Come and Celebrate Rawlings' Birthday

By Hyman, Ann | The Florida Times Union, August 4, 1996 | Go to article overview

Come and Celebrate Rawlings' Birthday


Hyman, Ann, The Florida Times Union


One thing that actress Betty Jean Steinshouer has learned in

five years of performing Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in a one-woman

show is that the author had a lot of friends.

"So many people come up to me after a performance and tell me

stories of nice things she did for them or their children,"

Steinshouer said. "A famous person always has a lot more friends

than they know they have."

Thursday is the 100th anniversary of Rawlings' birth, and

Steinshouer is midway in a special Florida tour celebrating the

birthday. She will be at the Mandarin branch library, 3330 Kori

Road at 7 p.m. Wednesday for a reading. Plus, there will be

punch and birthday cake for everyone.

There's birthday cake in every town on the tour -- Chipley,

Blountstown, Crawfordville, Largo, Lake Wales, Palm Coast,

Micanopy and High Spring as well as Jacksonville.

Now, of course you can have a piece of cake whether you bring a

gift or not, but, in the true spirit of a birthday party, the

public is asked to bring something -- a favorite paragraph or so

from a Rawlings work to share with everyone.

Rawlings was not born in Florida -- she came here and bought

the grove at Cross Creek in 1928 -- but it is the place where

she felt most at home. And, it is the place she brought to life

for thousands of readers all over the world. And, along with the

place, she brought the people of rural Florida to life. The

Yearling, South Moon Under, Cross Creek showed a Florida, even

to native Floridians, that was truly "an enchanted land."

Steinshouer, who lives in St. Augustine, put together her facts

about Rawlings and her work through the standard tool of

scholarship: She read a lot.

Performing Rawlings, however, has taught her even more.

"I've gotten to know her on a personal level," she said. "At

the beginning, I knew her mostly from her papers. And, Cross

Creek is not an autobiography. She left herself out."

She has found Rawlings herself in her letters, and in the

stories she has heard from so many people all over the state who

knew her well or casually or simply brushed by her in an

encounter made memorable by Rawlings' fame. …

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