Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

After I attended church with the Carters at the Maranantha Baptist Church, I set out to explore the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, which has several places to visit scattered around Plains.

Let’ start at the beginning. James Earl Carter, Jr. was born in the Wise Sanitarium on October 1, 1924. The next time you need to pull out a presidential fact for a trivia night, here’s one: Jimmy Carter was the first president to be born in a hospital. His mother, Lillian, was at work at the sanitarium when she went into labor, so that is where he was born.

Jimmy’s parents, Earl and Lillian, moved their small family several times while Jimmy was an infant, finally settling on a farm on a dirt road in nearby Archery.

The family moved into this middle-class rural dwelling as its second owners in 1928, six years after the home had been built. In the beginning, there was no running water and electricity was unavailable until 1938. Earl Carter sold the farm to T.R. Downer in 1949, who owned the property until 1994, when the National Park Service purchased it.

The house is restored to the conditions the family would have experienced in the 1930s. Obviously, the ramp is a modern addition. The house was surrounded by white sand. It was a bit of an expense, as it had to be imported. The soil in that part of the state is red. I think I read on one sign that it was so they could see snakes and critters near the house. One of the guides said that it was just the fashion. I guess you can decide which to believe.

I entered through the back door.

The kitchen was on one side. Compare and contrast that with your kitchen. I mean, where would you put your coffee maker and microwave?

Jimmy’s bedroom was opposite the kitchen. There was a story about how Jimmy was sick one Christmas, and had to stay in bed. That year, he got a pony and was allowed to get up and look at it through the window.

That must have been the window he looked out. Imagine how excited he was!

Next was the bathroom.  I particularly like the improvised shower head. I wonder if they heated the water or were just thankful that they could take a shower?

The breakfast room was opposite the bathroom. I guess if you don’t have an eat-in kitchen, you have a breakfast room for those smaller, less-formal meals. These meals were typically quiet, as Miss Lillian, his mother, encouraged everyone to read – even at mealtimes.

Ah, but for the more formal meals, you have a dining room!

They also had a parlor.

While they didn’t have electricity, they did have a radio. They powered it with the battery sitting on the shelf below it. There was a recording that played in the room that said that their neighbors, who were mostly black farmers, would come to listen to the radio. Earl would play it so that they could hear it outside. According to the story, they listened in silence to boxing matches and them went home to celebrate.

Here is Earl and Lillian’s bedroom. You can see Billy Carter’s crib by the window. He was born in 1937, he year before they sold the house.

They had a fireplace in their bedroom. It kind of makes me wonder if Jimmy was cold, back there in the corner.

Next to the parents’ bedroom was the girls’ bedroom. Jimmy’s sisters, Gloria and Ruth, shared the room.

Apparently they shared the bed, too. It sure reminds me of a bed I had, except mine wasn’t painted white. I even had a bedspread like that – and an afghan.

The girls had a fireplace, too! Poor Jimmy.

You might have noticed a tennis racquet at the foot of the bed in Earl and Lillian’s bedroom. Earl was wild for tennis, and with all the great Georgia red clay soil, he had his own clay court next to the house. Jimmy said that he never could beat his father at tennis.

A little ways away from the house was the family store. One of Jimmy’s jobs was to handle business at the store during mealtimes. People would knock at the door and he would go take care of their purchases.

Just in case you were wondering, here are some of the prices of the day:

People tended to be more self-sufficient back then. Tools were simpler and could  be repaired, if you had the know-how.

The Carters had a small blacksmith shop on the farm to take care of their tools. Their horses and mules were also shod there.

Speaking of horses, they had a few on the property.

They also had chickens, to lend an aura of authenticity.

Actually, the Carters were all about multiple income streams. Miss Lillian had a pecan grove, which Mr. Earl planted soon after they moved to the property.

Each fall, Miss Lillian harvested and sold her pecans in nearby Americus. The extra income provided her with household spending money throughout the rest of the year.

This building is a reconstruction of the milking barn. Between eight and twelve cows were milked on the farm each day, depending on the season and how many were giving fresh milk. None of the milk was ever wasted. Mr. Earl sold cream to a store in Plains. Leftover skim milk was fed to calves and pigs. Earl also had a good business of making making small bottles of vanilla and chocolate milk drinks, which he delivered to grocery stores and service stations in the area. He sold the drinks for five cents each. Each week he’d pick up the unsold bottles and then feed them to the hogs. The Carters also consumed several gallons a day themselves.

There were no interpretive signs about these large pans that were lying about the farm. I assume that they might have been used in scalding hogs when they were butchered. But, what do I know? I’m a suburban kid from the fifties.

Jack Clark and his wife Rachel, were permanent fixtures on the farm, , and they had their own house on the other side of the barns and sheds. Jimmy spent a good deal of time with them.

As you might be able to read, in Jimmy’s words, “The clapboard siding was the only barrier to the outside heat, cold, wind and rain, so occupants covered the inside of the boards with old newspapers pasted on with a mixture of flour and water.”

I am sure he was warmly received by the Clarks and was welcome around their stove.

The school that Jimmy attended is now the headquarters for the Jimmy Carter National Monument.

I got to wander the halls and rooms a bit and see what the school must have been like for him.

Here’s the auditorium, where we got to watch a brief introductory film.

They had a classroom set up like it would have been when Jimmy attended.

In fact, here is a photo of that classroom.

They even included a map that would have hung in the room when he was attending school.

There were other displays in the headquarters.

I particularly appreciated this quote from his inaugural address as governor in 1971.

I also liked this map of places where the Carter Center has worked to improve the quality of life around the world.

I had fun posing in this model of the Oval Office. Don’t I look presidential?

Jimmy pursued his eduction – as well as his sister’s friend, Rosalynn. They married in 1946. He was well on the way to a good career in the Navy. At the time he left the service, he was part of the nation’s fledgling nuclear submarine program.

However, in 1953 his father passed away of pancreatic cancer. He returned to take care of the family business.

At the time, he was strapped for cash and lived in this apartment in the new housing project in Plains.

It actually looks like a pretty nice place to live.

Across the street from this complex, I saw this sign:

In case you can’t quite make it out, it says, “Jimmy Carter for Cancer Survivor.” As you may remember, a few years ago, he revealed that he had brain cancer. Whatever treatments he received, they were apparently successful. It wasn’t too long ago that he announced that there was no longer a sign of the cancer.

As you can see from this vintage photo, not much has changed in Plains.

Jimmy ran for president from the train depot.

At the time he began, this was the sentiment.

However, people soon learned who he was. Jimmy who? became

I think it is telling that his one of his first acts as president was to fulfill a campaign promise by issuing an executive order declaring unconditional amnesty for Vietnam era draft evaders.

He was a president who strove to put people first, in my opinion.

Jimmy’s little brother, Billy, had a gas station in town.

It’s now an historic site, as well.

Of course, people of a certain age might remember him best as the front man for Billy Beer.

This is the Carter’s house now. I snapped this photo off a display. You can drive by the house, but you can’t really see it. He continues to have Secret Service protection, and the drive to the house is gated. After living in several places around Plains, they bought this 2.4 acre lot in 1960 and built this home in 1961. It’s the only home they have ever owned.

And that brings me to the end of my tour of Plains. If you want to read the first part about attending church with Jimmy and Rosalynn, click here.

And after this post, I will be heading west.




Some Family Time

I hitched up and had a passing camper do a quick safety check on the trailer lights for me. With the cleaned out seven-way plug, I figured that I was good to go. I headed Bart toward Alabama and family!

Heading out from Redgate Campground

An hour or so down the road, I started puzzling about the brakes. I still wasn’t getting a reading on the trailer brake controller and that worried me. I wasn’t having trouble stopping, but I do leave a lot of room around me and I brake “gently.” I decided to give Airstream in Jackson Center a call and see if they had any ideas.

I pulled into a gas station and gave them a call. The word I got was that if I stepped on the brakes and could hear them engage, they were working whether or not the display was working. I asked a guy parked near me to listen while I stepped on the brakes, as I couldn’t step on the brakes in the cab and listen back by the trailer wheels. He said he could hear them, so I motored on feeling more confident. I figured I’d take Bart in again once I got where I was going and tell a mechanic what was going on.

