Saturday, July 31, 2010

Inside Scarlett's Jewelry Box

“You can have all the cash you want for the house and all you want for your fal-lals.  And if you like jewelry, you can have it but I'm going to pick it out.  You have such execrable taste, my pet.”
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XLVIII

On the heels of what certainly was our most somber post to date, we decided that we needed a much more lighthearted topic today to balance things out. (And, yes, never let it be said that we don't know how to kick off the weekend in style here at How We Do Run On, posting an entry on prison camps on a Friday evening.)  

So on a much less grim note, today we bring you a discussion about the jewelry that could have found its way into Scarlett's jewelry box following her marriage to Rhett (provided, of course, that Mr. Butler didn't deem it execrable). As a handy visual aid to guide our discussion, I put together a collage that shows a possible glimpse into Scarlett's jewelry box, complete with all circa 1870 jewelry. You can scroll over any item to click on it and get more information, while below I've outlined some of the main trends in 1860-1870s  era jewelry (which, of course, are all visible in the collage). A complete list of all jewelry pieces with links is also available after the jump at the end.
With the rise of the voluminous hoop skirt in the early 1860s, jewelry started to become larger and heavier in order to stay in proportion with the broad silhouettes of the time. And as the 1860s turned into the 1870s, ladies’ dress of course only got more elaborate with bustles and fringe and flounces and pleats galore--meaning big jewelry continued to rule supreme. And big often went hand in hand with dramatic details, like clustered gems, intricately engraved metals and tassel and fringe accents (examples of all of which you can find in the collage above). 

Overall, the general motto of the time pretty much was "bigger is better." Massive jewelry was seen as not only conveying high-quality, but durability. So Scarlett’s love of gaudy jewelry, while perhaps on the outer boundaries of what we’d call tasteful today, was well aligned with her era’s standards.  Just forget that part where MM said that "It was an era that suited her, crude, garish, showy, full of over-dressed women, over-furnished houses, too many jewels..." Oh well. 

Color, Color and More Color.
Not only was jewelry of the period generally oversized, it was also awash in colors--so many  colors of gems, in fact, that I will gladly let Harold Clifford Smith, author of Jewellry (1908), take over and provide you with a full account:  
“The general tendency lay in the direction of the coloured stones popular in ancient times — the topaz, peridot, aquamarine, and amethyst; together with precious stones, such as emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds, and with pearls. The latter were generally reserved only for the most sumptuous ornaments, but were occasionally used in conjunction with jewels of less value. The stones most commonly used were carnelians, moss-agates, turquoises, garnets, pink and yellow topazes, as well as coral, mingled together.”
--excerpted from Jewellery (1908)
In the collage, you'll find the following rainbow of gemstones on display: garnets, amethysts, peridots, pearls, emeralds, rubies, diamonds, citrines, and turquoise. 

Cameos Make a Cameo.
The quote excerpted above actually offers us another clue about period jewelry, with its mention of "stones popular in ancient times." For the Victorians were just wild about ancient cultures, especially those falling within in the Greco-Roman tradition and, more broadly, all things Italian (as we'll see with the Etruscan Revival). Out of this fascination came the revival of the cameo style. Cameos first returned to jewelry boxes in the late 18th century, thanks in part to Napoleon's interest in the Roman world, but would only become widespread starting in the mid-Victorian era. Cameos were made out of a variety of materials--shell, lava, coral, ivory, jet, onyx, and even gemstones--and, beginning in the 1860s, they became larger and more ornate (shocker). So in homage to this trendy style, we have a fancy pair of cameo earrings on display for you in the collage. 

Trust in the Etruscan Revival.
I wasn't lying when I said the Victorians were wild about ancient cultures. In fact, jewelry of the 1860-1870s featured too many 'revivals' of ancient and medieval jewelry styles to count. But one of the most popular was what was called the Etruscan or Archaeological Revival. As its name suggested, it got its inspiration from the archaeological digs in Italy which unearthed gold treasures from the ancient Etruscan civilization. The Etruscan style featured an intricate form of metal decoration called "granulation." A nice period description of the technique can be found in a 1877 account from Harper's New Monthly Magazine:
"[I]t is found that the effect is produced by minute globes of gold, each one perfectly round and smooth, soldered on the surface in exact lines, each globe touching the next... How were they made, and how were they soldered on in such absolutely true lines? The ablest gold-workers in America (and that is to say the ablest in the world) tell us they cannot explain it."
Although gold-workers might not be able to explain how their ancient predecessors created the technique, they were certainly able to reproduce it themselves--and reproduce it they did in droves. You can find several examples of the Etruscan Revival in our collage (the Etruscan pendant necklace, the love-knot brooch-pin, the fringed earrings, and Archaeological Revival bracelet). Additionally, close-up looks at the granulation technique can be seen here and here.   

