Many visitors to Andalusia ask about the record player in Flannery O'Connor's room. We're asked, too, what kind of music Flannery liked. Though the writer often claimed to have a tin ear and had a terrible time learning how to play the piano when she was younger, she nevertheless had fairly sophisticated musical tastes. Her album collection includes recordings of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and Stravinsky that were given to her by Thomas Stritch. Everything outside the classical repertoire, she claimed, sounded like the Beatles. Apparently her birds had similar tastes. Flannery claimed that when she was listening to music the peafowl outside her bedroom window would sometimes join the chorus. The phonograph was a gift to her from the sisters at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Free Cancer Home in Atlanta. According to a letter to Stritch (Habit of Being p. 562), someone had apparently given the nuns a new record player for Christmas and so they decided to send their old one to Flannery. O'Connor enjoyed a close relationship with the sisters at the cancer home. From the time she helped them get their book, A Memoir of Mary Ann, published they expressed their love and gratitude by occasionally sending Flannery gifts. Among these is an inscribed crucifix presently hanging on the wall above Flannery's bedside table.
Big doings at Andalusia next week. Next Thursday, on what would have been O'Connor's 85th birthday, the mayor of Milledgeville and other dignitaries will be on hand to proclaim March 25th "Flannery O'Connor Day." If you're in the area come on out and help us celebrate the birth of our favorite writer. We'll even have peacock birthday cake to mark the occasion!