July 1st…“WHEN A LITTLE BOY, ON YOUR MINNESOTA FARM, TELL US ABOUT AN OUTDOOR GAME THAT YOU MADE UP ON YOUR OWN.”
The song, “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead”, was still ringing in my ears as I exited our farm house after viewing the classic 1939 movie called, “The Wizard Of Oz”. Ohhh, the impressionable imaginations of a child! Ever since that fun, yet scary, movie first appeared on our little black & white television set, I grew to be a big fan of the story of Dorothy and her adventures in Oz. The exact date of this scenario is a bit vague, but I’d easily guess that I was about 8 years of age, so that puts us in the timeline of about the summer of 1962.
Do you remember the scene where the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion are on the quest to rescue Dorothy? They were peering down from the dark cliffs near the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, remember? There below, near the castle entrance, in all of their deep, bass-voiced splendor, were the Winkie Guards conducting their military marching drills. With evil relish, those Winkie Guards would march with vicious cadence as they paraded over the castle drawbridge area. With their intent to cast fear into any trepidatious enemy nearby, the malicious Winkie Guard would then sing out this mournful, bellicose, chanted dirge…..“OHHWEEEOHH, YEEOOOH WHUMPF”!! Over and over, in deadly harmony, they’d make that mournfully deep sound as their long, green noses poked out in front of their furry-turbaned heads. And, to add to their mercenary maleficence, slung over their shoulders, they carried those long weapons of death…..the multi-pointed spears!! OOooooo, how MONSTROUS they were!!!!
Now, I took that imagery from the movie that was emblazoned on my young mind and PRESTO, I had the genesis of my new outdoor game. Since the farm demanded so much time from our father each day, I seldom had a time to play baseball catch with him. Big brother had already left our farm to join the Air Force, so he was away, too. No offense to my sisters, but at my age of about 8 years, girls were just not acceptable playmates. You know, they had girl germs and cooties, etc. 😉 So, that left “me, myself and I” to create a playtime on my own. And, that’s just what I did!
T’was a glorious Minnesota day as I grabbed my baseball bat and ball and wandered out into the expansive front lawn of our farm home. I began by tossing the baseball into the air and hitting some long “pop-flys” with my bat. Of course, the baseball ended up landing at the far end of our sloped lawn which necessitated that I walk the long distance to retrieve the ball so I could then “pop-fly” a hit of the ball to the other end of the yard. Rather than just carry the bat as I returned to the far end of the yard, I decided to add some flair and fun to this repetitive routine. Instantly, with my vivid imagination, I transformed myself into a short, squat, high-voiced little Norwegian “Winkie Guard”. While on the “march” to get that baseball, my bat became a long, “Winkie” spear over my little boy shoulder, just like the wicked bad guys did in the movie. Naturally, in my imagination station character, I would march pompously toward my baseball while singing loudly (and in the deepest voice a little squirt like me could make), “OHHWEEEOHH YEEOOOH WHUMPF”!!! Upon reaching my baseball’s location, I’d toss it up in the air, whack it as hard as I could with my bat, and then conduct a repeat performance of the March Of The Winkie Guards. T’was some real fun in the sun for a self-sufficient little farm boy with the vivid imagination of a Norwegian Farmer’s Son.