Diamonds Become a Girl’s Best Friend.
Prior to 1871, only alluvian diamonds (diamonds discovered via the natural erosion of earth) were available. So it's no surprise that diamonds were extremely rare and expensive in the early Victorian era. But the discovery of diamonds in South Africa in 1866, followed by the opening of the Kimberley mine in 1871, started to change that, kicking off a 'diamond rush' of  fresh supplies of the highly coveted stone and making diamond jewelry the height of style. While still the purview of the wealthy, diamonds increased availability meant more diamonds in more jewelry, allowing it to become the new best friend of a whole era of well-to-do Victorian women, perhaps our dear Scarlett included. 

So that in a nutshell (or a jewelry box) concludes our look into Scarlett's jewelry. Wouldn't it be nice to borrow a piece or two from her collection?

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Rock Island Prison

"Ashley was not dead! He had been wounded and taken prisoner, and the records showed that he was at Rock Island, a prison camp in Illinois. In their first joy, they could think of nothing except that he was alive. But, when calmness began to return, they looked at one another and said 'Rock Island!' in the same voice they would have said 'In Hell!' For even as Andersonville was a name that stank in the North, so was Rock Island one to bring terror to the heart of any Southerner who had relatives imprisoned there."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XVI

While the above-quoted paragraph may not be the absolute truth in what concerns the Illinois Rock Island Prison, it does sum up the general attitude towards prisoner-of-war camps at the time, on both sides. And it was not an unjustified attitude either. Due to poor organization, lack of resources and sometimes just vindictive measures, military prisons during the Civil War were, as one author calls them, true "portals to Hell." The Rock Island Prison, where Ashley Wilkes was held, was no exception, though the conditions there were by no means comparable to the ones at the Confederate Andersonville or the Union Elmira prisons.
Bell tower outside entrance at Rock Island Prison
The camp at Rock Island was built during the summer and autumn of 1863. The number of Confederate prisoners of war had steadily increased with the collapse of the prisoner exchange system and after the Union's victory at Gettysburg, and the existing facilities were proving insufficient, so new prisons had to be added. One of the Union's westernmost, the Rock Island Prison was located on a government-owned island in the Mississippi River between Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline, Illinois, to which it was connected by 3 bridges. The island, as you can see in the image below, was not big--only half a mile wide and about 3 miles long. From 1862, it also hosted an arsenal for the Union (hence its modern name--Arsenal Island).

Rock Island and its prison in 1864. Iowa to the right.

What did the prison look like?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shakespeare in Gone with the Wind: A Place Called Philippi

You know when I said that the only things that get to be compared to Caesar in GWTW are Rhett Butler and the Confederacy? Well, turns out I was wrong. There is at least one other character that is mentioned somehow in connection with dead Roman emperors, and it's quite an unlikely one at that too. It's Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Chapter XLVII, when she opposes "her lamb" marrying Rhett:
"Without waiting for a reply, Mammy turned and left Scarlett and if she had said: 'Thou shalt see me at Philippi!' her tones would not have been more ominous."
The line quoted above is from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and one of the two direct references to Shakespeare's plays in Gone with the Wind that don't come from Rhett himself. (Or at least one of the two direct references that I am aware of.) The famous "Thou shalt see me at Philippi" line is uttered in Act 4, Scene 3 by Caesar's ghost. You all know the story: Brutus participates in the plot to kill Caesar who couldn't be bothered to beware the damn Ides of March. Caesar dramatically shouts "Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!" and then promptly follows his own advice and falls dead. Later on, he returns as a ghost to tell Brutus that they will meet again, at Philippi. Very appropriate and very ominous, since it is at Philippi that Brutus will lose the battle against Octavian and Mark Antony--and his life.

So it's with a face speaking of great misfortunes to come that Mammy accepts Scarlett's decision to marry a third time. Now, we know she changed her mind on that, like she changed her mind on Captain Butler being a gentleman, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this. For most of the Butler marriage, she must have considered him to be a good husband. But what about when things started to seriously deteriorate, after the mill incident? Rhett is clearly not without his share of blame, but do you think Mammy saw it that way?

Poster of the Week

We're switching things up this week, changing both languages and continents, to bring you this week's poster--a 1970 print from Japan, measuring in at 20 x 28 1/2. 

And, yes, it looks like the trend of changing colors on Scarlett's barbeque dress continues unabated, as we get violet accents in place of green this time around, to follow Scarlett's red sprigged dress from last week. 

Image from Poster information cited from Herb Bridges' "Frankly My Dear..." 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Paint Your Family in Ultramarine and Carmine

So I guess I'm on a roll lately of finding little anecdotes that remind me of Gone with the Wind in dusty, old very fascinating books. But sometimes things just seem to pop out  and shout, "Is that you, Scarlett O'Hara?". As a result, I have another small morsel to share that reminded me of our favorite green-eyed heroine. 

