Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Tis the Season for Southern Cookin': A Christmas Feast

Merry Christmas! We hope you're enjoying a wonderful day with family and friends, lots of presents, and delicious food. As you sit down for your own Christmas feast this evening, we've got a holiday meal to offer you as well. We've cooked up you a lavish Christmas dinner, based on a Christmas menu listed in Atlanta's own The Dixie cook-book (1883). Below you'll find the full dinner menu, with recipes waiting for you after the jump. Enjoy! 


A Christmas Dinner Menu

Raw oysters served with sliced lemon
Turtle soup
Baked fresh fish
Roast turkey garnished with fried oysters
Mashed potatoes
Lima beans
Pickled beets
Mayonnaise of chicken salad
Celery
Cranberry sauce
Christmas plum pudding with rich sauce
Mince pie
Sponge and lady cake mixed
Fruit and nuts

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, dear readers! May your day be filled with everything that brings you joy! 
 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Trees in the Era of Gone with the Wind

In 1870, Christmas was proclaimed an official federal holiday, in an effort to unite into one celebration a country that had been divided by a war. The foundations to this project lay in a series of elements that were already common to Christmas celebrations both in the North and in the South and that ultimately contributed to forging an American identity. It's on one of these elements that we are going to focus today: the Christmas tree.

The first Christmas trees appeared in the German communities of Pennsylvania in the first decades of the 19th century. Multiple accounts and sketches survive of these decorated trees, including a charming announcement from the Society of Bachelors in York, Pennsylvania  that in 1823 was promising to decorate its Christmas tree so that it would "be superb, superfine, superfrostical, shnockagastical, double refined, mill'twill'd made of Dog's Wool, Swingling Tow, and Posnum fur; which cannot fail to gratify taste." (Because, seriously, who wouldn't want a Christmas tree that is superfrostical and snockagastical at the same time?) The custom quickly became a point of fascination for Americans in the neighboring states and Christmas trees began to appear in parlors in New York and Boston.

By the early 1840s, the phenomenon of the Christmas tree had started to move southward.  In 1842, the citizens of Williamsburg, Virginia were buzzing with excitement to see the very first Christmas tree known to state history. It was Charles Minnegerode, a German-born professor of classics at William and Mary College, who introduced the first Christmas tree that holiday season, bringing over an evergreen to the home of his friend, Judge Nathaniel Beverly Tucker. Fortunately for us, a first-hand account of this 'inaugural' Southern Christmas tree has not been lost to the sands of time. A young Sarah Pryor, who you might remember from her account of the daring hoop skirt blockade runner, was on hand to recall the event in her memoir:
"The beautiful Christian custom of lighting a Christmas tree—bringing 'the glory of Lebanon, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box,' to hallow our festival —had not yet obtained in Virginia. We had heard much of the German Christmas tree, but had never seen one. Lizzie Gilmer, who was to marry a younger son of the house, was intimate with the Tuckers, and brought great reports of the preparation of the first Christmas tree ever seen in Virginia.

"I had not yet been allowed to attend the parties of 'grown-up' people, but our young friend John Randolph Tucker was coming of age on Christmas Eve, and great pressure was brought to bear upon my aunt to permit me to attend the birthday celebration... The tree loaded with tiny baskets of bonbons, each enriched with an original rhyming jest or sentiment, was magnificent, the supper delicious, the speeches and poems from the two old judges (Tucker) were apt and witty."
--excerpted from My Day: Reminiscences of a Long Life by Sarah Pryor (1909)
Throughout the 1840s and early 185os, Christmas trees continued to grow in popularity, spurred by three very powerful forces in Victorian America: religion, commerce, and the publishing industry. Sunday schools began to incorporate Christmas trees into their holiday season festivities. The cheerful evergreens served as an enchanting reminder to young children about the Christian messages of renewal and promise at the heart of the Christmas season. In addition, resourceful teachers constructed games based around the Christmas tree, where pupils would receive small trinkets or sweets from the tree's branches for correctly reciting Bible verses.

Outside of the religious sphere, the world of commerce had also started to capitalize on the novel concept of the Christmas tree. Christmas trees were likely first sold for profit as early as 1840, when an intrepid farmer's wife from New Jersey set out for New York City with a cart full of trees for sale. By 1851, one of the first Christmas tree markets in New York City was set up in Washington Square by a gentleman by the name of Marc Carr. Other large cities soon adopted Christmas tree markets of their own.

The publishing world also served to widen the reach of the Christmas tree. Advertisements for Christmas trees started to cropped up in newspapers and magazines began to include holiday stories about Christmas trees. But there was one publication that played a greater role than all others in popularizing the Christmas tree in the United States. Any guesses about which one?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Black Christmas in the Antebellum South

"For the first time in their lives the negroes were able to get all the whisky they might want. In slave days, it was something they never tasted except at Christmas, when each one received a 'drap' along with his gift."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XXXVII

Starting with 1820, criticism of slavery and of the Southern lifestyle based on it became more and more pronounced, as the problem of the former expanding to the new Western territories arose. Faced with this pressure, the Southerners countered by creating a "cavalier" myth of the South that would help define and defend its peculiar institutions, and Christmas was to play a central part to this end. As P.L. Renstadt notes in Christmas in America. A History, "Christmas became a key element in expounding the southern ideal, one in which the perceived virtues of the plantation system could be symbolized and ritualized. In the boldest ways, the southern Christmas provided a picture of harmony amid increasing tension."

