Sunday, April 17, 2005

Who Stole the Wizard of Oz

From the diary: “October 18, 1981

“Saturday [a group of us went to] the Junior State [conference at Stanford].

“The Stanford Bookstore is a nice place. There’s a new Bill Peet book out about an Elephant in the Circus. There is also a book called Who Stole the Wizard of Oz, a children’s mystery … about someone stealing a copy of The Wizard of Oz from the library. Interesting curio.”

I didn’t buy anything.

As a kid my favorite Bill Peet book was Wump World, Peet’s version of The Lorax. I dug that the invading despoilers came in spaceships that were quite obviously caricatures of Richard Nixon. Well, maybe I didn’t get that when I first read the book. But I bet my mom did.

This was the Junior State conference that sticks out in my mind for two reasons: (1) I was called on to come up on stage in a try-out debate and froze up there, my mind a blank, my body shaking, until I asked to be allowed to return to my seat – worst stagefright I’ve ever had; and (2) Mrs Ranch-Apple left the headlights on and the car battery died. Here’s the rest of the story as I described it in the diary: “We found someone with jumper cables and after a few tries they got our motor running. They had two cars (one which had a living battery and one dead). They asked us to try to revive their dead one. [Yes, with the car they’d just jumped to life! What were they thinking!] As soon as he hooked on the jumper cables our car died again. It wouldn’t be restarted. Mrs R-A had to call a tow truck.”

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