It was so good to get to Scott and Lesley’s house! This time, it was easy to slip Flo right in next to the house and hook her up to the outlet Scott put in for me.

I had a great time visiting and just hanging out with loved ones.

Scott and I played some Scrabble. I play a lot of Words With Friends on my phone, but it’s always wonderful to play a real game.

The first weekend I was there, I went to Plains, Georgia to attend church with Jimmy Carter. You can read about my adventure here.

There was a lot of hanging out with the dogs.

There’s Wabbit. With ears like that, what else could you call him?

And Callie. Or is that Kali?

Then there’s Hua-Hua, which comes from Chihuahua. It’s pronounced “Who-ah Who-ah.”

This is CocoaPuff. Unfortunately, he had a condition that precluded treatment, so this was my last visit with him.

A new dog came to join the pack while I was there. This is Tia. Lesley found her wandering the streets when she was out walking. They tried to find the owner, but they weren’t successful. As of this writing, she is still a member of the family.

Scott and I have birthdays that are one day (and six years) apart. We decided to celebrate by getting our birthday burgers at Red Robin.

Our server was delightful, and he even brought us birthday sundaes. What a treat!

The wreath that I got when I helped Craig get his U-Haul packed, and that I hung on my trailer in Savannah, found a permanent home at Scott and Lesley’s house.

I joined Scott and Lesley at their church. It’s an interesting church in that it’s bilingual. They have headsets and an interpreter translates the service. Afterwards, we went in the community room for a little socialization. I thought the centerpieces were cute.

The snack was tasty, too.

While I was there, I decided that I had to track down what was wrong with my braking system. First Scott tried to diagnose the problem.

He wasn’t able to figure it out, so I went to a Dodge dealer. They checked everything out and replaced the trailer brake controller. Ka-ching! But, if that did the job, it would be money well spent.

Unfortunately, it didn’t do the job. I ended up having to get the trailer brakes replaced, too. I looked up a trailer brake place and ended up at a private shop owned by some brothers from Guatemala.

They were able to get it done and I haven’t had any further problems with the trailer brakes. (Knock on wood!) When I paid the bill, I sang the Guatemalan National Anthem with the guy who helped me out.

It wasn’t cheap, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet. You have to have brakes.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, everyone is getting ready for Christmas.

Beth, Lesley’s daughter, is holding Everett while Elijah is engrossed in opening his present.

Elijah obliged me by posing with the Christmas tree.

Lesley is enjoying some time with her granddaughter, Gwen.

Scott sure enjoys Elijah – and Elijah loves him.

Lesley made turkey – my favorite! And then she made turkey soup, another favorite!

And with that, it was time to motor onward! I love it when you can use a map of the entire country to plan a trip.






A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Beach

Okay, maybe it wasn’t all that funny.

I decided I wanted to see the ocean while I was in Savannah, and I decided to take a drive out to Tybee Island. I was tooling down the road and saw a sign for Fort Pulaski National Monument, and I decided to investigate.

I stopped into the visit center and discovered that Fort Pulaski was pivotal in the Civil War. It was the first time that the Union Army successfully tested rifled cannon. They were so accurate that they made brick fortifications obsolete.

That is really something, when you consider that the walls were eleven feet thick.

I entered the fort through the demilune, which is kind of like a little island in front of the portcullis.

A moat ran all the way around the fort.

I crossed over.

Back when the fort was built in 1847, this area was used as a kitchen and apparently as general storage.

Now a days, there is a magazine.

When the technology advances, it became unsafe to store the ammunition inside the fort.

I wended my way through the demilune and crossed the drawbridge into the fort.

I spent time prowling around the fort. It was much like many of the other forts that were built as part of the Third System of coastal fortifications that were planned after the War of 1812. According to my sources (okay – Wikipedia) most of the nearly thirty Third System forts built after 1816 still exist along either the Atlantic or Gulf coasts.

The construction of Fort Pulaski began in 1829. It was named in honor of Kazimierz Polaski, a Polish soldier and military commander who fought in the American Revolution under the command of George Washington.