It comes to you from an article titled The Use and Abuse of Colors in Dress, written by one Mrs. Merrifield in the August 1861 edition of Peterson's Magazine. We'll likely return to this article in greater depth at some point, as its writer, dear Mrs. Merrifield, goes on a pretty entertaining Mrs. Merriwether-style lecture about the vulgarity of certain colors and the general lack of sartorial taste demonstrated by ladies of the period. But for now, I must apologize for the short post and instead just leave you with a little excerpt from Mrs. Merriwether Merrifield that made me think of Scarlett in "interior decorating mode" for the lavish Butler Mansion:
"There is one class of persons, possessed of more money than taste, who estimate colors by their cost only, and will purchase the most expensive merely because they are expensive and fashionable. Of this class was a certain lady, of whom it is related that, in reply to Sir Joshua Reynold's inquiry as to what color the dress of herself and husband, who were then sitting, should be painted, asked which were the most expensive colors? 'Carmine and ultramarine,' replied the artist. 'Then,' rejoined the lady, 'paint me in ultramarine and my husband in carmine!'"  
--Excerpted from Peterson's Magazine, August 1861
While Scarlett wouldn't have been able to procure the services of the long-deceased Sir Joshua Reynold, an 18th century English painter, I'm sure she'd no doubt appreciate her wealthy predecessor's extravagant taste in color selection.  Oh, what I wouldn't give to see a painting of the Butlers decked out in ultramarine and carmine garments!

Update: Oh joy, Scarlett seems to come close to that color already. Now, if only someone would photoshop a Clark Gable dressed in carmine in that painting...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Quotable Rhett Butler: Old Joe at Thermopylae

I can write short posts. Or at least that's my goal for today, to deliver a short and concise post, quite in contrast with my usual rambling. So, cutting to the chase, our Rhett quote for this week is:
"'They died to the last man at Thermopylae, didn't they, Doctor?' Rhett asked, and his lips twitched with suppressed laughter."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XVII
At the beginning of Part Three in the book, where this line is uttered, Margaret Mitchell describes Sherman's troops advance into Georgia in the late spring of 1864. In November of 1863, the Union army won the Battle for Chattanooga, which opened their way to Georgia (Chattanooga, Tennessee was one of the dozen places that claimed the honor to be the "Gateway to the South"). They would be opposed by the Army of Tennessee, under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, fondly nicknamed Old Joe, and the series of battles that ensued would eventually lead to Atlanta's siege and fall.

General Joseph E. Johnson
But at the time Rhett expresses disbelief at Old Joe's capacity to resist the Yankee attack, in a conversation with Doctor Meade, things were not so grim yet. We can actually date their exchange with a fair degree of precision, for MM mentions that Aunt Pity's party took place in May and Doctor Meade is still convinced that "General Johnston was standing in the mountains like an iron rampart." Those mountains would be the Rocky Face Ridge, that Johnston was forced to abandon on May 12. So, considering that the Spring Campaign started on May 4, that leaves us with a window of one week.

Doctor Meade's reference, picked up by Rhett, is quite obviously one to the Battle of Thermopylae fought by Leonidas' Spartans against the invading Persian army, that greatly outnumbered them. The Spartans resisted for a few days at the mountain pass of Thermopylae, but eventually, as Rhett so graciously points out, they were killed to the last man.
"'Our men have fought without shoes before and without food and won victories. And they will fight again and win! I tell you General Johnston cannot be dislodged! The mountain fastnesses have always been the refuge and the strong forts of invaded peoples from ancient times. Think of--think of Thermopylae!'

Scarlett thought hard but Thermopylae meant nothing to her. 

'They died to the last man at Thermopylae, didn't they, Doctor?' Rhett asked, and his lips twitched with suppressed laughter. 

'Are you being insulting, young man?' 

'Doctor! I beg of you! You misunderstood me! I merely asked for information. My memory of ancient history is poor.'"
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XVII
There are many things to admire in the scene above. First of all, of course, Rhett's wit and skillful use of ancient history, which allows him to point out the self-defeating character and the irony of Doctor Meade's analogy. But, as usual with Margaret Mitchell's scenes, there is more than one layer to this. 

With historical hindsight, there is actually one resemblance between the two battles. Unlike Leonidas, Old Joe retreated from Rocky Face Ridge, but in both cases the reason why the mountain position was not impregnable, as it should have been, was that the enemy outflanked the resisting armies. Under cover of night, both Sherman and Xerxes, the Persian king (who had been alerted to the existence of a mountain path by a traitor), managed to get their troops behind the enemy lines, avoiding the deadly frontal attack. For Leonidas that spelled the end of his life and the beginning of a heroic  and military legend like few others in history. 

The Battle of Thermopylae is perhaps one of the most often quoted events in ancient history, but it is a particularly nice touch that Doctor Meade, as a Southerner, chose this particular battle. Not only because Sparta, who was ruled by a strict honor code, could to an extent appeal to the Southern ideals of chivalry, but also because this was a battle the Greeks fought against their invaders, which emphasizes the way Doctor Meade and his fellowmen saw their own war--as a war of Northern aggression. By contrast, Sherman referred to Etowah, the river he crossed in his Spring Campaign as "the Rubicon of Georgia," which, alluding to  the famous river Caesar crossed in his march against his own capital, stresses the idea of it being a civil war.

