Gone with the Dream

by Sicily Kolbeck / Oct 27, 2013 / 0 comments

There is an expression my family uses: you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting……(Insert noun). In Marietta, Georgia, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting history. History is everywhere. On every block, there is a historic house. There is a surprising amount of museums in this small town. History and modern culture blend together in harmony.

As soon as I opened my eyes, I was engulfed by comfortable sheets and ruffles tickling my neck. I opened my eyes, and was met with soft rays of sunshine drifting through the curtains and idling on my face. I also came to the realization that this was not my room. The pitcher of water and wash basin were a dead giveaway. I sat up, stretched, and took a detailed look around the medium-sized room. The walls were covered in vintage flowered wallpaper. The floor was made from seasoned wood planks. Tucked into the room were a canopy bed, dresser, vanity stand, wash basin, and pitcher. I stood up and looked down. I had on a white nightgown that buttoned from my waist to my neck. I wiggled my toes and noticed they were not the black shade I had painted them the night before. Odd.

I walked around the side of the bed, and stubbed my toe on the corner. In the midst of my mumbling about the pains in my toe and cursing the bed to burn in a fiery pit, the door opened and revealed a stout black woman with a very motherly, yet dominant, aura.  She started right in with no introduction, saying, “Oh, darlin’, don’t you know better? When you get up, you gotta call me. Come on now, let’s get you dressed.” I wasn’t sure if the question was addressed to me, but I followed her to the enormous wardrobe (which looked like the wardrobe from Narnia). She opened the broad doors and pulled out a pink dress with a small waist (almost impossibly small) and a skirt that had flowers and frills everywhere, a corset, a pair of odd looking white pants, and a hoop skirt (the skirt underneath the dress that is made of wire….hoops. Hence the name. It adds volume to the dress so it doesn’t fall flat) that six children could fit under. As she helped me don my apparel (which I definitely would not have been able to master myself, especially the corset), I was still not quite sure where I was. Despite that fact, I still followed the woman downstairs.

We meandered down a hall (which to my pleasure was quite large, otherwise my dress might not have been able to fit) and turned into the dining room, which held three girls, a mother, and father. As soon as the girl in the white dress looked up, I knew exactly where I was - at Tara! From Gone with the Wind! There were two younger looking girls there, also. One was in pink dress with maroon accents; she had beautiful dirty blonde hair. The other in a blue dress with white accents; she had chestnut hair. Both had rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes. I was at the beautiful plantation with the large porticoed white house that was (and still is) so iconic. In my mind, I was being a professional fangirl. My suspicions were correct when the mother spoke and said to the girl in the white dress with brown hair and rosy cheeks, “Scarlett, aren’t you going to say good morning to your guest?” THE Scarlett then turned to the confused me and said, “Good morning. Today I was thinking we could take the carriage to Marietta and I could show you around to my favorite places.”

I replied, “That sounds terrific,” whilst in my mind I was taking in every detail to tell all of my friends. I was still confused as to why I was here, but decided to find out on our little journey to Marietta. Breakfast was a proper feast. Biscuits, sausage, eggs, toast, jam, coffee, hot cocoa, and apple cider. As we were eating there was lively chatter about everything - the war, charity events, balls, barbeques… I was just sitting there taking everything in. It was still incomprehensible that I was at Tara! We finished breakfast (I ate very little because the corset was so restricting) and went outside where the carriage was waiting. 

Scarlett O'Hara

Photo: http://www.scarlettonline.com/windienews.htm

The journey began! We headed down the very bumpy road for the 30 minutes it took by carriage to get to the town of Marietta. The driver dropped us off in the center of the town square, and I took a moment to take in my surroundings. Everybody was in civil war era clothes. I looked at Scarlett and asked, “What year is it?”

She replied, “1863, silly! Come along now, let’s take a tour of my little town!”

General Sherman's advance / sketched by Theodore R. Davis.

General Sherman's Advance - View of Kenesaw Mountain from Little Kenesaw; Little Kenesaw; View of the public square, Marietta, Georgia.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-104545

I was definitely able to feel the civil war’s presence in Marietta. Everyone was going about their business, but their motions were slowed with the weight of those that are in war. The thoughts that their son/brother/father/husband could be lost in the war were on everyone’s minds like a dark cloud looming, waiting to drench them in sadness. The war was not supposed to last this long. 

