Georgia On My Mind…

November 1, 2009

Melodies bring memories, memories of a song, a song that sings of Georgia, back where I belong… (A song that keeps coursing through my brain) Sigh. At first, we didn’t have much planned to see in Georgia, just figured it was a quick route from Tennessee down to Florida, right? But then, I happened to notice another rare museum sign while cruising down the I-75 Interstate: “Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.” Hmmm?

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Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, Kennesaw, GA

P1200108It seemed an odd combination of historical things at first, but when you look closely at Civil War history, you’ll see that railroads, and of course, locomotives, had a lot to do with the outcome of the Civil War. Vital supplies were carried by train, of course, but also communication of battlefield orders and strategies was borne via telegraph lines which were maintained by the operating railroads. On display in the Kennesaw Museum is that locomotive over there to the left, called “The General,” said to be the most famous locomotive in history. If you click the link to the Great Locomotive Chase, you’ll see how The General figured in a plot to destroy rail lines and telegraph lines between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

There are a couple of rifles shown in our gallery as examples of the kind of technology that helped the North to win the War. The upper rifle (used mainly by the Confederates) was very difficult to reload in the field, and soon became more effective as a club than as a rifle! On the other hand, the lower rifle, a reliable weapon which could fire 14 rounds/min, proved to be pivotal in turning the tide of battle towards the Union troops. (Not to mention a large disparity of soldiers? Roughly 2M for the Union, 800,000 for the Confederacy)

The museum displays production processes of the Glover Machine Works, which operated in Marietta, GA when active, to make locomotives for railroads all over the world.

Well, we could hardly visit Georgia without stopping at the famous World of Coca Cola in Atlanta, could we?

 

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The World of Coca Cola, left, Atlanta Skyline on right

As our gallery shows, we saw lots of things at this “Museum.” To me, it seemed odd that we had to pay to be admitted to this place, when in fact it amounted to much promotion for Coca Cola, kind of corporate aggrandizement, if you will. But it was fun to see all the history, a simulated production line, etc. P1200131My own fondest memory of Coca Cola is symbolized by the front of that old Coke machine there on the left. I can remember, as a kid, on a hot summer day, walking up to one of those machines with a nickel in my hand, inserting it into the coin slot, pulling down on the big lever, and chunka-chunka-clunka, the bottle would fall into the slot below. You’d pick up this cool green bottle with condensation all over the sides, open it from the bottle opener on the front, and boy, was that refreshing! The Pause that Refreshes, it was indeed!

Visiting Coca Cola’s “Museum” was actually enlightening, in that they demonstrated flavors from all over the world (we stopped far short of the possible 64 flavor choices!),  and international benevolent programs that they sponsor or co-sponsor. Also, many of the attendants who showed us through the place came from other lands, we met a young man from Congo, and another from Ethiopia.

We stayed overnight south of Atlanta in the little town of Forsyth, and decided to go over to Warm Springs to the west, where our daughter Heidi told us we could find FDR’s “Little White House.”

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FDR's Little White House, Completed in 1932, Warm Springs, GA

Seeing this museum taught us a lot about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the era of his presidency and before. He had started coming to Warm Springs in 1924, trying to get relief for the debilitating Polio which had paralyzed him from the waist down in about 1920. As you’ll see in the gallery , FDR managed to fool a lot of people about his condition, didn’t want to appear to be a weak president. He drove a 1938 Ford roadster, for example, for which he personally designed the hand controls he would need to operate the vehicle safely.

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Nancy the Park Ranger of the Little White House

I wanted to make mention of a special ingredient that can make an otherwise boring museum exhibit come to life. Above is Park Ranger Nancy, who’s been working as a docent of sorts for the Little White House Museum for the past 12 years or so. What she has done is become intimately familiar with FDR and his life, and she articulates answers to any question very eloquently and thoroughly, enabling visitors like ourselves to relive the era as if we were there. Nancy, you’re our hero! 😉

Before we left for Warm Springs for the FDR exhibit, let us say there was a little “family dispute” over how we could best high-tail it for Florida after we were done. Jane wanted speed on the I-75, I wanted more leisure on “country roads.” What to do? After FDR we ate lunch in Warm Springs, studied the map, and guess what? We weren’t all that far north of Plains, Jimmy Carter’s home! So we went that way…

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Jimmy Carter's Guard Cat, Plains, GA

We drove to the farm where Jimmy Carter grew up, and this cat was the only living thing in sight! But he was very friendly. If you look at him in that photo, the background is blurry, but re-focusing the photo…

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Carter Farm House in back, Guard Cat in front

Yep, there was Jimmy’s boyhood home in the background. And not a soul was guarding it, no one around at all! (As opposed to other presidential memorials we’ve seen, all heavily guarded and docented) A sign on the front door admonishes visitors not to touch anything, to preserve things for the future, but all the furniture and other furnishings are replicas of originals so I guess not considered worth being guarded. We did also visit a museum in Plains itself which turns out to be the high school he attended, now converted into a presidential museum. And, we bought some peanuts, of all things, right there in Plains! But check the gallery, don’t take my word for it.

Well, I’m writing this installment from Marco Island, FL, where we’re holed up for a week. As serendipity would have it, we managed to visit one other stunning museum on the trip through Florida, won’t say much about it until the next blog post, but something to do with the circus?

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One Response to “Georgia On My Mind…”

  1. Don McDonald said

    Lots of interesting history covered here, with the usual splendid photographs. We wonder if you will be stopping at the Ringling Museum next—that would be a natural. Don

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