Mariam Webster defines the word “ghost” in a number of ways,….a spirit, an apparition and a phantom, to name a few. And everyone one of those definitions can be found at the Tara façade.
When I first walked among the pieces of the Tara façade almost two years ago there appeared to be nothing there but random piles of wood amidst assorted lawn furniture and old go carts. It took the efforts of a great group of volunteers to help me clear out the junk and begin cleaning and retagging the pieces of the Tara façade before the “ghosts” made their presence known. No, they were not the kind that go “boo” or attempt to scare we the living, but they were ghosts just the same,…the phantoms, the apparitions and the spirits of the past.
One of the first terms I taught the volunteers was the term ghost. I used it in the context of the markings on the wood which showed were another piece was once attached (a phantom if you will). These “apparitions” showed the pale outline of where one board fit to another and allowed us to thus catalogue and in some cases reattach the two pieces so that another portion of Tara could rise from the pile of planks. On other occasions we found that the markings of the handmade strap hinges (which appear to have been created by a blacksmith) could be matched to a particular shutter or frame by simply matching the “ghost” of its outline to the piece. You see, each of the hinges, being handmade are unique and therefore have a distinct outline which varies it from all others.
By following these markings, those with no real restoration or construction experience were able to document, preserve and reattach many of the iconic pieces of the Tara façade and thus provide the “wow factor” that most experience when they first walk into the old dairy barn. The markings of the past truly do guide us along the path as we attempt this project.
But I cannot end this post without talking about the other ghosts amongst the pieces of Tara…they are the spirits and apparitions that all of us encounter when we walk amongst the pieces of this, the most iconic of all movie sets. You see, none of us leaves the barn after a visit (whether first time tourist or seasoned volunteer) without a flood of memories of those who stood amongst these pieces and delivered the words of a script…..and the passion of their heart. I cannot pass the tall window from Tara’s front porch without a thought to my good friend Fred (Crane, Bret Tarleton) who toed his mark and delivered the first lines of the film while standing with seasoned actors George Reeves (Besselo) and Vivien Leigh. I cannot touch the shutter that covered the window that stood behind Butterfly McQueen or view the cathedral window from the top of the stairs without a passing thought of what was done, and how and with who. Yes, the place is filled with the ghosts of the past, not only in the markings of the pieces as they are attached but the “spirit” of the project and those who made the film happen.
Today, I have posted a few of the photos of the “ghosts” amongst the pieces but that will never be enough, ….you must purchase The Official Guide to the Saving Tara Project (signed copies available here) so you can learn more and see the photos that have never been published until now. And for those who can, you must make your way to the old dairy barn and there make your acquaintance (and peace) with Tara.
For the rest of the year I will be taking groups of ten or more on a special tour of the Tara façade which will allow extra time and some surprises. I am sorry that I cannot accommodate those who want to come in small groups of one or two guests, there is only so much time available for tours but if you want to pay the price of ten guests you can set up a special tour for yourself and a friend or two,
I will not turn you down,…simply contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll be looking for you up at the gate.