I certainly was in for a surprise when I wound
tape #12 onto the Ampex and turned it on.
Seems Annie had just come back from the local
movie theater, where a newly released version
of Gone With the Wind was playing. Apparently,
Annie had not viewed the film before, much
less read the book.
"I just seen a movie about the Old
South," she blabbed into the microphone.
They shore dressed funny back then. Don’t
know how them women stood it in all them
skirts and underwear."
Let me add that Annie was infamous for
wearing as little as possible, and as I recall
her once describing her choice of lingerie,
her underwear usually consisted either of
fishnet pantyhose or those awful
split-at-the-crotch numbers that Frederick’s
of Hollywood pioneered.
However, Annie’s main interest was in
Scarlett O’Hara and the men in her life. It
became apparent that her evaluation of the
South’s best-known literary heroine found
poor Scarlett somewhat lacking in taste.
"Lordy! Look at all them sorry men she
took up with!" Annie said, ignoring the
cardinal grammatical rule about ending a
sentence with a preposition. "Who in the
world would want to marry that jerk Charlie
Wilkes? (!) Talk about a mamma’s boy!
Scarlett was shore lucky that Charlie hauled
off and died of the whoopin’ cough or the
measles or whatever as quick as he did.
She’d have spent the rest of her life pickin’
cotton and nursemaidin’ that guy. What a
Annie then took on Scarlett’s endless,
non-reciprocal lust for the scion of Twelve
Oaks. "Wonder what it was that made her
want that Ashley so much?" she pondered.
"I shore don’t see it. He lost his
house and farm to the Yankees, he wasn’t no
good as a clerk, and all he wanted to do was
walk around kinda dreamy like and talk about
the good ole days. Phooey! Best thing about
most ‘good ole days’ is that they are
"Can’t decide who was the worstest
choice-—Charlie or Ashley. Maybe it woulda
been better if Charlie and Ashley had teamed
up. That sorta thing musta been goin’ on
back then. Only question is, which one of them
would have been the ‘wife’?"
On this pregnant thought, Annie dropped her
explosive concept and advanced to another
It came as no surprise to me that Annie was
fascinated by Belle Watling, the Atlanta
madam. She liked Belle’s
bleach-from-the-bottle hair, her gaudy,
low-cut gowns and her easy way with men.
"Now, I can identify with that
Belle," Annie said. "She had a real
fancy cat house, too. Not like them dumps here
in Zenobia that I have to work from."
The only place where Annie parted ways with
Belle was when Belle donated some of her
tainted money for The Cause.
"Damned if I would give a nickel of my
hard-earned cash to them snooty Atlanta
society dames," she said with a snarl.
"Not even to that mamby-pamby Melody!
(!!) She was just too kissy-sweet for my
tastes! I ain’t at all surprised that Melody
had such a time givin’ birth to that baby.
Maybe if Melody had pulled a few shifts at the
sock factory like my ma did, she’d have
popped that baby out and then got up and fixed
supper for everybody!"
Wow! What a scene that would have made in
the movie. Where was Annie when David Selznick
was dictating the script? Or when Margaret
Mitchell was writing the book?
father-—was one of Annie’s favorites. She
admired his bluster and unabashed fondness for
his daughters-—especially Scarlett. However,
Gerald’s Irish accent tended to throw her,
and she commented that he certainly didn’t
talk like people do today.
"Guess he oughta have took a few ridin’
lessons, since he kept running them horses at
fences and hedges. Shoulda known he’d end up
ass over elbows and on the ground sooner or
later," she added.
I was bemused to hear that Annie showed
great interest in and support for the
carpetbagger Jonas Wilkerson and the Slattery
woman he had impregnated and later married.
After all, these were people who were typical
for Annie, and this also was behavior that was
common, normal and natural in her
less-than-elevated society. In fact, she said
it was a downright shame that Scarlett was
able to save Tara from Jonas Wilkerson’s
"Them O’Haras had their time at
bat," Annie observed with unwavering
blue-collar logic and empathy, unaware of the
inappropriate sports comparison she used.
"And them Wilkersons and Slatterys
shoulda had a go at runnin’ the farm. Wish
my folks had had a chance like that! I can
name plenty of stuck-up people right here in
Zenobia that I would be glad to kick outta
house and home!"
Well! So much for Southern solidarity in
the face of the enemy.
