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The Gone With the Wind Trail: Where Everyone Gives a Damn

Andrea Gross | Jan 1, 2014, midnight

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“Gone with the Wind,” the book, has been published in more than 40 languages, including Amharic (Ethiopia) and Kamnada (India).

Why, of course. GWTW addresses a basic concern: If their old world is “gone with the wind,” how do people create a new one that will work in their new circumstances? This is a question asked by everyone who has ever suffered a hardship, be whatever the cause. When seen in this light, it’s easy to understand the story’s universal and enduring appeal.

Our next stop is Atlanta’s Public Library, where there are more than 1,500 of Mitchell’s personal items, including her old Remington typewriter and 1937 Pulitzer Prize certificate.

We’re even more fascinated by the items on display at the Marietta GWTW Museum, Scarlett on the Square, which holds a treasure-trove of photos and ephemera. I examine the film contracts. Gable got $160,000 plus a bonus that enabled him to divorce his wife and marry Carole Lombard, the love of his real life. On the other hand, his co-star Vivian Leigh got a mere $30,000. Yes, Gable was a mega-star but still, I can’t help but wonder what Mitchell, who was quite the feminist for her time, thought of that.

Finally, we double back to Atlanta to visit Oakland Cemetery, where Mitchell is buried next to her husband. Her tombstone is small compared to many and gives no hint of her fame. It’s simply inscribed with her married name, Margaret Mitchell Marsh. Someone, a Windie no doubt, has decorated the grave with pink flowers, reputedly Mitchell’s favorite color.

I want to extend my stay in Georgia, to delve more deeply into the GWTW phenomena and to learn more about the era in which the novel is set. But we have a plane to catch, so I console myself by remembering Scarlett’s words, “Tomorrow is another day.” I’ll be back.

For more information: www.gwtwtrail.com

A festival celebrating the 75th anniversary of the film’s release will take place at the Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum from June 6 to June 8. For more information, visit www.gwtwmarietta.com

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