Lindsley’s late aunt, Macon Telegraph reporter Susan Myrick, met “Gone With The Wind” author Margaret Mitchell at a newspaper association meeting in 1928 before Mitchell had written her famous book.
“An organization started that was called the Georgia Press Institute, and Sue met Mitchell at the first meeting,” said Lindsley, who lives in Decatur and who inherited her aunt’s papers. “They snuck off together to smoke a cigarette and their friendship took off from there.”
Lindsley described how her Aunt Myrick came to be a technical adviser on the set of the film.
“(Film producer David O.) Selznick came from California to meet with Mitchell and to hold some tryouts, and Sue was a member of the Macon Little Theatre, and she wound up getting people to come try out,” Lindsley said. “And Margaret Mitchell came to Macon because Sue was doing this with Selznick and some other people, and while they were in Macon, Sue drove them around Middle Georgia so they could see what the land looked like, the agricultural part of Middle Georgia. That’s how they met Sue.”
One of her aunt’s jobs on the set was ensuring the actors spoke with the right accent.
For example, Vivien Leigh was instructed to change the way she said “party” to “pahdy,” since according to Myrick, “Southern children learn the alphabet, ‘l, m, n, o, p, q, ah’ (not r-r) …”
Continued Lindsley about her aunt, “She was an expert in language. When she found out that Joel Chandler Harris (best known for his Uncle Remus stories) had written down these stories that she had heard as a child, she wondered how he came out there and got those stories on the blacks where she grew up because they were the same stories that were common among the black people that she had heard all of her life. So she could speak the black language. The semi-educated, uneducated whites in the neighborhood spoke another language. The educated whites spoke another language, and she could switch from one to the other with ease.”
Myrick was also instrumental in keeping agricultural errors out of the film. In the barbecue scene where everyone learns that Lincoln is calling for volunteers to fight in the war, Selznick wanted to include a scene of cotton fields.
But Myrick knew that Lincoln’s call occurred in April, which prompted one of her memos to Selznick: “I must remind you that it is not cotton chopping time; the cotton seeds have not even been planted by mid-April.”
Selznick took her advice.
“If you ever see the movie, that scene’s not in there,” Lindsley said.
Titled “Margaret Mitchell: A Scarlett or a Melanie?” Lindsley’s book is a collection of articles her aunt wrote about Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind, and The War Between the States.
Among the two dozen who turned out for the book signing Sunday afternoon was Selina Faye Sorrow of Powder Springs, a self-described “Windy.”
“A Windy collects anything, everything “Gone with the Wind,” Sorrow explained. “We go places all over the world really. I have friends I’ve never seen, but they’re “Gone with the Wind” fans, and you can talk back and forth to them, and they send you pictures, and we send them stuff. If you can’t go to an event we’ll bring them posters, we’ll bring them this.”
Sorrow has channeled her passion for the subject into a business, making custom gowns from the period.
As for whether Mitchell was more like the character of Scarlett or Melanie, Sorrow has a definite opinion.
“Margaret seemed to be her own person,” Sorrow said. “She wasn’t afraid to do anything she wanted to do. She took charge, and I think Scarlett did the same thing. She just went for it.”
In the book’s title article, Myrick writes that Mitchell represented aspects of both characters.
“She was a loveable, admirable woman true to her convictions and determined to present a true picture of the South ‘be-fo’ de Wah’ and of the vicissitudes of the Southerners during ‘de Wah’ and during the tragic era of Reconstruction. Never has a better picture been given of those times than in her novel,” Myrick writes.
Sorrow says her husband, Ronny, a retired officer with the Cobb Police Department, faithfully accompanies her to such Gone with the Wind events as the book signing.
“He supports me, and we travel, and we just have such a good time because you get to meet so many nice people,” Sorrow said.
“The characters and cast members have become our friends over the years, and they’re all leaving us,” Sorrow said in reference to Ann Rutherford, who played Scarlett O’Hara’s little sister, and who died in June at age 94. “It’s sad. We miss them so much.”