Sunday 9 August 2015

Will the Real Rhett & Scarlett Please Stand Up?

Scarlett:  "Sir, you are no gentleman."
Rhett:  "And you, Miss, are no lady."

Anyone who has seen Gone with the Wind cannot get the iconic images out of their head:  society women in hoop skirts fluttering across the ballroom floor, a pair of horses bolting as Atlanta burns, Scarlett's plump, kerchief-wearing maid tying her corset so tight she can't breath, a pencil-moustachioed Rhett going off to join the Confederate Army, stating:  "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn."  

Truth is stranger than fiction.  There really was a "Rhett"; there really was a "Scarlett".  Rhett Turnipseed fell in love with Emelyn Louise Hannon duinrg the Civil War era.  Rhett abandonned Emelyn to run off and join the Confederate Army.

After the Civil War, Rhett became a gambler and a drifter.  On Easter morning in 1871, he attended a Methodist Revival meeting where he gave his life to Christ.  He attended Vanderbilt University where he studied to become a Methodist preacher.  

A young woman in his flock ran away to St. Louis to work as a prostitute.  Rhett followed her there to beg her to return home.  The madam running the brothel was his former love, Emelyn Louise Hannon.  Emelyn refused to give up the young lady to Rhett.  Rhett in turn challenged Emelyn to a card game:  if she won, the girl stayed; if he won, the girl went home with him.  

Rhett was victorious and the girl returned to her family in St. Louis.  She later married and raised a family, and became a proud matriarch.  Emelyn was so impressed with Rhett's change of character that she converted to Methodism and opened an orphanage for Cherokee children.  It turned out that Rhett really did give a damn.  

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