Interview with Mrs. Scarlett O'Hara

By , Bellport, NY
In 1890, a child named Bonnie was born to Wade Hamilton and his wife, Rebbecca. Wade was the son of Charles Hamilton, and Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler. Charles Hamilton was Scarlett’s first husband who died at the beginning of the Civil War. In this meeting we are about to read about, Bonnie is fourteen years old. She has always wondered about her grandmother’s life. She has lived far away from her grandmother for her childhood and has only seen her a few times. It’s 1904 and Bonnie and her brother Charles, named after their paternal grandfather, would soon move down south with their parents, to live at the family residence, Tara. This land and house was once a huge plantation where Scarlett grew up and survived “The Great War,” as Bonnie’s father called it. On one of the visits before they were to move, Bonnie sat with her grandmother on the veranda having tea, and came upon the opportunity to ask her about her life.













Bonnie: Oh, Grandma Scarlett, it’s pretty here, it’s so different from where I live. Did it always look like this?
Scarlett: Yes Bonnie, and even better. Every house in the county looked like it had a park for a lawn. Every tree was blooming with flower buds. Every person that walked the street would stop and smile when they saw someone. It seemed as though the sky was always blue and never cloudy or gray. It was so beautiful.
Bonnie: You must have had wonderful picnics.
Scarlett: Oh, Bonnie if you think that this yard is beautiful you should have seen our neighbor’s plantation, Twelve Oaks. That was where the Wilkes lived, my childhood friend, Ashley’s family. I thought I would marry him and live there one day.
Bonnie: What happened to the plantation, why is it not there anymore?
Scarlett: I don’t want to talk about it. It was destroyed in the war and I wish not to speak about the war.
Bonnie: Oh please, Grandma Scarlett, the war was so long ago, please tell me.
Scarlett: Well, Bonnie, I’ll tell you a little.
Bonnie: What did Twelve Oaks look like?
Scarlett: It was so beautiful, with a huge front yard. As you walked down the path towards the door, there were flowers of every kind. In the center of the front room you could see a spiral staircase and glass windows all around. A sparkling chandelier hung overhead and marble floors beneath.
Bonnie: Were there balls and dances?
Scarlett: Oh yes, in the Wilkes grand ballroom everyone was invited and we all danced till our feet hurt. Before the balls at night, we would sit outside with our umbrellas and listen to the men talk about the war, and how they wished it would start so that they could go and defend our way of living. At the end of the war, the Yankees took that away from us.
Bonnie: What was your way of living?
Scarlett: Well Bonnie, I know it’s hard for you to imagine this, but we had slaves. The people in the south had large plantations to run and we had many black slaves who worked for free. We housed them and fed them and clothed them, and in return, they worked for us. That’s how we kept up with the crops, which is how your grandfather afforded to support his family. We had indoor and outdoor workers. One of the indoor workers was my mammy. She was like a nanny. She took care of me, helped me dress, brought me food, and taught me manners. She was like my companion. I loved her so.
Bonnie: The Yankees took them away!
Scarlett: Well, Mammy and a couple others stayed. But most of the slaves left the plantations because after the war, they were free.
Bonnie: What happened when everyone left?
Scarlett: Mammy, Prissy, and Pork helped me run Tara after my mother died of the Typhoid fever, and my father died after he galloped off after a low-down scalawag who tried to take Tara from under us. He fell off his horse and broke his neck.
Bonnie: How dreadful! How old were you when you had to take care of everyone?
Scarlett: I hadn’t turned 21 yet, and as you know Charles Hamilton, your grandfather, died during the war. He never came home to see Wade, your father, and I raised him.
It was very hard to take care of two children and my sick sister in-law Melanie, Ashley’s wife, and your two great aunts, and your great grandpa, who was not all there after Ma died. The big plantation with no income, and only three helpers, two of them elderly and the other not very bright, was a lot for one person to bear, but I did it. Luckily, I went to Atlanta to seek help from a friend of mine, his name was Rhett Butler. But he didn’t have anything for me and on my way home I ran into Frank Kennedy, an old family friend. He was starting his own business and I had hopes that he could help us pay the taxes on Tara. The Yankees purposely taxed us so that we would loose it. They did everything they could to starve us in the South.
