Storybook Land (Aberdeen, South Dakota)
I left the Vinegar Museum
around 3 p.m., then drove into Webster
where I got a cheeseburger and root beer at the
A&W and said goodbye to this friendly town, my home base for
the past two weeks. I got on U.S. 12 and headed west to Aberdeen, the largest town in northeastern South
Dakota and, according to a sign on the outskirts of town, the home of the Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle.
camping for the past two weeks, I splurged at a three-star motel that night, The AmericInn, and immediately decided that I liked three-star
motels. In fact, I've decided not to stay in any more cheap motels with
smoky rooms and thin walls; from now on, I'm either staying in a nice motel or a
campground. I like camping and I like staying in nice motels, but I don't
much like what's in between.
I drove out of the motel parking lot the next morning, I decided to make a quick
drive through Aberdeen. If you know anything about my trips, you know that
my "quick drives" can sometimes take several hours... and this would be
no exception. I discovered that Aberdeen has a charming downtown with lots
of old, brick buildings on either side of Main Street. I also stumbled across a theme park north of town
called "Storybook Land" which seemed to be free, so I went in and soon found
myself walking down the Yellow Brick Road.
I discovered, Aberdeen at one time was the home of L. Frank Baum, author of the
book The Wizard of Oz, which of course was made years later into a famous
movie. L (or "Frank" as
his friends probably called him) was a native of New York, but he lived in Aberdeen for a few
years during which he started up a newspaper before moving back to New
York. He apparently based his book The Wizard of Oz on his experiences of living
in Aberdeen in the 1880s, which, as you know, was a period of drought,
tornadoes, and flying monkeys.
To commemorate Baum's one-time residence
city of Aberdeen created a cute park a few years ago, called "Storybook
Land," with lots of characters from The Wizard of Oz as well as other storybook characters. After walking by countless Cats
Playing the Fiddles and Cows Jumping over the Moon, I walked into the official
Storybook Land Visitor Center
and proudly told the nice woman there that I'd recently visited Mother Goose's
actual grave in Boston (see News: July 22, 2001). I'm not sure if she was impressed but, with
typical Midwestern friendliness, she tried to appear so.
Admittedly, Storybook Land isn't DisneyWorld, but it
was free and I figured that a park
like this would charge at least $15 for admission if it were in California or Florida.
Quaint, homespun places like this are one reason I love the Midwest.
left: The entrance to Storybook Land in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Just follow the Yellow Brick Road.
center: Here's the cast... with a rather benevolent-looking witch.
right: Pensive looks on the faces of Uncle Henry and Aunt Em.
According to the sign in the background, Aunt Em is sponsored by Wal-Mart.
left: Babe the Blue Ox with Paul Bunyan who, I thought, bore a striking
resemblance to Tom Selleck.
center: Is this a cute park or what?
right: A knight in shining (well, sort of) armor with Rapunzel in the
Travels (2001-02) >
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