JEFFERSON — For Bobbie Hardy, the story of "Gone with the Wind" is about survival. The theme is a primary reason it's her favorite book, movie and passion.
"A lot of us, at some point in our lives, ask ourselves, 'Will we survive this?" Hardy said. " 'Gone with the Wind' gives us all hope. It gives us hope for tomorrow.
"'After all, tomorrow is another day.' "
The last line of "Gone with the Wind" indicates its main character Scarlett O'Hara's optimism about the future, and it's something Hardy hopes readers take from the novel.
Hardy owns and operates Scarlett O'Hardy's Gone with the Wind Museum in Jefferson.
The museum, which she established in November 1998, houses her extensive collection of "Gone with the Wind" memorabilia.
Hardy first began collecting items related to her favorite story after taking a trip to Atlanta, Georgia — one of the settings in Margaret Mitchell's classic novel — in April 1980 where she heard famed "Gone with the Wind" collector Herb Bridges speak.
"I was so fascinated with the things Herb said," Hardy said. "He was an avid 'Gone with the Wind' collector, and he became a dear friend of mine."
Hardy lived in Houston at the time, and when she returned home she began collecting little things here and there, such as movie posters.
She and her husband moved to Jefferson in the 1990s and intended to build a Greek revival house. So they bought a home on Taylor Street that came with a plot of land next door. They built their home on the property next door and then began debating what to do with the house.
"I said, 'Oh, a place to put my 'Gone with the Wind' collection' and my husband said, 'Oh good, I won't have to look at it any more,' " Hardy said with a laugh.
Since opening the museum nearly 17 years ago, Hardy has seen visitors from every state and 36 countries, including Spain, South Africa, France, Germany, Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Canada, and Australia. She has a book to log all of her visitors.
The museum itself is filled nearly wall to wall and floor to ceiling with her memorabilia.
She has theater seats from the Loew's Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, which was the location of the "Gone with the Wind" film premiere in 1939. She has a Japanese tea set that says "Gone with the Wind," film posters from many countries, a call sheet from the film, reproductions of famous costumes from the movie such as Scarlett's green dress, a set of paper dolls, copies of the book in various languages, character dolls and Madame Alexander Scarlett O'Hara dolls.
One of her prized possessions is a doll house made in La Grange that contains re-creations of rooms from "Gone with the Wind" including rooms from Tara (Scarlett O'Hara's family plantation), Twelve Oaks (the plantation home of the Wilkes family in the novel) and the Butler Mansion (Rhett Butler's home).
Various cases in the museum pay tribute to specific characters.
One case is dedicated to the character Bonnie Blue Butler, who was played by Cammie King in the film.
Hardy said she considered King to be a friend, and in fact, King's last public appearance before her death in 2010 was at Hardy's museum in Jefferson for an event.
Hardy also has a case dedicated to all sorts of items related to her favorite character, Mammy, who was played by Hattie McDaniel in the film.
"Without Mammy, I can't imagine what kind of person Scarlett would have become," Hardy said. "Mammy was always there to keep her in line. She reminded me of a warm, fuzzy person who you just love."
And, of course, there is a section dedicated to Margaret Mitchell herself.
"My real love is Margaret Mitchell and her novel. It really captured my imagination," Hardy said.
Hardy has an autographed first edition of the Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel. She has a copy of a letter Mitchell wrote, and she has a Remington typewriter similar to the one Mitchell used, though not Mitchell's personal typewriter.
Through the years, the museum has allowed Hardy to meet many fellow fans who share her passion and love for the novel, as well as to meet actors and actresses from the film.
"It's been such a wonderful hobby," she said. "I have met some of my dearest friends because of the hobby."
If you go
What: Scarlett O’Hardy’s Gone With the Wind Museum
Where: 408 Taylor St. in Jefferson
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; Sundays through Wednesdays by appointment. Call to confirm hours.
Cost: $3 for adults; $1 for children 12 and younger
Information: (903) 665-1939 or www.scarlettohardy.com