The Truth Pond first appears in The Road to Oz, in which Button-Bright and the Shaggy Man use it to get back their old heads after they’d been given animal heads by the rulers of Foxville and Dunkiton. King Kik-a-bray of Dunkiton mentions it as the only way for Shaggy to lose his donkey head. All the Donkey King knows is that it’s “[s]omewhere in the Land of Oz,” but fortunately it turns out to be quite close to where the travelers enter Oz on Johnny Dooit’s sand boat, in the southwestern Winkie Country. Its water is still and highly reflective, and a silver plate identifies it as the Truth Pond.
It restores Shaggy and Button-Bright’s human heads, but also makes it impossible for them to say anything untrue. Or so it would seem, anyway. Actually, Button-Bright lies outright to Jimfred in Sky Island. I don’t think L. Frank Baum has Shaggy lie after this, but as I reported in last week’s post, Jack Snow presumably does. The pond reappears in Lost Princess, in which the Frogman bathes in it without knowing its power.
He learns about it from a golden plate that includes both the name and the effects of the water, possibly replacing the earlier silver plate. This book also says that the pond is lined with pink tiles, with just one space in the bottom where the water comes in from a hidden spring. After the Frogman does this, he is not only unable to lie, but has to tell the truth even when he’d rather say nothing or change the subject. Eric Shanower’s short story “The Final Fate of the Frogman” indicates that this eventually led to the end of his life as a gentleman, and he took the guarding the pond without wearing his fancy clothes or standing upright. The pond is also mentioned in the McGraws’ Forbidden Fountain, in which we meet a Gillikin who fell into it and is now known as the Truth Teller.
He has become a wanderer due to his tendency to tell unwelcome truths. The interesting thing is that he is able to lie, but his ears glow bright green when he does. I guess that could potentially explain how Shaggy and Button-Bright were able to lie, although it does raise the question as to how that could happen without anyone noticing it. Then again, Button-Bright’s lie was in the Blue Country where everything is blue, and maybe for all Jimfred knew non-blue people were constantly changing colors. I guess this wouldn’t work for the Frogman since he doesn’t have ears and is already green.
There are a few possibly apocryphal mentions of the Truth Pond in the 1927 issue of the Ozmapolitan newspaper used to promote the series. One claims that Tik-Tok was practicing a swimming stroke there and ended up adrift after getting seaweed in his works. Another is a rumor that Jinjur might stay at the nearby Hotel Right. Tik-Tok trying to swim doesn’t make much sense, although it’s possible his action was still wound tightly when his thinking was not. I am somewhat intrigued by the idea of a hotel near the pond. I also recall one of Fred Meyer’s holiday cards proposing that the pond might have been enchanted by a Nonestic queen who was obsessed with truth.