Oh, and that thing about me writing short posts? Obviously a lie. Maybe next time. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Jockey Hat and Feather

From the very first time I watched Gone with the Wind, I've been fascinated by the dramatic, daring hat Scarlett wears in the jail scene. And I've never seen anything like it, what with its rich plumes of green feathers and cascading gold fringe. But it pays to never say never, I suppose. Because when I was exploring the ever-handy Historic Dress in America: 1800-1870, I stumbled across a 1860s hat that, if not an exact replica (what really could be?) still seems to recall the style of Scarlett's very own "get-the-tax-money" headgear. 

So without further ado, I'm pleased to present to you the jockey hat, which came into prominence in 1865, one year before Scarlett's desperate foray to the jail to visit Rhett.

Image scanned from Historic Dress in America: 1800-1870

Of course, the jockey hat lacks a flowing trail of velvet and fringe, but its mass of feathers and general shape bear resemblance to our very own Scarlett's hat. 

Although it wasn't just the hat's design that made me think of it in relation to GWTW.  For you see, in its day the jockey hat was popular enough to be immortalized in a song, The Jockey Hat and Feather. The song's lyrics, presented below, reminded me of Scarlett setting out, as Margaret Mitchell says, "to conquer the world in her mother's velvet curtains and the tail feathers of a rooster."  They made me smile and I hope they do the same for you:   
The Jockey Hat and Feather

"As I was walking out, one day,
Thinking of the weather,
I saw a pair of roguish eyes
'Neath a hat and feather ;
She looked at me, I looked at her,
It made my heart pit-pat,
Then, turning round, she said to me,
How do you like my hat ?

"CHORUS—Oh! I said ; it's gay and pretty too;
They look well together,
Those glossy curls and Jockey hat,
With a rooster feather.

"She wore a handsome broadcloth basque,
Cut in the latest fashion,
And flounces all around her dress
Made her look quite dashing;
Her high-heeled boots, as she walk'd on,
The pavement went pit-pat,
I will ne'er forget the smile I saw,
Beneath the Jockey hat. 
"CHORUS—Oh! I said ; it's gay and pretty too;
They look well together,
Those glossy curls and Jockey hat,
With a rooster feather." 

Monday Afternoon Reading: Family Connections

If you're one of those persons who hate Mondays with a passion, I feel your pain and have something to make it better, in the form of a very interesting link. If you on the contrary happen to love Mondays, oh well, I can't say I really understand you, but I still have a very interesting link for you.

So if you ever wondered who was the inspiration behind some of Margaret Mitchell's characters (I know I did), or just happened to ask yourself "Hmm, what's the connection between Doc Holliday and Scarlett O'Hara?", now you have your answer.

This link is for all of you who find such tidbits interesting, but for one of our readers in particular. We also promise that lady that there will be more on this topic. Now go read the story here: 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Place for Scarlett O'Hara's Confessions

The first Catholic Church of Atlanta--what a better topic for a lovely Sunday afternoon? Now, we're well aware that this is one building Scarlett didn't get to see that much, despite what our title might suggest, but this church's history, through all its metamorphoses, ties in so nicely with Atlanta's own history that we figured it deserves a post.

When Atlanta was in its infancy, and still called Marthasville, all of its religious groups were united in the same building.  The settlement's population, though very small, comprised  Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, but, since there wasn't enough money to erect five separate churches, pragmatism triumphed over religious differences. They combined their resources and built a simple two-chimney clapboard structure on a triangular lot bounded by Peachtree, Pryor and Houston Streets. 

This  happy ecumenism born out of practicality would be short lived though. One by one, the congregations moved into their own buildings; the Catholic congregation in 1848. Its new church, on the corner of Loyd and Hunter streets, was still a plain wood frame structure, quite representative for the steady developing city's architecture at the time. The church didn't have a name yet and was simply known as "the Catholic Church," pertaining from 1850 to the diocese of Savannah.

The most heroic moment in the existence of this congregation came during Sherman's occupation of Atlanta, when Father Thomas O'Reilly saved the town's churches from being burned to the ground. His strategy? He simply announced that if his church was fired, then all the Roman Catholics in Sherman's army would leave their ranks. Between his popularity as a chaplain even among Federal troops and the fact that the regiment was composed largely of Catholics, the church and all its surroundings were spared.  That is not to say the church escaped the war intact, for its facade had already been affected by a shell during the siege.

As Atlanta rose from its ashes in the years after the war, it seemed that the passion for building, and building big, extended to churches as well. In 1869, the cornerstone was laid for a new building to replace the old simple edifice of the Catholic Church. It was an event altogether, having in attendance the famous Father Ryan, the Poet-Priest of the Confederacy, who even held a speech, much to Atlanta's pride. The commissioned architect was William H. Parkins, who would establish his reputation in Georgia through building this church. 

In 1873, the imposing cathedral-like building was ready for use, though work continued on portions of it till 1880. Unfortunately, by the time the church was inaugurated in 1873 and received its name, the Church of Immaculate Conception,  its hero and savior, Father O'Reilly, had already passed away.

That the edifice was grand you can see for yourselves in the picture above.  Made of painted red brick, it was of Gothic design, with its tall square tower and its three-arched main entrance.  We guess that if Scarlett ever wanted to turn religious after Rhett left her in 1873, she now had a stately enough church to go to. Unless of course you, like my co-blogger, are firm believers in the reconciliation scenario. In that case, I guess this was a good venue for them to renew their vows. Or something like that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Aside or Astride?