Pulaski Day was always a big thing in Western New York. That was part of the reason I was eager to visit the fort.

Anyway, back to the fort. Wooden pilings were sunk up to 70 feet deep into the mud to support an estimated 25,000,000 bricks. it was finally completed in 1847 after 18 years of construction and at a cost of $1 million.

When Robert E. Lee graduated from West Point in 1829, he came to work on building the fort. He was in charge of designing the series of canals and earthworks that drained excess water from Cockspur Island. During the war, Lee inspected the site and noticed that the dike system had worked as planned. Land maps dated 1862 show the area inside the dike as the only dry land.

So, there was a lot of water, but it was all salt water. They must have saved rain water in cisterns like this one. There were ten cisterns in the fort and they could store a total of 200,000 gallons. Rain falling on the terreplein above filtered through pipes in the wall into the cisterns.

I walked around and admired the interesting brickwork. The guides told me that if I walked around outside I would be able to see cannonballs imbedded in the walls.

On my way out, I noticed the mechanics for raising and lowering the portcullis. Here are the chains.

Here are the counterweights that make the work easier.

The canals for draining the land are still in place.

And here is the gate that controls the flow of water. I wonder if General Lee would still be impressed?

If you look at about 11:00 from the cannon, you can see a cannonball stuck in the wall. At least that is what the guide told me.

I kept walking around.

This fort took a lot of punishment.

After the Union captured the fort, it was used as to hold Confederate prisoners of war. They were referred to as “The Immortal Six Hundred.” They were in poor health when they arrived in 1864. Thirteen prisoners died while they were incarcerated. They were buried here.

Incidentally, this memorial was erected in 2012 by the Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

There was also this grave marker from 1800. If there was an explanation about who he was and what was going on here in 1800, I don’t recall it.

With that, it was time to complete my original mission of seeing the ocean. I headed out to  Tybee Island. They had very assertive regulations about parking posted. I found a spot with a meter and plunked in a few quarters and headed to the water.

The beach was not crowded.

I was amazed by the foam I saw on the beach.

One of these days, I am going to find out how this stuff is created.

I wandered up and down the beach and admired the ocean and the dunes.

And with that, it was time to head back to camp for my last night in Savannah.

Next stop: Phenix City, Alabama


A Little More Savannah

I last left you when I had just finished my stroll along the river. I turned my back on the waterfront and headed toward the city.

There were so many elegant old houses!

There were houses for sale, too.

I checked on the listing today, and apparently this house has been sold. But, if you are interested in relocating, I am sure that Pam or Lori would be glad to help you find a home.

Hurricane Matthew took down a few trees when it blew through in October. This one hasn’t quite been removed yet.

However, the people in the area decorated it for the holidays.

I like the local pride displayed by the citizens. These folks even made their own street signs complete with historic information.

I walked along and enjoyed the well-kept neighborhoods and shady squares.

The further I strolled, the closer I got to my goal: Juliette Gordon Low’s birthplace.

Juliette Low – you know, the founder of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.

I was a Girl Scout for a few years. I started as a Brownie when I was in second grade and then went all the way through Seniors.

In cleaning out the house, I got rid of most of my photos, so this one will have to do to represent the whole. In fact, I was even a leader for a few years. Man! That’s a lot of cookies!

Anyway, back to the tour.

Juliette Low was born in this house in on Halloween in 1860. The house  was built around 1820 for James Moore Wayne, who was mayor of Savannah at the time. He went to Washington to serve in the House of Representative and then on to serve in the Supreme Court. In 1831, he sold the house to his niece,  Sarah Stites Gordon, and her husband William Washington Gordon I, who were Juliette Low’s grandparents.

I joined two other mature adults on the tour and we were walked though the rooms. It was nice to see the rooms restored to the way they looked when Daisy lived there. (Daisy – that’s what all her friends called her.)

Juliette was born in interesting times. When she was only six months old, her father left to joint the Confederate States Army. Interestingly enough, U.S. General William T. Sherman, who was a friend of her uncle, visited the family in Savannah,  and arranged for an escort to take the family to Chicago in March 1865. A few months after that, President Andrew Johnson issued an amnesty proclamation, and the family reunited in Savannah.

