Woozy Memories

The origins of the Woozy are never addressed in the canonical Oz series, but there are a few apocryphal stories that propose different explanations. March Laumer gave his story in “The Woozy’s Tricky Beginning,” in which he’s the result of the union of a bear and a beehive. We’re spared the details of exactly how this happened, but they’re the work of a pixie who wanted a literal answer to a riddle, and it’s strongly suggested that the bear is Winnie-the-Pooh.

Picture by Ben Wood
As with most of Laumer’s Oz writing, it’s certainly creative, but I don’t consider it accurate when writing my own stories (although I have referenced it occasionally). After that comes Gili Bar-Hillel’s “The Woozy’s Tale,” in which we’re told that he was made of leather by a Munchkin bootmaker and brought to life by the Wicked Witch of the East to eat the bees sent to harass her by a former ally, a wizard named Krizzle Kroo. He also transformed the bootmaker and his wife and child into the three hairs on the Woozy’s tail.

By David Maxine
Kim McFarland’s A Refugee in Oz credits his creation to the Madou, people who live in an oasis on the Deadly Desert.

They make him to eat the bugs that are destroying their crops, but he likes bees the most, and the Madou don’t want him eating them.

By Bill White
They use a spell containing the spoken part “krizzle-kroo” to take away his motion when he tries to eat bees, but eventually decide to send him away and erase his memory. The most recent account I’ve read is Edmund Zebrowski’s from The Emerald City Mirror, called “A Trip Down Memory Lane or How the Woozy Came to Oz,” in which an old man tells the story of how Mombi wanted the three hairs from the Woozy’s tail for a spell, but since she didn’t want to go to the Land of Wooz herself, instead transported a farmer there to capture the animal. The spell she used also included the words “krizzle-kroo,” and was ultimately ineffective. The Woozy escaped, but Mombi erased his memory. L. Frank Baum himself wrote that the Woozy was “not brought to life by any magical means,” which seems to contradict the first three stories.

By Darrell Spradlyn
He was, however, saying this in the context of telling John R. Neill not to draw the creature to look too wooden, so maybe his point was that he wasn’t non-living matter magically animated like the Patchwork Girl or the Glass Cat, rather than that there wasn’t any magic involved in his creation at all. I find the idea that he was made out of leather unlikely, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t live with a bootmaker and have an enemy named Krizzle Kroo, who might have been named after the spell (or had the spell named after him). To combine as many of these as possible, we could say the Madou sent him to a place called Wooz, after which he took his name. He was then captured by Mombi, who wanted the hairs for the magic formula she sets out to make in the back story of Fred Otto’s “Mombi’s Pink Polkadot Vest.” It’s the same one Dr. Pipt sends Ojo to find the ingredients for in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, but it can apparently give life as well as restore motion. The problem here is that, if the Woozy’s three hairs were the enchanted Munchkins, he presumably wouldn’t have had them prior to his encounter with Krizzle Kroo.

I guess Mombi could have imprisoned him after this, since the Woozy was made to forget about his experience with her, but it would make less sense for him to be outside Oz at that point. We don’t know how old the magic recipe that includes three hairs from a Woozy’s tail is, or who came up with it.

This entry was posted in Animals, Characters, Fred Otto, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Magic, March Laumer, Oz, Oz Authors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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