‘GWTW’: unifier of the nation?

“For any young person ‘growing up Southern’ in the ’30s, ‘Gone with the Wind,’ the massive novel itself, had an impact far beyond its literary merits.

“My classmates at the then small women’s college of the University of North Carolina read it and talked to grandmothers and great-grandmothers who had lived through ‘Mr. Sherman’s visits’ and as youngsters saw his ‘calling cards,’ the blackened chimneys still standing along the 600 miles of Sherman’s track.

“And over at tiny Atlantic Christian College in eastern North Carolina, ‘Gone with the Wind’ was the only novel Ava Gardner ever read until she went to Hollywood and got ‘educated.’

” ‘Gone with the Wind’ meant that ‘we’ had won. We could begin to rejoin the Union, a process that took 30 years, and that we could even enter the 20th century….

“The universality of the book, as the country took first the novel, then the film to its heart, was attested to by a New England friend who said that even in school she had never really learned of the invasion and occupation of the South and its devastation until she had read and then reread ‘Gone with the Wind.’

“Because of its widespread appeal, ‘Gone with the Wind’ actually helped make us one country again. For me that is the ultimate importance.”

—Margaret Coit Elwell, author of “John C. Calhoun: American Portrait,” commenting in American Heritage (October 1992) 

Say, isn’t that Randall Jarrell on that pediment?

On this day in 1931: The world’s only actual-size replica of the Parthenon, constructed in Nashville in 1896 to celebrate the Tennessee centennial, reopens after extensive renovation and additions.

Newly depicted on a pediment is eight-year-old Randall Jarrell, who posed for the sculpture of Gunymede, cupbearer to the gods. Reads the inscription, signed by the sculptors and dated 1925: “To Randall — our most interested and interesting visitor.”

As an adult, Jarrell will become more prominently celebrated as literary critic for The Nation, poetry editor of the Yale Review and teacher at Woman’s College in Greensboro.

At age 51, he is fatally struck by a car while walking along a dark road in Chapel Hill.