Back in the sixties we didn't have many viewing choices when it came to television. For the most part, we had to be content with 3 channels and the programming those channels offered. Television back then was an event for the entire family. And a family tradition for us was watching the annual network airing of the Wizard of Oz.
We all loved The Wizard of Oz. And not just our family. Neighbors, classmates, friends - all of us looked forward to the annual airing of this cinema classic. But no one I knew loved it more than my mother.
My mother was a hard worker. She had worked hard all of her life doing jobs that most people would never think of doing. She never felt any type of work was beneath her - as long as it would help her provide for her family and she was physically able - she would take on any task. And so, when evening television time beckoned, she would rest her tired body on our worn out couch and allow herself a few hours to be entertained and escape briefly from her reality. And so my fondness for the Wizard of Oz was not formed as much by what I saw in the movie, but more-so about what I saw in my mother. Each song that was sang, each scene that played out, would bring a smile to her worn, tired face. She loved that movie. And every year it came on, for her, it was as though she was watching it for the very first time.
I never took the opportunity to ask my mother why she enjoyed the movie so much. I suspect it was part entertainment and part hope - Dorothy was always able to get home, she just didn't know how, and her companions already had intelligence, heart and courage - they just needed someone to point it out. I believe my mother felt that through her hard work, her hopes and dreams would someday come come true. The Wizard of Oz gave her that.
So, when I ran across the movie the other day, I paused, sat back on the couch, and took time to enjoy the rest of the telecast. It was wonderful just to take a few moments away from all the craziness of the world to enjoy munchkins, witches, wizards and talking trees. I sang along with the songs and believe it or not, smiled along with my mother. For while she left this earth some years ago, just a few days ago, I could feel her there with me, watching her favorite moving, and joining with me as we both enjoyed yet another stroll together down the "Yellow Brick Road".
Here's just a little of the magic from the movie - Dorothy singing "Over the Rainbow":