The relationship between master and slaves and the way slaves themselves celebrated Christmas became essential in defending the perceived rightness of the state of affairs in the South. Memoirs and letters use Christmas as an example that the reality of slavery was much less harsh than the Abolitionists imagined. Christmas in the antebellum South was ultimately a charade of benevolent paternalism, glorified to the limits of caricature in stories like William Gilmore Simms' Maize in Milk. A Christmas Story of the South, where noble planters with names like Colonel Openheart ignore their own financial difficulties to buy the old and infirm slaves of neighboring plantations to save them from being sold down river. 

And since noblesse oblige, this expensive act of charity couldn't shadow in the least the lavish celebrations of Christmas on the Carolinian plantation Maize in Milk. It was more important than ever to keep the old traditions alive in times of hardship, Colonel Openheart proclaimed to his somewhat more prudent wife. On Christmas day, he gathered all of his slaves -both old and new - to give them the gifts he had bought from them in the city. These included shawls, caps, razors, hatchets, knives, scissors and cases of pin and needles, but no money, for it would have been "spent perniciously at some neighboring groggery."

Poster of the Week

Most of our featured posters, and most Gone with the Wind posters in general, tend to focus solely on Scarlett and Rhett. To make up for that (and just in case you were bored with our favorite couple. Though, how could you ever be?), today we chose a set of 11x14 theater lobby cards from 1939 that show all of the four main characters, along with a title card with credits. You can leave thanks for the chance to gaze at Ashley Wilkes here.

 Movie images from moviegoods.com. Poster information cited from Herb Bridges' "Frankly My Dear..."


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

White Christmas in the Antebellum South

"I'm mighty glad Georgia waited till after Christmas before it seceded or it would have ruined the Christmas parties, too." 
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter I

“'Do you remember,' he said and under the spell of his voice the bare walls of the little office faded and the years rolled aside and they were riding country bridle paths together in a long-gone spring…  There was the far-off yelping of possum dogs in the dark swamp under cool autumn moons and the smell of eggnog bowls, wreathed with holly at Christmas time and smiles on black and white faces.” 
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter LIII

In the years following the Civil War, Southerners, both black and white, would look back at the old plantation Christmases with overwhelming nostalgia. For the former, like for Scarlett and Ashley, it was the charm and security of the wealthy antebellum days that they were crying after, the self-assured grace of their old lifestyle which had vanished in the throes of war and Reconstruction. For the latter, for the slaves upon whose labor and confinement that illusion had been built, the old Christmases stood out as bright spots from their life before Emancipation, as occasions when they'd receive small gifts from their masters, the permission to drink and, more importantly, when they didn't have to work.

In writing today's post I tried to bring you one side of the story first and see how Christmas was celebrated among the white Southern nobility. Tomorrow we will look at the way slaves themselves celebrated Christmas and try to see how and why Christmas became a central element in establishing the myth of the Old South as an untroubled world of chivalrous masters and happy slaves. To bring you a taste of 19th century Christmas celebrations, I've relied on a handful of period sources, as well as on Penne L. Restad's excellent Christmas in America. A History. You will find all of them listed at the end.

And now, let's roll!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 17: Scarlett's Red and White Christmas Dress

Fresh on the heels of Scarlett's green Christmas dress, the Doppelganger Dresses series is delighted to bring you Scarlett's other Christmastime outfit from Gone with the Wind: the charming red and white gown she wears to say goodbye to Ashley as he returns to war. This dress is one of my all-time favorite costumes from Gone with the Wind, and I think Walter Plunkett did an inspired job in creating it.  It hits all the right notes: it's playful without being over the top, girlish without being too demure, festive without screaming "CHRISTMAS" at the top of its lungs.

Little surprise here, it's also grounded in historical style. After the jump, you'll find two dresses from period fashion plates that bear close resemblance to Scarlett's own Christmas gown. One important difference to note: both of our period selections feature long sleeves, as was standard for day dress styles. Plunkett actually did toy with a long-sleeved version of this costume, but opted for the short-sleeved version instead, which he felt made Scarlett look more youthful. 

The fashions are waiting for you after the jump. Check them out and, as always, let us know what you think. Which one reminds you most of Scarlett's red and white Christmas dress? 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 16: Scarlett's Green Christmas Dress

The Doppelganger Dresses series gets into the holiday spirit this week! For our latest edition, we're delighted to bring you a period inspiration for the enchanting green Christmas dress Scarlett wears over Ashley's Christmas furlough. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I have a love-hate relationship with this dress. I love it because it's such a sweetly romantic gown and because Scarlett looks so fetching in it. But I also hate it because Scarlett looks so fetching in it... and it's all for the benefit of that wishy-washy, feckless Ashley Wilkes.  

But let's place my own prejudices aside for a moment and move on to the main attraction: the dress, of course. After the jump, you'll find a period fashion plate that recalls our dashing heroine's own Christmas outfit. Check it out and let us know what you think! 

