Wednesday, March 2, 2011

To Kill A Mockingbird

When I was a little girl my favorite Great Aunt lived on a farm in Uriah, Alabama.



They had a little farm house that had a porch that wrapped around two sides of the house and the porch was filled with rocking chairs and a porch swing.

I'd go up and spend time with them every summer and truly loved every minute of it.

Aunt Mildred taught me how to cross-stitch sitting on that porch swing and when I wasn't sitting there stitching, I was pretending to be Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, gathering eggs from the hen house, or chasing the wild barn cats that lived all around the house.

The Island King took some pictures of me and the kids sitting on the swing back when my Uncle Grady died and while I can find pictures of us in the yard I can't find the pictures of us on the swing.

The only picture of the house I can find is this one of my mother standing out front.



Finding those pictures is becoming something I obsess about a lot lately.

Anyway...

I had a cousin, through marriage, that was my age who lived in Monroeville, which is about 30 minutes north of Uriah. So while I was visiting my Aunt I'd often go to Monroeville to play with my cousin.

She lived right down the street from the Monroeville Courthouse and that's where we spent most of our time.



We'd both read To Kill a Mockingbird, several times, and would sit on the courthouse lawn for hours talking about Scout, Jem and of course Boo Radley.

The house where Boo had lived was not far down the street and out front was the big old oak, with the knot-hole he used to leave gifts for Scout and Jem in.

We'd spend hours hiding trinkets in there for each other and then going back to find them.

The woman who owned the house, Miss Price, never seemed to mind us playing in her yard and often she'd sit on her porch, shelling peas, and telling us stories about what life was like in Monroeville way back when.

She loved to tell how she'd shaken Gregory Peck's hand when he was in town filming the courthouse scene for the movie and she had a picture of him on her wall.

We kept our eyes peeled for Harper Lee, who had moved away but still owned a house there and returned to town often, but we never spotted her.

Aunt Mildred told us that when she was a teenager she used to babysit for Harper Lee and often Truman Capote as well.

She said Ms Lee was always a quiet, introverted child and that Truman Capote was "An odd little boy"

Aunt Mildred had a 1st edition of the book which Harper Lee signed to her and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world.

Still do.

Aunt Mildred has passed on and my cousin married and moved away so I don't get up to Monroeville much any more but a few years ago my Mom and I took the Island Girl up there to watch the play they put on every year in the courthouse.





Reading the book and watching the movie were both very moving but I have to say, this play was POWERFUL.

You are there - in the court room while the trial is going on and it transports you back in time like nothing else I've ever experienced.

If you're ever in that area in May go see the play - you'll be glad you did.

The last time I was up there I saw where someone had bought the old Radley house, cut down the tree and fenced off the yard.

It made me want to cry - I really wanted to hide something in that old tree for my kids to find.

Every once in a while I get a hankering to go up there and just sit on the courthouse lawn.

Then I like to drive out into the country and visit the old cemeteries where my ancestors are buried.

Writing this has sparked that hankering again.

What do you say, Mom? Want to go to Monroeville for a picnic?
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