2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.
By Sally Tippett Rains
On June 11 the Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting an event called “Legendary Tales” to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Margaret Mitchell’s book “Gone With The Wind.”
“Legendary Tales is a four-stop living history tour where fans can explore the literary setting of ‘Gone With The Wind,’” said Rebekah Cline, the Director of Marketing & Communications for Clayton County CVB.
Costumed storytellers will entertain attendees with stories of Jonesboro’s history that parallel both the characters and stories in the book.
Tickets are $20 per person and include the four-stop living history tour, admission to the Road to Tara Museum and admission to Stately Oaks Plantation. Visitors will tour at their own pace utilizing their own vehicle and they will be admitted to each event with their ticket.
The Road to Tara Museum features many items from the collection of Herb Bridges who is recognized as the authority on “Gone With the Wind” having written many books on it and lectured on it for years.
“I love that the Jonesboro museum sits in the train depot,” said Denise Tucker, GWTW collector and manager of several websites and facebook pages including GWTW…But Not Forgotten. “The train depot of Jonesboro is central to several scenes in the book and for that – the museum’s location is as relevant to the story as is the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum as the site where the story was penned. Additionally – being more of a Margaret Mitchell and book collector – I love the extensive book collection at Jonesboro and some of the unique Margaret Mitchell items.”
The GWTW Museum in Jonesboro also features a replica of “Tara.”
“I like to promote Jonesboro because they are tied to ‘Gone With The Wind’ and they embrace their tie,” said Angela Danovi, a GWTW fan who recently got her Masters degree.” I was hoping that things would be better coordinated where Jonesboro would have their event on Friday and Marietta would have their event mainly on Saturday. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out that way and so I’ve had to work out a schedule towards what I want to see and do over that weekend in June.”
It is a shame that there are two great events that attract the same target market audience and they are the same weekend, but they are not that far apart so travelers might be able to use some creativity. Danovi plans on trying to attend parts of both events.
“My friend, Christina Bystrom who attended the 50th anniversary in Atlanta in 1989, and I have bought tickets to the breakfast in Marietta on Friday morning and then we will likely go to Jonesboro after breakfast that day to visit the Clayton County museum. Saturday, we have tickets to two events in Marietta and plan to spend the day in Marietta.”
For travelers to the events there are also many other “Gone With The Wind” sites in the Atlanta area of Georgia including Margaret Mitchell’s grave, The Margaret Mitchell House and even Grady Memorial Hospital which has moved but was the place where Mitchell was taken by ambulance before she died.
“It will be interesting to visit the Jonesboro Museum and that area because it will be something new for me and because the representatives of the museum really seem to embrace their place in GWTW history as well as in Civil War history.
“The one thing that I think is really great for the Jonesboro museum during this 75th anniversary is that they have made their event very affordable at $20.00 for their Saturday event.”
Jonesboro has many Civil War-era buildings and homes including the Stately Oaks Mansion. Margaret Mitchell would have seen the Stately Oaks Mansion when she went to Jonesboro.
As mentioned in a previous blog, the Marietta event will highlight the movie, whereas the Jonesboro event spotlights the real Civil War history behind the story. 2011 is the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and the 75th Anniversary of the publication of “Gone With The Wind.”
This writer researched Margaret Mitchell’s Clayton County by going there and also by reading a scrapbook put together by one of Mitchell’s Civil War relatives. Here is an excerpt from “The Making Of A Masterpiece, The True Story of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind”:
The 1850’s were tumultuous for the United States as there was quarreling among sections of the country. The ‘North’ wanted a special protective tariff for their industries, the ‘West’ wanted free farms for settlers as well as aid for building roads and improvements, and the ‘South’ wanted to be left alone—but that was not happening.
The Old South’s feeling was much like Ashley Wilkes’ said in Gone With The Wind, page 108, “If Georgia fights, I’ll go with her….But like Father, I hope the Yankees will let us go in peace and there will be no fighting—“
Anti-slavery forces in the North weren’t so much worried about the South, who already had slavery, they wanted to insure Congress keep the expanding territory from having slaves. The Compromise of 1850 and The Missouri Compromise were attempts to settle the problems with compromise.
