Friday, February 14, 2014

Revisiting To Kill a Mockingbird (searching for the worlds of Scout, Jem and Atticus.....*SPOILER*)

I suppose I have to start by saying that this blog post is a bit of a departure from the usual weirdness I post at this location. It began, when I found a link on a forum to the video below.

The clip is an amateur film taken documenting smalltime life in Groveport & Canal Winchester, Ohio. About halfway through, I realized, this is probably what town life looked like in the time of Harper Lee's classic book, 'To Kill a Mockingbird', which was based on an incident in 1936. Given, it is another state, but would the internet allow me to take a closer look at this world of almost 80 years ago?

I did 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee in high school as a prescribed book. It was a bit of a mystery to me, even then, that the Apartheid era South Africa of the early 1980s would include a book examining racial prejudice in its curriculum. I read the book again, several times as an adult and even speculated with a friend about the author, Harper Lee. It is a well-known literary legend that 'To kill a Mockingbird' was produced when Harper Lee was given a year's wages to take time off to do some writing. The book won various awards, but its author has yet to produce a follow-up. Her silence remains an enigma to this day.

The above video prompted me to search for more windows into the world of Scout Finch and her family. Here's what I found...

This is the Alabama of 1937. You won't see Mobile, but the video does includes a glimpse of the Confederate White House in Montgomery, footage of Selma and Auburn. It even features the dog who, unlike Pavlov's, rings his own bell. The clip is on the youtube channel of buyout footage, a website that sells a large variety of archived historical footage - at a price, of course.

Then I found it.

Yep, this is the Mobile, Alabama of 1935. You could almost imagine Miss Maudie Atkinson, Miss Stephanie Crawford and Aunt Alexandra walking amongst those azalea gardens or shy Boo Radley lurking in the shadows of one of those porches. While a large section of the video focuses on the harbour and the national parks, there is also footage from a prison farm near Atmore - perhaps the sort of establishment where Tom Robinson was shot and killed for attempting to escape?

In closing, here's a short slide show of historical Mobile...

... and a look at the Mobile of today...

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