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Sometime in the early 1970's I had the thrill of taken my little sister to see the Wizard of Oz on the big screen. This was a REALLY big deal! It was before there was cable television, Tivo, DVD players and VCRs. We got to see the Wizard only one day per year, right around Easter. You had to make sure you were in front of a television set. You had to put up with commercials, too. Oh yeah, they started showing it "with limited commercial interruptions," but still, every time Professor Marvel muttered, "Poor little kid, I hope she gets home all right," you knew you had time to run off and pee. So it was a real thrill when it was re-released to the theaters back then. I'm not sure how old she was, but probably under 5. She was eating her popcorn and when the first strains of music began, she her hand suspended mid-air, mid-munch, and stayed there for the duration. It was magic.
I got a second chance to introduce the Wizard on the big screen when my own children were young (the twins were maybe 2 or 3 and eldest was maybe 5 or6). I'm thinking it was around 1989, maybe the 50th anniversary? Anyway, it was he same effect. By then, we had video available but nothing beat the awe of such a big screen. The county of the Land of oz completely enveloped us. I didn't watch the movie at all, I was so enthralled by the show playing on their faces. Magic.
So now, my little sister is grown up and she has three little ones and I have a third chance! My niece and nephews have been loving this film. They dress the parts and play it out daily. Any adult who comes to visit is assigned a role, and it's not always the obvious. I've been Auntie Em on a number of occasions and MOTH has had to play Uncle Henry. She has such a remarkable memory. She told MOTH that his straw hat was like Uncle Henry's, and once when I was being Em, I was directed to get a plate, because Auntie Em served snacks on a plate. Sure enough, right after Zeke (aka the lion/Bert Lahr) saves Dorothy from the pig pen, she serves them fresh crullers from a plate. She remembers such details. She is a little put out that her socks are white, and that the real Dorothy has blue ones. I mean really, she's THREE!
So anyway, as MOTH and I drove through a local "Scarecrow Festival" the other day, the old Marquee was on and flashing an offer I couldn't refuse. FREE showings of the Wizard of Oz! I called and made the offer, like I thought anyone would refuse a poor ol' Auntie Ibe on this one! She had to wait one whole day for our big day and was so excited! She insisted on wearing her Dorothy dress even if she did have to tolerate the white socks.
I'm glad we got there 45 minutes early. Sadly, there were few patrons, although it filled up a little more closer to show time. But I realized that for a three year old, this theater that I considered magically magnificent might be a little mysterious and morbid and SCARY! She was very timid as we walked the long entryway, made a little more daunting by my pointing out how it reminded me of the entryway to see the Wizard, when his face was a ball of fire. Note to self: cut the comparisons to scary things when introducing a three year old to something new. We tried out a variety of velvet seats, and she thought it was kind of fun how they folded up on her! She loved how they had cup holders on them, even though we didn't have any cups (newly potty trained...Auntie Loo DOES know when to minimize the beverages!) She sampled the popcorn, but didn't care for it (KIDS these days, don't appreciate the real thing). We wound up in the balcony and there she stayed from the first strains of music, her hand looped through my arm for protection, where it stayed for the duration. It was magic.