And be sure to stay tuned for next week's installment of Doppelganger Dresses, where we'll feature Scarlett's other Christmas costume from Gone with the Wind, the red and white dress she wears to say goodbye to Ashley as he returns to war. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Poster of the Week

Jolly old England is the nation of origin for this week's poster, which features Rhett and Scarlett standing in front of Tara in their surprise party attire.  Also, is it just me or does this poster do a really awful job of depicting Vivien Leigh? You'd think her own countrymen would be able to generate a more accurate likeness!

Image from movieposterdb.com.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Tis the Season for Southern Cookin': Merry Christmas Cake

We're back with another holiday installment of Southern Cookin' and this week's recipe is about as seasonally-inspired as you can get: Merry Christmas cake! 

The recipe for this charming cake comes from an 1878 Southern cookbook with a rather long name: Housekeeping in Old Virginia, Containing Contributions from Two Hundred and Fifty Ladies in Virginia and her Sister States, Distinguished for Their Skill in the Culinary Art, and Other Branches of Domestic Economy.

You can check out the recipe below. We hope it helps you to eat, drink and be merry this Christmas season!


Merry Christmas Cake
 
2 cups sugar.
1 cup corn starch.
2 cups flour.
1 cup butter.
1/2 cup sweet milk.
Whites of 8 eggs.
2 teaspoonfuls baking powder.

Bake in jelly-cake pans. Between each layer when done, on sides and top, spread icing, with grated cocoanut. A very pretty dish.--Mrs. Mc G.

Cold Icing

Whites of 3 eggs.
1 pound sugar.

Beat very light and season with vanilla or lemon. After beating very lightly, add the white of another egg and it will give a pretty gloss upon the icing.--Miss E. P. 


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Decorate for the Holidays with Scarlett and Rhett Winterberry Holly

"My, Captain Butler, don't you look dashing today!"
"'Rhett Butler' Meets 'Scarlett O'Hara' and the Results are Explosive." What's this? An entry in our contest for funniest and most succinct summary of Gone with the Wind? No, actually.  

This headline comes from a gardening article which reveals a charming little piece to warm our Windie hearts: there are two strands of winterberry holly named Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. And, naturally, this brazen combination is tailor made for each other and produces quite stunningly red holly berries. So, dear gardeners, you can now truly bring Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler home for the holidays! Isn't that thrilling?  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Time for a Contest!

As those of you who keep in touch with us through Facebook know already, next week we're hosting a contest for funniest and most succinct summary of Gone with the Wind. This is the prize - a GWTW calendar for 2011: 


and - now that we have your attention - these are the details:
When: Monday, Dec. 13 at 9 am CST through Tuesday, Dec. 14, 9 am CST
Where: on our Facebook page, Everything Gone with the Wind
Why: because we want to give you a GWTW calendar for Christmas, that's why. 
What do you have to do: Write a witty summary of GWTW under 100 words. Submit it in the thread that will be opened for this purpose on our wall on Facebook. Wait for the results. Funniest entry gets the calendar. The rest of the contenders get the chance to badmouth Bugsie & iso's crappy sense of humor.
Hope to see you there!

Rue de la Paix

This week's collage is all about illustrating the "child on Christmas morning" concept. (Dirty-minded readers are asked to overlook the context behind Scarlett's smile for a second.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Poster of the Week

A tearful Scarlett gazes at a bemused Rhett in this 11x14 Gone with the Wind lobby card, produced in 1968 to promote the movie's theatrical re-release. My favorite part by far is the tag line below the image: "Scarlett O'Hara's widow weeds are no barrier for flirtation when Rhett Butler comes to console her." Isn't that the truth!

Image from moviegoods.com.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 15: Carreen's Checked Skirt and Vest from the Prayer Scene

Carreen O'Hara returns for an encore appearance in our latest edition of the Doppelganger Dresses series. This time, we've found a historical fashion plate that matches up nicely  with the checked skirt and vest that she wears in during the family prayer scene at the beginning of the movie. 

Check it out after the jump and, as always, let us know what you think! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Tis the Season for Southern Cookin': Holiday Eggnog

“ 'Do you remember,' he said and under the spell of his voice the bare walls of the little office faded and the years rolled aside and they were riding country bridle paths together in a long-gone spring…  There was the far-off yelping of possum dogs in the dark swamp under cool autumn moons and the smell of eggnog bowls, wreathed with holly at Christmas time and smiles on black and white faces.” 
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter LIII

We have Bugsie and her eagle eyes to thank for this edition of Southern Cookin'. Because as she discovered, there's a small gem about antebellum Christmastime in the County tugged away in this nostalgic paragraph from the mill scene. Eggnog was a holiday tradition for Scarlett's friends and family! So with this knowledge in hand, we're naturally pleased to bring you not one but two recipes for eggnog, should you like to partake in this canon-approved holiday beverage.

Why the two recipes? Well, the first comes courtesy of The Dixie cook-book, published in Atlanta in 1883, to give you a local recipe that could have inspired Scarlett's own eggnog at Tara.

And if you want a little more pizazz, the second recipe offers up a Creole twist on this classic drink via The Picayune's Creole Cook Book, published in New Orleans (1901). 

We hope you enjoy these recipes and celebrate Christmas as Scarlett did--by raising a glass of holiday eggnog!