As new territories developed problems surfaced. The Kansas-Nebraska Act which established the new territories left room for legal slavery. The North was against the bill and it broke up the Whig political party for the newly formed Republicans who were dedicated to stopping slavery and especially preventing it from moving Westward. Those who wanted to end slavery (abolitionists) had been in force since the 1830’s but once Abraham Lincoln was elected president they knew the chasm was inevitable.
There was talk of the Southern states seceding from the Union and in his inaugural address Lincoln mentioned that it was illegal. Hard feelings led to the secession of the Southern States, the naming of Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederate States of America, and Davis naming General Robert E. Lee as head of the military. On April 12, 1961 Lee’s forces fired on Fort Sumter in the harbor or Charleston, SC. The war was on.
From the beginning, the North had more resources and at times it seemed all the South had was confidence and pride. Margaret Mitchell used Rhett Butler to explain this as he said on page 110, “Has any one of you gentlemen ever thought that there’s not a cannon factory south of the Mason-Dixon line? Or how few iron foundries there are in the South? Or woolen mills or cotton factories or tanneries?”
He also mentioned there were no warships and warned the North could take control of their harbors prohibiting them from selling their cotton overseas. The South had no factories, their main source of income was the cotton they grew and the sales of that cotton to the North and overseas.
At the beginning of war the call for volunteers was heeded. The South was united and determined. As the fighting got closer to Georgia the families in Clayton County talked of war more and more.
On March 10, 1862 Georgia Governor Joseph Brown’s mandate to raise forces from each county, caused young men in Clayton County to come running, heeding the call of the Confederacy. Companies from all counties surrounding Clayton met at Camp Stephens just outside of Griffin, Georgia. This group became the 44th Georgia Regiment of Volunteers. On April 4th the new regiment was ordered to Goldsboro, NC.
Mitchell re-enacted this scene in Gone With The Wind p. 144 as Charles Hamilton tells her, “Mr. Lincoln has called for men, soldiers—I mean volunteers—seventy-five thousand of them!” This scene was dramatically played out in the movie as the men ran from the Wilkes’ Barbecue to volunteer. Just the thought of that Mr. Lincoln beefing up the North’s army caused men and boys from every family to sign up.
Margaret Mitchell had learned about the Civil War from her relatives, including her grandmother and great-aunts who had lived through it and were still alive during most of her life. In the summers she went to the Jonesboro, Clayton County area to visit them. The Battle of Jonesboro marked the end of the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War. When Federal troops seized control of the railroad in Jonesboro, all supplies to Atlanta were cut off.
These things were known to Mitchell and she wrote about it. There are still buildings in Jonesboro that Mitchell and her family saw and they may have provided background for her book.
Right down the road is Fayetteville, Georgia where her great-grandparents and great-aunts are buried. Also in Fayetteville is the Holliday-Dorsey Fife House, a museum with information on the “Gone With The Wind” and the Doc Holliday connection.
For those who read this author’s book “The Making of A Masterpiece…” (www.GWTWbook.com), there are many destinations in Clayton County that are in the book. Several GWTW enthusiasts have told stories of taking their books with them and going to some of the places mentioned to get a taste of the real-life history behind GWTW.
The Jonesboro event covers some of the venues in the book.
Angela Danovi hopes that a coordinated effort between Jonesboro and the Marietta people will be made for the 75th Anniversary of the Movie.
“I hope future events are better coordinated between the GWTW venues in GA. Ideally, I’d like to see the Margaret Mitchell House, Oakland Cemetery, Marietta Museum, Clayton County, and the Fox Theater all coordinate together for the 75th anniversary of the film.
“It would be nice if they put together a 75th anniversary committee with representatives from each of the venues and a few members of the GWTW public to plan out events in 2014.
“Each of these places has something special to offer and they all could benefit from a coordinated event planning for the 75th anniversary of the film, culminating in a re-premiere at the Fox Theater.”