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Frankly, My Dear, Historian Is on Pins and Needles

Even though “Gone With the Wind” was a work of fiction, a historian believes there is a lot of fact in the character of Rhett Butler. E. Lee Spence, who writes about treasure hunting, believes Butler was based in part on George Alfred Trenholm, a wealthy Charleston, S.C., businessman. Spence, president of Shipwreck Consultants on Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, said that in 1967 he recovered needles, pins and buttons from the blockade runner Georgiana, which sank in 1863. The cargo had been consigned to a company owned by Trenholm. Spence said it seemed an unusual cargo until he read Margaret Mitchell’s account of Butler shipping pins through the Union’s Civil War blockade. It was not until last fall that he learned that Mitchell maintained that the book’s characters were fictional. After some research, Spence concluded that Butler was a composite of Trenholm, Trenholm’s son, Fred, and Red Upshaw, Mitchell’s first husband. Butler, in the book, and Trenholm, in real life, had similar business and charitable interests. Several of Mitchell’s relatives worked for Trenholm, while another relative, Alexander Stevens, was vice president of the Confederacy and would have had dealings with Trenholm. Trenholm’s great-granddaughter, Ethel Nepveaux of Charleston, said there are similarities between the two, but their personalities were different. “The unscrupulous side of (Rhett Butler) doesn’t fit my (great) grandfather,” she said. “Gone With the Wind” was published in 1936 and was the basis of a 1939 film.

--Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker have found a way to get away from it all. The couple have moved into a retreat for “tired” ministers and will broadcast their television show from the 29-acre compound, the retreat’s director said. “They’re looking to relocate. This is just short-term, in between,” said Duane Starr of the Lake George Ministries Retreat at Salt Springs, Fla. Starr said the retreat, which is owned by the Rev. John Dawsey, caters to clergy who suffer burnout and need a place to recuperate. “It’s not necessarily that they’ve been in trouble, not necessarily that they are going to be in trouble, but that they need a place to rest,” Starr said. The Bakkers founded the PTL evangelical ministry but gave it up in March, 1987, after a sex scandal. Earlier this year, they returned to the airwaves with a new ministry, “The Jim and Tammy Show,” but were forced out of their rented log cabin in Pineville, N.C., by zoning laws prohibiting a house from being used as a TV studio.


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