She dismissed Scarlett’s desperate
marriage to Frank Kennedy with a snort. Annie
saw him as little more than a middle-aged
version of "Charlie" Wilkes and
virtually cheered as she alluded to Frank’s
death on the Decatur Road. "Serves him
right for gettin’ mixed up with somebody
like that Scarlett," Annie said smugly.
"I’d of shot him myself, if I’d had
to marry that mealy mouthed ol’
Annie’s keen eye for premium maleness
zeroed in on Rhett Butler. She immediately saw
his allure and commented caustically about
Scarlett’s failure to gravitate toward Rhett
until it was too late. Annie’s scorn for
Scarlett’s stupidity knew no bounds. Still,
she realized that the breakup of Scarlett and
Rhett’s marriage was a foregone conclusion.
"Anybody with two glass eyes could see
that Red (!!!) just wasn’t right for
Scarlett. And I don’t mean because he was
always runnin’ with the likes of Belle
Watling. Plenty of deacons in the First
Baptist Church of Zenobia have done business
with me and none the worse for wear. But that
Red! He was such a softie. Look at all them
goo-goo eyes he made over that little girl of
his--Barney Blue. (!!!!) It was plain as day
he would always place that child over its
mother. Plus, ol’ Red always wanted to go
back to Charleston and make up with the folks
there. Scarlett would never have fit into that
Annie paused for a few seconds and
concluded her Rhettian evaluation by
theorizing that maybe Rhett intended to put
Scarlett on that stumble-bum pony instead of
his daughter. She added, "Why, if Barney
Blue had just kept her little mouth shut, her
daddy could have knocked off his hussy of a
wife, and they would have moved to Charleston
in style! Instead, Barney Blue hopped on that
pony and got her neck broke for the
My imagination did flips as I sought
manfully to digest this proposed resolution to
something Margaret Mitchell surely left
unexplored in her novel. On the other hand,
why not? Maybe "Barney Blue" would
have grown up in Charleston and would have
married a cadet from the Citadel, and
"Red" would have gotten his name on
a marble plaque to be mounted inside the
French Huguenot Church.
I fully expected Annie’s movie review to
end at this point. Such was not the case, and
I should have known. With Annie, the
unanticipated is always unexpected.
"Of course, them people who wrote the
movie got it all wrong," Annie announced
firmly. "Scarlett never should have had
to put up with the likes of Charlie, Ashley,
Frank or Red. There was only one man who
woulda’been worth Scarlett’s time and
effort, and they let her shoot him!"
What!? Annie wanted Scarlett’s big
romance to be with the Yankee soldier who was
stealing her mother’s earbobs?
Unfortunately, Annie’s evaluation of Gone
With the Wind ended on this enigmatic note. I
could not let it terminate like this, and I
have projected what Annie undoubtedly had in
Ike Awalt of the First Ohio Irregulars and
Bummers Brigade breaks into Tara and rifles a
jewelry box. He is confronted by an armed
Scarlett, but he yanks the pistol from her
hand before she can pull the trigger. Ike
slaps Scarlett around just to show her who’s
boss. Scarlett loves it. This is what she’s
been seeking and not getting from all those
other guys. Ike kidnaps her and heads north,
on the way commandeering a horse and carriage
once owned by "Red" Butler.
They eventually arrive in Lancaster,
Ohio—-Ike’s home town. The two are now
married, and Ike gets a job at the local glass
factory. There, he assists the Union cause by
helping manufacture whiskey bottles and Mason
Ever the social climber, Scarlett rejects a
frame house near the glass factory and pushes
Ike to acquire a more expensive dwelling on
East Main Street, where the Lancastrian elite
Fate has it that the Awalts move into a
house next door to Lancaster’s favorite son,
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. The
Civil War ends, and the Great Incendiary comes
home only to discover his golden years must be
spent with Mrs. Ike Awalt glaring at and
badgering him from next door.
In this scenario, Georgia is avenged, and
Billy Sherman learns the hard way that
Peace--like War--is Hell.
Now, that’s the way Annie would have
* * * *
Annie Meets Scarlett O’Hara” is a chapter
from a yet-to-be-completed novel titled The
Pulpwood Annie Tapes by Max Courson.
His current novel, which precedes The
Pulpwood Annie Tapes, is The
Pulpwood Annie Chronicles.