Chamblee54

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Posted in Book Reports, Georgia History, GSU photo archive, History by chamblee54 on September 9, 2015

LBMPE1-023az

N02-39_ax


PG managed to miss the Decatur Book Festival this year. One friend made it.

“This program was followed, after another walk through the vendor area back to the public library’s auditorium, by a staged reading of a short play, Tommorrow Is Another Day. The setting: the apartment of Atlanta novelist Margaret Mitchell and her husband John Marsh, on a morning in December 1939, two days before the movie version of Mitchell’s famous book premiers in Atlanta’s Lowe’s Theater. Mitchell’s African-American housekeeper of many years has almost finished reading Mitchell’s book, and Mitchell asks for her housekeeper’s opinion of it. What the Mitchell’s housekeeper tells Mitchell and her husband made for compelling theater!”

The play is fiction. From what this slack blogger has read about Peggy Marsh, she probably did not give books to her household help. It is possible that the cleaning lady did not know how to read. The playwrite, Addae Moon, had to use dramatic license to tell his side of the story.

“…the 43-year-old black writer found he liked some things about the 79-year-old novel. Not everything, of course. “I got frustrated with it. I had to put it down because I got angry.” But he’d pick it up later and keep going. “I totally understand Margaret’s desire to tell your point of view and your truth, but I also can understand what it feels like to be the victim of someone else’s truth…. It’s easy to be critical of the movie, which is more cartoonish, but, to me, the book is so much more complex.”

It has been a long time since PG read GWTW. It is tough to imagine it from the perspective of a contemporary Black man. GWTW was written by a White woman, of a byegone era. There are many sides to the story. This post will try to tell a few. The rest of it is a double repost from a few years ago. If that does not satisfy your lust for trivia, you can check out the Margaret Mitchell page at find-a-death.com. (It is full of errors, like calling her “Maggie”.) Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.


As we started to discuss the other day, PG is reading I Remember Margaret Mitchell by Yolande Gwin. It starts with August 11, 1949. Margaret Mitchell, known to her friends as Peggy Marsh, went to to see “A Canterbury Tale” at the Peachtree Art Theater. She left her apartment on Piedmont Avenue, accompanied by her husband John. They parked across the street, and Mrs. Marsh was struck by a taxi, driven by Hugh D. Gravitt. She died August 16, 1949.

This story contradicts what PG heard about the accident. The other story is that Mrs. Marsh had been at the Atlanta Women’s Club, having cocktails, where her husband met her. In this account, Mrs. Marsh was bombed, and never knew what hit her. (One mile south west, and fifty five years later, PG had an encounter with a speeding taxi.)

On page 23, another myth is challenged. The traditional story is that if you asked Margaret Mitchell if she based Scarlet O’Hara on herself, she would look horrified. “Scarlet O’Hara was a hussy”. This view is challenged by an Atlanta native, who went to a party, and saw that Margaret Mitchell was the life of the party. “Scarlet O’Hara is certainly the personification of Margaret Mitchell”.

Margaret Mitchell was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal. She married John Marsh on July 4, 1925, and injured her ankle in 1926. Every day Mr. Marsh brought home books to his bedridden wife. One day, he brought home a writing pad, and said “You have read everything I’ve brought you so now you write a book.”

The couple lived in a small apartment on Crescent Avenue, across from a mural of a southern colonel. (I would even go north for Southern Bread) They moved out of “the dump”, in 1932, to an apartment at 4 17th Street. When Peggy sold a few books, and John’s career at Georgia Power prospered, they moved to the Della Manta. This was at the corner of Piedmont and South Prado, across from her beloved Piedmont Driving Club.

Mrs. Marsh wrote and wrote, preferring a typewriter to a writing pad. Each chapter was kept in a manila envelope, which were piled up all over the place. Some chapters were re written sixty times. In 1935, Harold Latham, of MacMillan Publishers, was in the south looking for talent. He persuaded Mrs. Marsh to let him look at her book, and would not give it back to her.

The title of her book was borrowed from a poem by Ernest Dawson, Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae . The line of the poem was “I have been faithful to thee, Cynara, (spell check suggestion: Canary) in my fashion; I forgot much Cynara, Gone With The Wind!”

The book became a runaway best seller. Macy’s of New York helped by ordering 50,000 copies. The idea was to offer GWTW as a loss leader, as Gimbels was doing. Federal price controls ruled this to be illegal, and Macy’s returned 35,000 copies to the publisher.