Bonnie: Is that why you married Frank Kennedy?
Scarlett: Well, he owned a hardware store in Atlanta, and I thought that was really smart because a lot of homes had to be built after the war.
Bonnie: What did you do all day when Frank was working? Did you stay in Atlanta?
Scarlett: Well, ladies back then were not expected to do men's work, but I did. I opened up a lumber mill and my husband Frank did not like that, neither did anyone else.
Bonnie: Why did you open it then?
Scarlett: Well I thought we did not have enough money with just the store and I was worried. I vowed never to go hungry again.
Bonnie: Oh I see, so you were working when you had my Aunt Ella then?
Scarlett: Yes, Frank thought it wasn’t “lady like” to be running a mill, so he thought I should have a baby. I had to run the mill when Frank died. He was shot trying to protect me, you know.
Bonnie: Protect you from what?
Scarlett: Well, I was foolish enough to go riding at night by myself through a territory that was unsafe. Many of the freed slaves that had no homes and the scalawags from the North that came south to rob us were living in road side camps. They were considered dangerous. So when I was riding alone I was attacked. Frank, with many of our men folk joined a group called the Ku Klux Klan, which I didn’t approve of. The night of my attack they went out to punish the attackers and that’s how Frank was shot.
Bonnie: Then you married Rhett Butler?
Scarlett: Yes, and we had the best of times on our honeymoon, he was very rich and when we came back from our honeymoon, he built me a house in Atlanta that looked like Tara. You know Tara was the only house in the county not burned down by the Yankees. They used this house as their headquarters.
Bonnie: When did you have Bonnie, the Aunt I was named for?
Scarlett: When we came back and were living in our new house, we had Bonnie and she was beautiful just like you and Rhett loved her very much. He taught her everything he knew. He even taught her how to ride a pony.
Bonnie: Oh I wish I had a pony! How did Bonnie die?
Scarlett: One day when Rhett and I were sitting on our back porch Bonnie was on her pony and she told us that she wanted to show us how she learned to jump over the poles. Rhett and I both told her not to go but she did anyway and she fell off the poor pony.
Bonnie: How dreadful. Why didn’t you have any more children?
Scarlett: Well after Bonnie died, Rhett left. He was so heartbroken. He stayed in France for a year and then finally came back.
Bonnie: When all of this was happening, my father was living in Virginia?
Scarlett: Yes, I sent your father away to college in the North where he met your mother.
Bonnie: Father talks sometimes about when he was growing up, but he doesn’t know much about your life at Tara.
Scarlett: It changed so much in such a short time. Life was so easy when I was 17, I didn’t have a care in the world except for what to wear for a party. There were no parties for a long time after the war. Even weddings were simple. Before I turned 20, I was delivering babies, digging in a field, picking cotton and something so awful, I’d rather not say.
Bonnie: Oh please! It couldn’t be that bad.
Scarlett: Bonnie, did you ever know anyone who had shot someone?
Bonnie: Grandma! You didn’t!
Scarlett: Oh, yes, I did. Otherwise they might have killed me and others in the house. When I came back to Tara, after the burning of Atlanta, Tara looked like a charcoal ruin. I had picked up a cow at the old Twelve Oaks Plantation, which was burned down and vacant. Besides the cow, we had very little food to feed us. There were no crops, the Yankees had taken everything except my mother’s jewels that father kept in a box. One day I heard hooves coming down the drive. My sister in-law Melanie, who was recuperating from child birth, was alone in the house with me. We saw and heard a Yankee Officer looking through things in your great grandfather’s office. I had a gun that Rhett had given me, and as soon as I saw that Yankee come towards me with my mother’s jewels I pulled out the gun and shot him. He was a deserter and up to no good. Melanie and I dragged him out back and buried him. So you see Bonnie, saving our houses and families were the most important things after the war for all of us in the South.
Bonnie: I’m so glad it’s here now so that I could see it. You’re such a strong lady Grandma. Not even the Yankees could stop you!
Scarlett: I only did what I had to do.
Bonnie: I hope I grow up to be as remarkable as you. One day when I have children, I hope I have a girl.
Scarlett: Why honey?
Bonnie: Because I want to name her Scarlett.
Scarlett: Oh, that’s sweet. You know what I always say?
Bonnie: What Grandma?
Scarlett: Tomorrow is another day.





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