She bade her friends good-bye, and again started along the road of yellow brick. When she had gone several miles she thought she would stop to rest, and so climbed to the top of the fence beside the road and sat down. There was a great cornfield beyond the fence, and not far away she saw a Scarecrow, placed high on a pole to keep the birds from the ripe corn.

Dorothy leaned her chin upon her hand and gazed thoughtfully at the Scarecrow. Its head was a small sack stuffed with straw, with eyes, nose, and mouth painted on it to represent a face. An old, pointed blue hat, that had belonged to some Munchkin, was perched on his head, and the rest of the figure was a blue suit of clothes, worn and faded, which had also been stuffed with straw. On the feet were some old boots with blue tops, such as every man wore in this country, and the figure was raised above the stalks of corn by means of the pole stuck up its back.

While Dorothy was looking earnestly into the queer, painted face of the Scarecrow, she was surprised to see one of the eyes slowly wink at her. She thought she must have been mistaken at first, for none of the scarecrows in Kansas ever wink; but presently the figure nodded its head to her in a friendly way. Then she climbed down from the fence and walked up to it, while Toto ran around the pole and barked.

“Good day,” said the Scarecrow, in a rather husky voice.

“Did you speak?” asked the girl, in wonder.

“Certainly,” answered the Scarecrow. “How do you do?”

“I’m pretty well, thank you,” replied Dorothy politely. “How do you do?”

“I’m not feeling well,” said the Scarecrow, with a smile, “for it is very tedious being perched up here night and day to scare away crows.”

“Can’t you get down?” asked Dorothy.

“No, for this pole is stuck up my back. If you will please take away the pole I shall be greatly obliged to you.”

Dorothy reached up both arms and lifted the figure off the pole, for, being stuffed with straw, it was quite light.

“Thank you very much,” said the Scarecrow, when he had been set down on the ground. “I feel like a new man.”

Dorothy was puzzled at this, for it sounded queer to hear a stuffed man speak, and to see him bow and walk along beside her.

“Who are you?” asked the Scarecrow when he had stretched himself and yawned. “And where are you going?”

“My name is Dorothy,” said the girl, “and I am going to the Emerald City, to ask the Great Oz to send me back to Kansas.”

“Where is the Emerald City?” he inquired. “And who is Oz?”

“Why, don’t you know?” she returned, in surprise.

“No, indeed. I don’t know anything. You see, I am stuffed, so I have no brains at all,” he answered sadly.

“Oh,” said Dorothy, “I’m awfully sorry for you.”

“Do you think,” he asked, “if I go to the Emerald City with you, that Oz would give me some brains?”

“I cannot tell,” she returned, “but you may come with me, if you like. If Oz will not give you any brains you will be no worse off than you are now.”

“That is true,” said the Scarecrow. “You see,” he continued confidentially, “I don’t mind my legs and arms and body being stuffed, because I cannot get hurt. If anyone treads on my toes or sticks a pin into me, it doesn’t matter, for I can’t feel it. But I do not want people to call me a fool, and if my head stays stuffed with straw instead of with brains, as yours is, how am I ever to know anything?”

“I understand how you feel,” said the little girl, who was truly sorry for him. “If you will come with me I’ll ask Oz to do all he can for you.”

“Thank you,” he answered gratefully.

They walked back to the road. Dorothy helped him over the fence, and they started along the path of yellow brick for the Emerald City.

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Indeed, the very term “Munchkin” has been controversial. It was popularized by early explorers who corrupted the Quadling term muenchner kindl or “blue children.” Many Munchkins, especially during the political awakening of the 1960s and 1970s, began insisting on the term Lollipoppian instead. A rough English approximation of the term Munchkins use for themselves, Lollipoppian comes from the term loli poppu aru, or “gentlemen who fancy sweets.”

However, since “lollipop” is also an English loanword for a type of traditional Munchkin sweet, many have instead insisted on “reclaiming” the term. The federal government recognizes the Munchkin nation in much the same way as it does the Quadling, Gillikin, and Winkie nations, but the Munchkins remain unique in that they will not accept any members that are over 5’0″ no matter how much Munckin ancestry they may have. Furthermore, any native-born Munchkins who grow taller than that are expelled from the nation.

