I am putting these out a few at a time because I want to svor the memories. I may even be adding to the story fragments as I remember more.
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
By the time I was 15 I was ready for this staple read for good Southern girls and women. I was hooked from the first pages and the Tarlton Twins. I opened the cover of Margaret Mitchell's novel and it sucked me right into it. I could not put it down. I read until the wee hours using a flash light under my covers after my parents told me, "Lights out, Ellouise." And when I finished it - I started back on page one and read it again. And over the years I have read it several more times.
I did not see the movie until I was almost thirty. But I knew the story. My paper back copy from the 1950s - its pages now quite yellowed - is on my book shelf - within arms reach if the urge to read it again comes over me in the middle of the night.
When Jim and I went to Irelalnd three years ago we stood on the Hill of Tara - the home of Irish kings. I looked over the fields and thought of the Georgia O'Haras and their Tara - "Ah, this is where that came from."
Miss Susie Slagle's
In 1954 as I was preparing to leave Charlotte for The Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing in Baltimore someone mentioned this book to me. I searched high and low and found a copy. I could not sleep on the train that night so I sat up in the Ladies Lounge and read Miss Susie Slagle's from Charlotte to Baltimore I finished it as I settled into my life as a student nurse.
The book is set in Baltimore at the turn of the 20th century. The very proper heroine Miss Susie Slagle owns an old multi-storied row house near The Johns Hopkins Hospital and she lets rooms to medical students. The novel is their story or stories as the young men make their way through the rigors of their medical education. The highly romanticized hospital setting and events captured my imagination before I ever laid eyes on the red brick buildings. It was quite an unrealistic preparation for entering nurses' training but one I loved and never forgot.
The novel is a work of fiction but the character of Miss Susie is taken from a real person. I had not known that until five years ago. At a Class Reunion dinner I sat next to Jim's class-mate Fred, now a retired NC doctor, who lived in such a house just as his father had. I think I mentioend that I had just re-read Miss Susie Slagle's and that set off our conversation and his stories. "It was a home. We were family. I lived there all four years."
The book was reissued in the late 1990s so I have my own copy. I dipped into it two years ago before we went to Hopkins for Jim's Medical School reunion and I probably will thumb it this week before we head off to Baltimore for another of those reunions. And if I see Fred I will ask for more stories from him.
What about my class at Nursing School? Don't be silly. I achieved another goal - my MRS. I married a medical student instead.