Margaret Mitchell wrote the ultimate Civil War epic “Gone With The Wind” in a Tudor Revival house, built in 1899, on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. Here she lived in an apartment with husband, John Marsh. She hated that apartment and referred to it as “The Dump.” Their apartment is the only interior space of the house that has been preserved with its original architectural features. It includes the famous leaded glass window from which Mitchell gazed on Atlanta passersby as she wrote her beloved book. It was here that I, and three of my friends, met Fannie Flagg.
Southern fiction is my favorite genre of literature. Rarely do I read anything else. Fannie Flagg is my favorite author. Many of you will doubtless know her as the author of the novel, “Fried Green Tomatoes At the Whistle Stop Cafe.” One year for my birthday, my daughter gave me four tickets to a book signing featuring Fannie Flagg at the Margaret Mitchell House. I invited three of my friends to meet me there after work.
Before the book signing, Fannie gave an informal speech about her various books. She entertained us with hilarious stories, one of which was a true story about a house for sale. This particular story is told in her book, “I Still Dream About You,” the publisher of which is Penguin-Random House. Fannie’s longtime Realtor friend in Birmingham, Maggie, always wants to go look at houses. Together one day they went to look at a brick bungalow. They arrived at the house, went to the front door and rang the bell. An elderly gentleman answered the door. Maggie said, “Hi! We hate to bother you but we’d like to look at your house.” The man said, “What? I’m just watching a Braves game. My wife is gone to the store.” Maggie said, “Oh, we won’t bother you at all. You just go ahead and watch the ball game while we look at your house.”
Fannie said he looked puzzled but said, “OK.” So they entered the house and had fun looking at all the bedrooms, the dining room, the bathrooms, the kitchen, and the back porch. They flushed toilets. … I guess you have to check the plumbing. They opened kitchen cabinets and ran faucets. Still checking the plumbing. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
After about 20 minutes of this fun, they went to the man cave where the man was happily watching the Braves game. Maggie said, “We love this house. It is adorable. We’d like to buy it!” The man said, “What?” And Maggie said, “Your house. We’d like to buy it.” The man then said, “What are you talking about?” And Maggie said, “Doesn’t that sign out there say House for Sale?” The man, evidently annoyed, said, “Lady, that sign out there says HORSE for sale.” So, rather embarrassed, they left.
When the author’s talk was over we were directed to the next room for the meet-and-greet. Fannie was seated at a table within 2 feet of us. When it was our turn, I handed the business manager my digital camera and she took a picture of all four of us with Fannie. I was so excited to meet her that, before I knew it, I blurted out, “My 90-year-old mother is a big fan of yours! ” Looking directly at me, Fannie said, “What?” So I said, “My mother, Charlotte Terrell is 90 years old. She lives in Rome, Georgia, and she is a big fan of yours!” Fannie continued looking me right in the eye and said, “Ohhhhhh … tell her I said hey!” Yes, she is just that folksy and down to earth. I told my Mama Fannie Flagg said “hey” and she was overjoyed.
My friends and I had all gone directly to the Margaret Mitchell House from work and so we, of course, had not had supper. So after the meet-and-greet we decided to go Mary Mac’s Tea Room. It was very fitting that we went to this, one of our favorite restaurants. Mary McKenzie, owner of Mary Mac’s Tea Room, was Margaret Mitchell’s cousin. We had a delicious dinner of fried chicken and squash casserole, and we talked about the book signing and Fannie Flagg’s speech. This was a great day, and a really enjoyable birthday. The day my friends and I met Fannie Flagg at the Margaret Mitchell House.
Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a history enthusiast, and an avid reader of Southern fiction. Readers may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.