This week, my mom and I traveled to Columbus, Georgia, and Monroeville and Montgomery, Alabama, to see three Southern Literary Trail sites. I mentioned here recently that I read Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and her childhood home in Columbus was our first stop.
We had arranged for a tour ahead of time, and we were met at on the front porch by the director of The Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, Cathy Fussell. The home is a beautiful example of a Craftsman-style house, and was occupied by McCullers' family, the Smiths, from 1925 until 1944. Today the home is owned and managed by Columbus State University, but remains accessible to the community as events, readings, meetings, and other gatherings are regularly held here. The University has an active creative writing program, and its students have the benefit of having The Carson McCullers Center available to them.
McCullers described this home and her hometown in numerous places in her stories, and according to Fussell, McCullers felt crowded in Columbus, but comfortable in her family's home. McCullers' bedroom was on the front of the house and in it she wrote The Member of the Wedding sitting at a desk next to this dresser.
Fussell told us an interesting tidbit that tied in well with the rest of our trip. McCuller's sister, Rita Smith, was an editor in New York and the first person to publish Truman Capote.
McCullers wrote The Heart is a Lonely Hunter in Fayetteville, NC, while she lived there with her Army husband. Currently, Fayetteville's The Museum of the Cape Fear has a McCullers exhibit on display through May 30. So, for those of you reading from North Carolina, be sure to check this out sometime this month. I, myself, am going to see if I can swing a visit.
Fussell was a wonderful, knowledgeable tour guide. You can read more about The Carson McCullers Center on her blog.
After we left the McCullers home, we headed for downtown Columbus to get lunch and see Broadway, the main drag that McCullers described in her work.
We realized on the way that Columbus should get an award for repurposing old buildings. This house is now a Burger King (note the playground to the left), and this barbeque restaurant where we ate lunch was once a bus station.