‘Gone With the Wind’

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It was just 77 years ago last week that the premier showing of “Gone With The Wind” was held in Atlanta. It was made from a book Atlanta native, Margaret Mitchell, had written while stuck in her apartment due to an injury. It is said that her husband got tired of bringing her books to read from the library and suggested she write one, since she had been successful writing for the Atlanta Constitution since the early 1930s.

She accepted the challenge and soon had envelopes full of her pages and even used some of those envelopes to prop up a couch. A visiting book publisher heard she might have something and coaxed her to give up all those envelopes. I heard he had to buy a suitcase to put them all in. I’ll leave out the details of David Selznick putting together actors and actresses and costumes and locations. I and will only comment that these were all in California and no, none of them took place in Georgia.

If you have lived here say, less than 40 years, you might not know that this very movie, “Gone With The Wind” was shown here in Fayetteville in the Sams Auditorium. If you have only lived here a couple years, it’s located at the old high school and was named for a former school superintendent.

In the fall of 1970 C. J. Mowell and I got the bright idea that since the next year would be the 150th birthday of Fayette County, something ought to be done to honor that occasion. Newspaperman, Jimmy Booth, suggested we do it. O.K. – shouldn’t be a problem. Right?

Talk about a learning experience! We got together a committee interested in the county’s history and we laid out an eight-day plan. Each day would honor some historic point in our history.

Needless to say, this was about four or five days too long, but this lesson did not hit us until it was over.

One of the days the committee felt should be devoted to showing the above mentioned movie. I can’t remember who we first wrote to, but permission to show it was promptly turned down. Miss Mitchell died in 1949 and her older brother, Stephens Mitchell, was in charge of her estate, not to mention he was in Atlanta. So we applied there next and by golly, he said it would be fine with him. Bless his heart.

We had to have a special kind of projector and I don’t remember where we found one, but find one we did.

On the afternoon of June 29, 1971 and again on that evening, the full, uncut version of “Gone With The Wind” was shown right here in greater downtown Fayetteville. Oh! the tickets were $2.50 for adults and children under 12 were $1.00.

Did you know that Scarlett attended the Fayetteville Female Academy? It says so right there on the bottom of page 8 in your copy of the above mentioned book.

More next week.