November 8, 2008
Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more
"Naming The Obama Dog" ~ by Tom Brennan
Dorothy – you can’t go back to Kansas anymore.
“Dorothy” was born in Kansas in October of 1922, a scant 4 months after the birth of Frances Ethel Gumm, who later became known as Judy Garland.
Ms. Gumm, a native of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, died on June 22, 1969, not long after I graduated from the University of Minnesota.
Madelyn Lee Payne (aka Dorothy) married Stanley Dunham on May 5, 1940.
They had one child, a girl, whom they named Stanley Ann.
Through her parents, Stanley Ann had Cherokee, English, and Irish ancestry.
She was also a distant relative of a gentleman named Dick Cheney, the current Vice President of the United States.
In 1960, the Dunhams moved to the new state of Hawaii in order to pursue further business opportunities.
Stanley Ann moved to “the rainbow state” with her parents, and ultimately enrolled at the University of Hawaii, where she met a dashing young foreign student named Barack Hussein Obama, a native of Kenya.
The two quickly fell in love, much to the disapproval of both sets of parents, and got married on February 2, 1961. At the time of the marriage, Stanley Ann was 3 months pregnant. Her first child, also named Barack Obama, was born on August 4, 1961.
Just getting married turned out to be a courageous act.
As late as 1967, 16 states still banned “interracial marriage”.
At the time of the birth, she was 18 years old.
Sadly, the marriage was short-lived, and Stanley Ann filed for divorce in January of 1964. Barack Obama Sr. returned to his native Kenya. At the time of his death in 1982, in an automobile accident, he had only seen his young son one more time.
She subsequently married another University of Hawaii student named Lola Soetero in 1967, and the pair (along with her young son Barack) moved to his native Indonesia. While living there, she gave birth to a daughter named Maya Cassandra Soetera, in 1970.
A year after his sister was born, the young man returned to Hawaii, where he lived with his maternal grandparents until his high school graduation in 1979. In an odd sort of way, this part of his life was reminiscent of the life of ANOTHER Dorothy, who lived with her Uncle Harry and Aunt Em – in Kansas.
Although his mother eventually followed him to Hawaii, her stay was short, and she moved back to Indonesia. In 1994, she returned to Hawaii, where she died of ovarian cancer in 1995 at the age of 53.
After his high school graduation, the young Obama attended college at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He then moved to New York, and graduated from Columbia College in 1983. Two years later, he moved to “the Windy City”.
Although he was influenced by MANY people on his rise to stardom, he was heavily influenced by “the man behind the curtain” on the south side of Chicago, who gave him the audacity to hope. In later years, the “man behind the curtain” no longer had the Wright things to say, forcing the young man to distance himself from his former mentor.
In short order, he was elected to the Illinois legislature, and then to the U.S. Senate. His real jump to stardom, though, came in July of 2004, when he presented the keynote speech at the Democratic National convention.
THAT was the moment when he BECAME the “wizard of Oz”.
On a cold February day, less than three years later, he announced his intention to run for the highest office in the land in Springfield, Illinois.
Although he had some formidable competition for the job, none was more daunting than “the wicked witch of the East”, a Yankees fan who happened to be a Chicago native, as well as a former First Lady.
After a series of bruising battles, he eventually prevailed, and she pledged to support HIM in the contest with the GOP.
The “Grand Old Party” knew that it had an uphill battle to retain the “keys to the kingdom”. Eventually, a grizzled old war hero named John emerged victorious in the quest for the “gold ring”.
Years earlier, his Navy jet had been shot down over unfriendly territory in Munchkinland.
Hanoi Hannah and her regimen of Winkie soldiers captured the young pilot, and “detained” him in the “Hanoi Hilton” for 5 ½ LONG years.
While in captivity, the “cowardly lion” grew ever stronger, and he served as a role model to his fellow prisoners, among them the “tin man” and “the scare crow”.
Upon their release, the tin man acquired an interest in a Cassiterate mine in the former Belgian colony of Congo, and the scarecrow became a colleague of Bill Ayers at the University of Chicago. The lion parted ways with his first wife, and married a Budweiser heiress from Phoenix, Arizona, whom he met at a cocktail party in Hawaii in April of 1979, roughly a month prior to the time that “the wizard” graduated from Panahou High School in the same state.
Since the old war veteran fancied himself a “maverick” he knew that he had to choose an unconventional running mate, so he chose Glinda, the good witch of the north.
He had not wanted her. He was an old man who had thought for a long time and still he had not wanted her. He had wanted Joe. But he knew that they would not like Joe, who came from a different place, or Tom, who did not think like they thought. And so he picked her.
She was strong and brave and young. She had a sturdy frame and a solid jaw and a sharp tongue. She would fight a hard fight and a fine fight and a good fight.
She handled the guns well. She was a fine shot and her aim was true. She would shoot to kill. Her instincts were good. And he remembered the many hunts and the blood on the knife and the look in the eye of the downed prey and the fine smell of the gut pile. He thought about riding through the small towns with the moose head high on the hood as people cheered. He knew she would soak the large liver in a bucket on the back step, and that later there would be drinking and moose pate and it made him glad.
In the end, he was sorry about Joe, and about Tom, but he was not sorry about the others whom he had not liked at all. He liked her.
After a series of debates, and a grueling campaign schedule, the wizard emerged victorious, and will soon be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.
On a cold January day, he’ll travel down the “yellow brick road” (sometimes called Pennsylvania Avenue) with Michelle and Sasha and Malia to give another glorious speech, after which the family will move in to their new home at The Great White House (just down the street from Foggy Bottom).
Once they are settled in, he’ll buy his girls the new puppy that he has promised them.
And they will name him Toto.
Dorothy’s ruby slippers were donated to the Smithsonian Institute a long time ago, but no matter how many times she says ‘there’s no place like home”, she can never return to Kansas.
She got called home to the “Emerald City” on November 3, a day before “the wizard” got elected, and there’s no finer place than that.