Eggnog

Stir half a cup of sugar (white), yolks of six eggs well beaten, into one quart of rich cream; add half a pint of brandy, flavor with nutmeg, and lastly add whites of the eggs well whipped.

--from The Dixie cook-book, published in Atlanta (1883) 

Egg-Nog

10 Fine, Fresh Creole Eggs
A Quart of Milk
2 Cupfuls of White Granulated Sugar
A Gill (1/2 cup) of Fine French Cognac
A Grated Nutmeg 

Beat the yolks to a cream, add the sugar, and beat to a cream. Blend all thoroughly, beating till very, very light. Now pour over the boiling milk, stirring well. When thoroughly blended add the whites of the Eggs, beaten to a stiff froth, and the Liquor, and serve hot. This Egg-Nog is also served cold by the Creoles at New Year's receptions. At the famous Christmas and New Year Reveillons it is served hot. The Liquor may or may not be added, according to taste.
--from The Picayune's Creole Cook Book, published in New Orleans (1901)

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Christmas Doll for Ella

“He [Rhett] always asked Mammy's permission to take Wade riding and consulted with her before he bought Ella dolls.” 
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XLIX

Call me a softie, but the snippet above always make me smile fondly. I love both Rhett's thoughtfulness to his stepchildren and his courteous deference to Mammy. Plus, the idea of Rhett Butler gravely consulting Mammy about which dolls to buy for Ella is just plain charming (and frankly hilarious). So to that end, if Mammy approves, we think we have an ideal Christmas gift for Rhett to buy for little Ella.   

This lovely doll comes from the December 1871 edition of Godey's Lady's Book, so it's at the very height of fashion and sure to catch the fancy of any young girl. Moreover, it's trimmed especially for Christmas with cheerful ribbon flourishes. We think Ella would adore it. 

So, take note, Rhett, and buy it for her--after conferring with Mammy, of course!

"Fancy Dress for a Doll." Godey's Lady's Book, December 1871.

Description from Godey's Lady's Book: "This plate is intended as a guide for dressing a Christmas doll. Any color of ribbon can be used to suit the taste of the owner... We give it printed in blue and pink. Our young friends can dress their dolls in whatever colors will suit them best; we merely give the idea." 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rue de la Paix

Following her Doppelganger Dresses debut, Bonnie Blue Butler serves as the star of this week's collage in her blue velvet dress. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 14: Bonnie's Blue Velvet Riding Habit

We have a beautiful, if tragic, costume from Gone with the Wind to feature as this week's Doppelganger Dresses entry: Bonnie Blue Butler's blue velvet riding habit. 

The matching fashion plate is waiting for you after the jump. Does it look like Bonnie's riding habit to you? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Poster of the Week

Germany makes its Poster of the Week debut with an entry that's both fantastical and vaguely disturbing. Scarlett surveys the war dead during the siege of Atlanta... while the superimposed head of Rhett Butler looms in the background. Is it a metaphor for the omnipresent role Rhett plays in Scarlett's life--or just a case of questionable unique poster art? You be the judge.

 Image from movieposterdb.com.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'Tis the Season for Southern Cookin': Snow Cake and Snow Custard

Today ushers in the very merry month of December and the official start of the Christmas season here at the blog! To celebrate this festive time of year, we'll be bringing you plenty of holiday blog posts all month long, including several special editions of Southern Cookin'.  Each week leading up to Christmas, we'll feature seasonal Southern recipes from the Gone with the Wind era to get you in the holiday spirit. 
  
And today we are pleased to not only inaugurate this holiday series, but to also introduce a new cookbook to our collection. Our recipes, selected for their wintry feel, come courtesy of The Dixie cook-book, published in 1883 in Scarlett's home base of Atlanta, Georgia. We hope you enjoy them, and be sure to stay tuned for more goodies next week!

Favorite Snow-Cake
Beat one cup butter to a cream, add one and a half cups flour and stir very thoroughly together; then add one cup corn starch, and one cup sweet milk in which three tea-spoons baking-powder have been dissolved; last, add whites of eight eggs and two cups sugar well beaten together; flavor to taste, bake in sheets, and put together with icing.

Snow Custard
Half a package of Coxe's gelatine, three eggs, two cups of sugar, juice of one lemon; soak the gelatine one hour in a tea-cup of cold water, add one pint boiling water, stir until thoroughly dissolved. Add two-thirds of the sugar and the lemon juice; beat the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth, and when the gelatine is quite cold, whip it into the whites, a spoonful at a time, from half an hour to an hour.

Whip steadily and evenly, and when all is stiff, pour in a mold, or in a dozen egg-glasses previously wet with cold water, and set in a cold place. In four or five hours turn into a glass dish. Make a custard of one and one-half pints milk, yolks of eggs, and remainder of the sugar, flavor with vanilla, and when the meringue or snow-balls are turned out of the mold, pour this around the base.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Quotable Rhett Butler: Loved He Not Honour More?

