Friday, December 21, 2012

Perry, Georgia & Warm Springs, Plains, Andersonville & Americus

Wed. Dec. 12th - Tue. Dec. 18th                                                       

T-shirt of the day.  Sounds great to me, but the grazing all day is creating a growing problem for me, if you know what I mean.  After setting up camp in Perry, Georgia, we drove into town and did the walking tour. 
This house was built in 1893 and is the childhood home of General Courtney Hicks Hodges.  He was Deputy Commander of the First Army under Omar Bradley and became Commander in 1944 when Patton called on Bradley to take charge of  the 1st and 3rd Armies as a group.  He was the first soldier in history to rise from private to four star general.  He served in the Phillipines, Mexico and Europe in WWII. 
This home was built in the 1850s and sold to the city in 1920 for use as a school.  In 1925 it was bought again and moved two blocks on logs with "mule power" and restored as a family home.  This is across the street from the small home Senator Sam Nunn grew up in. 
I stopped in a hotel lobby and asked where the restroom was.  They pointed around the corner and this is what I saw when I rounded the corner.  Thankfully, there was more privacy across the hallway. 
Built in 1940, this was the home of Hentz Houser who became a quadriplegic in 1951 at age 17.  "Hentz of Things Not Seen" written by his mother, tells the true story of a young man who overcame complete paralysis to regain some use of his arms and to design a hand gadget for "picking up" items which became of interest to the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 
This house was built in the 1890s by John Woolfolk.  The sign out front referred to the tragic story of the Woolfolk family, so I looked it up.  Turns out the 27 year old son, Tom, in 1887, murdered 9 members of his family with an ax, father (Confederate veteran), step-mother, six step siblings and 84 year-old aunt.  It was said he was quarelsome, deranged and eccentric, but mostly just mean.  He had been concerned about who would inherit his father's plantation. It took a couple years and two trials, but he was finally hanged in the usual place, 1/4 mile west of the Perry Courthouse, in front of a crowd of 10,000.  He is buried next to one of his sisters in Hawkinsville.  I'm not sure how this John fit in the family, but he was probably the one who inherited the plantation after the whole immediate family was dead.  The book about it is "Shadow Chasers: The Woolfolk Tragedy Revisited".   
This is in the education building that is dedicated to a local, famous coach, plus a room dedicated to Senator Sam Nunn and a display about General Hodges.  General Hodges served in the Pershing Expedition against Pancho Villa, got the Distinguished Service Cross in WWII and taught military tactics at West Point.  He designed military equipment, the bazooka and "steel pot" helmet and assisted with the Jeep design.  His unit, The Big Red One, bore the brunt of the heaviest fighting in western Europe.  They were the first Americans at the liberation of Paris, first to cross the Seine into Belgium, first into Germany, took the first town in Germany, first to cross the Rhine and liberated prisoners at Limburg and Jewish prisoners at Nordhausen and Buchenwald.  After the surrender, he was ordered to the Pacific and witnessed the Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri in Tokyo. 
I thought this was a very well expressed sentiment. 
Remember those little cards we used to get every year in school with the slots to fill up with dimes?  This and several other posters were in the FDR Museum at his Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia. 
FDR was stricken with polio in the early 1920s and started visiting Warm Springs in 1924 for the health effects of the warm water.  He designed some of his own chairs and braces. 
He also designed hand controls for his car.  He liked to drive around the countryside and visit with folks from the car, since he was unable to get out and walk.   Amazing that it was so downplayed, just how much of an invalid he was during four presidential campaigns.  Nothing in a politician's life is private anymore, even the stuff we really don't want to know about.
This is the Little White House retreat he built in the woods at Warm Springs.  It's a very small home with three small bedrooms, one for him, one for Eleanor and one for his secretary.  Just behind me is a small guest house and servants quarters. 
FDR would sit at the patio table in the sun, while the marines were camped in the woods below, as part of the Secret Service team.  You can see one of their little sentry posts below.  It looks like a green phone booth. 
FDR was sitting in this chair having his portrait painted when he had his fatal heart attack, that left Harry S. Truman as our President.
Walking around the grounds, the avenue of flags walkway leads up to the original museum, which is now closed, since the new one was built.   
The flags of each of the fifty states are along the path with a stone plaque of some mineral from their individual states.  Some are just a hunk of rock. 
