Monday, July 19, 2010

Monroeville & Mockingbird Magic

This is just one of the many Mockingbird houses on the Mockingbird Historic Trail in Monroeville, Alabama. The house was designed by an engineer and painted by a local artist.
This one is just outside the door of the Monroe County Courthouse.

View from the balcony where Jem & Scout watched as Atticus defended Tom Robinson. (The movie set was designed to be identical to this room.)

Niece Nancy and actress Mary Badham - "Scout " -- get acquainted in the Heritage Museum gift shop. Mary was in town for the four day celebration along with hundreds of MOCKINGBIRD fans. We visited with her before we did our reading in the courtroom, in the evening at the 1930's Dinner, and the following morning at the Beehive Bookstore.
Many thanks to the star of the film who graciously signed our books.

This plaque, mounted on a large stone which rests on the courthouse lawn,
is well worth reading! (Click on photo to enlarge, then click again.)

In the documentary FEARFUL SYMMETRY: The Making of To Kill a Mockingbird, Gregory Peck talked of his meeting with Mr. Amasa Coleman Lee. Though none of the scenes in the movie were actually filmed in Monroeville, many of the people involved with the production visited the town in preparation for the Academy Award winning film. The actor explained how Lee would hold a pocket watch as he was talking or thinking: "I stole that from him," he confessed. Mr. Lee once defended a black man in a murder trial and lost the case, just as Atticus lost his case for Tom Robinson. As a result, Mr. Lee never practiced law again.
After her father's death, Harper Lee gave his watch to Gregory.

Life and art merge, and devoted readers remember in this small,
Alabama town named as the Literary Capital of the state.

The Hybart House was a gift to the town from the Hybart family and has become a cultural center. (This was where Truman Capote and Harper Lee dined with friends the night before they left for Kansas to do research for Capote's In Cold Blood.) And this is where we attended the 1930's Dinner. Some of the guests were the townspeople in their costumes who play the different roles in the annual production of the play held every May. There was music of the era played on a grand piano and foods prepared by Chef Clif Holt of Little Savannah restaurant in Birmingham. The menu included fried chicken, potato salad, spiced peaches, ham, cornbread, turnip greens, and lane cake -- all foods mentioned in the book. A special drink was served on the lawn: the Tequila Mockingbird.

One of the terms on the vocabulary list for teaching the novel is
"shinny" which is, of course, the local and affectionate term for moonshine!
I took the photo of the birdhouse, and all other photographs are courtesy of Stevie Wonderful, my nephew and lucky husband of Nancy!


Maggie May said...

fascinating and so wonderful to see the pictures. thank you.

willow said...

I've been looking forward to this post! Amazing stuff. The courtroom looks just like I imagined. So interesting, you ate in the same place where Capote and Lee ate before they left for Kansas. All that southern fare sounds scrumptious!!

Rowan said...

It sounds as though your visit to Monroeville was a great success. How nice for you to meet Mary Badham while you were there too.

Foxglove Spires said...

It must have been wonderful, I love the pictures.

Derrick said...

Blogger or something is trying my patience today! To repeat:

Sounds as if you all had a great time, mixing with the stars and all! I'm sure your reading will have set the book on course for another 50 years. Pity Gregory is no longer with us!

alaine@éclectique said...

This is a lovely post and I'm happy that it went off so well for all concerned. I must read the book again!

maggie's garden said...

Great photos....this must have been such fun. Thanks so much for taking me along through this post. The birdhouse is really cute.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

this was so interesting. Earlier this year I just reread Mockingbird; still have my old student copy from about 1963, yellowed pages and all.

The Silver Fox said...

Great follow-up to an equally-great post about a terrific novel! Thanks for both!

~T~ said...

What a neat experience! So, do you think the South has changed in the wake of this masterpiece?

Thanks for the follow!

FireLight said...

Of course, Harper Lee's story was released exactly when, not only the South, but the entire country needed it most. I think the story demonstrates that just as one can be prejudiced based on race, one can sterotype an entire region based on its ugliest truths which are only part of its history. The many accounts of racism often overshadow the many more quiet individuals like Atticus, who choose to set their moral compasses toward truth and integrity then follow closely to accomplish change. To your question, I answer: Yes. Is there room for even more change? Always.

The Silver Fox said...

"I think the story demonstrates that just as one can be prejudiced based on race, one can sterotype an entire region..."

Very good point. I see a lot of racism here in New England. The main difference is that the bigots tend to hide and/or deny it more than in other regions.

Virginia said...

Well since I've not seen Mary since she really was Scout, I can say, she does bear a resemblance to the girl I knew way back when. what at wonderful time for you all! I'm so jealous.

FireLight said...

Well. V......YOU will always have Paris...maybe we can go to Monroeville sometime during May and see the play at the courthouse!
Let me know!

About Me

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat