“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July 29, 1920, 6 Pleasant Street, Montgomery, Alabama

This whole adventure started a few weeks ago, back in Westport, Connecticut, when newlywed Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, 19, was cranky over breakfast and mused that the people of her home state of Alabama were

very beautiful and pleasant and happy, while up in Connecticut all the people ate bacon and eggs and toast, which made them very cross and bored and miserable—especially if they happened to have been brought up on biscuits…and I wish I could have some peaches anyhow.”

She convinced her new husband, novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, that it was time for a road trip.

So they got in to the second-hand Marmon they had bought a few months ago, which Zelda had already “de-intestined” by running over a fire hydrant, and headed south, home to Montgomery.

Marmon c. 1918

Marmon, c. 1920

Now here they are. They arrived yesterday. After more than a week and 1,200 miles, after

  • Experiencing numerous breakdowns, including losing a tire, in the car they have christened “The Rolling Junk”;
  • Being robbed by highwaymen (almost);
  • Running out of gasoline in the middle of nowhere;
  • Getting a speeding ticket for going over 70 mph;
  • Overcoming all the barriers to driving into Richmond, Virginia, to spend Zelda’s 20th birthday touring the Confederate Museum in 94 degree weather;
  • Navigating unpaved roads, bad signage and guidebooks, nasty weather and nastier locals;
  • Being refused a room in a hotel because Zelda was wearing her custom-made white knickerbocker suit, matched to Scott’s, including being told by some white trash in North Carolina,
  • It’s a pity that a nice girl like you should be let to wear those clothes”;

  • Driving through every town in Alabama where Zelda could identify a different boyfriend she’d had; and
  • Arriving here at Zelda’s childhood home in Montgomery to find that her parents aren’t home.

Still haven’t had any peaches. Or biscuits.

Time to sell the Marmon. They’ll take the train back north.


Montgomery Times’ “Society” column

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

This fall I will be talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

My presentation, “Such Friends”:  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, is available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre. The program begins at the 11 minute mark, and my presentation at 16 minutes.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

2 thoughts on ““Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July 29, 1920, 6 Pleasant Street, Montgomery, Alabama

  1. Wonderful vignette … the trick with spontaneity is to just roll with it and recognise the snap decision is the primary consideration not the component parts of the experience that ensue : good, bad or indifferent, they wiil have equal weight in the memory bank because they all stem from that spontaneous decision, and none of it would have happened without it. The number of times Cat and I have said to each other – let it unfold, and so it does … memorably.

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