3/15/14 Saturday at Unadilla,GA (Southern Trails Resort-ROD)
We slept in but got going by 9:30 am, with our picnic lunch in hand, to Plains, GA where President Jimmy Carter lives. First stop the Plains visitor’s center where, besides directions to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, we got to enjoy their Swan Geese and bottle tree. There was quite a thorough explanation for the bottle tree nearby. In short their concept started in animistic spiritualism in some African tribal cultures. They felt that spirits would enter the bottle enticed by the bright colors and get trapped inside. When the wind blew the spirits could be heard moaning inside the bottles. They used to be common through out the southeast but today they are scarce. They are more a vestige of the past now, created for their beauty or at the very least a curiosity.
It sure is a small town, still. As one poster noted: “Three miles is a long way to walk on railroad tracks in the hot sun-especially for a small boy. Even before he started first grade Jimmy Carter would take a basket full of boiled peanuts to downtown Plains which he later said, ‘was for me a center of commerce, education and religion.‘ During peanut season he would sell enough to earn a dollar a day by walking 6 miles round trip.”
On the Carter farm during the Depression Jimmy and his family lived more like it was the 1800’s than the 1900’s: no running water or electricity until 1938. In1995 Jimmy wrote a poem, “Always A Reckoning” after a phrase his father frequently said.
I had a pony then that lacked
a way to work and pay her way,
except that every year or two
Lady had a colt we sold,
but still for less than what was due
to buy the fodder, hay and corn
she ate at times she couldn’t be
Neither feed nor colts
meant all that much that I could see
but still there was a thing about
a creature staying on our place
that none of us could eat or plow,
did not give eggs or even chase
a fox or rabbit, that was sure
to rile my father.
We all knew
that Lady’s giving me a ride
paid some on her debt, in lieu
of other ways-but there would be
some times I didn’t get around
to riding in my off work hours.
And I was sure, when Daddy frowned
at some mistake I might have made
he would be asking when he could
“How long since you rode Lady?”
Images of the farm where Jimmy grew up follow. The first is their home, currently closed because a pipe froze and burst in the ceiling January 2014 in this cold winter. Their yard was white sand kept clear of weeds so critters were less likely to come inside. The cats are residents of the farm. We met a couple from town who come every week to feed them salmon an such. They said that Jimmy still gives Sunday school classes. Anyone is welcome to come. He also attends every funeral of anyone from Plains. She said she has been amazed at their (Jimmy and Rosalynn’s) good health until just the last couple years. Now she figures they’re more like the rest of us. They apparently don’t eat fatty meat (they do eat venison, duck, chicken and fish) and are quite physically active, digging post holes in their land and working on their church’s land. John figured out that Jimmy is just a year younger than John’s mom.
They had a store on their farm where the neighbors could buy items on credit since many couldn’t get credit at a regular bank. This included their tenants like Jack and Rachel. This couple had no children and loved to take care of Jimmy whenever his very busy parents (mom was a nurse) couldn’t. This was his like his second home. I couldn’t resist a photo of this Mockingbird singing its heart out on its nest near the tenant’s home.
After visiting the farm we went to Plains High School in Plains where both Jimmy and Rosalynn attended grammar and high school, influenced by Julia Coleman, teacher and principal. It’s now the NPS park museum and visitor center (free). We saw a film here, then read thoughts by Rosalynn and a history of Jimmy. Even a small tape on the TV of them showing off their home (closed to the public). Built in 1961 it hasn’t changed a lot. I love the huge wooded lot they are on, left in its natural state. Images from the museum. The desk is a replica of his desk as President. The original was made of wood from the ship “HMS Resolute”. Only 2 modifications have been made: a modesty panel was ordered installed by FDR so people wouldn’t see his leg braces. He didn’t live to see it installed but Truman loved it, giving the panel an eagle motif. Every president since Hayes has used it except Johnson, Nixon and Ford. They showed a picture of John Jr peaking out from this panel as his dad President Kennedy was working there. The school room desks look just like the kind I had as a child. My how time flies. After high school Jimmy attended the US Naval Academy, beginning a naval career and marrying Rosalynn. When his father died he found out how much he’d done for so many of the people of Plains that he decided to quit his career in the Navy to make a difference in others’ lives there in Plains. He got involved in community boards while running his family businesses, eventually moving into politics: Georgia State senator, governor, then President. As president he brought Israel and Egypt together to sign their 1979 Peace Treaty. In 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, advance democracy and human rights and promote economic and social development. I was impressed with the work he’s done eliminating terrible diseases in the poorer countries like the Guinea Worm and Malaria.
Next we saw the Plains Depot. This was the only empty building in town when Jimmy began his campaign for the presidency so Rosalynn suggested that he use it for his campaign headquarters, which he did.
I was amazed at how much I didn’t know about Jimmy Carter.
Next, on our way home, we took exit 109 off I-75 to see what “We’re Nuts” was all about. Actually, I’d seen a posting by our friend Susan about it and really wanted to see all those nuts. Wonderful place with an amazing selection of fresh nuts. Not to mention all the samples you could enjoy. Mmmm we got too full for the ice cream people there told us was also wonderful. Lots of Georgia pecans of course, some coated in chocolate, others were more to the spicy realm. Plus all kinds of other nuts, especially peanuts (which I’m sure we all realize are actually legumes).
At this point we headed home for supper. John was eager to make meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy so it was a big project. Not to mention all the dishes he dirtied for me to wash. Afterward we gathered with the group at Bill/Susan’s place for campfire talk.