A gnawing question to be sure. Unless of course you live in the 19th century (or are a nice normal person with no interest in antiquated styles of horse riding whatsoever). We can't help you in the latter case, but for the former the answer is fairly simple. With the exception of unusual circumstances and emergencies (remember Melanie Wilkes galloping away astride when the Yankees came to Tara?), Victorian ladies rode aside on their horses, with the aid of a sidesaddle.  Were there women who chose to ride astride? Sure, but the majority continued to use the sidesaddle until the feminist movements at the onset of the 20th century started to vocally oppose the practice.

In some ways, we could say sidesaddles shared the fate of hoop skirts. They would both be ridiculed and demonized by later movements as instruments that kept women in a perpetual state of helplessness, but, at the time they were introduced, they actually represented a step forward to women gaining autonomy. Just like the metallic hoop skirts greatly diminished the weight of the undergarments a woman was supposed to wear and made walking easier, the 19th century sidesaddle made riding and even jumping safe(r) for women.

You see, the first medieval sidesaddles were simply modified seats fastened on a horse, with the passenger facing sideways and having little or no control over the animal's movements. The horses were usually led by someone else. This system solved the issue of modesty quite well, but it offered no middle ground. A woman wanting to ride would have to do it astride, a woman wanting to be ladylike would have to move at a snail's pace or be led.

The modern sidesaddle probably evolved from a regular cross-saddle, on which two pommels were strategically placed to hold into position the rider's right leg while allowing her to face forward. We can actually get a pretty good idea on how the modern position was born from Gone with the Wind itself. Here's Scarlett, having only a man's saddle at her disposal but still wanting to ride in the proper way--with her legs not showing from under her skirts:

Brunch with the Butlers (a Bonus Edition of Southern Cookin')

Because we're already somewhat awash in weekly features here, we decided we would post our Southern Cookin' series on a more intermittent basis, so the blog doesn't start to resemble a soup du jour menu ("Oh, it's Thursday? I'll take the tomato soup Poster of the Week, please.") 

And while that'll still be the plan going forward, we did have a special request from a reader for another installment of Southern Cookin' this week.  And since we aim to please (and we're in possession of a storehouse of old-time recipes), we're happy to feature another selection from Charleston Recollections and Receipts: Rose P. Ravenel's Cookbook. (If you're just tuning in now, info on the cookbook and its ties to the real Butler clan of Charleston can be found in our inaugural post.)

This week's bonus recipe is a full breakfast/brunch menu.  It's just out of the oven and waiting you on the other side of the jump.   

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ben Bolt: A Song to Sing the Morning After

"Oh she wept with delight when he gave her a smile and trembled with fear at his frown."
--Scarlett O'Hara, movie version of Gone with the Wind

Right up until the point Rhett walks in the door and things go dramatically down hill, one of my favorite scenes from Gone with the Wind the movie is the "morning after" one, with Scarlett finding herself so giddy over the prior night's turn of events that she spontaneously breaks into song. But even after countless viewings, I must say Scarlett's little ditty still strikes me as both an endearing and odd selection. (Maybe it's just me, but I can't envision Scarlett O'Hara trembling with fear at any man's frown, not even the Devil's himself.)

So because it's a point that intrigues me, today the song in question finds itself as the topic of a blog post. In the scene you can watch below (double-click on the picture to watch the video), Scarlett is singing slightly modified lyrics to Ben Bolt (the original lyrics are "Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile/And trembled with fear at your frown?").  Written first as poem in 1843 by Thomas Dunn English, Ben Bolt was  later arranged into song by composer Nelson Kneass in 1848. It was a tremendously popular song in its day--and quite a sad one, too, for in it the narrator nostalgically mourns the passing of days gone and loved ones lost to his friend, Ben Bolt.  A recording of the complete song is available here and original sheet music here, and full lyrics are after the jump at the end.

From GWTW Videos

Edgar Allen Poe himself described Ben Bolt as possessing a "simplicity of diction and touching truthfulness of narrative." Not bad praise, especially considering Poe and English were bitter rivals. (Things got so intense between the two that Poe eventually sued the Evening Mirror for publishing an article with English's claims that Poe committed forgery.) 

And there you have it--the history behind Scarlett's "morning after" song. Looked at in context, it becomes an even more interesting musical choice for Selznick & Co. to have picked. For as Scarlett jubilantly sings some of the few upbeat lyrics from a song about loss, it's a subtle tell that we all won't get our happy ending here either--Rhett's about to walk in that door, kicking off another round of Butler marital dysfunction and moving us one step closer to the inevitable "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" conclusion. 

Poster of the Week

This oversized poster (40x60) from 1939 was developed by MGM using a rare seven-color format.  You'll note that it (oddly) changes Scarlett's green sprigged dress into a red one and also adds more color to Melanie's dress from the scene of Charles and Scarlett's wedding.