After we toured the house, we left through the garden. My new friends agreed to take my photo with the statue of Juliette and her dog.

Juliette married William Mackay Low in 1886. They had a home a few blocks away, and that was my next goal.

The first part of the home I came to was originally their carriage house. It was remodeled to become the first headquarters of the Girls Scouts, which was founded March 12, 1912.

They had a small museum inside, but it the woman running it was just about to close. I stuck my head inside and gave it a quick look.

They are quite fond of plaques. I guess they are kind of like Girl Scout badges for buildings.

I continued down the street to the Low house.

Juliette and William lived there when they weren’t traveling. Unfortunately, they did not have a happy marriage. They were planning to divorce, but he died before it was finalized. She moved back to the house she was born in and rented this house out. Fun fact: one tenant was Edmund Strudwick Nash, who was the father of Ogden Nash.

In my research, I spotted a citation that Ogden Nash immortalized “Mrs. Low’s House” in a poem. In my semi-extensive research (okay, multiple Google searches) I was unable to locate that poem, but here is a sample of his doggerel:

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush,
Another’s green, another’s mush.
I’d buy a lot more cantaloupe
If I possessed a fluoroscope.

(And oddly enough, he didn’t write “I Never Saw a Purple Cow.” I thought he was the author of that one, too. Now you know.)

My last stop on the Juliette Gordon Low tour was her final resting place in Laurel Grove Cemetery after her death from breast cancer in 1927.

They had signs in the cemetery leading the way to the family plot. (Yes, that’s Bart in the background. These old cemeteries were not built for automobile traffic – especially not big-assed trucks.)

I always like it when people say please and thank you.

Gordon Low was buried in her Girl Scout uniform. She had a with a note in her pocket stating “You are not only the first Girl Scout, but the best Girl Scout of them all.”

250 Girls Scouts left school early to attend the funeral and the burial at the cemetery. Girl Scouts are still visiting her grave.

They leave messages on rocks.

They leave patches.

They come from all over.

There was even a pink flamingo. I wonder if an Airstreamer paid a visit? I mean, someone besides me.

And with that, it was time to head back to Flo after a full day of tourism.



Savannah Wanderings, Part One

You know, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Do you remember that I my windshield caught a rock on the way into Charleston? I spent a couple days getting that resolved.

On my way into Savannah, the light on my trailer brake controller in the cab of my truck started acting up. I got several odd signals and then it went out. So, I made an appointment to take the truck into a Dodge dealership. I described the issue and they cleaned out the seven-way plug and check things out. They said that should fix it.

If only that were the case, but more about that in a later post.

After my time at the repair shop, I set out to explore Savannah.

I stopped in the tourism office and picked up a map of the downtown area. As you can see, it is laid out very geometrically, with nicely distributed squares throughout the town.

My first stop was lunch. I decided to dine at The Lady and Sons, which is Paula Dean’s restaurant. I called and asked if I needed a reservation, and they said they had plenty of seats – come on down.

The host greeted me and directed me to an elevator and told me to take it to the second floor where I was greeted by a second host who seated me.  I was followed immediately by a guy with a plate of interesting breads.

Apparently they have done this a time or two.

I had a choice of ordering from the menu or getting the buffet.

I don’t generally opt for the buffet option as I usually can’t eat enough to make it worth while. I end up eating a bite of this and a bite of that and it’s rather unsatisfying. I opted for a salad.

I’m not sure that this was exactly a healthier choice. Fried onion rings, fried chicken, bleu cheese and dressing, and that along with the stack of interesting breads.

Sufficiently fortified, I set out to explore. I headed toward the river.

I came upon another set of those historic steps.

That’s still a long way down!

This time, I ended up not trekking down the stairs. On the map, I saw that there was an elevator. I like elevators!

I headed toward City Hall, past the horse drawn carriage, ready for tourists,

and past the pedi cabs, waiting for tourists. I like the fact that they are reading actual books.

There was the elevator! That was much more satisfying than trying to get safely down the historic steps to the riverside.

