Judy Rosebrook's son Brian knew exactly what song to play for the mother-son dance at his wedding reception four years ago.
The song represented his mother's fascination with a movie that for decades has delighted children by drawing them into an enchanting world where an ordinary girl is snatched from her humble surroundings and dropped literally into a captivating land where a man is made of tin, a scarecrow talks, and a lion cowers.
When "Somewhere over the Rainbow" from the Wizard of Oz began to play at Brian and Lauren Rosebrook's reception, "I lost it!" Judy Rosebrook said. "My heart melted and everyone in the room knew just how special that choice was."
During the last 20 years she has amassed an extensive Wizard of Oz collection to prove it. She has from 50 to 60 books and about 500 figurines, images, and objects.
It started when her sister Vicki Jo White of Loveland, Ohio, and the Rosebrooks' children -- daughter JoLynn Wheatley of Columbus and sons Kevin and Brian who live in Cincinnati -- began buying her Oz Christmas ornaments. Before long, other relatives -- including her brother and sister-in-law, Gary and Kris Mohn of Temperance -- friends, and acquaintances joined in the Oz gift giving. Eventually, the retired Patrick Henry Middle School eighth-grade science and language arts teacher received Oz gifts from students. Her five grandchildren are getting on board, too.
"I have bought quite a few collectibles over the years," she said.
Mrs. Rosebrook has stuffed Oz dolls and a set of clay dolls in a picnic scene. There are watches, lunch boxes, place mats, plates, CDs, DVDs, Teddy bears, and a collection of cows dressed in Oz outfits in her collection.
A quilt made by her sister hangs in her living room. For years she has paid bills using checks with the Oz theme.
"I get a lot of comments when I write checks," she said.
And her cell phone ring tone is -- of course -- "Somewhere over the Rainbow."
The graduate of Toledo's Woodward High School and her husband, Howard Rosebrook, live on the family farm in Deshler. In 2000, she attended the International Wizard of Oz Club convention at Indiana University. That stunned some people.
"They did roll their eyes when I said I was going to a four-day convention. It was the neatest thing. I learned so much," she said.
She was amazed to discover the worldwide popularity of the movie. She also learned that some of the characters in older Oz books have a Russian background.
Hundreds of people attended the centennial celebration of the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. It was a highlight for her to be photographed there with one of the actors who played a lollipop kid. She also met three actors who were munchkins, including Jerry Maren, now 92.
"It's just fun," she said about her collection.
As a member of the Defiance Toastmaster's Club, Mrs. Rosebrook has given speeches about the history of The Wizard of Oz. She has seen the movie at least 50 or 60 times, including anniversary editions with scenes not in the original movie. She also plays soundtracks while driving.
Her favorite Oz character? Dorothy, of course.
"And the cowardly lion," she said. Part of the reason she likes the lion is that her husband does a great imitation of the lion. Besides that, it represents her birth sign.
"I was born in August and I'm a Leo," she said.
Contact Rose Russell at: email@example.com or 419-724-6178.