Days Gone By - stories from the past

Alabama is proud of our native Alabama lady, Miss Harper Lee

Note: This story was written in 2015, before Harper Lee passed away.


Alabama is proud of our native Alabama lady, Miss Harper Lee who wrote, To Kill a Mockingbird over fifty years ago. Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama intending to become a lawyer like her father. She changed her mind and began writing.

Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in Washington, D.C.Harper lee

Harper Lee,  wrote the novel which was published in 1960. The book won a Pulitzer Prize in 1961. This is the only book she had published until 2015.

Made into a movie

The novel was made into a movie in 1962. “To Kill Mockingbird” stared Gregory Peck for which he won an academy award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. Birmingham’s own Mary Badham and Pillip Alford played Scout and Jem. It was thought that Harper Lee used Monroeville as her model for the southern town of Maycomb in the 1930’s. The storyline was about racial prejudices in the south and the search for justice.Atticus Finch and Tom

Attended a play in Monroeville

I had the opportunity of attending the play of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in Monroeville. We went on a bus trip with Hoover’s New Horizons. We left Birmingham at 1:00 PM for a drive of over 3 hours down I-65, turning off to the right into southwest Alabama. While in route, we watched the movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Our leader even had a number of trivia questions for us.

The stop for dinner was at Radley’s Fountain Grille (was it named after Boo Radley’s charcter?) The young man who did cleanup at the restaurant after dinner told me his step-dad played Atticus Finch but was not performing this night.

Sat outside on a spring night

It was a beautiful warm spring night. We arrived at the courthouse and were seated outside in comfortable redwood chairs on the lawn adjacent to the courthouse. The crowd was about 250 people. The stage setting for the first three acts was outside the court house with fronts of three houses. After a fifteen minute intermission the call came for twelve men to act as the jury and they were the first to enter the court house.

Local actors performed

This play is put on by volunteer amateur actors from the surrounding small towns. There are two actors for each character in the play. They started practicing in February and the play is presented in April and May. The program told us what each actor did in their “real life”. Atticus was a banker, Boo was a policeman, Bob Elwell was the DA for Escambia County, Mr. Cunningham was a Veterinarian and etc. The three children were students in the local schools.

Movie was not filmed in the Courthouse

The movie was not filmed in the Monroe County Courthouse but the court room was modeled after it. The last acts were held inside the Monroe County Courthouse and Heritage Museum. I was fortunate to have a front seat behind the banisters near Atticus and Tom. The court scenes were funny and sad.

Old Monroe County Courthouse

old-monroe-county-courthouse

Talked with actors

After the play ended the audience was invited by the director to come on the stage and make pictures and talk with the actors.

This production, “To Kill a Mockingbird” has traveled and preformed at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Chicago, Israel, and England, Mississippi and even to small town such as Fayette and Pell City.

Harper Lee signing a copy of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the

Eufaula History and Heritage Festival March, 1983 (Alabama State Archives)

Harper Lee

Novel inspired many

We were told that Harper Lee still lives in Monroeville and was often seen in town. There were no autographed books by Harper Lee in the gift shop.

If we were fortunate enough to have seen Harper Lee and spoken to her we would say, “thank you for a wonderful written novel that inspires us to be better citizens and neighbors.”

 

Read more of Jean Butterworth’s stories in Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama

 

Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama


Do you remember 4-H clubs? Eight-party lines? Fashion in the 1950s? Going to school during World War II?
In this collection of Alabama memories, Jean Butterworth takes readers on a nostalgic journey through growing up in Alabama during the Great Depression, World War II, and beyond. She pays homage to a time before the Internet, cell phones, and all of the distractions of modern life.
Readers of all ages will enjoy taking a step back in time and preserving these memories, which, like Chinaberry trees, may soon be hard to come by.
List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

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About Jean Butterworth

Jean Champion Butterworth is originally from Tuscaloosa County, graduating from Tuscaloosa County High School, Druid City Hospital School of Nursing and The University of Alabama. She is a retired nurse. Working 27 years at The Children’s Hospital as Department Director, Specialty Clinics. She has traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, The Middle East, and Eastern Europe. You can contact Jean at [email protected]
See additional stories by Jean Butterworth on www.daysgoneby.me

She also now has a Kindle Ebook Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama

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28 comments

  1. Ronald Cook

    an enduring classic !!!!!

  2. Claudetta Walker Morgan

    I have always wanted to meet her.

  3. […] County, Alabama’s opposition to the Confederacy is briefly mentioned in the novels To Kill a Mockingbird and ADDIE PRAY . Tap Roots, a 1948 movie based on a novel, presents a highly fictionalized and […]

  4. Margot Jackson Brisbin

    I like this, but I can’t get into the search page. I’m looking for Landers.

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      What device are you using to search?

  5. Margot Jackson Brisbin

    I am using your website and nothing happens when I press search. Is there another way? Thanks.

  6. Margot Jackson Brisbin

    I’m not sure what you mean by what device I;m using.. I’m a very amateur internet user, but very interested in your work..

  7. Darlene Muench

    Can’t wait to read it.

  8. Susan Lambeth Bryan

    Yes but did she really want it published? Many people close to her say ,no.

  9. Denise Hayes

    Elder abuse, exploitation and manipulation by unscrupulous opportunists. There’s definitely something rotten in Monroeville.

  10. Delaine Sager Henderson

    Mine is in the mail from Amazon.

  11. Cheryl Denise King

    Atticus is a racist in it…no thanks

  12. Barry Cochran

    This should never have happened.

  13. Trussel Harper

    I’m amazed that a short novel could have such impact and the author ducks the limelight for 50 years.

  14. Carolyn Thornblom Hierholzer

    Author of my favorite book, with the one exception, the Holy Bible. It was made into my favorite movie. ❤️

  15. Joseph Santangini

    RIP Miss Harper=Your Mockinbird will live on forever

  16. Godspeed and God Bless you Nell. My people are from nearby Grove Hill and your wonderful novel would not have touched so many had it not rang of absolute truth and purity of heart.
    I think, no make that know, that in Scout we saw ourselves and we didn’t like everything we saw. Thank you for that, you made us all better people for it.

  17. Susanna Clark

    RIP Miss Harper Lee. Your novel touched many of us. Thank you. And thank you for Atticus, Scout and Boo.

  18. Paul Kerr

    Now if only her fellow Alabama citizens would heed the lesson in her book…..

  19. RIP, Scout. <3

  20. Joel Gilbreath

    Thanks for Boo Radley – one of the greatest characters of American fiction.

  21. James W Head Jr.

    R I P PRAYING FOR THE FAMILY

  22. Sue Lucas DeBoer

    Loved the book and movie

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