This has led many anxious Munchkins to invest in growth-stunting drugs, and even some with Munchkin ancestry have attempted to limit their height in order to claim a piece of the nation’s lucrative and unregulated candy trade.

“We Munchkins are a proud nation, ancient and indivisible, and it is we who must reserve for ourselves the right to determine who is Munchkin and who is not,” said Boopsie Aru, current leader of the Lollipop Guild and de facto spiritual leader of the greater Munchkin nation. “We reject any and all externally imposed definitions of who and what Munchkins are.”

On the other hand, activist Pipi Aru insists that the height distinction is meaningless and externally imposed. “When our lands were settled by outsiders, they called every tall person a Quadling and every short person a Munchkin,” says she. “By internalizing this, we have done more damage to our culture than disease or invaders could ever have oped to inflict.”

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The Great Kansas Tornado Swarm of 1864 went largely unnoticed in the popular press at the time, overshadowed by the war and General Price’s raid. But the twister, later estimated to have been an F4 or F5 on the Fujita scale, caused immense devastation in the mostly rural areas it passed through on May 25 and 26 of that year. For those that lived through it–and at least 75 and perhaps as many as 115 did not–the Great Tornado Swarm was particularly unusual in that (much like the Blackwell/Udall tornado swarm nearly 100 years later) there was a great deal of unusual electrical activity, including St. Elmo’s Fire and ball lightning.

Flynn Karam Baum, a failed bookkeeper of distant Syrian and Sephardi ancestry, lived through the tornado when it tore apart his ramshackle (and illegal) homestead. Apparently impressed with the electrical discharges he had seen, and astonished that he had survived while his livestock and neighbors had not, Baum began to believe that he had been witness to a divine experience. In the aftermath of the disaster, he set out to share his revelations with the world.

Disasters and especially cyclones, Baum taught, were in fact conduits to a higher plane of existence–an afterlife of sorts where metaphysical concepts, virtues, and fancies were made manifest. Someone who was sufficiently resourceful could, in this place, rise to power and gain eternal life and supernatural servants at their beck and call. The most skilled and resourceful could even return to earth, as Baum believed he had, to spread the word.

The former homesteader attracted a following of fellow oddballs and iconoclasts largely because his creed, which he claimed was wholly compatible with the prevailing Kansas religious orthodoxy of the day, was highly individualistic. Baum claimed that the land to which storms and death bore the deceased and the disappeared was populated by whatever adherents believed it was. The vibrant folk art his movement inspired depicted all manner of strange dwarves, monkeys, lions, and motile creatures of china or straw.

At its height, the Baumites (as they became known) had perhaps 3000-4000 members scattered across Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Because adherents underwent no conversion and continued to attend their original churches–choosing only to wear the rainbow badge that identified them as Baum’s followers–there were no systematic pogroms or persecutions, though individual Baumites reported harassment. But their numbers were never stable, due largely to their millenarian view that death or disappearance, preferable in a violent storm, were necessary to reach Baum’s promised land. So the influx of new recruits was almost always mitigated by the deaths of older Baumites, many of whom declined medical treatment or even committed suicide.

By the late 1880s, the Baumite communities had dwindled, especially following Flynn Karam Baum’s death in the Lincoln Twister of 1885. By 1888, only a few scattered Baumites remained, mostly in South Dakota and northern Nebraska. It’s not clear when the movement died out entirely, but there are no records of the Baumite rainbow badges being made after 1900 and by 1910 Baumite art and furniture was already mildly collectable for wealthy fans of Americana.

Perhaps the most profound effect the Baumites had, though, was on a young Chicagoan who had moved to South Dakota in 1888 to start a (doomed) mercantile business. With the same surname as Flynn Karam, and amused by the Baumites who frequented his shop to purchase items on credit (which they never paid back), the Chicagoan eventually wrote a satire of the Baumite beliefs-and their ever-present meditative hum of “ozz, ozz”–that attracted worldwide notice and which continues to overshadow and color perceptions of the movement even today.

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