MGM was quite proud of their handiwork on this poster and heralded it in their Gone with the Wind Press Book (used to showcase advertising options to theatre companies and other vendors): 
"Heretofore, similar designs on other pictures were printed in only 1 or 2 colors, with the exception of a 40x60 on "The Wizard of Oz" which was reproduced in 5 colors for the first time. It went over so big with exhibitors that we have put out another equally fine and impressive design. Display one in your advance lobby, on your theatre front, in book stores and public libraries. It's 10 times the size shown here! Price $1.50 each regardless of quantity."  
Image from  Poster information cited from Herb Bridges' "Frankly My Dear..." 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beyond the Chignon, Part 2: Reconstruction Era Hairstyles

"Scarlett dressed with more than usual care that afternoon for her trip to the store and the lumber yard, wearing the new dull-green changeable taffeta frock that looked lilac in some lights and the new pale-green bonnet, circled about with dark-green plumes.  If only Rhett would let her cut bangs and frizzle them on her forehead, how much better this bonnet would look!  But he had declared that he would shave her whole head if she banged her forelocks."  
 --Gone with the Wind, Chapter LIII

So following our look last week at Civil War hairstyles, this week it's time to tackle Reconstruction Era hairstyles in the second (and final) part of our Beyond the Chignon series. 

As the United States rebuilt from the Civil War and moved into what would be fondly known as the Gilded Age, it's no surprise that hairstyles evolved to match the glitz and occasional excesses of this period that brought us the bustle, Scarlett's trashy friends, and  the much-discussed ostentation of the Butler Mansion. 

But instead of me solely summarizing a couple of popular styles like I did last week, this time I'm happy to hand off some of the description duties to an actual coiffure expert from the period, Mark Campbell, the author of 1867's Self-Instructor in the Art of Hair Work, Dressing Hair, Making Curls, Switches, Braids, and Hair Jewelry of Every Description. After the jump, you'll find a slideshow of what Mr. Campbell assures us are "the latest and most fashionable European and American styles... indispensable to every lady's toilet."  As you'd expect from a book titled The Self-Instructor, the styles come complete with  full instructions, so you if you're yearning to try out the Promenade, the Shepherdess  or  any other fancy hairstyle, you can do so.  You'll find that and more Reconstruction Era hairstyle info below.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Around the World 3.75 Times with Gone with the Wind

Recently I decided to indulge a little bit act very responsibly and buy a June 1936 copy of Gone with the Wind. I was delighted when it arrived in the mail--not only to have the book in hand, but also to find a very nice note from the seller, saying he hoped I enjoyed my book and, as a thank you for my purchase, he had enclosed in several pictures of Margaret Mitchell, the soundtrack to the movie, and a couple newspaper articles about GWTW. (Apparently, to reference Vivien Leigh's other Academy Award winning performance, you can depend on the kindness of strangers.)

I thought I'd share one of the articles I got with my book, as it struck me as pretty cool. It was apparently published to mark the one-year anniversary of the publication of GWTW (so circa summer 1937) and contains some neat facts about the book's popularity, like by that time it had already:
  • Gone through 35 printings and sold 1.35 million copies
  • Consumed about 88 square miles of paper across all its printings, about four times the size of Manhattan
  • Spanned the global 3.75 times (some 92,000 miles) if the pages from all copies were spread end to end
  • Used 1,600 tons of paper, enough to fill 90 freight cars in a train 2/3 of a mile long
  • Amassed a column 34 inches high if all the copies of the book were stacked vertically in a single pile (yes, the article says inches which I'm about 99.9999% positive is a typo.... 34 inches- impressive!)
  • Required 225,000 sheets of 40x28 coated paper to make jacket covers for all copies
The complete article is below for you to read. Unfortunately, what you see is what you get- there's no date or newspaper listed. Just consider it a somewhat mysterious bit of GWTW memorabilia, passed along from a kind stranger. 

The Quotable Rhett Butler: Mrs. Bixby and Her Sons

This week, our Quotable Rhett Butler features the entry that originally gave me the idea for the series. Another line that I ignored for a long time, I actually remember the moment I googled for this one, and my slight dismay at finding it historically inaccurate.  Here it is:
"'Mr. Lincoln, the merciful and just, who cries large tears over Mrs. Bixby's five boys, hasn't any tears to shed about the thousands of Yankees dying at Andersonville,' said Rhett, his mouth twisting."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XVI 
You can find this line at the end of Part Two in the book, when Rhett brings Melanie news about her missing husband. There are two main things to address in the quote above (besides the obvious anti-Lincoln feeling, of course).  

First of all, the allusion to the Bixby letter. Lydia Bixby was a widow from Boston who had allegedly lost her five sons in the Civil War (it will turn out three of them actually survived). At the urge of the Massachusetts governor, Lincoln sent her a condolence letter. Four days later, the letter would be published by The Boston Evening Transcript and become quite  famous. Here's what it said:
Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,--

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
A. Lincoln

Can you see the problem there? November 1864. At the time this letter was written, Rhett was fighting in the Confederate Army and Scarlett starving at Tara. When Rhett utters this line, in April of 1864 most probably, only one of the Bixby sons was missing from the Union army--because he deserted.