The first printing of GWTW has a mistake on the back page. The book was published June 30, 1936. The first edition says, on back of the title page, “Published May 1939”.

David Selznick bought the rights to GWTW, and you probably know the rest of that story. Shortly before the premiere of GWTW, someone at the Piedmont Driving Club pulled a chair out from under Mrs. Marsh. She had not started to stand up. Mrs. Marsh crashed hard on the floor, and hurt her back. This would require two rounds of back surgery.

Celestine Sibley tells a story about the Atlanta Women’s Press Club. Miss Sibley moved to Atlanta in 1941, and went to her first AWPC meeting, at the Henry Grady Hotel. “A plump little woman in a funny Carmen Miranda style hat” noticed the newcomer, and started to talk to her. In the early days of the war, there were blackouts, to save the city from German bombers. The plump little woman was an air raid warden in the area around Piedmont Park. Finally, Miss Sibley said she had to go catch the Piedmont-Morningside bus. Peggy Marsh said she had a car, and could take her home.


PG is reading I Remember Margaret Mitchell by Yolande Gwin. It is a collection of memories of Peggy Marsh, who wrote “Gone with the Wind”. ( If you didn’t know that, just close this window, and go look for your “friends” on facebook.)

Yolande Gwin was for many years the society editor of the Atlanta Constitution. She wrote a review of GWTW in 1936, before it’s publication. Mrs. Marsh sent her a letter of appreciation…
“I never dreamed you were going to give me so much space. I thought, as the resume of the story was so long. that you’d just give an introductory paragraph and let me ride. And I’d have ridden, just as happy as a n—-r at a hog killing. But all that space, so long a story. so completely flattering a story – well. I’m still blushing about the ankles, as Jurgen once remarked … And oh, Yolande. how nice of you to refer to me as a “young author!” Me, who have passed the broiling stage and the frying stage and am rapidly approaching the roasting and baking stage. “
There is probably going to be a second post about I Remember Margaret Mitchell. Chamblee54 is not responsible for GWTW junkies who overdose on Margaret Mitchell trivia. This post is about fact checking, google, and how a couple of simple questions can turn into an all afternoon goose chase.

There are two basic questions: Was Yolande Gwin married, and did she work for the Journal or the Constitution? As for the first, the expression Ms. sounds like a mosquito with a speech impediment, and is not appropriate for use with an society page writer. The trouble is, Miss or Mrs. depends on the marital status of the woman. After an hour or so of looking up google results, PG cannot find out whether or not Yolande Gwin was married. Sometimes, the correct answer is “I don’t know”.

As for the second, an obituary for the lady says that she wrote for the Journal-Constitution for fifty years. The fact is, the Journal and Constitution were separate papers until they were combined in 1982. (Cox Enterprises bought the Constitution in 1950. This made the Journal and the Constitution sister papers, rather than competitors.) As for who Yolande Gwin wrote for, there are contradictory stories on the internet. A google book about rural electrification says that Yolande Gwin wrote for the Constitution. The Atlanta History Center says the Yolande Gwin wrote for the Journal. They have a picture of the lady, with a ghastly AHC watermark across her face.

Another google book, The last linotype: the story of Georgia and its newspapers since World War II By Millard B. Grimes confirms that Yolande Gwin worked for the Constitution.
“”One day I was sitting there looking at a blank sheet of paper; I didn’t have any news. And that’s when I happened to remember kidding Peggy (Margaret Mitchell) about writing the “Great American Novel.” so I called her up and said, ‘How about that Great American Novel. have you ever finished it? I need some news.’ She said, ‘You won’t believe it, but Macmillan has taken it.’ And I said, ‘Goody, goody. Grand.’ And I put a piece in the column (written under the name Sally Forth) about it, never expecting it to be what it was, you know.” The dale was February 9, 1936.”

Advertisements

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Cal said, on September 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Velly intellesting! Thanks for reading (and linking to) my blogpost about the Mitchell-inspired playlette I saw at the Book Festival – and for seeking out its author’s name. (I’ve revised the blogpost to include it, and the name of Mitchell’s housekeeper.)

    • chamblee54 said, on September 9, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      If you read the book by Yolande Gwin (which I found at the Chamblee Library) you might find the IRL name of the housekeeper. There were only a handful … apparently Mrs. Marsh got along well with the help. Another person in the book, whose name escapes me, was a favorite bartender at the Piedmont Driving Club. It might have been more interesting to have this imaginary discussion, about GWTW, with this the bartender. Planter’s punch was Mrs. Marsh’s favorite drink.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: