Thing Two, the youngest son, has lately been reading my collection of Oz novels, finding them as much a delight as I did when I was a kid. Today he mentioned at dinner that there was golf in one of the books, and pointed out the chapter in “The Emerald City of Oz.” Actually, it’s just a brief mention, but the entire passage is such a satire on college athletics that I thought it worth printing in toto (pun intended). From The Emerald City of Oz (1910):
Before long they came to a stately building that stood upon a green plain with handsome shade trees grouped here and there.
“What is that?” asked Uncle Henry.
“That,” replied the Wizard, “is the Royal Athletic College of Oz, which is directed by Professor H. M. Wogglebug, T.E.”
“Let’s stop and make a call,” suggested Dorothy.
So the Sawhorse drew up in front of the great building and they were met at the door by the learned Wogglebug himself. He seemed fully as tall as the Wizard, and was dressed in a red and white checked vest and a blue swallow-tailed coat, and had yellow knee breeches and purple silk stockings upon his slender legs. A tall hat was jauntily set upon his head and he wore spectacles over his big bright eyes.
“Welcome, Dorothy,” said the Wogglebug; “and welcome to all your friends. We are indeed pleased to receive you at this great Temple of Learning.”
“I thought it was an Athletic College,” said the Shaggy Man.
“It is, my dear sir,” answered the Wogglebug, proudly. “Here it is that we teach the youth of our great land scientific College Athletics—in all their purity.”
“Don’t you teach them anything else?” asked Dorothy. “Don’t they get any reading, writing and ‘rithmetic?”
“Oh, yes; of course. They get all those, and more,” returned the Professor. “But such things occupy little of their time. Please follow me and I will show you how my scholars are usually occupied. This is a class hour and they are all busy.”
They followed him to a big field back of the college building, where several hundred young Ozites were at their classes. In one place they played football, in another baseball. Some played tennis, some golf; some were swimming in a big pool. Upon a river which wound through the grounds several crews in racing boats were rowing with great enthusiasm. Other groups of students played basketball and cricket, while in one place a ring was roped in to permit boxing and wrestling by the energetic youths. All the collegians seemed busy and there was much laughter and shouting.
“This college,” said Professor Wogglebug, complacently, “is a great success. Its educational value is undisputed, and we are turning out many great and valuable citizens every year.”
“But when do they study?” asked Dorothy.
“Study?” said the Wogglebug, looking perplexed at the question.
“Yes; when do they get their ‘rithmetic, and jogerfy, and such things?”
“Oh, they take doses of those every night and morning,” was the reply.
“What do you mean by doses?” Dorothy inquired, wonderingly.
“Why, we use the newly invented School Pills, made by your friend the Wizard. These pills we have found to be very effective, and they save a lot of time. Please step this way and I will show you our Laboratory of Learning.”
He led them to a room in the building where many large bottles were standing in rows upon shelves.
“These are the Algebra Pills,” said the Professor, taking down one of the bottles. “One at night, on retiring, is equal to four hours of study. Here are the Geography Pills—one at night and one in the morning. In this next bottle are the Latin Pills—one three times a day. Then we have the Grammar Pills—one before each meal—and the Spelling Pills, which are taken whenever needed.”
“Your scholars must have to take a lot of pills,” remarked Dorothy, thoughtfully. “How do they take ‘em, in applesauce?”
“No, my dear. They are sugar-coated and are quickly and easily swallowed. I believe the students would rather take the pills than study, and certainly the pills are a more effective method. You see, until these School Pills were invented we wasted a lot of time in study that may now be better employed in practicing athletics.”
“Seems to me the pills are a good thing,” said Omby Amby, who remembered how it used to make his head ache as a boy to study arithmetic.
“They are, sir,” declared the Wogglebug, earnestly. “They give us an advantage over all other colleges, because at no loss of time our boys become thoroughly conversant with Greek and Latin, Mathematics and Geography, Grammar and Literature. You see they are never obliged to interrupt their games to acquire the lesser branches of learning.”
“It’s a great invention, I’m sure,” said Dorothy, looking admiringly at the Wizard, who blushed modestly at this praise.
“We live in an age of progress,” announced Professor Wogglebug, pompously. “It is easier to swallow knowledge than to acquire it laboriously from books. Is it not so, my friends?”
“Some folks can swallow anything,” said Aunt Em, “but to me this seems too much like taking medicine.”
“Young men in college always have to take their medicine, one way or another,” observed the Wizard, with a smile; “and, as our Professor says, these School Pills have proved to be a great success. One day while I was making them I happened to drop one of them, and one of Billina’s chickens gobbled it up. A few minutes afterward this chick got upon a roost and recited ‘The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck’ without making a single mistake. Then it recited ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ and afterwards ‘Excelsior.’ You see, the chicken had eaten an Elocution Pill.”
They now bade good-bye to the Professor, and thanking him for his kind reception mounted again into the red wagon and continued their journey.