My husband and I recently had the opportunity to tour the Margaret Mitchell house, cleverly marketed as the birthplace of Gone with the Wind. I’m not sure what I expected when I walked in there, but whatever it was, I was wrong.
We paid the twelve bucks each to take the tour. I did not read the brochure before, so I was unaware that although the building was three story highs we would be seeing three rooms on the first floor. The large gift shop was about the size of half the space that we would be touring. About six of us lined up while a magenta haired woman took center stage.
She begins the tour by telling us who saved the building, which was once apartment buildings, from destruction, about multiple fires, and how the tile floor is the original tile floor. I would quickly learn that would be one of the only things that was original. Well, except for a toilet, but don’t get excited, it wasn’t Margaret’s toilet. No chance of sitting down and channeling greatness. It belonged to an apartment on the third floor.
She then complained in great detail because the keys were not numbered while searching for the one that would open Apartment Number One. My mood quickly shifted for the worst. The tour was of the apartment where she lived while writing the book. The walls, I think were even new. A living room, bed room, kitchen (smaller than most closets), and a bathroom with the third floor toilet. All filled with antique furniture purchased to give the appearance of what it would have looked like.
It wasn’t the short tour that aggravated me. It was the woman. I’m not sure that she has even read GWTW. She seemed so uneducated. She walked from room to room speculating and making weird comments about the photos. I was none too happy with my trusty tour guide.
When we excited, I finally went off on my own. I walked over to a plaque on the wall and began to read. And this was the place where everything changed. Margaret Mitchell’s first fiancé went to war, but never came home. Her first husband was a drunk and very abusive. She married a second time. She said that before she wrote GWTW, she read up everything she could get her hands on and feeling frustrated she started her own book. Her famous quote was “In a weak moment, I have written a book. “ (My closest friends will understand that.) And lastly, when she finished chapters she would put them in manila envelopes and send them to a friend who would read them. By the time I finished reading this plaque, my face was soaked. Tears involuntarily flowing down my face. My husband, who was reading along with me, says, “Wow, ya’ll have a lot in common.” And here, I thought I was nuts.
We walked over to the movie memorabilia part of the house. I turned to my husband and said, “If I ever make it big, let’s systematically burn and destroy every house we have ever lived in.” He laughed. He thought I was kidding.
But then Ann saved the day. I was standing in the gift shop holding a cookbook titled “Gone with the Grits” with complete disgust, when a southern woman’s twang filled the air. It was time for the 3:30 tour. Her humor and knowledge struck me. We took the tour again. She knew so much about the petite author, you would have thought they were old friends. She gave us gossip, and was full of laughs. A real tribute to the personality and quirkiness of Margaret Mitchell. By the end of the tour, I wanted to hug her neck.
I then went home and smiled at my own pile of manila envelopes filled with chapters.
Thanks Tour Guide Ann!