Aunt Pittypat’s Chairs…

I’ve read several book blogger’s posts recently about Gone With the Wind, which I read last year as part of my “Project: Civil War” reading. I was reminded that, when on an Indiana State Museum Volunteers tour in April, I visited the Dr. James Ford historic home, which included in its furnishings the actual chairs from Aunt Pittypat’s parlor (I think they said parlor, anyway) in the movie version of Gone With the Wind.  Below is a picture I took which includes the chairs.  Having not seen the entire movie, you couldn’t prove it by me if these were the chairs or not, but I thought I’d share the picture since it seems so many book bloggers love the novel and movie.  Here is a link to my prior post about the tour for the volunteers, and a link to the web site of the Dr. James Ford historic home and museum.

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M.R. James’s: “Mr. Humphreys and his Inheritance”

Okay, very little of this post is related to the story in the title, but I’m using it as an excuse to write about my day last Thursday…

Last Thursday, I got an opportunity to go on a day trip with the Indiana State Museum volunteers.  The trips are a semi-annual perk for the many volunteer workers that are part of the museum’s staff. My mom is one of them, and usually invites me to come along.  This time, we went to the town of Wabash, IN, known for being the first town in the world to be electrically lighted.

Our first stop was at the very recently renovated Charley Creek Inn.  Manager Kathryn MacMillan took us on a 45 minute tour of the building, which is in downtown Wabash and was originally opened in 1920.  I must say they have done a tremendous job in the restoration and the hotel is definitely someplace I would enjoy staying at overnight.

From a news video, see here:

For a video by the architects, see here:

Next, we went to see the Charley Creek Gardens

Their website is here:
It was the best time of year to visit as many of the flowers were in full bloom (azalea’s especially).  I also learned the ‘difference’ between the words “labyrinth” and “maze.”   There is a small hedge maze on the property.  I have been interested in hedge mazes ever since reading the M.R. James ‘ghost’ story, “Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance,” which prominently features a hedge maze.  You may find this story to read at http://arthursclassicnovels.com/jamesmr/humphriesin10.html

The difference between the two words, which are used somewhat interchangeably by most (me included, but I’ll try to do better in the future), is given below (lifted from amazeingart.com)

What is the difference between a maze and a labyrinth today?
Today people think of mazes as tricky and confusing puzzles, with false passages and dead ends. Examples include the Dole Pineapple Plantation maze, cornfield mazes, or the art from the Amazeing Art book. Labyrinths, on the other hand, are thought to have a single path that winds into center, and are often (but not always) circular. The best-known labyrinths are Church labyrinths, such as at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco or Chartres Cathedral in France.

Our guide at the gardens also  pointed out that their labyrinth is used as a ‘healing,’ meditative type of practice for some people – apparently as you navigate toward the center of the labyrinth you visualize yourself shedding your worries or troubles, and by the time you are done, you have healed yourself somewhat.  I had never heard of this practice before.  Below is the Labyrinth at Charley Creek Gardens.

Dr. James Ford historic home.

After a quick lunch at the gardens, we made what was probably my favorite stop at the Dr. James Ford historic home.  Ford served as a doctor during the Civil War (fitting right in with my reading project for 2010), and lived to a ripe old age.  The website for the home maybe be found here.

http://www.jamesfordmuseum.org/

As is my habit, I asked one of the caretakers of the home if there were any associated ghost stories, but – alas – she said “no,” mentioning that she had spent a lot of time in the house alone and “never noticed anything.”

One other item related to my reading this year was that the chairs in the dining room of the Dr. James home were the same chairs used in the movie Gone With the Wind to furnish Aunt Pittypat’s parlor.  The caretaker said many people want to know “which one Clark Gable sat in”…

I took a picture of some of the books on display in the doctor’s ’operating room’ in the house (complete with life-size model patient) which I used as the first photograph in this post.

Our fourth stop was at the Wabash County Museum, which currently features an in-depth exhibit about Stephen Douglass (of the Lincoln-Douglass debates fame) – another appropriate tie-in for my 2010 Civil War reading project.  Most of us were also held spellbound by a rather large model train set-up in another part of the museum.

Our final stop was at The Honeywell House, one of the region’s more opulent homes and the former residence of Mrs. Mark C. Honeywell.  The house also serves as a bed & breakfast from time to time – but only to a limited clientele (I think you have to ’know somebody’ to book a night’s stay there).  A beautiful house, though, and we were served a delicious dinner there as well.

