Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Scott and Zelda: In Search of the Golden Couple

"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.

I was thrilled to be able to have my picture made at the same place as one I love of Zelda sitting atop her trunks with ballet toe-shoes on.

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
Tragically, Zelda was killed when the asylum caught fire in 1948. Years later, when the city hosted a show of some of her paintings, I was sure to go. It was an extraordinarily moving exhibit. I can sum it up best by the exchange of our Russian guide and myself in Montgomery. When I told her, "I adore Zelda," she replied, "Zelda deserves to be adored."

A scan of my tattered copy of the book.
I highly recommend the Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald, which includes Save Me the Waltz.

"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


  1. Oh me, another good one. Southern, sultry and sated with wild emotions both inside and out. That was Zelda. I'm loving it.

  2. Hi, I am visiting from Marie's blog and very glad I dropped by!I saw the Little House on the Prairie here in Ireland when my kids were young and they were glued to the TV each sunday afternoon in the winter. I had never really thought how much if any of it was true to life so reading your post was a real eyeopener.
    I read the story of Zelda & Scott Fitzgerald many years ago and thought it a very sad and depressing story so did not read anything by Zelda which I may correct in the near future after reading your post.

    1. You don't know what joy that gives me Peggy! I'm glad you dropped by.

  3. Hi sweet Kenna! Another awesome post! I remember these sojourns from our letters of the past just after they happened, and its so much fun to relive them through you again here, and with such wonderful photos too. I see that you have had many visitors and I hope that will continue to be so. Someone told me that you have no way for them to become a follower, and they would like to follow your blog, so you might consider adding that to your sidebar. I have some wonderful blogger friends. And I have already met two of them, Mary of Faith Fabric & Photos visited here from Illinois when she came to see her sister who lives here, and we all got together. That was great! Also, Candy of Lazy J Bar C Farm lives about two hours from here, and she and her hubby Jerry and Russell and I all met at the AZ Sonoran Desert Museum and have since visited them close to where they live where they sell baked goods and watercolors at a Farmer's Market. It's fun that they are so close. Anyway, check out everyone's blogs if you get a chance...I think you will find some wonderful blogger friends as well.

    I will email you soon. I love you and miss you! Glad to have you blogging! It's wonderful!