In 1936, when Margaret Mitchell was asked where the stories in Gone with the Wind originated she answered, “practically all of the incidences in GWTW were true”. Later she would say that the “little maid Prissy was a real person”. In other letters she would relate hearing the stories “on grandpa’s front porch” and “on the fat slippery laps” of her great aunts. She would go on to give credit to her mother who shared the tales of her Fitzgerald families struggles, as well her father, who’s knowledge of the Civil War and the fighting around Atlanta gave her someone who shared the heritage and the passion of the time, “of cavaliers and cotton fields”.
Today you only have to travel to the land south of Atlanta to hear the tales that filled the pages of Margaret’s book. It only takes a trip down the McDonough Road “to the south” (the road the Yankees hadn’t cut) to find the truth in the stories that filled the pages of Gone with the Wind. Over the past twenty years I have had the honor of finding and documenting, “Prissy”,….as well as the real Mellie, Ashley and the Green Velvet drapes. I have found amongst the dusty pages of Jonesboro’s history the story of the dresses made from draperies, parlor prayers, fence jumping patriarchs and “political meetings” during the dark days of reconstruction.
And now, at the end of that “red earth trail from Jonesboro to Lovejoy” sits the pieces of Tara. The movie set that welcomed Gerald home from his ride and shown thru the moonlight to assure Scarlett that it still stood and “the Yankees hadn’t burned it”, has survived twenty years on the California studio backlot and over thirty years in a north Georgia barn before arriving on the Talmadge Plantation in 1983. Now, its pieces are being dusted off and cleaned up so that those who always longed to view her can visit her where her story began in 1936, amid the red clay roads of the Georgia Piedmont.
If you are interested in finding the truth of Gone with the Winds story may I suggest you visit the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro, Georgia (just south of the Atlanta airport) and there take The Gone with the Wind Tour on their little bus. It is the tour that I created and that the Mitchell Estate wrote about and the ONLY Gone with the Wind Tour in the world. On the little bus you will hear my voice on tape as I share the tales that still stir my soul over twenty five years later. My book, Lost in Yesterday is filled with the stories from that tour.
The Tara façade continues to gain fame and hear from media sources throughout the world but she looks for the day when more of her fans will show up to visit with her in person.I am now encouraging folks to consider gathering up ten of their friends and contacting me for a special tour that can include weekdays, weekends and times of your choosing(bring a few lawn chairs and a bottle of wine and we can enjoy a question and answer session at the end). If you would be interested in a special tour please message me for more information.
I look forward to meeting you all, up at the gate.