That was it, except for the 105-minute bus ride home.  (One would think I could’ve gotten some reading done during the travel time on this trip, but I must sadly report, that I only read a few pages… )

Thoughts on Gone With the Wind

(I wrote most of this a few days ago offline, but now have peppered it with a bunch of quotations from the text)

As I’ve already written in earlier posts, I considered not having read this iconic work a serious gap in my ‘cultural literacy’ – one that has now thankfully been rectified.  At 959 pages, it took me maybe 20 hours total to read (at my age, that’s a pretty big time investment that I don’t make lightly)

I enjoyed the leisurely introduction of the characters in this book, the sheer length of which I suppose allows Mitchell this luxury.  Rhett Butler, for example, doesn’t even make his first appearance until after page 100.

To me, Gone With the Wind is the story of four people and how they dealt with the ‘end’ of the southern culture and the trauma of the Civil War. Agreed, the book has one protagonist, the infamous Scarlett O’Hara (-Hamilton-Kennedy-Butler), but her interaction with one or more of the other three (Rhett Butler, Ashley Wilkes, and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes) is continual throughout the work.

Rhett Butler is the opportunist, who sees the fall of the South as a way to enrich himself.  He is a social ‘outcast’ who refuses to let an earlier ‘indiscretion’ (at least by society’s standards) ruin his life.  He is imminently practical and often mentions how one can make money during the emergence of a civilization, but also during its dissolution, and that money can be made more quickly during the fall.

(regarding Scarlett’s thoughts of him) “But somehow, unbidden, she had a feeling of respect for Rhett Butler for refusing to marry a girl who was a fool.” – chapter 6 Read the rest of this entry »

Finally Finished!

Yes! I was able to complete this book over the weekend, reading the final 200 pages or so today.  I liked it very much, and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  I’ve written earlier that I’ve never seen the movie or read the book, and I was under the impression all the action took place during the Civil War, but the book goes well beyond the end of the war and far into the Reconstruction era.  I’ll write something longer about my overall impressions later, but wanted to brag that I had indeed finished this very long novel.

Another Progress Report: Gone With the Wind

I just finished with part four of GWTW (this is one loooonnng book – 959 pages in my edition). I have 170 pages to go – roughly four hours of reading at my ‘slow’ pace. Can I make it to the end today? We’ll see…

Progress report: Gone With the Wind

As of this morning, I have completed part 2 (I think that’s up to chapter 19).

****READ NO FURTHER if you don’t want me to spoil anything…****

Ashley Wilkes is a POW in Rock Island, Illinois. Sherman’s army is “at the gates” of Atlanta. Rhett Butler is still ‘working on’ Scarlett. Melanie Wilkes is still oblivious to Scarlett’s true nature (seemingly). Scarlett is still remarkably self-centered in spite of all the suffering and privation surrounding her. Oh, and Melanie is pregnant (Scarlett is predictably upset by this development)

The Civil War is about 75% over (chronologically) but the book is only about 30% over. How is MM going to fill up another 600 pages? I will find out soon, hopefully…

Now reading: Gone With the Wind

This will be my fourth book in Project: Civil War.  It is a dauntingly long novel, with which I’m sure everyone is familiar.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and, of course, was made into one of the most famous movies of all time. Now, frankly, I don’t give a damn (sorry, that was too easy) about movies per se and I am one of the probably few people who has never seen Gone With the Wind.  I have seen bits and pieces here and there, and have always meant to watch it, but never got around to it (or never had the four hours in a row to spare).

Now that I’m reading the novel, I consider my never having watched the movie a good thing.  I have been shocked, Shocked!  (there’s another famous movie for you) to learn a few things.  A)  Scarlett is only 16 years old at the start of the novel B) she actually got married and had a child with Melanie Hamilton’s brother Charles (who quickly dies, leaving her with child and in mourning)

As of this morning’s one-hour reading session while sipping my Starbucks (Grande Decaf with Hazelnut syrup with no room for cream), I am about 175 pages into the book (my version anyway), which finds Scarlett living in Atlanta, with her sister in law and ‘aunt-in-law’.  Those poor unfortunates assume Scarlett’s depression is due to her dead husband, and not the fact that she has to follow society’s conventions regarding mourning and is not “having any fun.”  Scarlett sees a chance at getting out, though, to help fill in with preparations for some party, and that is where I left her this morning.

I am enjoying the book so far.