Now, before you folks grab the tar and feathers because of the title please hear me out! Gone with the Wind is still second only to the Bible in books sales and is still number one at the box office in today’s dollars….and because of that popularity it has been misrepresented, copied and out in out lied about since the first book hit the shelf in 1936 and the movie Premiered in Atlanta in 1939. Consider that after 75 years there are still attorneys working to keep the rights to the book safely in the hands of the estate and you can make a phone call and talk to Mr. Paul Anderson, Jr. (Sr., now retired had been the watchdog of the book since its inception) who still keeps watch care over Margaret Mitchells Pulitzer Prize winning work. In face when I started my GWTW Tour in Jonesboro in 1996 I was contacted by the Senior Mr. Anderson to make sure that what I was presenting was not in any way a detriment to the book and later when I published my stories (Lost In Yesterday) the Andersons both read my treatise and approved its premise and then kindly gave me the contact information for Eugene Mitchell who agreed to write a short blurb for my book.
So, with that being said I want to encourage all who have even a passing interest in Gone with the Wind to use your head and be a little skeptical of those ready to proclaim a site, a location, an item or tale the real thing without any provenance (the proof of its origin). May I suggest that you not be afraid to ask where they got their information or how they came to a certain conclusion. There are many great resources for information about Margaret Mitchell, her life, her book and the movie…so it’s not like I’m telling you to learn Sanskrit or bury yourself in a library for months….that’s what we who write the books and share the information are supposed to do,….so don’t be afraid to ask us where we found a certain story,….we will be glad to give you all the details (every last boring bit of them).
Over 20 years ago the ladies of the Road to Tara Museum went to Savannah for a tourism conference and as the drive of the bus pulled up in front of the hotel he said, “you know they filmed many of the scenes in Gone with the Wind right over there”. At that point the ladies of Jonesboro drew straws and the loser had to confront the bus drive with the FACT that NO Scenes were filmed in Georgia (or any other state other than California) which brought a reply from the driver that, “well it was good for business”. I’d say, “no its not”….it’s a lie and a lie is not better than the truth.
Today there are houses in Georgia that claim a GWTW connection because they look like Tara (although they were built after the movie came out in 1939). There are sites that claim they, “were the inspiration for Tara” when they have nothing stating that “fact” and there are places that claim that the love story that happened on their grounds was the basis for that of Rhett and Scarlett. May I suggest you ask for “chapter and verse”?…. find out if the person who began the rumor was a member of the tourism board, local chamber of commerce or the owner of the house in question?
Tara stands today in a barn in Lovejoy, Georgia without fear of rebuttal. The late Betty Talmadge not only obtained the Tara façade from Julian Foster but a box of documents and accompanying photos from the set showing its dismantling. Betty has the photos and information from the “Welcome Home Tara” celebration in Atlanta in 1960 and an appraisal from the top appraiser of one of kind items in the world. And of course the Fitzgerald House which also has a long list of documents and photos as well as the letters of Margaret herself saying that when she wrote Gone with the Wind, “it was Rural Home (Fitzgerald House) that was HER Tara”. So don’t be afraid to ask for proof because your time and money are as important as the next person and you certainly don’t want to be paying for a fraud,…because its good for tourism”.
I’ll be looking for you up at the gate…and have plenty of documentation to prove all of my stories.