Some are cut out in the shape of their state.  Some have points of interest or geographic features engraved on them.  Iowa was just a rock cut in the shape of the state, but it was mounted upside-down, so John had to let them know. 
Iron lung on display at the museum where the original therapeutic pools are.  Polio must have been such an awful disease.  Thank goodness they were able to find a vaccine. 
The pools are only filled a couple times a year now, for special events.  There is now a whole new set of buildings with new pools and therapy rooms for rehab patients. 
This is a lake on the grounds.  
This is the Civil War Village of Andersonville est. 1853.  It had a population of about 20 when the Camp Sumter Prison was built in 1864.  The population hasn't changed much.  This is pretty much the whole town, plus a half dozen homes.  The monument is to Captain Wirz who was in charge of the prison.  After the war, people in the North were enraged when they heard about the horrific conditions at the prison, which resulted in a 29% death rate.  Captain Wurz indignantly spurned a pardon that was offered on condition that he would incriminate President Davis and General Lee, and thus exonerate himself from charges of which both were innocent.  In the end Captain Wirz was tried and hung in D.C. with the crowd chanting "Wirz, Remember Andersonville!".   It was put up by the Georgia Daughters of the Confederacy "to rescue his name from the stigma attached to it by embittered prejudice".  According to them he was just "discharging his duty with such humanity as the harsh circumstances of the times and policy of the foe permitted".  People later said he was just a scapegoat.  The growing number of prisoners and shortage of supplies was totally beyond his control and many of the prisons in the North were nearly as bad, with better supplies available to them. 
This is the original train depot and one of the train cars that transferred prisoners here from other prisons at a rate of about 400 a day. 
This is a little antique shop and museum with a Union soldier and a Confederate soldier on opposing sides of the entrance.  It's called the Anderson Mall and Drummer Boy Museum with a sign out front for it's hours that says, "Whenever you and I are both here at the same time".  
Our friends from Hawkinsville, just north of Perry, picked us up and took us to Andersonville National Historic Site (originally called Camp Sumter), which includes the National Cemetery, prison site and museum.  We arrived just before noon, and they were just getting ready for the annual Christmas Wreath Ceremony.  It was started at Arlington National Cemetery 21 years ago by a florist from Maine.  There were 110,000 wreaths laid at Arlington this year.  Hauling the wreaths on the 700-mile convoy from Maine to D.C. with semis, buses, police and motorcycles has become a tradition, with locals along the way paying their respects.  They had 20,000 volunteers this year and laid the one millionth wreath at Arlington.  Nearly 200,000 volunteers laid 420,000 wreaths for our nation's fallen military at 825 cemeteries, military memorials and other locations across our country and overseas, last Saturday on National Wreaths Across America Day (Motto: Remember, Honor, Teach). 
As we drove into the cemetery, the markers were lined up side-by-side just as the bodies were buried shoulder-to-shoulder in three foot trenches, naked, because their clothes were desperately needed, at times over 100 a day.  Of the 13,000, only about 460 are unmarked, thanks to a diligent volunteer who kept all the records, and helped Clara Barton and a crew mark them all after the war was over.  The prison opened in February and was designed for 6,000 to 10,000.  By June they had 25,000 prisoners and made an addition.  By August they had 33,000.  It was open 14 months with a total of 45,000 prisoners and 13,000 died of starvation, illness, infections, etc.  This is the Iowa monument. 
This is the New York monument.   There was an unscrupulous group of prisoners called the "Raiders" who stole from, bullied and murdered their fellow prisoners.  There were only enlisted men in this prison, no officers.  The other prisoners finally formed a group called the "Regulators" to bring some law and order.  They got Captain Wirz to put the Raiders on trial.  With 24 prisoners as jurors, they were convicted and hanged.  At the prisoners request, the six men who were hanged were buried in a separate section by themselves. 
There were originally only Union soldiers buried here, but after the war some Confederates were moved here and now there are veterans from all wars buried here.  They still have about 100 burials a year.  There were more P.O.W.s held in the Civil War than all of WWII.  Over a million of our service men and women have died since the Revolutionary War.  That's a lot of children, grand children, and so on, that were never born. 
