The Wizard of Oz involves Ohio politics

Published: Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

“Who is this Wizard who speaks through various figureheads ….? Marcus Alonzo Hanna … a close adviser to (William) McKinley and the chairman of the Republican National Committee.”

— Rutgers Professor Hugh Rockoff

Oz is short for ounce.

The yellow brick road represents the gold bullion that once backed the dollar.

Dorothy’s slippers, changed to ruby for the Technicolor movie, were silver in the book and represent silver ingots.

Toto represents the nagging but politically ineffective voice of the teetotalers of the day.

These aren’t allegations being traded in the Sherrod Brown-Josh Mandel race.

They’re opinions of serious scholars who argue the 1900 Frank Baum classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” reflects the most pressing political issue of the 1896 presidential campaign and that era’s Populist political movement.

“Yes, I think it’s a story of Populism, sure,” said Larry Schweikart, professor of history at the University of Dayton. “The symbolism seems too much to ascribe to pure luck.”

The Oz-as-politics theme is of particular interest to Ohioans because the Wizard is thought to be Cleveland’s Marcus Hanna, Karl Rove’s role model.

Moreover, because of the stake farmers and laborers had in the political roil, Springfield newspapers of the time heavily endorsed the silver side, as did Springfield industrialist John Bookwalter, who in 1896 wrote the book “If Not Silver, What?”

A story, but more

In 1990 the respected Journal of Political Economy revived an academic discussion dating to the 1960s when it published “’The Wizard of Oz’ as a Monetary Allegory,” by Rutgers University’s Hugh Rockoff.

“Baum’s main purpose was to tell a story, and his need for symmetry, interesting characters,” prevented precise parallels, Rockoff writes. But the book is “rich in references” to the politics of the times, the author adds.

With the nation in an economic slide it wouldn’t face again until the 1930s, the 1896 election was a fierce fight between the Eastern financial and business establishment and the farmers and laborers of the South and West over what constituted “fair” money.

The financial establishment, championed by Ohio Republican William McKinley, argued that gold was the steadier commodity and its continued use would assured that any debts owed were paid back in dollars closest in value to the dollars lent. They also said the 16:1 ratio of silver to gold proposed by the so-called bimetallists would devalue the dollar and lead to wild speculation.

The bimetallists, led by Nebraska Democrat William Jennings Bryan, had two arguments with the gold standard:

• Because the limited supply of gold limited the supply of circulating money, parts of the United States didn’t enough cash on hand to do business. This proved a practical problem for Western farmers at harvest time and was a constant problem in the South, which had experienced massive bank failures during the Civil War.

• For many years, the stagnant supply of gold actually caused the value of the dollar to increase in a condition called deflation. As a result, debtors felt they were paying back more than they had borrowed when they paid back loans, although some historians argue the deflated prices farmers paid for other things evened things out.

If the gold-silver debate sounds strange 116 years later, some lines from Bryan’s famous “Cross of Gold” speech at the 1896 Chicago Democratic Convention could be used in this year’s campaign.

“There are two ideas of government,” Bryan said. “There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”

Some argue that in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” Bryan is the Cowardly Lion — cowardly because of his opposition to the Spanish American War and a lion because of his roaring power as an orator. Likewise, most of Dorothy’s entourage is a political coalition, in which the Tin Man represents factory laborers and the Scarecrow represents farmers.

For the Scarecrow

It was for the scarecrows that Bookwalter, president of Springfield’s James Leffel Co., wrote his campaign-year book “If Not Silver, What?”

“As one whose prosperity depends almost entirely on farmers,” Bookwalter wrote, “I have naturally thought most of the effect of monometallism has had, and will continue to have, upon them.”

So did The Sun, Springfield’s morning newspaper.

Reliance on the gold standard had caused, “a heavy increase in the burden of taxation and of all debts, public and private; the enrichment of the money lending class at home and abroad; (and) prostration of industry and impoverishment of the people.”

Down the road in Dayton, the Evening Herald argued the opposite.

“It is estimated that the stockholders of the silver mining companies number about 50,000 persons … considerably less than the population of (Dayton). To increase the(ir) already enormous wealth … we are asked to take a step that will add mountains of weight to the burdens … of our laboring millions.”

Dayton’s Evening News agreed, citing this paragraph from the Financial Chronicle of New York: “The only gainers by a dishonest money policy would be the big debtors, including all employers of labor, who owe great numbers of small creditors, such as depositors in savings banks, holders of insurance policies and men and women who work for fixed salaries and wages.”

Witch direction

As mentioned, the battle pitted different regions against one another. It’s for that reason, Rutgers’ Rockoff argues, that Dorothy is from Kansas, a hotbed of Populism, and that her house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, representing Eastern banking interests.

The Good Witch of the North, where populism also was strong, gives Dorothy the silver slippers and sends her toward the Emerald City (Washington, D.C.) to confront the powers that be. And Glinda the Good Witch of the South, where Populism also took root, helps Dorothy return to Kansas.

Rockoff notes that when Dorothy and her coalition arrive in the Emerald City (a city the color of cash), they are ushered one by one into a round room (“The Oval Office?” he asks). During their separate meetings with Oz, “each sees a different character” in an exchange Rockoff says is typical of the different things people hear when talking to politicians.

“But who is this Wizard who speaks through various figureheads …?” Rockoff asks. “To a Populist at the turn of the century there is only one answer: Marcus Alonzo Hanna. A close adviser to McKinley and the chairman of the Republican National Committee, he was, in Populist mythology, the brains behind McKinley and his campaign.”

Upon taking office, McKinley arranged for Hanna to fill the U.S. Senate seat from Ohio vacated when he named Sen. John Sherman his secretary of state.

Local fallout

The Ohio Historical Society says that Springfield industrialist Asa Bushnell, whose opulent mansion on East High Street is now the Richards, Raff & Dunbar Memorial Home, was a “longtime foe of Hanna in the state (Republican) organization.”

Serving in his first term as governor when McKinley was elected president, Bushnell “delayed naming Hanna as long as possible,” the historical society says.

Bushnell was a partner in Warder, Bushnell & Glessner, meaning his economic interests were close to the so-called Silverites. But it’s not clear whether his differences with Hanna were over silver or due to Bushnell’s allegiance to his own political mentor, Joseph Foraker.

There’s no doubt, however, that after resisting Hanna’s appointment and then only narrowly winning a second term, Bushnell was aware of the real world power of the “man behind the curtain” in late 19th century American politics.

New Carlisle restaurant damaged by tornado reopening today

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 1:49 AM

The Mel-O-Dee Restaurant that was damaged by a May tornado is reopening today.

>> RELATED: Beloved restaurant forced to close after damage from tornado

The restaurant at 2350 S. Dayton-Lakeview Road in Park Layne sustained about $100,000 in damage when a confirmed EF1 tornado touched down May 24. Mel-O-Dee will officially reopen at 11 a.m. today, according to a post to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

>> PHOTOS: See the damage to the Mel-O-Dee Restaurant

The tornado ripped the air conditioner from the roof, damaged the restaurant’s landmark sign and caused structural damage.

>> WATCH: 3 areas show the aftermath of destructive tornadoes 

A Sunoco gas station, Family Dollar and the Motor Sports of Dayton were also damaged. The Sunoco sign was found near a house in Troy.

>> RELATED: Tornado sends part of Park Layne Sunoco sign to neighboring county

>>RELATED: 6 videos that show the intense storms

 

Military investigating Thunderbird jet crash; pilot remains hospitalized

Published: Saturday, June 24, 2017 @ 11:33 AM
Updated: Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 8:32 AM

UPDATE @3:09 a.m. (June 27): 

Thunderbirds Capt. Erik Gonsalves continues to receive treatment at Miami Valley Hospital this morning.

Gonsalves suffered leg injuries when the F-16 jet he was flying in went off a runway on landing and flipped over.

RELATED: Thunderbird pilot remains hospitalized, mishap investigation continues

UPDATE @ 12:43 p.m. (June 26):

The military is investigating the crash involving a Thunderbirds F-16 jet prior to the Vectren Dayton Air Show this past weekend, according to U.S. Air Force officials.

RELATED: Thunderbird jet crashes ahead of Vectren Dayton Air Show

The jet will be housed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base during the investigation, according to officials.

The Thunderbirds are expected to speak with the media to provide an update on their flight team on Thursday in Traverse City, Michigan ahead of their next performance at the National Cherry Festival Saturday, the Air Force said.

Earlier, the Air Force told this news organization the NTSB was investigating the crash, however they’ve since clarified that statement. The NTSB is not involved in the investigation, a spokesperson said.

UPDATE @ 11:22 a.m. (June 26):

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds will resume flying operations today, June 26 after the squadron departs Dayton for its home station at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The team will hold routine practices Tuesday.

"Capt. Gonsalves remains in the hospital and is surrounded by loved ones," said Lt. Col. Jason Heard on Facebook. "I have full faith and confidence in our team to conduct the mission safely, we look forward to returning to flying operations."

UPDATE @ 9:47 a.m. (June 26):

The Thunderbirds will be taking off at 10:30 a.m. and the injured pilot is expected to be staying at the hospital for a couple more days, officials announced this morning.

Thunderbirds Capt. Erik Gonsalves has had two surgeries, but his injuries are less serious than initially thought, according to officials. 

RELATED: Attendance numbers released for 2017 air show

The damaged plane will be staying here locally and once able, it will be transported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, officials said.

UPDATE @8:30 a.m. (June 26)

Thunderbirds Capt. Erik Gonsalves continues to receive treatment at Miami Valley Hospital.

