2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.
Remember the movie/musical, Meet Me In St. Louis with Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, June Lockhart and the others? The movie came out in 1944 and was about the Smith Family of St. Louis, Missouri and how they looked forward to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition which most people (other than the youngest Smith daughter, “Tootie”) called the 1904 World’s Fair.
The city and the fair were an inspiration to Sally Benson, the St. Louis girl who grew up to be a writer and had her stories published as columns originally in The New Yorker. The articles were compiled for a book called 5135 Kensington and eventually the movie, Meet Me In St. Louis. Known as the “Gateway To The West” St. Louis is a town full of history, including the Old Courthouse, where the famous Dred Scott decision was handed down, and the most recognizable landmark, the St. Louis Arch (also known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) stands proudly overlooking the Mississippi River. One of the city’s treasures is the memory of the 1904 World’s Fair.
Just like Margaret Mitchell, who wrote Gone With The Wind based in part on family happenings, Sally Benson grew up in the area her book was about . The name Smith was in her family; and when her father Alonzo took a job in New York, he moved the family from their hometown of St. Louis–just like what was supposed to happen in the movie.
There are several buildings in Forest Park which still remain from the 1904 World’s Fair. A beautiful setting for pictures and weddings is the “World’s Fair Pavillion.” The World Famous St. Louis Zoo boasts “the World’s Fair Flight Cage” a large birdcage full of exotic birds. The ice cream cone and hamburger were said to have been invented at the 1904 World’s Fair as were many things such as iced tea. The iced tea claim has been refuted, sort of like those who say Abner Doubleday didn’t invent baseball, and Pluto is not a planet.
How would you like to see some of the sights that were actually there in 1904? If you come to St. Louis for the Gateway To The Wind Festival in November you will get the chance to actually have lunch in one of the buildings used for planning. The Saint Louis University Museum of Art, which will house some GWTW exhibits and be the site of the “Wilkes Barbecue/Margaret Mitchell Birthday Luncheon” on Saturday Nov. , 2010 played a big part in the World’s Fair.
“The idea for the St. Louis 1904 World’s Fair is said to have surfaced at a dinner at the St. Louis Club and much of the planning took place there,” says their website. “The club then purchased 14 paintings from among those exhibited at the World’s Fair. These formed the nucleus of a collection that became one of the best-regarded private collections in the city.”
For those interested in traveling to St. Louis for this fun-filled, educational event, the Drury Inn-Forest Park is the headquarters hotel (www.DruryHotels.com) and they are now taking reservations. There will be two days of speakers and exhibits (Saturday Nov. 6 and Sunday Nov. 7), but Friday night there will be a stage production featuring the music and comedy of Anna Blair, a Gone With The Wind collector and St. Louis area performer and cabaret singer.
Saturday will feature an antebellum ball, “The Gateway To The Wind Charity Ball” to benefit Rainbows For Kids, a 501 (c) (3) charity for families and children with cancer. Three of the actors who played “Beau Wilkes” at different age progressions will be featured during the weekend and a documentary called “The Making Of A Masterpiece” which tells about Margaret Mitchell writing Gone With The Wind as well as explains some of the St. Louis ties to Gone With The Wind, including the fact that General Sherman who played a big part in Scarlett O’Hara’s family’s life is buried there will be shown. There will be a nice mix of Gone With The Wind the Movie; Gone With The Wind, the Book; and Civil War History at the Gateway To The Wind Gone With The Wind Festival.
For more information click on the “St. Louis Event” button. Details on how to actually reserve your spot at the events will come later. We’d love to hear from you if you are planning on coming.
By Sally Tippett Rains, author of The Making Of A Masterpiece, The True Story of Margaret Mitchell’s Classic Novel Gone With The Wind (www.GWTWbook.com). June 1, 2010
Special thanks to John Wiley, editor of “The Scarlett Letter”, a quarterly newsletter for fans and collectors of Gone With The Wind. It is an interesting, fun read. To subscribe, send $18 (if in U.S. $20 otherwise) check payable to: The Scarlett Letter, and mail to: P.O. Box 73701; Richmond, VA 23235-8045.