For the Days I Spent with MLK Jr., Scarlett O'Hara, and Atlanta, Georgia on My Mind……Symbols of Peace and Creativity
It is has been less than a week since our new Fuhrer took office and I never expected to have to search my Twitter feed for so long to find a non-political post. Naturally one thing has been more depressing than the next so I have tried to avoid my natural inclinations to read the New York Times and such since the election for these very reasons. Which is why this part of my Atlanta series feels particularly ironic.
When last we left the story of my very first trip to Atlanta, I had just discovered the historic district of Sweet Auburn and my deep love for that neighborhood. Today’s discussion details my visit to the President Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, but first there was a brunch.
The Buckhead Bread Company popped into my life by chance and now I have a death grip on it. My girls and I decided to try it on a whim and after stepping inside and smelling the bakery portion of the café. After that I was very willing to wait twenty minutes for a table. The bakery section had a ton of customers some who came in just for bread or pastry and some that were waiting for a table but were still stock piling for later.
It’s a great space with lots of comfy seats and booths. The lighting and temperature were perfect, something I appreciate as a hot migraine sufferer. Once we sat down I became fixated on watching the staff move around. It was like a perfectly choreographed dance. The wait staff and managers were moving at top speed but even with trays filled with plates never missed a step or bumped into one another. This was clearly not their first rodeo.
The menu was packed with so many delicious sounding suggestions I was at a loss so I went with my first choice, the chicken salad sandwich. When it came to my drink order my instinct was to hesitate. When I was last in Georgia, Savannah to be specific (http://bit.ly/2kuagiz), ordering an iced coffee- my drink of choice- caused some confusion. However here at the Buckhead Bread Company they simply just brought me one. Ah the joys of the little things. When my sandwich arrived it couldn’t have tasted any better!! I licked my plate clean even the side salad. I have had many sandwiches but never any as tasty. Hands down of the greatest meals of my life and it was such a casual order. Even if I couldn’t find another thing to do in Atlanta this restaurant would be good enough reason to visit. Good news Virginia, you can get iced coffee in Georgia!!!
From there I was all pumped and ready to follow in President Jimmy Carter’s footsteps.
Here I would first like to say that any location that I visit that has a presidential library nearby can best be assured they will have me as a visitor. I have already visited the very first presidential library ever created at Springwood (http://bit.ly/2gqdzZX) in Hyde Park, New York, which was home to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Prior to that visit I had been to President John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, a facility I very much look forward to blogging about in the future.
Presidential libraries are established by the National Archives and Records Administration, that begins by first creating a presidential project under the appropriate name. Every president is responsible for financing and building their own library. Once it is open the federal government runs the operations.
The Carter Library opened in 1986 surrounded by thirty-five acres on which a Japanese garden sits. When you approach this museum the serene beauty of the place wows you. The peace is palpable as if it were the very essence of Jimmy Carter’s soul.
I learned even more about how this peanut farmer’s son, went from the Navy, and ultimately to the White House. Carter has achieved more in his lifetime than if you randomly summed the lives of any five other people. His life is the best example of “where you begin isn’t where you end” I can think of. While his accomplishments are numerous, so too are his many awards such as the Congressional Medal of Freedom, a Grammy, and last but certainly not least, the Nobel Peace Prize. I was super excited to see all of these, so of course they were nearly the last items displayed in the exhibit.
The self guided tour begins with a brief film about the president and his life. The exhibits themselves include items from his childhood like his highchair, memorabilia from the campaign trail, items from his family’s peanut farm in Plains (Georgia) where he is from, the sweater he wore to promote keeping the heat turned down to use less fossil fuels, drafts of the agreements from the Camp David Accords, the photo of the five remaining living Presidents, and the list goes on and on.
Despite the many treasures stored here my favorite place in the entire museum had to be the recreation of his Oval Office. I spent a significant amount of time there and not just because my selfies came out so well. The décor had been labeled and clearly identified so that you knew the meaning behind each piece. This way you could picture the important calls with world leaders as Carter sat at that desk, the steps he paced on rug with the presidential seal, the problems he thought he could solve as he sat on the sofa, all made me smile as I stood there imagining it.
The one thing I believe everyone can agree with who visits, is how much President Carter did with the one term he was in the White house as well as the many years since. Jimmy Carter is truly a man ahead of his time.
