There’s the Morris Community High School musical, “The Wizard of Oz,” running this weekend, there’s the new movie release, “Oz the Great and Powerful,” that’s all the hit, and to go with the theme of all things Oz is a sampling of Carlita Hamner Anderson’s personal collection of Oz memorabilia displayed at the Morris Area Public Library throughout the month of March.
Anderson has been a fan of the original Judy Garland movie since she was a kid growing up in Morris. “We used to watch it at home when we were kids around ’65 or ’66 on our black-and-white TV,” she said. “I remember the first time I saw it in color. I was probably in the seventh grade, and I was at a friend’s house. All of a sudden, Dorothy landed in Munchkin Land and everything was in color. I thought, 'Oh my gosh.' It was just phenomenal. The director was ahead of his time.”
There were several things Anderson loved about the movie, including the music — she’s a big music fan — Judy Garland’s performance and the special effects. Her favorite character was the scarecrow when she was little, and she didn’t like the lion at all. Now, as an adult, her favorite character is the lion. She didn’t even fear the flying monkeys as a kid, as many back then did.
“It was just very well done,” she said.
She estimates she’s seen the movie about 20 times. She owns the DVD and a couple of special releases, such as the 50th anniversary edition of the movie, and she tries to catch at least pieces of it whenever it’s aired on TV.
Anderson began collecting Oz memorabilia about 30 years ago. One of her earliest and most sentimental pieces is a sketch of Glinda the Good Witch drawn by her niece Rachel Franklin. In fact, she got two of her nieces, Rachel and Rebekah Franklin, hooked on the movie years ago. They still love it, according to the girls’ mother and Anderson’s sister, Kim Carr of Morris.
Carr has made her sister pieces to add to her collection, also, such as two full-sized quilts, a lap quilt, table runners, and appliance covers. She’s also made Rebekah an Oz quilt and her grandson Thaddeus an Oz crib quilt. The love of the movie is all in the family.
Another of Anderson’s first pieces is a 1977 plate collection a friend saw at a garage sale. One of Anderson’s collection items that she most prizes is a shadow box of Oz figurines. It is featured in the library exhibit and contains 18 of the characters. She bought them one by one from Franklin Mint, and it took her over two years to complete the collection.
Another of her favorites is her anniversary clock, also on display at the library, with the tiny characters rotating back and forth with the time.
The library display also includes Wizard of Oz watches, ornaments, ruby slippers, snow gloves, a black witch’s hat, stickers, a set of Pez dispensers, a trivia game, books including one that plays songs from the movie, a license tag that reads, “My other car is a broom,” and a plaque with the message, “Don’t make me get my flying monkeys.”
The exhibit represents a fraction of what Anderson has at home.
“The stuff I have on my walls is nice stuff,” she said, “like my hand-painted porcelain plates. I have a giant cardboard cut-out of Dorothy and the lion in my house, too. People freak out.”
Anderson said she’ll move the cut-out from place to place in her house now and then to surprise her friends.
Her Elwood kitchen is where much of her collection is noticed, from the China cabinet memorabilia to the salt and pepper shakers, placemats, and the toaster and blender covers and table runner made by her sister.
She picks up pieces of her collection from everywhere, including as gifts, by ordering online, at antique stores and even from a leather goods store in Wisconsin.
Her most unique piece, and one she treasures, is a piece of an actual film strip cell from the original movie. It has Dorothy, Auntie Em and Toto.
“It’s a real piece of history,” she said.
Anderson and her sister both have thoughts on why the movie has stood the test of time and is still so popular.
“It’s probably the idea of good versus evil,” Carr said. “And helping each other out. They met people along the way and bonded with them and helped each other out to get what they needed. I think we can all identify with that. We all need people to encourage us along the way. It’s like Christ looking at who we are becoming, not where we’ve been.”
“There are a lot of good life lessons in that movie,” Anderson said, “like there’s no place like home and good overcomes evil. It teaches you about life. ... What home meant for you when you were younger is something different than what it means to you today.”