By the edge of the river was the African American Family Monument, which was dedicated in 2002.

The bronze statue is standing on a granite base that is inscribed with poignant artwork on one side.

One another side is an inscription written by Maya Angelou.

In case you are having a hard time reading the text on the photo, here is a transcript:

“We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each others excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together. Today, we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy.”

After studying the monument, I turned my attention to the Savannah River. I am fascinated by working ports. One of these days, I am going to get to watch ships being loaded and unloaded.

I loved this little tugboat chugging down the river.

It reminded me of this sweet little Golden Book we had when we were little.

There was a river boat docked a ways up the river from me.

After a bit, it got underway and headed down the river.

It reminded me of an elaborate wedding cake.

The Georgia Queen is a stern wheeler.

A container ship came steaming into port. It would be cool to watch it unload. Before you know it, those containers will be on trucks and heading down the Interstates.

I could sit and watch the river traffic all day, but I had to keep moving. I take my tourism duties seriously!

Shipping sure as changed over the years. I had always heard that they used cobblestones as ballast, but I kind of thought they just threw them in the bottom of the hold. This diagram makes it clear how they were used to stabilize the cargo. Many of the streets in the historic district are cobblestone that came over on the ships.

This building caught my attention. Actually, what caught my eye was the Masonic symbol on the balcony.

Toward the end of my walk along the river, I came upon the statue of The Waving Girl.

Florence Martus was born in 1868. Beginning in 1887, she took it upon herself to greet all the ships that entered or left the Port of Savannah. By day, she waved a handkerchief and at night, she used a lantern. According to legend, she did not miss a ship in her forty-four years on watch.

This statue is the Olympic Cauldron from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The sailing and yachting events were held in the Savannah River.

This was my last stop on my walk along the river. I’ll share the rest of my Savannah exploration in my next post.

As P.T. Barnum said…

or was it Walt Disney?

“Always leave them wanting more.”


Christmas (almost) in Savannah – Airstream Rally

My next stop was Savannah.

I had two reasons for my visit.

The first reason was…well, Savannah!

The second reason was an Airstream rally – my FIRST Airstream rally. It was sponsored by Southeastern Camping Unit of WBCCI. It was called “Christmas (almost) in Savannah.

This was kind of a free-form event. Some activities were planned, but we were free to take part or to go our own ways.

We got to know each other over meals. Nice folks and good food!

I got to meet one of my Facebook friends, Kathy, who is also from Buffalo. Us Buffalo gals have got to stick together!

One of the activities we could choose to take part in was the Savannah Slow Ride, which is essentially a bicycle built for twelve. They had two tours going on. The first one was a history tour. That one was sold out, so I had to join the Pub Crawl.

The guide told us when to stop and when to start. Her battle cry was, “Pedal, bitches!”

Our first stop was at the top of a long flight of stairs.

Unfortunately, the first pub was at the bottom of said stairs.

We went down, quaffed a brew and then headed back up.

The next stop was at 17hundred90.

And if you zoom in on the sign, you can see a small problem.

We arrived around 2:00. On to the next pub.

That pub was so crowded and the service was so slow that I decided to check out the comic book store next door. Not being of the nerd persuasion, this was a foray into a new world for me.

En route to the next pub, I ran into Ellen and Will, the Airstreamers I met on the trolley in Charleston! What a small world!

The last stop had the most appropriate restroom sign I’ve ever seen – especially for a party bar.

This was another sign that I thought was a good one for a bar zone.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people needed a Certificate of Appropriateness?

And with that, our Slow Ride Pub Crawl came to a close. We pedaled back to the garage and I caught ride back with some of the other ‘Streamers. The night before, people had recommended taking an Uber into town from the campground because of the tight parking. I was happy to be able to get a ride back.

But first we strolled about the shopping district.

It was nicely decorated for Christmas.

They had merchandise from all over. India…

Uh, no…China.

These seemed a little more locally sourced.

And they gave out free samples!

Back at the campground, we did some more eating and then played a special Airstream version of Jenga.

The pieces were made of 2 x 4’s and painted silver – Airstream silver.