My visit to the President Jimmy Carter’s library made number three out a total of thirteen that, are currently in existence. While this latest presidential library is happily crossed off my bucket list, it is my least favorite of the three. President Kennedy’s had to be the best I have ever seen, museum or historical site. The detail, the story telling, the way they incorporated Bobby Kennedy as the Attorney General into the legacy, was too impressive to go into detail here.
President Roosevelt’s was pretty good but a bit too academic, however I cut him some slack since he created it to purposefully store presidential papers in a time where that was not even done. But seeing the car he drove, after having been diagnosed with polio, modified with hand controls was very cool. I also will never forgot trying to lift his leg braces with both of my hands and not being able to move them an inch. The sheer weight without a body being added to it dumbfounded me. How he managed to move his body and thus his life in the direction he desired will always make him a personal hero of mine.
The next presidential library I hope to visit is that of President Lyndon Johnson’s, in Austin, Texas, sometime this year.
A word of caution when researching your visit to the President Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. Do not, as I accidentally did, confuse this with The Carter Center. They are both within the same vicinity and when you enter any of these words into Google both sites can be easily confused. The Carter Center is a foundation the Carter’s created after they left the White House.
From here it is hard to imagine where your itinerary may take you. Mine took me to Margaret Mitchell’s House where she wrote her masterpiece “Gone with the Wind” one of my favorite stories of all time (http://bit.ly/2g7dUhY). This was a visit I have longed for since I first read her novel and saw the film based on it.
Before I visited her residence I honestly didn’t know much about this author. Actually now it is shockingly clear how little I knew considering how much of a fan I am. This visit couldn’t have been more educational or fun, as you will see from my photos.
From the outside this apartment complex seems amazing!! It was a gorgeous mid-size building and in this day and age to have a decent size apartment in a nice building is a hot commodity. Unfortunately Ms. Mitchell didn’t feel the same way. She commonly referred to, Apartment 1, her home with her second husband John Marsh as “the dump”. I find this term endearing not because it is so blunt but because it is identical to the one I used to describe Betsy Ross’s house but for very different reasons (http://bit.ly/2krTiS0).
The guided timed tours are really well laid out. You enter through the front of the building but the back of the apartment. You walk through the gift shop and then see a well designed, exterior of an apartment much like it would have been in real life. There we learned about Ms. Mitchell’s back story all leading up to her move into the home we were about to walk through.
I learned about her early journalism career and saw her typewriter. I learned about the mansion she lived in with her attorney father prior to marrying Mr. Marsh (which is why this apartment seemed like a dump to her) including her first marriage to a man name Red who was a drunk without a job.
The first rooms you see upon entering are the tiny kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. From there it was a straight hall way with two rooms remaining, the living room being the last that lead to what would have been her front door, mailbox included.
It was while I stood in the doorway facing her living room that I was told about how her “one hit wonder” was born. Ms. Mitchell had severely sprained her ankle and was laid up for weeks. She asked her husband to bring her books from the library but quickly ran out of material. To keep herself occupied she took her husband’s suggestion to write her own story, never ever thinking anyone else would see it.
It was bewildering to realize that in one average room, within four walls, where there were the typical aspects of everyday life, such a vibrant life affirming story was born.
The second floor had more movie and book relate items. I LOVED seeing the two chairs (tickets too) from the Loew’s Grand Theater from when the movie premiered. A second favorite for me was the cutouts of both Scarlett and Rhett, naturally I had to pose as each.
There was even a photo of the oldest living Confederate soldier who attended the “Gone with the Wind” movie premiere in Atlanta seventy-seven years ago.
Honestly touring Margaret Mitchell’s home made me a bigger fan of hers somehow. It was like I had gotten to know the woman behind the woman who I believed had more positive attributes than she has ever gotten credit for.
During my next trip to Atlanta I plan to visit Oakland Cemetery to pay my respects to the author herself, though I have to remember that her name is Marsh on her plot. I also really would love to see the Loew’s Grand Theater where the film had its big premiere. There is also a Tara Museum that might be worth a look in. For those to hope to see these sights as well as the home, the links below provide excellent tour information.
After a full day I was once again beat but happily so.
Next we will “drive” into my mini day trip from Atlanta to Marietta, Georgia.
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