Becky Says...

August 2005

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Memories Triggered - August 27

I just watched Ross McElwee's "Bright Leaves," on PBS. It was interesting to me for the story he told, but also for the places he filmed it; places I know quite well in North Carolina.

The documentary has to do with two families and tobacco in North Carolina, and with the movie, Bright Leaf. Incidentally, "bright leaf" is a type of tobacco. And as I watched, I had some old home week moments.

Bright Leaf, the movie, was based on the novel by Foster FitzSimons. Foster and his wife Marion were longtime residents of Chapel Hill, but I met them another place and time, when they were active in the outdoor drama, Unto These Hills, which I saw the two summers I spent in school at Western Carolina when I was a child.

During the first of those summers I met someone at Western who had lived for a time with the FitzSimonses when she was in school in Chapel Hill. It seemed they had a huge house very near campus, and rented a few of the rooms to college students. The second person I knew who lived in their home was also a friend of their son. It was through my friend's invitation that I was a guest there one evening.

Time passed. Foster died, and Marion sold the house. I last saw her at a party in 1994, at the home of the same friend who had invited me to the FitzSimonses home. Marion and I had a brief trip down memory lane that day, talking of people we had in common.

Marion wound up being interviewed by Ross McElwee for "Bright Leaves." Her contribution of information changed the scope of the work. And that's as close to a spoiler as I'll give.

I'm glad I watched.

Text © copyright 2000-2005 Becky