"Every place has its hours...So in Jeffersonville (Montgomery) there existed then, and I suppose now, a time and quality that appertains to nowhere else. It began about half past six on an early summer night, with the flicker and sputter of the corner street lights going on, and it lasted until the great incandescent globes were black inside with moths and beetles and the children were called in to bed from the dusty streets."
From Southern Girl, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, 1929
One of the things that is the most alluring about Southern literature is how it maintains a vast air of unreality while focusing on the most overlooked of realistic things. It can take something as mundane as the summer street lamps and make them beautiful despite the horror of dying moths and beetles. So it is with the South, itself.
As a friend and I were traveling to Mobile, AL one summer to see an exhibit on Nicholas and Alexandra, the last tsar and tsarina of Russia, we took a side trip into Montgomery. Although Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald only lived in this house from 1930-1931, it is the only museum dedicated to the couple. While living here, Scott worked on Tender is the Night, and Zelda began her stunning only novel, Save Me the Waltz.
Our museum hostess was Russian, and we became fast friends when she learned of our love for the golden couple, as well as why we were headed to Mobile.
|Holding Scott's original published edition of the Saturday Evening Post.|
The parlor was cluttered with many examples of memorabilia, and I pored over it all.
The Fitzgeralds moved on to many different locales, and Zelda suffered breakdowns until she found refuge in an asylum in Asheville, NC. It was during that time she visited the Wolfe house, and Scott would stay in the Grove Park Inn when he came to visit her. Zelda became a painter of fantastical pictures, some of which were done in Asheville. She said, "What I want to do is paint the basic, fundamental principle so that everyone will be forced to realize and experience it - I want to paint a ballet step so everyone will know what it is - to get the fundamental essence into the painting."
|"Marriage at Cana" by Zelda Fitzgerald - from Zelda: An Illustrated Life|
|A scan of my tattered copy of the book.|
"A southern moon is a sodden moon, and sultry. When it swamps the fields and the rustling sandy roads and sticky honeysuckle hedges in its sweet stagnation, your fight to hold on to reality is like a protestation against a first waft of ether..." Save Me the Waltz