The museum has exhibits about P.O.W.s from all wars to present.  In this area you walk thru in the semi-darkness surrounded by typical war noises.  As you round the corner, you are surrounded and told you are now a prisoner.  There are a couple examples of cells and cages which Vietnam P.O.W.s were kept in.  There are two really excellent films.  One is about treatment and experiences of P.O.W.s in all wars.  One is specifically about Andersonville.  Very emotional.  I got all choked up.  Unbelievable what some of our service men and women have been through and that people volunteer for this duty.  As many as several 100 women saw combat in the Civil War for the adventure of it or just to be with their husbands.  "Albert Cashier" fought three years with the 95th Illinois Infantry, the longest documented period of service by a female soldier.  Jennie Hodges or "Albert" managed to conceal her true identity for the next 50 years.  In 1911 she was hit by a car and examined by a doctor who discovered her female identity.  Her employer, honoring her request for secrecy, arranged for her to be admitted to the Soldier's and Sailor's Home in Quincy, Illinois where "Albert" was able to reminisce wartime adventures with other vets of the 95th. 
Driving around the 26 acre stockade boundary indicated by the white markers.  The extra white markers 19 feet in from the stockade walls was the deadline.  If a prisoner crossed the deadline, guards were ordered to shoot.  The brick marker in the foreground marks the south end.  The tall marker and the museum at the top of the hill mark the north end.  Down in the valley ran Stockade Branch of Sweetwater Creek.  It was a tiny little creek about two feet across and was the only source of water. 
This is a reproduction of one corner of the prison and the "shebangs" built by the prisoners for some relief from the sun, rain and cold.  The only shelters were those they built for themselves.  There was a "pigeon roost", or sentry box, every 100 yards (52 of them), manned by old men and young boys, as all the experienced soldiers were sent to help stop Sherman's march to Atlanta.  Ten miles south at Americus, people complained of the smell from the prison.  A poem written by one of the prisoners, called Dixie's Sunnyland:  With a host of guards surrounding us, Each with a loaded gun, We were stationed in an open plain, Exposed to rain and sun.  No tent or tree to shelter us, We lay upon the sand.  Thus side by side great numbers died, In Dixie's sunny land.  Private J. Lauffer.
The highways are lined with cotton stacks and bales in this area.  I said, "We're in high cotton now", and John said, "You've been in high cotton since 1973."  Has it really been that long?  I can hardly believe it.  After leaving Andersonville, our friends took us on a little tour of Americus, where they used to live.   The Carters both attended college in Americus and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving was established in 1987 at her alma mater.  Also, MLK spent some time in the jail here and in Albany, Georgia in 1961.  And South Georgia Tech had a training base for American and British aviators in WWI at Souther Airport, now called Jimmy Carter Airport, where Charles Lindbergh learned to fly and made his first solo flight in 1923.  He practiced his take-offs and landings for a week and set a course for Montgomery, where he started his barnstorming career.  Four years later he flew the Spirit of St. Louis alone from New York to Paris.   
We were going to have lunch at the beautiful and historic Windsor Hotel, but they were only open evenings, so we just had a look around and went to a little place around the corner for a very nice lunch. 
This ginger bread house was in the lobby of the hotel.  I've never made one, but my grandkids make one every year, probably not quite this elaborate.
After lunch we headed to Plains, home of Jimmy Carter, past and present.  This is his boyhood home near the small hamlet of Archery.  There were two dozen black families and one white family in Archery, many of whom worked with them as tenant farmers or field hands.  Most of Jimmy's playmates were black.    They moved here when he was four years old.  The yard was swept white sand and they had a sand tennis court.  The yard was kept swept and weeded clean to keep snakes and bugs away from the house.  Jimmy's father was a very good tennis player and Jimmy could never beat him.  His mother was a nurse and worked most of the time, leaving the children "to do" lists on her desk.    
His father bought this 360 acre farm where they raised cotton with hired hands and tenant farmers.  This shows a small crop of cotton and some of the outbuildings.  In the early 1900s 85% of the population were farmers and 65% of the crops were cotton.  A young boys job was "mopping cotton".  To kill boll weevils, they mixed arsenic with molasses and water and walked the rows with buckets and a rag mop daubing sticky poison onto the buds.  Jimmy despised this task as trousers, legs and bare feet would be saturated with the syrupy mess.  (Couldn't have hurt him too much.  He'll soon be 89.)  They had a blacksmith shop and livestock sheds.  The train ran right in front of their house at 2:00 AM every morning and sounded like it was coming right through the house.  They had no running water or electricity until 1938.  Getting an indoor bathroom was a big deal.   Their shower head was a hanging metal bucket with holes punched in the bottom.  The cold water for the shower came directly from the tank on the windmill and there was a faucet on the pipe to control the flow. 
