Archive for July 26, 2013

Margaret Mitchell and the Birthplace of “Gone With The Wind”

“Gone With The Wind” is, without a doubt, the most famous book and movie about Southern culture….in addition to being one of the top books and films of all time.  Last Sunday I met my friend, Dr. Julie Adams, in Atlanta.  She is a Psychologist from Washington State and was attending an OCD conference in “Hotlanta.”   Both of us are big “Gone With The Wind” fans, so we visited the home of it’s author, Margaret Mitchell.  I highly recommend visiting this great home/museum if you are in Atlanta!  This rest of this post will be filled with fun “Gone With The Wind” trivia.

“Gone With The Wind” was published in 1936 and was made into a movie in 1939.  David O. Selznick bought the rights from Margaret Mitchell for $50,000.  Kay Brown, a story editor, alerted him about the possibility of making this book into a movie. The premier of “Gone With The Wind” was held in Atlanta on December 11, 1939, accompanied by international fanfare.

William Kurtz was an acquaintance of Margaret Mitchell.  She wrote to him, “I know I am imposing on you and asking a great favor of you but would you read two and a half chapters of my book..and tell me if I am correct?”  He would become the man who would be responsible for the historical accuracy of the film.  He held the highest standards for Southern authenticity.  This was evidenced in the movie when Scarlett writes out a check to pay the taxes on Tara.  The check was an exact replica of the time, imprinted with The Atlanta National Bank.  A. Ausbell – President .

In the few interviews that Margaret Mitchell gave during her lifetime, she swore that “Gone With The Wind” was not an autobiographical novel.  While respecting Ms. Mitchell’s perspective, our tour guide let us decide if there was not a little bit of her life and history woven into the book.  For example, Scarlett O’Hara was a fiery feminist.  Margaret Mitchell’s mother, Mary Keller, was President of the Atlanta Suffragette Chapter.  Like most well-to-do Southern girls of her time, Margaret Mitchell was a debutante.  (This was done to please her father.  She did not care for this custom.)  One of her debutante duties was to perform before the very conservative, staid Junior League matrons.  Most debs sang or played the piano.  Margaret Mitchell scandalized the old biddies from the Junior League by dancing a sensual tango with a handsome young man in front of their faces.  Is this not reminiscent of when Scarlett danced the reel at the ball with Rhett Butler?

Margaret Mitchell did not live during the Civil War.  However, growing up she heard plenty of stories about the Civil War and the Reconstruction period from her grandparents and great grandparents.  She also loved to write from the time crayons and pens were put into her hands.  Her mother saved all of her little books that she wrote as a little girl and one was displayed in the museum/home.

The home that Dr. Julie and I toured was not the home she grew up in.  It was an apartment that she lived in with her second husband, John Marsh.  It was “the place” where she did write “Gone With The Wind.”  It consisted of a tiny living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.  My thought as I toured the place was “It must have been as hot as blazes living there in the days before air conditioning.”

Despite making millions from “Gone With The Wind”, Margaret Mitchell and her husband, for the most part, lived simply.  She did donate much of her fortune to charity.  One of her favorite charities was college scholarship money for African Americans.  As a matter of fact, the schooling of the first African American Pediatrician in Georgia was funded by her.

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” is arguably one of the most famous lines from a book/movie.  Rhett Butler’s line almost did not make it into the movie.  For years it was rumored that David O. Selznick was fined $5000 for the use of the word “damn” in the movie by the Motion Picture Association of America.  However, prior to the release of “Gone With The Wind”, the Motion Picture Association changed its code to allow the words “hell” and “damn” when it is “a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste.”  Thank heaven they did so!  Can you imagine Clark Gable in his role as the dashing Rhett Butler declaring “Franky my dear, I don’t really care!”

Peach Dessert in a Punch Bowl

What Great Lesson Did Jen Teague, RN Learn At Diabetes Camp?

Witty.  Vivacious.  Winsome.  These are just a few of the positive attributes of Jen Teague, RN.  I could list many, many more.  She is a charge nurse at the hospital where I work.  Her big, beautiful smile radiates warmth and sunshine to patients and colleagues.  Unflappable, despite the demands of her stressful position.  My favorite thing about Jen is that she loves to share jokes and laughter.  What a blast it is to work with her!



Jen Teague is also a Type 1 Diabetic.  She was diagnosed she was 15 years old.  SHE WAS NOT AT ALL HAPPY WHEN SHE RECEIVED THE NEWS.  “I would have pity parties with myself because I had diabetes.  I did not want to be diabetic. It was so unfair…none of my friends had to deal with a chronic disease.  I felt sad and depressed.”   reminisced Jen.

A major turning point in caring for her disease came when she attended Camp Seale Harris, a diabetes camp in Jackson’s Gap, Alabama.  “I was 16 years old when I went to Camp Seale Harris.  For the first time, I saw that I was not alone in having diabetes.  I got to meet diabetics my own age.  What a relief that was!  I learned I could handle this disease and not be ashamed of the fact that I was diabetic.”

Jen also loved participating in the many activities at Camp Seale Harris…swimming, riding on pontoon boats, canoeing, zip lines, a pizza party, and a teen dance, to name a few.  “There were also a lot of hot-looking guys there!” she gushed.  (Unfortunately, she did not get to kiss any of them!)