For our last edition of the QRB, we discussed a quote from the popular romantic ballad The Soldier's Dream and one of our readers, Iris, had a very interesting observation to make. She talked about how Mitchell uses similar - and, in some cases, identical - quotes to convey entirely different meanings in Rhett's and Ashley's speech. Both characters are aware of the unpleasant reality lying behind heroic lines, but whereas Ashley continues to use the said lines in their genuine sense - as if rejecting reality and aspiring to the higher realm of heroism and chivalry they propose - Rhett prefers to employ them sarcastically or twist their meaning to emphasize their ultimate hollowness. Scarlett herself remarks on this aspect at one point:
"'They both see the truth of this war, but Ashley is willing to die about it and Rhett isn't. I think that shows Rhett's good sense.' She paused a moment, horror struck that she could have such a thought about Ashley. 'They both see the same unpleasant truth, but Rhett likes to look it in the face and enrage people by talking about it--and Ashley can hardly bear to face it.'" 
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XII
It is a very interesting parallel, and, even if this were all there was to it, it would still make for a good compare & contrast post. But the situation is a little more complicated, for there appears to be at least one counterexample to this theory: the scene at Rough & Ready, when Rhett shows himself perfectly willing to die for a war he has no illusions about. His discourse in that scene will be our topic of discussion this week:
"'I could not love thee, Dear, so much, loved I not Honour more.' That's a pat speech, isn't it? Certainly better than anything I can think up myself, at the present moment. For I do love you, Scarlett, in spite of what I said that night on the porch last month."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XXIII
To get this out of the way first, I'll tell you that the quote Rhett uses above comes from the poem To Lucasta, Going to the Wars by Cavalier poet Richard Lovelace. Cavalier poetry generally thrived on artfulness, rhetoric artifice, polished structures and a lightness of tone that was often - but not always - paralleled by lightness of subject.  One could easily imagine Rhett Butler declaiming some of the more daring Cavalier lyrics to Scarlett's blushing benefit. But To Lucasta, Going to the Wars is, on the contrary, an example of poetry that touches on serious themes (love & honor, what can be more serious than that?): 
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breasts, and quiet mind,
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such,
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
Loved I not honour more.
       --To Lucasta, Going to the Wars

The question is, of course, how much of it is simply jest in Rhett's use of this quote. Is he just being sarcastic? One could definitely build an argument for that. Talk of honor doesn't seem to suit Rhett Butler. This is Ashley's field and, much to Scarlett's chagrin, Ashley does imply on a few separate occasions that he values duty and honor over his feelings for her. On the contrary, Rhett wastes no chance to imbue the words "honor" and "duty" with as much cynicism and contempt as he can.

But I think that what actually happens in this scene is just a good example of Lying by Telling the Truth™.  It is a technique Rhett employs quite often. He pompously declares love to Scarlett on more than one occasion, the mock solemnity of his declarations the perfect shield that keeps her from suspecting his true feelings. Like in those cases, his appeal to a heroic cliché here disguises the fact that he is ultimately bond by honor - however obscure his other motivations - to join the army. In that sense, his situation  is very similar to that of Ashley (at least if one ignores the part where Rhett left women and children stranded between two armies to run off to the wars).

But is it also true that love is connected to chivalry in our heroes' case, in the way the poem  Rhett alluded to suggests? Is this type of quixotic honor a necessary condition for love? I would say yes to that, if Rhett loved Melanie, not Scarlett. Those of you who have been around for a while are probably familiar with the depth of my resentment for her book, but in this case I think Molly Haskell gets it right. When it comes to Rhett and Scarlett, his devotion to the values of the Old South is a sign of "a deep temperamental divide" that will affect their relationship negatively, rather than a positive element:
"In attempting to explain Rhett’s change of heart, which had a bevy of screenwriters gnashing their teeth, Sidney Howard et al. decided to translate their bafflement into Rhett’s, having him puzzle over his own motives. 'I always had a weakness for lost causes once they’re really lost,' he offers, or alternatively, 'maybe I’m just ashamed of myself.' In some ways it’s the inexplicability of the act that marks it as deeply personal, springing from some demons of the unconscious on Mitchell’s part, a prompting of the past rather than a rational plot calculation. But nothing comes out of nowhere. The scene is powerful precisely because it gives off glints of large, unseen forces, a Rosebud moment that makes sense only in retrospect. Even as he declares his love most passionately, one of Rhett’s feet is pointed homeward, toward Charleston and the clan of bluebloods that will claim him in the end—his desertion of Scarlett the first revelation of a deep temperamental divide between the couple that bodes ill for any kind of 'happy ending.'"
--from Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind revisited
I would love to hear what do you think of all this. And if my ramblings haven't bored you entirely, you can also check Molly's post on this topic. (And even if they did bore you, I promise her post is better!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rue de la Paix

This week we have a very darling (or very pastel as my co-blogger would counter) collage for you. Enjoy--and embrace the pastel shades!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 13: Suellen's Twelve Oaks Dress

While I'm not a big Suellen O'Hara fan (who really is?), I must say that I find the pink dress with ruffled flounces that she wears to the Twelve Oaks barbecue to be rather pretty. 

Those of you who also like the dress (if perhaps not the owner) are in luck, as Suellen's Twelve Oaks dress is the focus on this week's edition of Doppelganger Dresses.

As always, you can find the matching period fashion plate after the jump for your consideration. What do you think? Does it look like Suellen's dress to you? 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Poster of the Week

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh grace opposite ends of this long vertical poster (sized 14x36) from 1939.