A condition for Gonsalves was not available.

>> Air Show draws large crowds despite Thunderbirds crash

UPDATE @ 11:15 a.m. (June 25)

Thunderbirds Capt. Erik Gonsalves remains a patient at Miami Valley Hospital after he was extricated from an F-16 that overturned on the runway Friday at the Dayton International Airport.

Gonsalves Tweeted Saturday a picture of himself in the hospital bed stating, “Thanks for all the love and support. I'm doing okay. More to follow, I'm thankful for all our friendships.”

Staff Sgt. Kenneth Cordova was the passenger in the F-16. He was extricated from the aircraft and taken to the hospital where he has since been released.

Friday’s mishap forced the Thunderbirds to cancel their performances at this weekend’s Vectren Dayton Air Show.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Heard, Thunderbirds commanding leader, said Friday’s ‘mishap’ is under investigation and what caused it has not been determined.

Heard said upon landing after a “single-ship familiarization flight,” the fighter jet overturned on the runway and sustained damage, temporarily trapping Gonsalves and Cordova in the aircraft.

EARLIER

As the Vectren Dayton Air Show kicks off Saturday some visitors came to the show, unaware of Friday’s Thunderbird crash and cancellation of their performance Saturday.

Michael Werchowski, 44, brought his 11-year-old son, Miles, hoping to see the Thunderbirds, but didn’t know they weren’t performing until he arrived at Dayton International Airport.

>>WATCH LIVE PERFORMANCES FROM SATURDAY’S SHOW

It was the first air show for both.

“We’ve never seen a Blue Angels or Thunderbirds show before, but it is what it is,” Michael Werchowski, who drove in from Powell near Columbus for the show.

Miles didn’t seem fazed.

“I’m just here to see planes,” he said.

A two seat F-16 Thunderbird jet overturned at the airport after landing Friday, trapping the pilot and passenger until they were freed by first responders. 

RELATED: Thunderbird jet crashes ahead of Vectren Dayton Air Show

Both were hospitalized and reported in good condition. One team member has been released. The Thunderbirds have not yet made an announcement on whether they will perform at Sunday’s show.

Charles and Theresa Cooper, both 60, moved to New Lebanon in December after 40 years in California. The two grew up in the Miami Valley.  

“I’ve never been to the air show,” Theresa Cooper said. “I’ve never come. “It’s pretty exciting.”  

The couple were driving near the airport Friday when they spotted emergency vehicles and heard about the Thunderbird jet mishap.  

“So sad,” she said.  

Charles Cooper said he wanted to come to the air show anyway partly because of the region’s heritage as the birthplace of aviation. “Living in California, you don’t realize how much this region has to offer until you come back,” he said.

Gary and Linda Kish drove four hours from St. Clairsville near Wheeling, W.V., with two grandchildren, Jayden, 6, and Weston, 4, but weren’t deterred from coming when they heard the Thunderbirds canceled the Saturday show.

“We were eating ice cream when we heard about it,” Jayden said.

“It’ still a good time,” said Gary Kish, 64. “We’re just glad (the two Thunderbird two members) are OK.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Linda Kish. 

Searchers at Glen Helen Nature Preserve find lost/missing person

Published: Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 7:13 PM
Updated: Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 7:29 PM

(Lauren Clark/Staff)

UPDATE @ 7:26 p.m.:  The missing person has been located and reportedly is in the lobby of the Yellow Springs Police Department, according to Greene County Sheriff's Dispatch.

INITIAL REPORT

A search crew is heading into the Glen Helen Nature Preserve in Greene County to look for a person reported lost or missing. 

MORE: See trending headlines

Yellow Springs police officers have joined the search crew. 

The call for a search party was made about 6:55 p.m. Crews staged in the 500 block of Corry Street. 

We have a crew on the way. We will update this developing report. 

Stay with whio.com for breaking news. 

GOT A TIP? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

 

Warrant search in New Carlisle leads to arrest of suspected drug trafficker

Published: Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 6:18 PM

Larry Hall (Courtesy/Clark Count Jail)

A 68-year-old New Carlisle man is to be arraigned Tuesday on charges accusing him of drug trafficking within 1,000 feet of a school.

RELATED: Miami Valley crime news and headlines

Larry Hall was taken into custody Monday afternoon when Clark County sheriff's investigators executed a narcotics search warrant at 1661 Hartley Ave., in the Park Layne subdivision, according to a sheriff's office statement released Monday evening. 

The investigation was triggered by numerous complaints of possible drug activity at the residence occurring over several months. 

SEE: Trending news headlines

Investigators recovered "several" prescription pills, "several" packaged amounts of marijuana, an undisclosed amount of cash and other evidence of drug trafficking. 

They also seized several vehicles as part of the investigation. 

Hall has been booked into the county jail on two counts of trafficking. His arraignment will be in Springfield Municipal Court.

GOT A TIP? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com