The park ranger told us to go ahead and try picking cotton.  They spray it with a defoliant and pick it later.  The opened blossom is very dry and brittle, and sharp to handle.  Jimmy picked cotton along side his family and the field hands.   In Archery the blacks far outnumbered the whites.  The Carters put on an annual 4th of July BBQ and hog killing for everyone in the community.  In the 1800s southwest Georgia, Northern Florida, southern Alabama and southern Mississippi was known as the "black belt" due to the high proportion of blacks.  In the early decades of the 1900s economic opportunities were few and lynchings were not uncommon in the South.  In Georgia 508 lynchings took place betwen 1882 and 1930 (over 10 per year). 
They had a country store on the farm for the tenant farmers and other locals.  Jimmy said he didn't ever remember eating a meal without being interrupted to open the store for somene who needed something.  He walked the three miles into Plains on the railroad tracks with baskets of strawberries or boiled peanuts or whatever they had, so he could sell them to make about $1.00 a day spending money for himself.   He always considered himself a visitor when he entered the "metropolitan" community of Plains.  They also made small bottles of vanilla or chocolate flavored milk, that they dropped off at small stores in the area to sell for 5 cents each.  Every week they would pick up the leftovers and bring them home to feed to the hogs.   
We were all mystified as to what this apparatus in the corner of the store might be, until the park ranger showed up, and told us that it is a chicken plucker.  You put the chicken in scalding water.  Then somebody held it against the rubber fingers, as someone else cranked.  What the machine didn't pull out, was singed off.  I remember helping to pull the feathers out after the chickens were scalded, when I was a kid, and watching them singe off the stuff we couldn't get.  One of FDR's New Deal programs was production control, whereby some farm animals and crops were destroyed.  Jimmy's Dad felt that was a sin and never voted for FDR again.  Hobos and tramps always stopped at their house for a free meal. Once his mother asked one of them why they always stopped at their house.  He showed her the symbols marked on their mailbox of a cat, which meant there was a kind woman, a cross that meant they were a Christian family and an X, which meant there was good food and drink available.  The hobos had a communication system.   
Heading into Plains, we are definitely in peanut country here.  There are many trailers lined up under roofs, full of peanuts or maybe just peanut shells, couldn't tell for sure.   Jimmy married Eleanor Rosalynn Smith and there is a historic marker in front of her childhood home in town.  Our kids can tell you that historic markers are one of their Dad's favorite things.  We never passed one by when they were growing up.  And they never complained once, or maybe that's just the way I prefer to remember it.
This is the Lillian G. Carter Health and Rehabilitation Center.  It was originally the Wise Sanitarium, known as the "Mayo Clinic of the South", where Jimmy's mother got her nurse's training.  Jimmy was born here in 1924, the first president ever to be born in a hospital.  The black patients were treated in a building out back.  Lillian Carter hated the unequal treatment of blacks. 
This is the Plains High School where both Jimmy and Rosalynn went to school.  Rosalynn was valedictorian of her class.  It is now a National Park Service Visitors Center with a museum of their lives, careers and humanitarian work.  They have a brick, ranch-style home just a couple blocks from here in a wooded area, that they built in 1961 where they still live.  It is the only home they have ever owned, is called the Carter Compound and is closed to the public. 
Then we went downtown where they were getting ready for the arrival of the SAM train.  It is a local tourist train that does a couple stops of interest in the area.  They had a nice firepit burning at the end of the street and a guy singing Christmas carols. 
But we were here for desert, their famous peanut butter soft serve ice cream!  And boy, was it good!  Mmm, Mmm.  Notice the cut out of Jimmy in the window, digging peanuts. 
Just across the street is the Golden Peanut Company, originally Carter's peanut warehouse, that Jimmy came home to run when his father died, giving up his dreams of a career in the Navy.  When he became President, General Rickover called him and said, "Now I work for you."  When they first came home from the Navy in 1952, they lived in government housing, as they had no regular source of income.   
Across the street from the peanut company is brother Billy's gas station, a favorite place for locals to hang out and shoot the breeze.  Remember Billy Beer?  I wonder if they made it out of peanuts? 
