Millions of us have seen the movie "Gone With The Wind" since its premiere 75 years ago this past week. But how many of us have ever gone with the Windies? Our Bill Geist has!
It's been 75 years since the world premiere of "Gone With the Wind," the biggest night in Atlanta since the damned Yankees burned the place down.
Atlanta ablaze was one of many unforgettable scenes -- not to mention those immortal lines, such as "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
Rhett Butler may not give a damn, but these people sure do ... a pack of "Gone With the Wind" superfans who call themselves "Windies." They hail from all around the country, and will flock just about anywhere that has anything to do with "Gone With the Wind."
Their most recent stop? A mega-exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas.
"Ahhh, there it is! There it is!" said one woman excitedly upon spotting Scarlett O'Hara's green gown.
Many bee-lined it to the costumes -- a very rare sighting, I'm told.
"I expected it to be in glass!" they exclaimed at the dresses on display in the open air.
"It's like for some people to see the Eiffel Tower, to see a landmark like the Statue of Liberty, something that when you see it for the first time it's surreal," said Kim. "I've seen 'Gone With the Wind' maybe 100 times, and I'm 33."
That seems about average for Windies, who revel in the smallest details, right down to the memos, script draft, and letters to the editor.
Naturally the Atlanta area is a hotbed for Windies. Faye Sorrow of Powder Springs has been an avid collector for about 20 years. "I love the finds. Anything that I could find 'Gone With the Wind' is mine," she laughed. "Doesn't matter. I have toothpaste that is 75 years old!"
She has some 1,500 items in display in every room in the house.
Faye sews sumptuous Southern Belle gowns, but doesn't dress up like it every day. It's tough for vacuuming and trips to the 7-11
Other Windies not only want to know where Faye finds her treasures, but where she found her husband, Ronnie.
Geist asked her, "He doesn't try to and draw in the purse string when you're out buying stuff?"
"No! He actually buys stuff for me, too!" she replied.
Great find, Faye!
Some Windies are a little further gone with "Gone With the Wind" than others.
Warren Allen built an entire "Gone With the Wind"-themed house, ("My Tara"), bedecked for a "Gone With the Wind" holiday season. He showed Geist a wall mural painted "like you're standing on the front porch of Tara looking out."
The film had a winding staircase with stained glass at the top. So does Warren.
Then Geist was shown the library -- "Geez, I'm overwhelmed! You got a few things up here!" - everything from ticket stubs to first and second edition books.
Allen can't get enough: "I don't even know how many times I've seen the movie. I keep waiting for us to win the war."
Geist asked, "Whenever somebody gets so involved in a subject, some of their friends and neighbors think they're a little around the bend."
"Oh, they all know I am!" Allen said. "That's the enjoyment of being with some of these other fellow collectors, 'cause we're all normal when we get together. We don't have any disease!"
I guess we will just have to take his word for it.
For more info:
- "The Making of 'Gone With the Wind'" at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin (through January 4, 2015)