Image from movieposterdb.com. Poster information from Herb Bridges' Frankly, My Dear...

Thanksgiving à la Creole: A Holiday Edition of Southern Cookin'

While many of our American readers, including my co-blogger, are busy celebrating Thanksgiving, Bugsie reports to duty to explore a Thanksgiving dinner in the style of 19th century New Orleans. 

Prepare to start craving because it's time to kick off a new edition of the Southern Cookin' series with the help of a trusted friend, The Picayune's Creole Cook Book! For those of you who are new to the series,  this is a book first published in 1901 and written to preserve the wonders of 19th century Creole cuisine. (You can read more about the edition we're using here, in our "Honeymoon in New Orleans" edition of the series.)

Now, a real party à la Creole would have included breakfast, dinner and supper, with up to ten courses for each lavish meal. We chose to feature what the book terms a more economical dinner menu, and include, by way of introduction, some instructions for decorating the Thanksgiving table. In order to keep this a light read and because unlike iso I am a lazy blogger, we broke with our custom of writing the whole recipe for each dish and instead provided you with links, should the desire to actually try them strike you.

So, without further ado, let's see how our Victorian friends celebrated Thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving Decoration 

"For the Thanksgiving table, nothing is more appropriate in the way of decorations than autumn leaves and berries. The woods at this season are full of beautiful trailing vines, of bronze and red: brilliant boughs, leaves, cones and berries, all of which are most appropriate on this day, suggesting, by their wild luxuriance and freedom of growth, the spirit of American liberty which gave birth to the day. If it is cold, in lieu of the usual coal fire light a blazing fire of pine knots, and you will have a glorious American illumination. 

"The favors may consist of tiny American flags, resting amid a cluster of autumn leaves and maiden-hair fern, if a formal dinner is given, and the symbol of our country may also be suggested in festoons of narrow red, white and blue streamers of ribbon, gracefully dropping from the chandeliers. "

A Thanksgiving Dinner
                                
Radishes     Celery       Olives      Pickles 
Roast Turkey, Oyster Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce
Young Squash, Macaroni au Gratin 
Small Onions, Boiled, Sauce à la Maitre d'Hotel
Cauliflower au Vinaigrette 
Plum Pudding, Mince or Pumpkin Pie
Pineapple Sherbet
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Happy Thanksgiving to our readers! We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner of your own!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Honest Abe, Godey's Lady's Book and the Birth of Modern-day Thanksgiving

Sarah Josepha Hale
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we thought it would be fitting to explore the birth of the modern Thanksgiving Day holiday, as it involves two rather prominent Americans from the Gone with the Wind era--Sarah Josepha Hale, the influential editor of Godey's Lady's Book and President Abraham Lincoln, who of course needs no introduction. Those of you who are familiar with American Thanksgiving lore will perhaps already know this story, but since it's a lovely story, we hope you'll indulge us in sharing it for the benefit of all our readers. 

Anyways, let's get started. While Thanksgiving celebrations had been part of the American fabric since long before the War of Independence (thanks to that famous story about the Pilgrims and Indians), the holiday wasn't celebrated with any kind of uniformity. Some states and territories held independent Thanksgiving celebrations at different points throughout the autumn months, while others didn't recognize the holiday at all. For many years, Thanksgiving was celebrated only in New England. It was virtually unknown in other parts of the country, including the South. 

But Sarah Josepha Hale set out to change all that. Her mission was to make Thanksgiving Day a nationally recognized holiday, one that would be celebrated in every corner of the United States. A staunch believer in American unity, the cause of a national Thanksgiving resonated deeply with the patriotic Hale. And she had the perfect platform by which to begin her campaign: the venerable Godey's Lady's Book.

Hale had served as the editor of Godey's Lady's Book long before it was even known by the name that would make it famous. In 1828, she came on board as the editor of Ladies' Magazine, following literary success as a poet and novelist. In 1837, Louis Antoine Godey purchased Ladies' American Magazine (as it had been renamed) and merged it with his existing publication, Godey's Lady's Book. Under Hale's skillful leadership, Godey's Lady's Book flourished. By mid century, it had become not only a coveted resource for fashion, but a veritable force in American culture, literature, politics and etiquette.

Nowhere can this be seen more than in Hale's campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. January 1847 saw her first editorial in support of a unified Thanksgiving holiday:
"Our holidays. We have but two that we can call entirely national. The New Year is a holiday to all the world, and Christmas to all Christians— but the 'Fourth of July' and 'Thanksgiving Day' can only be enjoyed by Americans. The annual observance of Thanksgiving Day was, to be sure, mostly confined to the New England States, till within a few years. We are glad to see that this good old puritan custom is becoming popular throughout the Union. The past year saw it celebrated in twenty-one or two of the States. It was holden on the same day, November 26th, in seventeen, we believe. Would that the next Thanksgiving might be observed in all the states on the same day. Then, though the members of time same family might be too far separated to meet around one festive board, they would have the gratification of knowing, that all were enjoying the blessings of the day."
--Godey's Lady's Book, January 1847
From there, she did not let up. Year after year, editorials penned by Hale in support of a unified and nationally celebrated Thanksgiving became common place in the pages of Godey's. She favored holding the holiday on the fourth Thursday in November, harkening back to George Washington's original proclamation that declared November 26, 1789 to be a national "day of publick thanksgiving and prayer."

Each fall season, Godey's would even list running tallies of which states held Thanksgiving celebrations and on which dates these celebrations were observed. The September 1856 issue, for instance, records with delight that 14 states, including Scarlett O'Hara's home state of Georgia, had celebrated the holiday on Thursday November 29th, 1855, while six other states had held celebrations earlier that month and several more earlier that fall.  As a result of Hale's dogged advocacy, the tally lists in Godey's continued to grow as more and states began to adopt Thanksgiving celebrations.

But this wasn't quite enough for Hale. She still wanted a recognized national holiday. So she flooded government officials with letters in support of a national Thanksgiving celebration, personally reaching out to state and territories governors, missionaries, military personnel, diplomats and numerous others. She also directly appealed to the highest official in the land, writing to no less than four Presidents--Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan--before she was finally successful in persuading the fifth: Abraham Lincoln.

On September 23, 1863, Hale wrote to President Lincoln to state the case for a national Thanksgiving holiday, which is excerpted below. (You can also check out the Library of Congress to see the complete letter text and an scanned copy of the original letter.)
"Sir.--

"Permit me, as Editress of the 'Lady's Book', to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and -- as I trust -- even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

"You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution...

"But I find there are obstacles not possible to be overcome without legislative aid -- that each State should, by statute, make it obligatory on the Governor to appoint the last Thursday of November, annually, as Thanksgiving Day; -- or, as this way would require years to be realized, it has ocurred to me that a proclamation from the President of the United States would be the best, surest and most fitting method of National appointment."
--Letter of Sarah Josepha Hale to President Abraham Lincoln, Sept. 23, 1863
Lincoln readily agreed, recognizing that a national holiday of Thanksgiving would serve as a way to rejuvenate and rally the spirits of a nation torn asunder by the protracted Civil War. And so on Oct. 3, 1863, Sarah Josepha Hale's long-held dream was at last realized as President Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring the fourth Thursday in November to henceforth become a day of thanksgiving, giving rise to the modern Thanksgiving holiday that's been observed for close to 150 years now.   

And if you're looking for more Thanksgiving insights, be sure to check out this tremendous video from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities about Sarah Josepha Hale's role in shaping Thanksgiving traditions, including a special mention about Thanksgiving in the South. 






Sunday, November 21, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 12: India's Twelve Oaks Dress

Ah, India Wilkes, she of pale lashless eyes and vengeful heart.  Well, it turns out that even a GWTW villain gets a historically inspired costume, albeit a rather plain one in keeping with  her aforementioned villain status.

On the other side of the jump, you'll find a period fashion plate that resembles India's matronly outfit from the Twelve Oaks barbecue--a tan dress with a prim lace cap. Check it out and let us know what you think! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rue de la Paix

Rhett and Scarlett appear to look over the ruins of Twelve Oaks in this week's collage. It does make us wonder whether Rhett ever visited the County after the war. 




Friday, November 19, 2010

Housekeeping

A long time ago, you might remember, we threatened you all with a new sidebar page, containing the list of Gone with the Wind references we shared on Facebook. Well, it's finally here, at least the first part of it, the one we relied on as our Facebook supply so far. We covered the years from 1937-1967 and we'll cover the rest as we go. If you're not on Facebook, feel free to add any GWTW reference you stumble upon in the comments of that page

If you're on Facebook, however, we'd like to invite you to:
  1. Like our page: Everything Gone with the Wind
  2. Like Kendra's page: Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier for its sheer awesomeness and for the chance to win a Vivien Leigh postcard (only through Sunday! more details on the page's wall).
  3. Spread the love of the aforementioned pages.
We should also apologize for how slow things have been around here lately. Life's been a little busy for both of us, but we promise to do better next week!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Poster of the Week

This Spanish poster (date unknown) takes an unusual approach for GWTW advertisements: mainly, there's very little of Scarlett or Rhett to be seen, although it does look like we have a teeny-tiny version of Scarlett in her white ruffled dress along side some mysterious male figure, either Gerald from the sunset scene or perhaps Rhett himself. Anyone want to get out a microscope to confirm? 

 Image from moviegoods.com

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Reading: Clark Gable for Photoplay Magazine

Here's something we found on the web earlier this week and thought you'd enjoy reading as well: a 1940 interview of Clark Gable where he talks about Vivien Leigh, his favorite scenes from Gone with the Wind and his approach to the Rhett Butler character.

Need more incentive? Here's a little teaser, about one of the few times when there was "fooling" on the GWTW set:
"The greatest day on the picture to me was March 31, 1939. That was two days after my wedding to Carole. [...] We were married at three-thirty that afternoon and left at five-thirty, getting home the next morning at three. [...] Finally we got to sleep, only to be awakened at nine to discover forty cameramen, three newsreel men and twenty reporters waiting out in the front yard to interview us. Under the circumstances, David [David Selznick] gave me another day off.