At the other end of the block is the Plains Depot, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Campaign Headquarters, also now a museum. This is the same train that the locals boarded, filling 16 cars, to attend the inauguration of our 39th President in 1977.  It was called the "Peanut Special" for the occasion.  It is now called the SAM (from a historic line that used to connect Savannah, Americus and Montgomery).  It's a shortline tourist excursion train that goes from Cordele, thru Americus and Plains and to the Carter homestead at Archery.  It was saved by the state and is operated by the Heart of Georgia Railroad.  It also goes the other direction to Savannah with package deals including a city tour and a river boat cruise.  And it goes to Vidalia for the annual Onion Festival.  They also put on a million dollar fundraiser dinner here in this town of about 700, when he was campaigning.  In front of the train is a stack of peanuts drying. 
We came back to Americus another day to tour the Global Village and Discovery Center of Habitat for Humanity International.  They have a little introductory film.  Then you head out to see examples of how many people around the world live in extreme poverty.    
This is a store.  Two Baptist ministers in 1942 chose a farm just west of Carter's boyhood home to start a Christian commune named Koinonia, where black and white workers lived and worked together for 50 years, not a very popular thing when it was started.  A couple from this commune started Habitat for Humanity in 1976.  In 1983 they commemorated their 7th anniversary with a 700 mile walk from Americus to Indianapolis.  In 1984 President Carter became involved and led his first annual Jimmy Carter Work Project renovating apartments in New York.  The Global Village Program started in 1988.  In 1991 the first house was built by an all women crew.  In 1994 the 30,000th house worldwide was built in Americus and Habitat was ranked the 17th largest homebuilder in the U.S.  In 1998 they chartered their 500th campus chapter and dedicated the 100th house built by the Youth Program.  During the Jimmy Carter Work Project in 2000, it's 100,000th house worldwide was dedicated.  In 2005 it's 200,000th house worldwide was dedicated.  In 20 countries in Asia/Pacific 2/3s of the world's more than 6 billion people live, 1/3 of them in substandard housing.  
This is a school.  There are 1,600 Habitat affiliates at work in the U.S. and more than 5 million low-income families pay more than half their income to live in severely substandard housing.  An estimated 1.2 billion in the world live on less than $1.00 a day.  Nearly 3 billion live on less than $2.00.  Their homes look like these or worse.  1 in 5 in the world live in absolute poverty.  1 in 4 countries in the developing world have national laws preventing women owning land or mortgages in their name.  African households need 12.5 times their annual income to buy a house.  Over 1 billion worldwide live in slum housing in urban areas alone.  In the U.S. nearly 13 million children live in poverty.   
This is a church.   Approximately 21 million new housing units were required each year in developing countries to accomodate the growth in the number of households from 2000 to 2010.  The numbers are almost beyond comprehension. 
This is a home.  This little community was built just to give you some perspective of how people are living before Habitat comes in to help people build new homes.  They use local materials and teach people to make bricks and tiles and cut lumber.  They have to have some kind of income to qualify, so they will be able to make their mortgage payments and they have to help with the building.  In many cases their mortgage payment turns out to be much less than they were paying to rent a very substandard place. 
This is an example of homes they have built in Papua, New Guinea.   This home had no bathroom.  They have built homes in  over 130 countries.  One of the pictures showed a house in Texas that was totally UNFIT to live in and the people were paying $700 a month rent.  They were able to build them a new home and their mortgage payment was only $400. 
This is the kitchen and bathroom in a home in Hayti that appeared to be about 14 feet square,  but it is designed to be added on to, if and when they can afford to do so.  
It had two tiny bedrooms and a living/dining area. 
This home is from Botswana, with an outhouse. 
This one is in South Africa and actually has a bath tub, sink and toilet.  
Kitchen sink and two bedrooms.  
But the really great thing is that they all have windows and doors that close tightly and lock, to keep out bugs and rodents and other intruders.  
This one in India has a stairway around back on the right side that goes up to a deck on the roof.    
This is the kitchen.   They're not very fancy, but when you see the types of places they might have been living before, you can imagine how excited they must be to have a clean and safe place for their families. 
Their toilet is down a little hallway on the outside of their house.  On that note, I've got to go.  And I'm very greatful the place I have to go, is a little nicer than this. 
We paid $2.98 for gas before we left Perry.  We will be in Tallahassee, Florida until Wednesday.
Merry Christmas everybody!

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