Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Two Presidents

We have been in full tourist mode as we travel across the Southeast, an area we have not spent any time in since going on the road.  Because of that I am behind with the blog that I usually like to keep in chronological order.  That and the fact our picture with President and Rosalyn Carter got more likes and comments than anything I have put on Facebook, here is a post on two Presidential stops we toured in Georgia.


The first one was Roosevelt's Little White House in Warm Springs.  Franklin Deleno Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921 while vacationing at the family summer home on Campobello Island in New Brunswick.  Here is a link to the blog entry when we visited there in 2010.  After hearing that the warm spring water in Georgia helped relieve the symptoms of the disease, he visited here for the first time in 1924 and felt the waters refreshing. He was sitting for this portrait on the day he became ill and died of a massive stroke.  It was never finished. 
In 1932 while running for president the first time he had this little cottage built for his visits.  The 48 star flag is like the one that flew there during his stays.  The cottage was very simple and when FDR got his first electric bill he was surprised that it was much more than the bill for power at his New York home.  After that he came up with the idea for rural electrification.
The cottage is very simple with a small kitchen, living room and the bedroom where Roosevelt had a small single bed.  The interior walls are wood and are stained from the smoke of FDR's three pack a day habit.
Next to the cottage are two small buildings for staff and guests.  It is interesting that some of the most powerful people in the United States stayed in this tiny, simple guest cabin.
Along this walkway are flags and stones from each state.  Each stone is unique to the state, from those carved in the shape of the state to others that are just a block of rock.  The Pennsylvania stone was presented by the Woman's Club of Slippery Rock, PA
The new FDR Memorial Museum has many artifacts from his time in Warm Springs and his presidency.  A wheelchair with the wooden chair like seat and braces he wore when he needed to stand.  Very few photographs of the president in his wheelchair were ever taken.
Because of his disease FDR started the March of Dimes in 1938 to help fund the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation.  The foundation funded the development of the iron lung and appointed Dr. Jonas Salk who developed a vaccine for polio.  That vaccine was developed in 1955 and I still remember everyone in school lining up to get our polio shots. 
Roosevelt's 1938 Ford convertible that was equipped with hand controls he designed.  He used to drive the car on the rural roads to meet the local people and see how they lived.  These visits were a catalyst to many of the programs he created to help the working poor. 
The Warm Springs Foundation built pools for polio patients who were brought to Georgia for therapy.  Left is an iron lung that would be used as the disease attacked a patients lungs.  Right is a slanting bed which helped them sleep.  While the vaccine has eradicated polio, the Roosevelt Warm Springs Hospital now works with people who have spinal injuries and a full range of illnesses. The museum and Little White House give you a great insight into the type of person FDR was and are both well worth a visit if you are in the Warm Springs area.

Our next stop was to go to the Jimmy Carter National Historical Site in Plains to see the boyhood home of the 39th President.  We had heard there was a chance that we could see and meet him if he was in town and when we checked into the RV park we learned he was at home so we made it a must do. Read on.
Jimmy was born at the Wise Sanitarium on October 1, 1924 making him the first president born in a hospital.  His mother was a nurse at the sanitarium and she and her doctor decided he would be born there.
President Carter's boyhood home is about three miles outside of Plains. His family moved there in 1928.  The home was on a 360 acre farm and had no electricity or running water when the Carters moved in. Power became available in 1938.
The home was very simple but comfortable with a breakfast, kitchen and formal dining room, bottom.  Top is the living room, the indoor bath that was added when they got running water and Jimmy's bedroom.  While the Carter family was not wealthy, they made a middle class income on the farm and the commissary where the farm families bought supplies. 
This is the tennis court, commissary and windmill that provided running water.  The water was pumped up to the barrel using wind power so it was high enough to flow into the house.
Old Plains High School is now the park service visitors center.  It is a fitting location as Jimmy gives the school's principal and teacher, Miss Julia L. Coleman, a lot of credit for being a guiding force in his life.  Carter graduated in 1941 and after two years at local colleges entered the U.S. Naval Academy where he graduated in June 1946.  There is a very good video about his life.
In July of 1946 he married a local Plains girl, Rosalyn Smith.  He served in the Navy's new nuclear submarine program until 1953 when his father died and he returned to Plains to run the family peanut business.  Rosalyn was not happy with that move after having the chance to travel and see so much as they changed duty stations.  She said it took her a year to accept they would be living in Plains for the rest of their lives.  Little did she know what life had in store for them. 
A replica of  Carter's presidential desk.  Which one would you vote for to take that spot? 
The office of the Carter Peanut Warehouse.  Rosalyn was the bookkeeper, a job she continued to do for the family's finances even when they were in the White House.  In addition to running the family business Jimmy became active in local politics.  He was elected to the school board, the Georgia Senate and in 1970 he became governor.
Being a peanut farmer, the smiling peanut became the symbol of his 1976 presidential campaign.  When he started campaigning so many people would ask Jimmy Who?, that the local stray dog was given that name.
The old Plains Depot was his local campaign headquarters.  Virtually everyone in town joined the campaign and Jimmy Who became the president of the United States of America.
Jimmy's brother Billy's gas station.  If you remember those years Billy was quite a character and even had a beer named after him.
So how do you get to meet and get your picture taken with the former president?  You go to church.  The Carters now attend Maranatha Baptist Church and Jimmy teaches Sunday School every Sunday he is home.  Anyone is invited to attend and as you can see many people take advantage of the chance to meet the former president.  We spoke to a couple and their two sons who traveled 800 miles from Indiana just to hear him speak.  The doors open at 8:30 AM to enable the Secret Service to screen you for the 10:00 Sunday School lesson. The morning worship service is at 11:00 and after it is over the Carters have their picture taken with EVERYONE.  To me this simple act of kindness really shows what kind of human being Jimmy Carter is, a caring individual who not only teaches life's lessons in Sunday School, but who lives those lessons everyday.  That sentiment goes for Rosalyn too.  Another couple told us they were at the visitor center where it just so happened Roslyn was there too.  She took time to speak with them and get their pictures together.  They are very down to earth, approachable people.
This is right up at the top of the list of experiences we have had while on the road.  Meeting the man who negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, signed the Panama Canal treaties, established diplomatic relations with China, started the Departments of Energy and Education and won the release of America Hostages who had been held for 444 days in Iran was fantastic.  This last event really cost him the chance to win reelection in 1980 as the announcement that the hostages were coming home was made the day of President Reagan's inauguration..  Since leaving the office he has become a highly respected world leader for his work through the Carter Foundation, winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his many humanitarian efforts around the world and at 90 shows no sign of slowing down.  If you are near Plains and want to met President Carter and Rosalyn you can check the schedule at the Manaratha Baptist Church website.    


heyduke50 said...

no doubt that is cool and should be near the top of your list...

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Wow I am so jealous, great post!

Bobbie and Jim said...

Very well written blog post. Enjoyed it a lot.