I tried to pull out a piece myself, but I was intimidated by how heavy they were.

I was afraid it would hurt if the tower fell on me.

The menfolk seemed to take it as a challenge.

Of course, it did eventually fall.

After several days of eating, playing and enjoying each other’s company, it was time to part ways – but first, it was time to pose for the group photo.

In my next post, I’ll share more about the exploration of Savannah I did on my own.






Okay, My Absolutely LAST Post about Charleston

I had one more day in Charleston. I was meeting up with Ginny. We got to know each other through Facebook. I saw her name on a mutual friend’s post, and I asked her if she was in my class. It turns out that her daughter was in my class! So, while we probably did meet back in the ’90s, we got to know each other through Facebook.

I love Facebook!

We met up at the The Charleston Visitor Center. This time I parked in the lot in front of the Center instead of in the parking structure. That was a little easier!

Our first stop was the Charleston Museum, which is one of the oldest museums in the United States. It was founded in 1773 and opened to the public in 1824.

It kind of reminds me of the Cabinets of Curiosities that became popular in Europe during the 17th century.  The items on display in the museum seemed to focus largely on the history of Charleston.

There were pottery fragments. I did rather like this inscription, “With all my love fill up the bowl.”

I found this grave marker to be quite odd. It looks to me like it was a headboard for a bed. I guess it was a common way to mark graves. I wonder if it meant that the person died in bed?

More dishes that George Washington used.

This much-repaired basket caught my eye. There is a certain grace to items that have been well cared for and repaired. According to the label, this was in use before the Civil War.

These fragments of baskets were not as lucky, but they sure are old.

They had a rather sizable collection of slave badges for those who were working away from the plantation or the home.

I was quite fascinated by this toilet chair. It kind of reminds me of something I saw in a tiny camper. They put their toilet in an ottoman.

I have to say that I prefer my flushing toilet.

They kind of had odds and ends. I rather liked the roof tile with the cat paw print in it.

Here’s a brick machine. I kind of thought that the clay was formed in molds by hand, but I guess people are always looking for better ways to do things.

They had a variety of bricks on display.

I thought this printing plate for “Bonnie Blue Flag” was interesting. Really, they kind of had a hodgepodge of things. Of course, I was chatting with Ginny while I was looking at the displays, so maybe it had a stronger through-thread than I detected.

Speaking of random, there was a whale skeleton hanging in the lobby.

This was a forty-foot male Atlantic Right Whale that swam into the Charleston Harbor on January 7, 1880. It was pursued by an “armada” composed of four steam tugs, fifty to sixty rowboats and several other watercraft. It was killed and exhibited in Charleston for several days. Gabriel Manigault, who was the curator of the museum, collected and reassembled the whale’s skeleton and it has been on permanent exhibition ever since.

The whale’s baleen served to strain out the krill it lived on. It was also used to make the stays that were used in whalebone corsets. On the left side of the picture, you see the stays.

The stays were part of an exhibit on fashion. We had been in the museum for quite a while, so we kind of skimmed through. Lunch was beckoning.

These red silk breeches, from about 1750, were thought to have been worn by Charles Pinckney. Yes, the same Charles Pinckney I’ve been writing about in the last few posts. The vibrant red color was most likely achieved with cochineal dye.

They also had a small display about pearl buttons that were made in Muscatine, Iowa around 1915. During the early 20th century, Muscatine was considered the pearl button capital of the world. Interesting.

Our last stop before leaving the museum was the restroom. Even the restroom had a display.

Chamber pots. How appropriate!

Our next stop was lunch. Luckily, my former student, Kira, was able to join us!

Lunch was tasty. In fact, everything I ate in Charleston was delicious!

I had the chicken fried steak – or was that the chicken fried chicken? Whichever it was, it was good!

Thus restored, we had one more stop to make – the Joseph Manigault house, which was built in 1803.

I assume this is the front door. We went around to the back.

I have always been partial to porches.

Gracious touches like these also catch my eye.

We met out guide inside and she showed us the rooms that were restored to their former glory

This is the drawing room. It’s on the second floor to take advantage of the breezes. Also, the mosquitoes were less likely to fly that high.

