In honor of the Olympic struggle I thought I’d like to remind all of Hattie’s famous quote when she was chided by the NAACP regarding her playing of a maid in GWTW. She said, “a maid makes $7.00 a week and I make $700.00,….better to play a maid than be one”. If you read of Hattie’s life you would find it was not an easy one and she fought hard to attain (and maintain) the success she found in Hollywood (even dressing as a Mammie for her audience for GWTW)….and her part in GWTW was of a woman with just as much heart and determination.
In my research I have yet to find one person of color who could be said to be the model for Mammie, but I have found many that lived the story line in the movie and acquitted themselves with just as much strength and grace. Mammies who protected families, raised generations, stared down Sherman’s Yankees, stirred a pot full of dirty uniforms in the back yard of a Jonesboro mansion….and was laid to rest at her “masters” feet at her request. Not a history that is clean and disinfected but truthful,….just as Margaret so aptly told it…love and honor and passion mixed with the red clay of the Georgia Piedmont.
Today I give you the photo says so much about Hattie’s ability as an actor and the soul that spawned it. Here is a still from the scene with Scarlett as she sought to make a dress out of the late Mrs. O’Hara’s green velvet drapes and Hattie as Mammie sought to hold onto the few things left of the past before relenting and movie (with Scarlett) into the moment and doing what had to be done. In the black and white photo my buddy TJ Johns “ghosted” a color photo of the original shutter from that scene that still stands in the barn with the rest of Tara (and yes, some of the blue gray paint is still visible).
I think that if Hattie had survived into the 1980’s she would have visited the barn in Lovejoy and she would have enjoyed the company of Ms. Talmadge who fought so hard to preserve and present the Tara façade. But all we can do is imagine for like the history that Margaret shared, all of life is fleeting and leaves us with much we “should have done”.
I look forward to meeting you up at the gate.