Clara Houck’s kin want her Oz collection returned, displayed in Chittenango An Oz-memorabilia collection a Chittenango woman spent a lifetime amassing is at the center of a dispute over where it belongs. Born and raised in Chittenango, Clara Houck was also the village of Chittenango historian for many years. In that capacity, she did research, wrote local history articles for newspapers, gave local history presentations, and assembled an in-depth study of Baum. The Chittenango branch of the Sullivan Free Library has honored her with a Clara Houck History Room. Houck said in February 2002, his mother donated her body of work to Chittenango Foundation’s OZ Museum, which was in a storefront on Route 5 in Chittenango, with the understanding this information would always remain in the village. The collection included 24 Baum and Oz-related scrapbooks containing thousands of newspaper and magazine clippings; in addition, there was Oz memorabilia, and correspondence between Benjamin Baum – L. Frank Baum’s father – and the lumber suppliers used by the Baum family’s barrel factory. Chittenango Foundation board member Theresa Ross said that when the museum closed, the Houck collection was offered to the All Things OZ Committee, which now organizes the annual Oz-Stravaganza festival. She said the All Things OZ Committee did not wish to take on that task. Theresa Ross contacted Houck’s son Raymond and explained his mom’s collection was handed over to Kathleen DiScenna, executive director of the Lyman Frank Baum Foundation, which is planning to open a museum in Syracuse. “We thought we were doing the right thing,” said Ross, who said she understands Raymond Houck’s feelings, but she and others wanted the items to be with a group that would care for them. Raymond, who graduated from Chittenango Central School in 1966, would love to see the group of items they grew up around returned to the Sullivan Free Library their mother helped organize, or to the village itself.
What the Wizard of Oz Can Teach Us About Inequality in the 21st Century In 1900, one hundred and fifteen years ago, Frank Baum wrote a brilliant political allegory called the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Though he billed it as a modern fairy tale meant solely to entertain children, Baum’s epic was in fact all about income inequality. If Baum were writing today, how would he play out the allegory? Would the citizens of Oz be required to wear Google glasses, filled with images from cable news networks? And how would he portray the characters? What would he make of the present slate of presidential contenders?