I have always loved to read! I read all the books in our school library which isn’t saying much. I still love to read, although I am a little more selective than I was then. I like non-fiction history, but don’t care for historical novels, you know, the bodice-tearing, big hunk hero kind. This was not always the case. I loved Gone with the Wind!
We had a big over-stuffed chair in the living room and I liked to read by leaning back on one arm and putting my legs over the other. I was often told to sit in the chair right, but it wasn’t as comfortable that way. To me, I was sitting in the chair right. I think my Mom and Dad finally got tired of telling me and gave up.
When I was elven or twelve years old, Gone With the Wind came into my life. I think Aunt Anna may have included it in one of the boxes of stuff she sent from New York City. I know she sent books at times. In fact, one of the series she sent me was the complete Frank Daum series of The Wizard of Oz. I don’t know what happened to those books, but I do know what happened to Gone With the Wind. My daughter Kathy has it, having bought it on E-Bay when I sold it. That’s another story.
Anyway, one Saturday morning I picked up Gone With the Wind and started reading. I got comfy in my reading chair and was immediately entranced. I did have chores I was supposed to do on Saturday, and Dad was home. His job was to remind me of my chores when I forgot. This day I didn’t forget, I just couldn’t tear myself away from that awesome book to do them. I read and he reminded. When I absolutely HAD to, I got up from my comfy chair and did a chore or two….not well, but I did do them. Then it was back to the chair and the book until he forcefully reminded me again.
Anyone who has read Gone With the Wind knows that it is a long, although easy to read, book. I would rank it as one of the best books ever written. I can’t give it the absolutely best, but at the time, it was the best book I had ever read.
Keep in mind at the time I was reading everything by Horatio Alger…Phil, the Fiddler, etc. a series of books that followed the same plot. A young boy, always a boy, never a girl, as the hero. He was alway a poor boy from a bad background who by virtue of hard work became a wealthy man. Now there was only one kicker to the plot. The hero always came to the attention of a wealthy philanthropic man who helped him up the ladder of financial success. ( As I think about it now, I wonder what the man got out of the relationship….in today’s world, it would have been looked upon with suspicion.)
But I digress….back to Gone With the Wind. I read and read all that week-end, with minimal time outs to do chores. Dad kept saying, “Get your nose out of that book and get your chores done.” He may have finally given up. I don’t know, but I do know I read the entire book in one week-end. I loved Rhett Butler and didn’t think Scarlett was good enough for him. She, with her big attraction to Ashley Wilkes, definitely did not deserve Rhett’s undying love. Melanie was the perfect foil for Scarlett as she was so good and pure hearted. I don’t know which of these many characters I related to, but they have all stayed in my memory for all these years. I lived this book for that week-end, seeing in my mind’s eye the scenes described.
Years later, Doris (my best friend) and I went to the movie at the Booth Theater in Independence. We took snacks and candy…yes you could take candy into the theater then…as the movie was very long. It had an intermission in the middle. Anyway, Clark Gable played Rhett Butler. I should say, he WAS Rhett Butler. He was my favorite movie star and his portrayal of Rhett Butler, my fictional Prince Charming, was spot on. My , how I loved Rhett Butler. There was nothing that he couldn’t do. Scarlett was still as stupid as ever for not appreciating what she had!
Just as the book had been my favorite, so the movie was also my favorite. I have watched it several times since then, and still enjoy it.
(Aside: We went to the movie when Kristen was very small. Afterwards, often when there was a lull in the conversation, Kristen would say, “Scarlett fell down the stairs.” It didn’t fit into the conversation, but I guess Scarlett falling down the stairs made a big impression on her and she wanted to share .)