Day 13, Part 1: Alabama & F.Scott Fitzgerald

16 May

ROAD TRIP

After saying goodbye to The Smith Bryd House and its thoughtful innkeepers, David and Beth, we packed up the car to explore Montgomery before making the drive to Georgia.

Our first stop was the F.Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum which happens to be located in their old home in Montgomery. This experience was a fascinating look into their love affair as well as a look into F. Scott’s creative world (which for me as a writer was such a treat).

There was so much I didn’t know!

Rachel and I arranged to meet Willie, the gentleman who runs the museum for a guided tour. From all our email correspondences with Willie I imagined him to be an older gentleman but instead he ended up being a young and cute guy with a boyish grin, a southern accent and an easy-going energy. What a seriously cool southern gentleman!

I learned later that Willie and his wife are both writers, which made me immediately feel like we would all be friends if I lived in Alabama and talk about writing over long dinners (please tell me you guys imagine a pretend life sometimes too??). He is also a bit of a Fitzgerald nut. I mean, the man knows everything about F.Scott and Zelda’s life!

My favorite stories were the ones from the early years…

F.Scott was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota to an upper middle class Irish Catholic family- he was bright, ambitious and handsome. He attended St. Paul Academy for school and when he was 13 he published his first piece of writing in the school newspaper. Fitzgerald went on to go to Princeton where he pursued his writing. Sadly, his writing came at the expense of his schoolwork and he was placed on academic probation. In 1917 he dropped out of Princeton to join the army. Afraid that he would die in World War I with never having his literary dreams come true, he quickly wrote a novel called The Romantic Egotist in the weeks before reporting to duty.

He sent it to a publisher and was…rejected, although he was told to submit again in the future because they saw something in his work.

Fitzgerald ended up being assigned to Camp Sheridan outside of Montgomery, Alabama. It was there that he met and fell in love with a beautiful 18-year-old girl named Zelda Sayre at a dance. She was the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge, was considered “blue blood” and way out of his league. But he liked her and didn’t care and instead decided to fill up her dancing card for the night to get her attention. Ballsy huh? I just love that story.

That was the beginning of their wild romance although there were still some road blocks in the way, the major one being “poor boys didn’t marry rich girls” at that time and Zelda and her family expected a lot.

In 1919 the war ended before Fitzgerald was ever deployed and he was discharged. He went straight to New York city hoping he could launch a lucrative career in advertising and prove to Zelda he was worth marrying. But after a short time trying to build his career in NY he returned to his parents house in Saint Paul, Minnesota to rewrite his novel. He couldn’t stay away from his dream. He spent 4 months in their attic working on the book that would become his first hit, This Side Of Paradise.

I just loved this story.

He couldn’t deny his love for Zelda nor could he deny his love of writing.

and he got both.

Shortly after re-writing his book, it was published and he and Zelda were married. This Side Of Paradise went on to become a hit and turned the 24-year-old Fitzgerald into a star.

And the rest is history…

Since the afternoon I spent in F.Scott’s house, you could say that I am having a bit of a love affair with him. He’s such a complicated and inspired soul. Being in his space made me fall in love being a writer all over again.

And then I came across this quote…

“This is part of the beauty of literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely or isolated from anyone. You belong.”

and I thought…isn’t that the truth and in that moment I felt so thankful for this year and 365 til 30 because it has taught me this very lesson…my longings are universal longings and I’m not lonely or isolated from anyone.

so thanks, guys.

(me at the house)

…..

For Rachel’s blog click here!

365til30: instagram @kate365, twitter, facebook

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12 Responses to “Day 13, Part 1: Alabama & F.Scott Fitzgerald”

  1. Rebecca Koo May 16, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    Okay, so I am all choked up over this post. Apparently I am having a love affair with F. Scott, too (just from reading this)! I believe in that quote with all that is in me. And I think it is so beautiful to hear that is what 365til30 has brought you as well. We cannot be reminded enough. Thank you, Miss Kate.

  2. barbarapotter May 16, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    Just getting started catching up. Love this sounds so romantic

  3. PEM May 16, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Excellent! It brought tears to my eyes! You are a beautiful person, Kate McClafferty!

  4. cravesadventure May 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Loving your post – thanks for sharing as well as sharing a little history too!

  5. M. M May 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Poignant, emotional, real. Beautiful post. “No man( or woman ) is an island……….”

  6. Richard McCargar May 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Lovely sentiments in this post. I was born about 90 SW of F. Scott, but without the talent.

    I’ve long used his words to help me through trying times. I’ve now been alone, but not lonely, for a decade.

    Your willingness to share is helping your writing. Amazing to see the changes as you cross the country. Experience is everything.

    • katemcclafferty May 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

      Richard, thank you. I am always touched when I read your comments…

  7. fivereflections May 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    i’m glad you are sharing these adventures… i certainly enjoy them….
    David in Maine USA

    • katemcclafferty May 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

      Thank you David. I am so grateful and happy to have you as a reader…:)

  8. righteousbruin9 May 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    That is a nice twist on Montgomery. He’s one of the giants of American literature, so someday I will be in Montgomery again and check the place out.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. the roadtrip | - April 11, 2013

    […] –  Going to F. Scott Fitzgeralds home  […]

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