Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Block Number: 81

“Follow the Yellow Brick Road”: Block #81 on Quilt Trail

On Monday afternoon, March 21, 2010, Mike Lucas installed the colorful 81st Quilt Block “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” on the home of Christy and Daniel Justice. Christy had been reading the various articles in the McDowell News and noticing the blocks around town. This sparked her interest and she decided to put her passion for the movie The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to a quilt pattern and block. Although her grandmother was a quilter, this will be Christy’s first, and she will use material she found featuring the Oz theme as its centerpiece. The material was photographed by Mike Lucas and used to base his design of the Emerald City and reproduce other details within the block.

The 1939 MGM film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, based on a 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum, featured Judy Garland as the Kansas farm girl, Dorothy. The film is considered a classic and received multiple and various awards. In 1956 it became televised and a yearly Christmas tradition for families to watch together. A video was produced in 1980; a DVD in 1997 and in 2009, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the film, a Blu Ray Disc was released.

Christy remembers watching the movie on TV since she was around three years old, but it was about twelve years ago that she really became captivated with the characters after visiting the “restored” Land of Oz Theme Park in Beech Mountain. The theme park originally opened in 1970, advertised to be located in “Eastern Americas Highest Town” at an elevation of 5,506’. It was designed by Grover Robbins (also of Tweetsie Railroad) who unfortunately died before its opening. It was family oriented, featuring balloon chair lifts and all the props and characters of the movie. In 1976 a fire all but destroyed the Emerald City, including many props and costumes. The Park fell into disrepair, suffered vandalism and was closed completely in 1980. In the late 1990’s however, the Park was renovated, and now the “Autumn at Oz Festival” is held every October for two days, the performers consisting of volunteers. Known for its gardens, it is also open for private parties and celebrations and will host the Internationa
l Wizard of Oz Club this year. Christy has attended the Autumn Festival for twelve years now and her adamant fascination of the characters is only fired up more each time.

The 3½‘ X 3½’ block, located at 235 Ridge Road, faces East and is truly an eye-catcher with its bright colors. The hosts were presented a Certificate of Authenticity by Jill Lucas of the McDowell Quilt Trail Association. The yellow road, leading to the Emerald City, is detailed with golden bricks and of course Dorothy’s well known red slippers. The colors on each side, purple, maroon and light greens, were chosen to accentuate the hills and curve of the road. The Emerald City is made up of traditional rectangles and triangles emphasizing a quilt pattern in shades of green. Behind the city is a full rainbow with a background of blue sky, bringing to mind the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, which was almost eliminated from the original movie because of its length. This interesting block is well worth viewing and certainly a commemoration to the movie theme.

Over the years Christy has accumulated over 1,000 Oz collection pieces honoring the characters, the best known being Dorothy, Munchkin, Tin Man, Lion, Scarecrow, Toto and the Witch, among others. Christy finds the collectibles at yard sales, EBay, various vendors and is often given them from friends who know of her ardent commitment to honor the Oz theme. Christy’s small pet Chihuahua dog has won first place twice at the Mountain Glory Pet Contest dressed as Dorothy!! Although she doesn’t have a favorite item, her favorite character is the Tin Man because although he was searching for a heart, in the end he found that he already had one the entire time. This block is sure to win the hearts of all the “children” of McDowell County and is a must see.

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