"But the next morning when I reported at the studio, ready for the prison sequence, I discovered Vic [Victor Fleming] had switched things on me and was prepared to do the wedding scene, only this day my bride was Vivien. David had engaged a full orchestra which was gurgling through the wedding march and whole I knew it was all a rib on me, I blew up in the first take. The stage hands all groaned, Vivien asked solicitously what was the matter with me, and Vic said, 'It’s just that Clark has always been shy of girls.' "
You can read the whole article on DearMrGable.com (a site you should definitely be following if you're Gable fans). We want to thank them for making this article available for everyone!

You can keep in touch with DearMrGable.com on Facebook.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rue de la Paix

A happy Rhett and Scarlett. Is there anything better than that? We think not! So we hope you enjoy this lovely collage of Mr. and Mrs. Butler in newlywed bliss. 



Friday, November 12, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 11: Scarlett's Green Velvet Curtain Dress

It's a dress known by many names: the jail dress, the green velvet dress, the curtain dress, the drapery dress. But whatever name you fancy, there's one description we can all agree on: iconic. 

After all, what other way is there to really describe the extraordinary costume Walter Plunkett created for Scarlett O'Hara's infamous visit to the jail in Gone with the Wind?

And while there's no doubt that Plunkett's dress is a one-of-a kind creation, even this legendary costume has its roots in period fashion from the 1860s. Now naturally there is no such thing as an exact lookalike dress for such a dramatic costume, but we've managed to find a period style that rather nicely resembles Scarlett's green velvet finery.    

One note of interest: our period style is actually a morning robe (or wrapper) versus a proper dress. But we think it checks a lot of "curtain dress" boxes in terms of style, as you'll soon see. Put it together with the jockey hat we mentioned previously, and we believe you've got a good approximation of the costume we all know and love from GWTW.   
 
So check it out after the jump! Does it look like Scarlett's dress to you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poster of the Week

Eastern Europe is the setting for this week's edition--and we've got not one but two  1960s-era posters for you. The first is a 14x20 poster from Romania, while the latter is a 18x26 poster from the former Yugoslavia. And, yes, both are vastly superior to the Polish love fans poster we featured earlier.



Image from filmposters.com.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Quotable Rhett Butler: The Bugles Sang Truce

One of the things I like the most about Rhett's speech is that you often find references where you wouldn't think there were any. It really speaks of Margaret Mitchell's ability to blend together various sources, both literary and historical, and relating to the specific background of her characters. Take for example this week's quote: 
"'Shall we let the bugles sing truce?' he smiled down at her, a wide flashing smile that had impudence in it but no shame for his own actions or condemnation for hers. "
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XXXVI 
I, for one, had always assumed this was just another case of Rhett being eloquent. But a quick googling (this time done by my co-blogger, whose eye for details would make any detective envious) revealed that the expression Rhett uses was one made fashionable by a very popular Civil War song. A song that was actually mentioned in the novel before. Here's the relevant quote:
"Nightly the dark tree-lined streets resounded with dancing feet, and from parlors tinkled pianos where soprano voices blended with those of soldier guests in the pleasing melancholy of 'The Bugles Sang Truce' and 'Your Letter Came, but Came Too Late'--plaintive ballads that brought exciting tears to soft eyes which had never known the tears of real grief."
-- Gone with the Wind, Chapter VIII
"The Bugles Sang Truce" was the popular name of a song called "The Soldier's Dream," with lyrics from an early 19th century poet, Thomas Campbell.  But not only that this expression seeping into everyday speech was a sign of realism on Mitchell's part, but as I read the lyrics to the song, I was struck by how closely they resemble  another situation described in the book. In his letter to Melanie, Ashley Wilkes talks about the thoughts that preoccupy him at night, while his comrades are sleeping. Among those, the memory of the old times at Twelve Oaks, that he fears are gone forever:
"Instead, I see Twelve Oaks and remember how the moonlight slants across the white columns, and the unearthly way the magnolias look, opening under the moon, and how the climbing roses make the side porch shady even at the hottest noon. And I see Mother, sewing there, as she did when I was a little boy. And I hear the darkies coming home across the fields at dusk, tired and singing and ready for supper, and the sound of the windlass as the bucket goes down into the cool well. And there's the long view down the road to the river, across the cotton fields, and the mist rising from the bottom lands in the twilight. And that is why I'm here who have no love of death or misery or glory and no hatred for anyone."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XI
Read the lyrics to The Soldier's Dream and tell us if you don't find the atmosphere similar, though Ashley's tone is more subdued:
THE SOLDIER'S DREAM

Our bugles sang truce--for the night-cloud had lower'd,
And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky;
And thousands had sunk on the ground overpower'd,
The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die.

When reposing that night on my pallet of straw,
By the wolf-scaring fagot that guarded the slain,
At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw,
And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.

Methought from the battle-field's dreadful array,
Far, far, I had roam'd on a desolate track;
'Twas autumn,--and sunshine arose on the way
To the home of my fathers, that welcomed me back.

I flew to the pleasant fields traversed so oft
In life's morning march, when my bosom was young,
I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft,
And knew the sweet strain that the corn-reapers sung.

Then pledged we the wine-cup, and fondly I swore
From my home and my weeping friends never to part;
My little one kiss'd me a thousand times o'er.
And my wife sobb'd aloud in her fullness of heart.

Stay. stay with us,--rest, thou art weary and worn;
And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay;
But sorrow return'd with the dawning of morn,
And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away.

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