When Susan Myrick was a child her mother took her into town to the store. Susan wandered away and when her mother found her, Susan was standing on a barrel reciting Uncle Remus stories to the other customers in the very dialect she had heard from the African Americans on the family plantation.
Susan Dowdell Myrick, or Sue, was born February 20, 1893 on Dovedale Plantation, just 12 miles northwest of Milledgeville, Georgia. She was the fourth of eight children and from the beginning stood out as a natural born storyteller.
Sue entered Georgia Normal and Industrial College in Milledgeville at the age of 14 in 1907; when she was a senior, her father passed away and the family moved onto Liberty Street, closer to the college, until her mother’s death in 1932. After graduating from GN&IC (which is now Georgia College & State University) Sue attended Battle Creek School of Physical Education in Michigan, followed by a short study at the Harvard School of Physical Education. It was these years of study which led Sue to attaining a position as the Physical Education Director at Lanier High School in Macon, Georgia in 1928.
While at Lanier, Sue began writing articles and submitting them to the local newspaper, The Macon Telegraph and News. By the next year, Sue had gotten a full time position at the newspaper as a staff reporter and feature writer. She also was given the opportunity to write book reviews and three advice columns along with being named food editor and editor of the women’s page in the Sunday magazine section.
In 1934, Sue was one of 47 charter members to start the Macon Little Theatre, to which she was a member for 44 years. Not only was Sue a member, but she acted in numerous plays, was on the Board of Directors, and served as the theatre’s president. Fourteen years later, Sue was presented with one of only five lifetime memberships. Her portrait still hangs in the lobby.
It was in 1938 by request of author Margaret Mitchell, Sue was brought on as the technical advisor for the major motion picture version of Gone With the Wind. Sue had the task of teaching the cast how to speak and behave properly according to their social class. She spent eight months in Hollywood, and though the work days were long, she managed to send back 58 columns for publication which were later compiled into the book, White Columns in Hollywood: Reports from the Gone With the Wind Sets.
When the Second World War came, Sue was named the special war editor. She handled salvage campaigns, Red Cross drives, and wrote stories about the war and the troops. Sue also served as Bibb County’s War Price and Rationing Board Information Officer.
After the war, Sue was made farm editor for the Telegraph. This got her interested in soil conservation and she began to promote the use of the erosion-stopping plant, the blue lupine; this love of conservation later earned Sue the nickname the Bloomin’ Lupine Queen.
In 1950, Sue published the book Our Daily Bread, a supplemental reader on soil and water conservation. The book was recommended for use in all Georgia schools and was later adopted by Tennessee and South Carolina schools as well.
Throughtout the 1950s, Sue was presented was numerous awards and honors for her achievements in conservation work. She was made an honorary member of the Soil Conservation Society of America in 1963 and five years later received an honorary lifetime membership with the Farmer’s Club of Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce.
January 1967, Sue retired from full time work at the Telegraph. When she retired, publisher Peyton Anderson said, “Her name and the name of the Telegraph and News are almost synonymous as symbols of conscientious newspapering and of youthful spirit wedded to mature judgment.”
In August of 1978, Sue submitted her last column to the Telegraph. The column she had been writing twice weekly since 1949. One month later, Sue passed away and is buried at Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville.
Myrick, Susan. (1982). White Columns in Hollywood, Reports from the GWTW Sets. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press.
New Georgia Encyclopedia