The second interesting aspect of this quote is the reference to the prisoner exchange system or, rather, lack thereof.  Rhett is explaining to Melanie why her husband can't be exchanged out of prison and the blame for that fact is placed squarely on Lincoln. (An interesting tidbit: when that system was still working, Ashley, as a major, would have been worth eight privates. Ashley, worth eight men, I lived to see that day. I've yet to figure out what the status of blockade runners was.)

The prisoner exchange system between the Union and the Confederacy had collapsed in the summer of 1863, and though it was indeed suspended by the Lincoln administration, the Confederacy was largely to blame. The South would not recognize black Union soldiers as free men, and acted accordingly. They were sent back into slavery, which for the North was a clear violation of the initial deal. The exchange system was never reestablished, which, as the war progressed, proved to be to the Union's advantage, as the need for new troops was far greater in the South. 

The results of this were horrible--there is no other word no describe them. We will cover the Rock Island Prison in a post soon enough. In the meantime, you can google for the famous Andersonville Prison that Rhett refers to, but we must warn you, just in case you haven't seen them before, that the images are extremely unsettling.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rhett's Dickering Talents

Since we looked into houses last week and we now have a good idea on how much building such an opulent mansion must have cost Rhett (around $60,000, if the James residence came to $53,000), why not take our obsession curiosity one step further and see how much he actually paid for the land on which the house stood?

So we looked into Atlanta, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by John Hornady (admit it--you all thought I was going to say Peachtree Street, Atlanta, didn't you?), a monograph from 1922 with a wealth of information about the previous century. And we found that the time was actually a very good one for purchases of this kind. After the war, Atlanta went through a recession which also affected land values and so, till roughly 1870, prices were low. 

The closer we came to finding a suitable example from which to extrapolate was this: in 1868, Austin Leyden (remember him?) paid only $4,000 for a property whose front extended 100 feet along Peachtree Street. That same lot had been sold for $5,000 during the war. By contrast, in 1882 when the city was back on its feet, 60 feet of land in the block with the Governor's Mansion, where the Butler Mansion stood, sold for $10,200.

But let's allow that the lots near Leyden house could have been more expensive in 1868, since the land for the Governor's Mansion was close to $10,000 even then. Let's say Rhett paid somewhere around $70,000 for both the land and building the house. What sum would that amount to today? Eh, a mere $1,114,521.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blueprints for the Butler Mansion: The Winner

Well, it's Monday somewhere on the globe.  Due to the fact Bugsie was so clumsy as to accidentally close the poll earlier than she was supposed to, and since one house was far, far ahead of the other two contestants anyway, we think we can declare a winner. 

Here it is in all its glory, the house that has the dubious honor of best resembling the Butler Mansion: the James residence, aka the Governor's mansion, with 13 of our 16 votes. 

 Image from
As a bonus, an image of the Butler mansion as depicted in Gone with the Wind, the movie, where you can see the similarities between it and our winner.

Well, this has been a very fun series for us to write and we hope you enjoyed it as well. Thanks for voting!

Sunday Reading. The Reputation of Classic Women's Pictures: Gone with the wind?

Here's an interesting bit of Sunday reading for you: The Reputation of Classic Women's Pictures: Gone with the wind? discussing the legacy of Gone with the Wind the movie and other "women's pictures" of classic Hollywood in today's film culture. 

Enjoy and let us know what you think. Do you agree with the article's assessment?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rue de la Paix: All Things Scarlett

This week's collage was developed for you by none other than your blogger iso. It features All Things Scarlett--items either named Scarlett or that reference Gone with the Wind (like the "Frankly I Don't Give a Dress" dress). So if you you're in the market for Scarlett O'Hara nail polish, Rhett and Scarlett lip gloss (it exists!) or Scarlett sunglasses, you'll find them here. You can scroll over the images to get their product info, and you'll find a complete list of products with links available after the jump.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Beyond the Chignon, Part 1: Civil War Hairstyles

"The next day, Scarlett was standing in front of the mirror with a comb in her hand and her mouth full of hairpins, attempting a new coiffure which Maybelle, fresh from a visit to her husband in Richmond, had said was the rage at the Capital.  It was called 'Cats, Rats and Mice' and presented many difficulties...However, she was determined to accomplish it, for Rhett was coming to supper and he always noticed and commented upon any innovation of dress or hair." 
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XIII

It's a shame that my resourceful co-blogger Bugsie already christened our Marietta post "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Marietta but Were Afraid to Ask." 

Because, if you swap out "Marietta" for "GWTW-era hairstyles," that nicely describes our two-part Beyond the Chignon feature, where I'll tackle period hairstyles in more depth than you ever wanted a concise overview. 

This week I'll be discussing Civil War hairstyles, and next week will be post-war hairstyles. To allow for some semblance of order (there's a good bit of information floating out there about Victorian hair- go figure), after the jump I've categorized several popular hairstyles from the Civil Era period... along with some critical beauty advice from the time about how to choose the hairstyle that's right for you.   

