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From the top shelf in the auto department of Ace Hardware, I pulled a shiny aluminum funnel, the kind for they use at Serrato’s Auto in Pauma Valley to change the engine oil in my Toyota every 3,000 miles.

The funnel needed dusting.

I had no plans to change the oil myself—not even sure how to open the hood of my car. I needed the final addition to my Halloween costume and with minimum effort and a dust rag, the funnel became the perfect top notch for my grandmotherly version of my tin man get-up. Being tall and skinny, I was unanimously named the Tin Woodman of Oz searching for a heart for Halloween at The OrangeWoods. My costume was appropriate, slightly inventive, and definitely unglamorous.

The party invitation read Wizard of Oz theme, October 31, 1999. The partygoers included a handful of best friends, my parents, my children and my five grandchildren ages six months to five years: the location—our vineyard in the country.

The two babies, Calvin and Carly, were dressed as munchkins; my graceful, gorgeous mom played Glinda, the good witch. The young mothers took on the bad witch role and my dad on this his last Halloween did admirably as the cowardly lion. The Scarecrow and the monkeys were there and Papa, the children’s adoring grandfather, ruled as the Wizard.

We carved pumpkins, we danced, and sang so loud the coyotes in the canyons below howled, and we trick-or-treated. Peanut M&Ms, Milk Duds, Snickers, Twizzlers, Kit Kat, Tootsie Pops, and Candy Corn. Sugar overload all night long.

Bobbing for apples brought out the competitive spirit in grown men!

Joy exploded on the hilltop from open doors and windows. Four generations danced in Congo lines in and out of the house floor to Monster Mash, Purple Peter Eater, and the children’s favorite Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead. (Listen to one or all for Halloween spirit!)

On the final chorus:

Ding-dong, the witch is dead!

Which old witch? The wicked witch Ding-dong, the wicked witch is dead

...the bad witches—aka moms—fell spread eagle onto the floor, black hats pointed upward, which caused the little ones to shriek and beg for more, more, more!

My costume -

  • a cardboard box painted silver,

  • beat up hiking sprayed silver too,

  • a curly shiny silver wig

  • next-to-impossible-to-find silvery tights,

  • and the aluminum funnel on my head -

is long gone.

I have no idea where I got the axe but the Tin Man was a woodchopper!

It’s been twenty-three years since this enchanted Halloween celebration which I remember so clearly although I have rusted a bit over the years.

Very few photos remain from this amateur but enthusiastic recreation of the Wizard of Oz; those that do are faded souvenirs from this pre-cell phone camera era.

One in particular will always remind me of the happenings leading up to the festivities—heated debate, foot stomping, pouting, hurt feelings, and buckets of tears.

Three very adamant little girls demanded to be Dorothy as anxious moms searched for a solution.

In the end, a simple and joyous outcome.

Three Dorothy’s !!!

A very shy Sophie, four years old,

a most pleased Bayley, almost five,

and an ecstatic Maddie five and a half.

Three blue and white gingham dresses with crisp puffy sleeves.

Three pairs of ruffly white socks.

And six tiny sparkly shoes, the color of cherries...

which absolutely made me believe in the magic of red shoes!

Enjoy some magic of this season y'all!
Ramona, my sculpture, dressed up for Halloween. Cheryl Tall artist

My sculpture, Ramona, in costume!

See more work by this amazing San Diego artist, Cheryl Tall by clicking on the link!

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I remember this story, Marilyn, from a few years ago and love reading it again. What an amazingly creative woman you are. I adore you and your family of Oz-ies.


What a fabulous costume, Marilyn!! Sounds like an amazing evening, with 3 happy little Dorothys. 😁


Oct 18, 2022

What a wonderful memory and a testament to your this year I assume you are as always, the Fairy Godmother. Have fun.

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