SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Rhett Butler "Didn't Give A Damn," But My Mom Did

By Bob Weaver

It's been 84 years since David O. Selznick's "Gone with the Wind" premiered, one of America's classic films starring Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh.

I'm sure the film came to the Kanawha Theater in Grantsville after its debut in 1939, but I saw it for the first time when I was seven years old in 1947 at the now long-gone movie house. My parents, who rarely went to the movies, took me along.

It made me a movie fan, along with "The Yearling," followed by hundreds of cowboy movies and cliff-hanging serials that brought kids back week after week.

While my recollection is dim of attending the re-release of "Gone with the Wind" just after World War II, I remember Calhoun citizens lined up on Main Street to get in, some to be turned away.

I'm sure I didn't appreciate the finer romantic themes of the film, but I was certainly impressed by the burning of Atlanta, and moved by the death and suffering of war.

While the film was billed as an historical epic, it's effect on me was more than epic, being aghast with with the brilliant spectacle on the tiny Kanawha screen.

On the way home, my mom muttered some regret about taking me to the three and one-half hour film because of the profanity, Rhett Butler's famous line to Scarlett, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

As a kid, I managed to set up a make-shift movie theater in our cellar house, with a 16mm projector, to entertain friends and family, show movies in stores and churches, ran the movie projector at Calhoun High School and to briefly re-opened the Orma Theater in the 1950s while yet a student.

The first paycheck I got while working for the Grantsville News was used to purchase an 8mm movie camera. I was going become a "movie producer."

I've gone to movie houses at least four times to watch "Gone With The Wind," and have watched it at least that many times on TV, most recently the visually enhanced version.

The award-winning film remains a phenomenon, based on the singular novel written by Margaret Mitchell.

My longtime movie going transferred to Cook's Drive-In and later taking trips to Ohio to see "How The West Was Won" and "2001 - A Space Odyssey" in Cinerama.

Another highlight was taking my son to see the original "Star Wars" on a big screen in Clarksburg.

As years have gone by, my interest in movie going has faded, somehow becoming jaded with their over stimulation, violence and sex.

Maybe I'll be like my cousin Dr. Charles Albert Stump, who died on Christmas Day 2011 while watching classic movies.

It would be a pleasant way to go, wiling away and reliving the past, still being enthralled by how well they were made and embracing memories of the silver screen.