Oz Puppets of Childhood

This year I have spent far more time than I ever dreamed possible exploring the fascinating world of Oz puppets. The Spring 2018 issue of The Baum Bugle will be Club members’ first exposure to the result; as a preview I’m using my blog to cover one of the aspects of Oz puppetry that won’t make the Bugle pages—fun memories many members have of their own Oz puppets and childhood Oz puppet shows.

I have vivid memories of playing with Hazelle marionettes growing up. My sister had the Scarecrow, I had a bear, and we both had girls. Not quite the cast for an Oz puppet production, but many hours of fun in our homemade cardboard theater.

Today my collection includes the Hazelle set (above left), a vintage pair of handmade marionettes of the Tin Woodman and Scarecrow (right), and a delightful Tin Man I found on Etsy (below left). The pair was purchased from another collector so I don’t know who made them, but they were clearly used many, many times. Oh, and there are dozens of mass-produced hand puppets smiling up at me including a few from overseas.

We have lots of puppet stories. I remember Willard Carroll telling me about the afternoon he emptied and washed enough jam jars to get all three of the Return to Oz plush puppets in 1985. Or David Diket using Multi-toy dolls as puppets to act out The Wizard of Oz for his home movie productions.

Have you a story you’re willing by to share? Please use the comments feature of this blog to tell us about the Oz puppet adventures of your childhood. Puppets you made, shows you staged, and fun tales of acquisitions. Bring ‘em on!

New Club pin

Some years ago, Karen Owens thought we might entice fans to join the Oz Club at Oz festival booths if she had an extra incentive. A big collector of Oz pins, she promptly had an enameled pin made featuring L. Frank Baum with Dorothy, Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. At festivals ever since, those joining the Club at her booth walked away rewarded with the pin.

Fast forward to last summer; her supply was depleted. Now a proven success at sealing the deal for those considering membership, we agreed a new pin supply should be ordered. With a little work to raise the unbudgeted funds, our assistant membership secretary Bill Beem, had a new pin designed and ordered, this time with Glinda, the Wicked Witch of the West, and a Flying Monkey surrounding Baum. It arrived this week.

Bill Beem and Lynn Beltz will debut the new pin at the summer’s first Oz festival, Oz-Stravaganza! in Chittenango, NY. There, and at additional events ahead, we will use the new pin to help build Club membership.

Speaking of which, 2018 membership is off to a great start! We are already just six members short of reaching our final 2017 count. My fingers are crossed that’s an indication that growth’s ahead for our Oz Club.

New Oz Club flier

It’s a small thing, but worth a short blog. The Oz Club has been without an informational flier for quite a while. That changed today when cartons of new ones arrived at my door.

Now that our online store has reopened, we needed to add that back into the flier. We also had an address change last summer, and we have more social media activity than ever before.  These fliers are often left in literature stands where only the top portion of the front cover appears behind other literature. So that top section now reads “Oz Club” a bit more clearly. I also really love this Tin Woodman by Dick Martin. I hope all members will find the Club to be as friendly and welcoming as he is.

A flier is not nearly so substantial as a book; we should revise this regularly, and I will do my best to keep it more up to date.

A supply of these soon heads to Chittenango, NY, where our good friends at All Things Oz have them available in the museum store, and distribute them widely during Oz-Stravaganza Jute 1-3. I’ll also have some at the Ag Hall of Fame (Bonner Springs, Kansas) where an exhibit I’m currently supporting is open for the summer. If you know of a spot where our fliers might attract the attention of potential members, let me know. I can get some in the mail to you.

Thanks to all who join the Club. Your membership dues — and our many committed volunteers — help us help others discover the wonderful Land of Oz.

Interested in Oz-Stravaganza! and All Things Oz? See their website for more.

The AG Hall exhibit promotes Oz Comes to Kansas, an August 1-5 event. For details follow this link.