who grew up watching on television – year after year – The Wizard of Oz. The house (actually the birthplace home of Walter P. Chrysler, but moved from its original location) is in Wamego, Kansas, just a 15-minute drive from the lively college town of Manhattan.
This year is the 115 anniversary of when the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum was published, and last year was the 75th anniversary of the MGM movie classic’s release. Thanks to the extensive movie and book memorabilia collections from a local resident and others, Wamego’s Oz Museum has breathed new identity and enthusiasm into what once was just a small prairie town. And since the museum’s opening in 2004, Wamego’s Oz fever has caught on with new businesses including the Oz Winery and Toto’s Tacoz, and with yearly “OZtoberfest” celebrations.
Can’t get enough of Oz? The museum is a fan’s delight, housing memorabilia including original first edition books published in 1900, figurines, plates with scenes from the movie, posters, mugs, autographs, photos, puppets and life-sized wax replicas of the main characters. Original artifacts include flying monkey miniatures and munchkin gloves used in the movie. Ray Bolger’s (Scarecrow actor in the movie) actual passport is another collection highlight. For more information: www.OZMuseum.com
Victory Inn Bed and Breakfast
If you need a place to stay while in Wamego, try the Victory Inn. I didn’t stay overnight but toured the B&B and found comfortable and quaint common areas and rooms hosted by some nice folks. Prices seemed reasonable as well. www.victoryinnbedbreakfast.com