As we walked through the square arm in arm, fully decked out in hats, gloves, and umbrellas, as well as our original apparel (hoopskirts, dresses, corsets, etc.), Scarlett pointed out important historical spots.

“This little town was founded in 1834… such a long time ago. That over there was the train station. Did you know there was a train hijacking in 1862?” She gave me a moment to answer the rhetorical question. The look on my face told her to go on.

“Well, it started when a couple of Yankees came down and decided that to win the war, they would cut off some of our resources. So they hijacked the first and second car, and ran off. Silly things, though. Those Yanks got caught in no time. They didn’t even have all of the members of their hijacking crew! Some of them didn’t make the train in time! When I heard the news, I laughed out loud. Of course then I got a scolding by Mother, but how could I not laugh?!”

Scarlett was talking in a rapid fire speed. I recognized this happening a lot with young southern belles -not only in 1863, but also in 2013. We passed a large tree with a couple of picketers standing there, rallying against slavery. I asked her why they were picketing. She replied with, “That is the tree we hang slaves that have tried to escape, or are convicted of a crime.” There was a moment of silence between us.

I remember talking to my mum about this; this tree is still protected in 2013. The supporters of keeping the tree standing say it is a part of our history. They are right, it is a part of the evils in our history. Keeping the tree standing provides the knowledge that there is still deep rooted racism in Marietta, despite advances from the past.

We were now headed out of the town square (still in Marietta, but nearing the suburb part of it) Scarlett turned to me and said, “the town of Marietta was destroyed 3 separate times by fires in the 1850s. Can you believe it?”

“I honestly can’t. And after each time they still rebuilt it?”

Sherman’s March to the Sea was an awful turning point in the war. The north decided to show the south that their army could not protect them. General Sherman split his troops into two groups of 30,000. They trampled across plantations from Atlanta to Savannah. The two troops started their trek on November 15, 1864 and ended it on December 21, 1864 destroying, eating, and burning everything in their path. When Sherman captured Savannah, he offered it and its 25,000 bales of cotton as a Christmas present to President Lincoln.

Sherman's March to the Sea. Engraving by Alexander Hay Ritchie

Engraving depicting Sherman's march to the sea by Alexander Hay Ritchie, c1868
United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division: LC-DIG-ppmsca-09326

“Yes! Oh, look - we are passing The Oakton House. People have lived in that house since it was built in 1838. They keep taking away more and more land though, I’m not sure how much acreage there is now but it was originally 325 acres. I think they will tear this house down soon.” Little did Scarlett know this house was still standing in 2013 and not showing signs of going down anytime soon.

Oakton house, Marietta, Georgia

Photos courtesy of http://www.oaktonhouseandgardens.com/

As we circled back around and neared the downtown area, I could hear the sound of music wafting from the center square. There must be a concert going on. It was getting dark and Scarlett wanted to get back before supper. The carriage pulled next to us and we got in, thankful for the ride.  With all this walking, I was very tired, I began to nod my head, but tried to stay up to keep Scarlett company. That wasn’t working, so I decided I’d had a long day and deserved some sleep. Scarlett had brought a book and was reading. And with that, I drifted into a deep slumber.


I woke up with sun shining on my face and the sound of music filling my ears. I opened my eyes and realized I was in the middle of Marietta’s town square. I was in jeans and a t-shirt. My mother was next to me. We were sitting listening to a band play in the town square. Above the band, there was a banner saying it was the Gone with the Wind anniversary concert. I had dreamed the whole thing.

When we arrived back home (with me still in a daze about what just happened), I stepped into my room, and on my bed were the exact clothes I had worn with Scarlett in my dream. I showed my mother and she was just as baffled as I was. How did this get here? I looked in the wrist bag and saw a little note that read,

‘A souvenir for a wonderful day spent together. ~S’

With this delicate note in my hand, I realized this was a once in a lifetime experience. I also realized this should be a secret with myself. How extraordinary that I (of all people) got to experience Marietta this way.  Maybe in my next dream, Scarlett will show me around Tara.





Sicily Kolbeck is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program