Yes….I know what you all are thinking. Wasn’t she fictional? I mean, Judy Garland was a real actress and person who played her, but there was no little girl who went to the land of Oz…right? Well, if you asked my 8 year old self that I would CONVINCE you that all of these things did in fact exist. But the 40s something self knows better…and then I stumbled across something that made me love this movie even more.
Located in Bloomington, IL at 302 E. Miller St, lies a beautiful Cemetery known as Evergreen Memorial. And up until 2020, I had no idea that Dorothy was a real little girl. Yes, Dorothy Louise Gage was the niece of Frank L. Baum and tragically she passed away at the young age of 5 months old from a pneumonia like illness called “congestion of the brain.” To honor her memory and comfort his family, Baum gave her the honor of being his lead character in his beloved “Wizard of Oz.”
Then many decades later, several oak trees in the Cemetery started dying off. Instead of just chopping them down or pulling them out, they got creative and carved the likeness of Dorothy, Toto, and the yellow brick road from the one nearest to her grave.
I went looking for it in June of 2020 and I was NOT disappointed! First of all, it did take some time to find her headstone. There is a marker on the drive that tells you the area she is in, but you still have to do some walking to find it. The tree sculpture is on the LEFT of her grave, the marker is straight in front of her about 20 feet, and she is located between two bushes towards the back.
Honestly seeing the little girl’s grave was emotional….knowing that she died so young, knowing she was the light of a childhood book and movie and that Mr. Baum and his family stood on that very spot to wish her a tearful goodbye. It’s a beautiful spot and I wished I had brought a teddy bear or something for the little soul. It is definitely worth checking out and paying your respects…I can only hope that she is skipping on her own yellow brick road right now. Some odd trivia for you…Dorothy passed away in June, the same month that Judy Garland passed away as well. In fact, Judy passed away on my birthday…and I played her in our Oz production in High School. Crazy huh? It’s a small world after all…
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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!