Harper Lee said it first

March 21, 2019

15  comments

Harper Lee, Monroeville, Alabama.

“What was once a tiny town of considerable characters is now six times its size and populated by appalling people,”  — Harper Lee, describing her hometown of Monroeville in a letter to her friend and former classmate Charles Carruth.

I won’t comment any further, but I will say, living in the fastest growing city in the state and one of the fastest growing counties in the country, many of us can feel her frustrations.

And now . . . look at my fun dates for viewing Gone With the Wind on the big screen. None other than my friends Tod Johnson and Joyce Vath. Tod won five academy awards and Joyce worked on Broadway for many years and studied with Lucille Ball. They were the perfect companions for an evening at the movies. They worked with and knew many of the actors and even gave me snippets of information like, “The chairs used in the dining room scene where Rhett told Scarlett he was going to crack her head like a walnut are now in a funeral parlor in Hollywood.”

Seeing GWTW on the big screen was amazing. There were parts that had previously been cut or I had never noticed. It was beautiful. To see a list of other classic films AMC theaters will be showing in the upcoming weeks, click here: AMC CLASSIC FILM SERIES


Here are Tod and Joyce again manning the welcome table and greeting John Woods at the Fairhope Public Library’s Chocolate and Champagne event a few weeks ago. It’s always a fun night of seeing good people and bidding on beautiful items in the silent auction. It all benefits our beautiful library. We are a reading and writing town, and actually, Joyce has a wonderful new book out, “Turn Back for Tomorrow.”


Fairhope is busy hosting a movie crew while they film, “The Friend” a story based on the life of my friend (she was everyone’s friend because we all felt so loved by her), Nicole Teague. I wrote about her several times a few years ago. You can read one of the stories here. But this party was also focused on films — my friend’s annual Academy Awards party. Dee and David are super film buffs and can throw a party like no one else. It’s always lots of fun and everyone competes to see who can pick the most winners.

And a little more writing arts for you at the recent Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival where Karyn and I signed our books at the most wonderful independent bookstore in America – Page and Palette! It was freezing cold that morning but we had the best time meeting readers and talking about the world of writing, but then again, Karyn and I could have fun sitting in a cardboard box.

Now you have an update on a few of the arts/crafts/writing/film/party activities going on in our growing, bulging, ballooning, popping city. More to come . . . arts as well as people.

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  1. Don’t you wish you could slow the wheels of “so called progress” sometimes? It is happening to my once loveliest village of the plains as well. There are some large, tall box like buildings going up in Auburn that look nothing like Auburn. I still love my little Monroeville though:)
    If folks aren’t careful, little places like Auburn and Fairhope will lose that character that was so appealing. Not sure of the answer just the analysis:)

    1. You are right on target Sandy. I don’t know if any of us know the answer. Politicians claim they can slow the growth or at least make it beautiful, but then . . . here comes another boxy bank or overcrowded school.

  2. You have had a busy few weeks and have made the rounds with local celebs! I did not know Tod went with you to GWTW! So sorry I missed that experience. But happy to have spent a cold Arts and Crafts Festival with you last week!

  3. Was living in Fairhope 50 plus years ago. It really hurts to see it turning into ” Nohope”! Deep pocketed pirates swallowing up the little cottages and all the charm with them, to tear down and build bigger
    than his neighbor! Call that progress, don’t think so!
    So sorry
    The truth hurts!

    1. I don’t mind the houses as long as they match the surrounding neighbors. When an Atlanta style house shows up in the middle of coastal cottages . . . eeewww. — “Fit in.” in all things when you move to a new town, “fit in.”

  4. Leslie Anne, you get to hang out with amazing people!

    All of my beloved SC is being swallowed up by developers. The tiny village of Mt. Pleasant, population of 4000, where I grew up (on the other side of the big bridge from Charleston) is now the 4th largest city in the state. Whenever Southern Living has one of those “best kept secrets” articles, you can probably hear me screaming Nooooo! all the way to Alabama!

    My mama took we to see Gone with the Wind when I was a little girl in the 50s. That is when we dressed up to go to town, the ladies wore gloves to the movies, and there was an intermission. The only way to see it is on the big screen!

    1. Every time someone clicks the “share” button on facebook involving a story about how wonderful our town is, it’s a sure sign they aren’t really from around here. They just want the folks back home to know what a good choice they made by moving here and we really do wear shoes and have grocery stores. I’ve heard lots about Mt. Pleasant. I’ll start sending people up that way!

      1. We don’t wear shoes or have any grocery stores in South Carolina! We do have hurricanes, tornadoes, and roaches the size of a VW Beetle!!

  5. I just read your story on Nicole, with tears in my eyes. I’m so glad a movie is being made about her too short but glorious life.

    Your GWTW screen viewing sounds like so much fun! I saw it years ago when they showed it again on the big screen and would love to again. It played here in Nashville recently and I loved seeing posts on FB where mothers and grandmothers were taking their daughters and granddaughters to see it. What an experience!

    I’ve wondered about your little town of Fairhope since I keep seeing more and more about it in the press. And dare I admit that I recently have discovered the old series Hart of Dixie on Netflix and Fairhope is mentioned often on it. I also must admit that I don’t care for the main character, Dr. Hart. But I do love Lemon and Anna Beth. Are you a Lemon, Leslie Anne? I loved the Bluebells ladies!

    1. I’ve only seen the Hart of Dixie once and don’t know the characters, but I’ve heard it is based on Fairhope. I’ll have to give it another try now and watch out for a Lemon and Bluebell! GWTW was completely different on the big screen and I’m so glad you got to see it that way. What a great story about the many generations going to watch together! And as for Nicole . . . we still have heavy hearts for her absence in town. The movie is based on a story her husband wrote about her and it was very realistic and hard to read. Not so fluffy and sweet like Nicole, but instead, a hard look at the pains of death. The movie should be fabulous.

  6. I agree with what Arlene Cocke writes 100%. I am a long-time Fairhope resident and it’s not the same town anymore. How are young people who have grown up here going to be able to afford buy a very overpriced small house here? The answer is that they cannot because there are no affordable starter homes or fixer-uppers. Only very rich people can move here now, There are cookie-cutter neighborhoods carved out of the old farms that look like anywhere, USA.

    I don’t know how this happened so quickly in the past couple of years – call it progress if you will – you could probably poll the people who have lived here a long time and most of them may feel this same way. I work out in the general public and I’ve talked to many who concur.

    It’s becoming kind of like a fake made up town now – like Seaside. All one has to do is look at descriptions of real estate for sale to get the tone of the “lifestyle” being sold. The authenticity is being razed with every little cottage that isn’t chic enough for the newcomers.

    1. If the farmers HAVE to sell, I wish one of them would create one of the “farming” communities. Instead of a central golf course, there is a large farm area where agriculture traditions are carried on for the new community. I also wish the old timers who are the ones selling off the land would insist on selling to builders who value uniqueness and restrict the Mcmansions and cookie cutter neighorhoods. It’s a mess, that’s for sure, and I don’t think there’s one perfect answer. First of all, we have to stop promoting our town so much! Thanks for your input! You are wise.

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