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blueprints for the Butler Mansion: The Poll

So the time has come for you to vote. Which house do you think comes the closest to the Butler mansion? You can find the poll in the right sidebar just under our How We Do Run On blog description. The poll ends Sunday night. Vote away!

For a quick review of the contestants (click on their names to read the original posts): 

1. The Dougherty-Hopkins residence (The House of a Thousand Candles)

2. The James residence (The Governor's Mansion) 

The Quotable Rhett Butler: Of Something Rich and Strange

Call me Ishmael Scarlett. You see, this week's edition of our Quotable Rhett Butler series features a literary reference that, until recently, went over my head, completely. Granted, The Tempest was never my favorite among Shakespeare's plays (I am more of a gloom and doom, Macbeth kind of gal), but I was still surprised that not even after reading it twice did I notice the Rhett line staring me in the face. The Rhett line from one of my favorite and most often reread dialogues in the entire book... Oh well, here it is, in all its elusive glory:
"And I fear that when you can afford to fish up the honor and virtue and kindness you've thrown overboard, you'll find they have suffered a sea change and not, I fear, into something rich and strange..."  
-- Gone with the Wind, Chapter XLIII
This is from the conversation Scarlett and Rhett have on Aunt Pittypat's porch in December of 1866, after Ella is born. Scarlett sets forth her principles in life, that include acting like a fine honest rogue now and trying to be a lady later, when she could afford it. I've always found it interesting that it's Scarlett who offers the nautical metaphor in the first place,  for it seems unlike her to be so eloquent: 
"I've felt that I was trying to row a heavily loaded boat in a storm. I've had so much trouble just trying to keep afloat that I couldn't be bothered about things that didn't matter, things I could part with easily and not miss, like good manners and--well, things like that. I've been too afraid my boat would be swamped and so I've dumped overboard the things that seemed least important."
                            -- Gone with the Wind, Chapter XLIII
Her words offer Rhett the perfect opportunity to expand on the metaphor. He talks about the difference between Scarlett and her honorable neighbors who would rather go down with their ships than renounce their principles, and expresses doubt at the idea that a transformation like the one she suffered could be reversed. Both of which, must be said, forebode Scarlett's evolution in the book and the doom of their marriage. 

His literary allusion is to Ariel's song from the first act of Shakespeare's The Tempest. It is, I think, one the most famous parts in this play, the one where the airy spirit Ariel, ordered by his master, sings to Fernando to lead him to Miranda. At this point, Fernando is convinced his father drowned in the shipwreck that brought him to the island, and Ariel does nothing to dispel this idea, on the contrary (btw, have I mentioned that I do like Ariel?):
"Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell
Hark! now I hear them,--Ding-dong, bell."
                    (1.2. 451-468; emphasis mine)
So what about you? Do you all love The Tempest and I was alone in my Scarlett-like oblivion to this reference?

Ariel on a Bat's Back by Henry Singleton (1819)

Poster of the Week

This week's poster was originally used in 1939 and 1940, then reprinted in 1971 by Celestial Arts of San Francisco as an 23x35 image and shows Scarlett running through Five Points during the evacuation of Atlanta. Enjoy! 

Image from  Poster information cited from Herb Bridges' "Frankly My Dear..."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Charleston Recipes from Rhett Butler's Real People

I will be completely honest with you: despite my best efforts to the contrary, cooking makes me about as agitated as Aunt Pittypat mid-swoon--easily excitable, hopelessly flustered, prone to fainting at the slightest provocation, and liable to be revived only by a handy swoon bottle (okay, maybe the last two are teeny tiny exaggerations).  

But although cooking isn't a natural talent of mine, I must say I'm very excited to introduce yet another feature here, something that we fondly call Southern Cookin'. From time to time, we'll be posting authentic Southern recipes (or "receipts" as they said in yesteryear) from the era of Gone with the Wind.

Today we're getting things started with a five-course dinner from Charleston, that genteel city and birthplace of Rhett Butler. 

Some quick background info: the recipes, which you'll find after the jump, are excerpted from Charleston Recollections and Receipts: Rose P. Ravenel's Cookbook. Rose P. Ravenel (1850-1943) was the daughter of a Charleston planter, merchant and shipowner, who kept lifelong journals and sketches describing Carolina coastal life, her family's lineage, and her memories of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

She also collected more than 200 recipes from her Charlestonian friends--and here's my very favorite part--this collection was based on an earlier cookbook developed by her mother, Eliza Butler Ravenel (emphasis mine, of course!). Meaning that these recipes were not only circulating during antebellum Charleston, but were actually known and used by Rhett's own Butler kin (yes, yes, that is only *if* he was a real person, I know).

The author of the cookbook (wisely) updated the instructions for modern times--so you won't see any steps like "boil water in a pan over a wood burning fire" or "cure the meat for five days in the smokehouse on your plantation."  But beyond that, they appear as they did 150 years or so ago.

If you're more clever than me when it comes to culinary matters and try out these recipes (or any others we post in the future), let us know. We'd be curious to find out if they were, in fact, tasty or if they should best be left to the historical dustbin.  Either way, I hope they provide an interesting glimpse into the life of antebellum era.
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