MARJORIE RAWLINGS STATE PARK, FL — Marjorie Rawlings’ Cross Creek home remains a page out of one of her novels. From the veranda of her rambling Cracker house she wrote such classic Florida stories as The Yearling and Cross Creek.
But it turned out perfectly. “When I came to the Creek,” Rawlings wrote, “I knew the old grove and the farmhouse at once as home.” Marjorie treasured the place because it was isolated. “But for Charles that was intolerable,” Blinn says. “They fought, and finally in 1933, five years later, they divorced. Charles went home to Rochester. And Marjorie was home at Cross Creek.” She didn’t choose an easy life.
Blinn says a local girl who had visited Mrs. Rawlings was later overhead hosting an imaginary tea party. The girl asked her friend, “Would you care for whiskey, rye or gin?” (Rawlings liquor cabinet is the first item of interest in the living room.) In spite of her wealth, the now hundred-year old pine and cypress home has a humble flavor. “It’s a comfortable home, but it doesn’t reflect Marjorie Rawlings affluence,” Blinn says, pointing out the butter bowls that serve as light fixtures. The house is actually three buildings joined together to create eight rooms.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings died in 1953 of a brain hemorrhage. She is buried in a cemetery near Island Grove, seven miles from Cross Creek. “The end of her life was not the high point in her literary career,” Blinn says. “She was alone, lonely and discouraged. It’s a much sadder tale than the tale she spins for her books.”
Blinn, a former college literature teacher, had worked at Rawlings’ home for 10 years. “I love it, it’s home,” she says. “I still get to talk about writing and writers but I don’t have to grade papers.”
Financial problems plagued the site at one time. “We had a crisis,” Blinn says. “The house was scheduled to be closed permanently.” But public support was so great that they were able to stay open. Rawlings home now belongs to many people. And Marjorie, it seems, would have liked it that way. “Cross Creek,” she wrote, “belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time.”
Marjorie Rawlings State Historic Site Info
Cross Creek, Florida is about a half hour north of Ocala. Tours are given Thursday through Sunday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and each hour between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The house will be closed during August and September for restoration work. Admission is $3.00 per adult, and $2.00 for children ages 6-12.
For more information, call (352) 466-3672.