The fact that she attended Camp Seale Harris helped me with one of my patients.  “John” (not his real name), a teen diabetic, did not want to attend diabetes camp.  Jen took time out of her busy schedule on the floor to talk to him.  She shared the fact that she had tons of fun at Camp Seale Harris.  Jen is also a very clever nurse.  It was this comment by her that persuaded John to enroll in diabetes camp:  “Hey John” coaxed Jen,  “You know you might meet some cute girls at Camp Seale Harris!”  Thanks to Jen, John went to Camp Seale Harris, had a great time, learned to manage his diabetes, and, yes, met some very cute girls!

Her time spent at Camp Seale Harris was one of the reasons she decided to pursue a career in nursing.  “When my children are older, I hope to return to Camp Seale Harris as a nurse volunteer.”  I know the campers at Camp Seale Harris will love her as much as we do at Marshall Medical Center! 

Blueberry Picking with Alabama’s First Master Gardener – Mary Lou McNabb

What a perfect day to pick blueberries!  Normally, the temperatures are in the mid 90’s (or higher!) during July in Alabama.  The outside temperature today was in the blissful mid 80’s.  Hallelujah, we got a repreive from the summer heat!  I celebrated by blueberry picking at MaryMac Farm. This farm is located in a beautiful valley in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, just outside of the Huntsville, Alabama city limits.



Robert and Mary Lou McNabb are the owners.  What kind and hard-working people!  Mary Lou has the distinction of being the very first Master Gardener in the State of Alabama.  She brought her Master Gardener knowledge from New York State to Alabama in 1981.  Due to her deep devotion to this program, an award in her name is given out each year in Alabama.  A deserving candidate wins the Mary Lou McNabb Alabama Master Gardener of the Year Award.  I asked Robert McNabb if he too was a Master Gardener.  He smiled and chuckled, “Well, technically no, but I help my wife a lot with her Master Gardner duties.”



For those of you who are not familiar with the Master Gardener Program, it is a program of trained volunteers who share the love and knowledge of gardening.  It is in all 50 states and most counties.  My sister-in-law, Ann Drzewiecki is a Master Gardener in New London, Wisconsin.  Some of the programs staffed by Master Gardeners are school/youth garden activities, plant demonstration gardens, writing gardening articles, horticulture therapy, assisting at garden shows and more.

Here is a delicious recipe for blueberries from the GEORGIA BLUEBERRY COMMISSION.  Their website is

(Shhh, don’t tell anyone but I substituted Alabama blueberries…I did not have time to drive to Georgia to pick berries today.  I also subbed Bibb lettuce from my container garden for the Romaine lettuce because it was ripe for the picking.)

Georgia Blueberry and Mandarin Orange Salad with Toasted Pecans


1 head romaine lettuce

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup mandarin orange segments

1 cup pecans*

1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted*

Red onion cut into rings

Blueberry vinaigrette (Recipe follows)

Pinch of salt


Chop lettuce.  Mix with Georgia blueberries, orange segments, onion, and toasted pecans.  Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss.


1 cup Georgia blueberries

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup sugar

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

Place Georgia blueberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and orange juice into blender.  Blend until smooth, streaming in the olive oil while the blender is running.  Continue blending until emulsified.

*Tip on how to toast the pecans:  Put the butter and pecans in a micrwaveable dish.  Microwave on High for about two minutes:  Start for thirty seconds, stop, stir.  Repeat about four times.  I knew my pecans were toasted to perfection when my hubby stepped in the kitchen, inhaled deeply and said, “What is that great aroma wafting around the kitchen!”

Tip from the McNabbs:  Blueberries can keep in the freezer for two years

Here is a picture of Georgia Blueberry and Mandarin Orange Salad with Toasted Pecans!


Helen Keller’s Birthplace and “The Miracle Worker” Play

What an awesome treat!  Bathed with the light from a beautiful full moon, my friend Nina, her three kids – Katya, Nick and Victor, and myself watched “The Miracle Worker” play at Helen Keller’s birthplace!  Every year during “The Helen Keller” festival in Tuscumbia, Alabama, this famous play by William Gibson, is produced in an outdoor theatre on the property that was her birthplace.  This famous piece of property is known as IVY GREEN.



Nick, Viktor, and Katya confessed to me that they really did not want to go Helen Keller’s House and “see a boring play.”  They were singing a different tune after watching the play, thanking me effusively for the opportunity.  The play begins with Helen Keller’s parents discovery that their nineteen month old daughter was deaf and blind, after contracting a severe illness.  At their wit’s end, the parents hire Miss Annie Sullivan to teach Helen.   In a battle of wills, twenty-year-old Annie Sullivan refuses to give up her quest to teach language to Helen via the manual hand alphabet.  The play ends with the breakthrough at the water pump where in Helen Keller’s words, “The mystery of language was revealed to me.  I knew that w-a-t-e-r meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand.  That living word awakened my soul, gave it joy, set it free.”



My friend Nina and  I were very impressed with the actors and actresses.  Avery Isbell, an eight-year-old girl, did a magnificent job of playing young Helen.  We were both in awe because she played a very believable deaf/blind young girl.  Jamie Connolly, just graduated from high school, was hard working and determined in her role, just like Annie was in real life.  All of the cast was from the Tuscumbia/Florence/Muscle Shoals Alabama area.  All’s I have to say, they rival any professional actors and actresses from New York or Hollywood!

Wondering what to do on a Friday or Saturday night in June or early July?  It’s worth the drive to Tuscumbia to see “The Miracle Worker” play!  What a tribute to the teacher who persevered to give the world to her student and the deaf/blind student who grew up to graduate from Harvard and travel around the world inspiring others to live their best life!