I like that the windows have a portion on the bottom that opens up to permit people to walk out on the porch.

We were moving pretty quickly though the house, so I didn’t take a photo of every item of interest. I thought that the rice motif on this bedpost was appropriate, as rice was a major source of wealth.

We passed beneath the chandelier and headed out. Ginny and I parted ways. It’s always so good to meet up with friends!

I got back to the campground and got packed up. On my way out, it’s time to hit the trash dumpster and then empty the tanks.

Next stop, Savannah!



A Little More from My Charleston Visit

Well, my time in Charleston is starting to be a very distant memory, but I’ll share a few more things and then move along.

On a dreary day, I set out for Angel Oak.

Angel Oak is a live oak estimated to be over 500 years old. It’s about 70 feet at all and the trunk measures 28 feet in circumference.

The branches extend so far that it produces 17,200 square feet of shade. It’s longest branch is about 190 feet long.

I really wanted to visit Angel Oak because they were having a fund raiser to buy more of the land around the small park and I made a donation in my father’s honor after his passing in 2013.

I wore his hat to the tree.

I was curious about the name, “Angel Oak.” I wondered if there was something supernatural that happened here, or if people thought the branches looked like angel’s wings.

Actually, the oak’s name comes from the estate of Justus and Martha Angel, which is where the tree is located. Local folklore tells stories of the ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree.

They are very protective of the tree, and there are signs all around telling you what not to do. There was a sign I saw that said that we could gently touch the tree, so I did.

My next stop was downtown Charleston. Time once again to park in the ramp.

Man, as I look forward to one day finishing my “Lower 48” and abandoning the rolling lifestyle, one of the things I look forward to most is driving a smaller vehicle.

BART lives up to its name – BIG ass red truck.

I jumped on the trolley and went down toward the cool part of town. I just decided to wander around and see what I could see. I got off the trolley at Broad Street.

This building caught my eye. There is a plaque on it that says it’s the Confederate Home. According to Wikipedia, it is now a retirement home. It was built in 1800 and started its life as a double tenement, which was built for master builder Gilbert Chalmers.

From 1834 to 1867, it was the Carolina Hotel. In 1867, sisters Amarinthia Snowden and Isabell Snowden establish the Home of the Mothers, Widows and Daughters of Confederate Soldiers, otherwise known as the Confederate Home. The building was damaged by the big 1886 Charleston earthquake and then it was restored with fashionable Victorian details, including a mansard roof and dormers.

I love these houses with the side porches and how they have elaborate doors to the ground floor porches. Or are these called verandahs? I mean, we are down south.

I wandered on and my next stop was St. Michael’s Church. I entered through the graveyard.

I came across Charles Pinckney’s grave. Yes, that Charles Pinckney. He was very prominent.

John Rutledge is also buried here. He lived 1739 – 1800 and was another over-achiever.

First President and First Governor of South Carolina.
Chief Justice of South Carolina
Chief Justice of the United States
A Principal Architect and Signer of the United States Constitution.

Alexis de Tocqueville declared, “There is no mystery about it – the authorship of the Constitution is quite clear – a man named John Rutledge wrote it.”

The altar has a beautiful stained glass window of St. Michael behind it.

I listened in on part of a tour and heard that this ambo is original to the church, which was built between 1751 and 1761. The guide said that the curve of the little roof-like structure helped to project the speaker’s voices.

I looked around a bit and enjoyed the boxed pews that must have belonged to prominent families. I should have thought to ask where visitors would sit.

On the way out, I passed by what I assumed was the baptismal font and into the vestibule.

Do you see that short step up? The guide said that the earthquake in 1886 caused the steeple that is over the vestibule to drop six inches, and it created a step where none had been before.

St Michael’s is located at the intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets. They call this area the Four Corners of Law. St. Michael’s represents ecclesiastic law. The other corners are occupied by Charleston City Hall, The Federal Courthouse and the Country Courthouse.

Actually, the name “Four Corners of Law” was coined in the 1930s by Robert Ripley, of Ripley’s Believe it or Not fame.

When I visited, the streets around the church were lined with various law enforcement vehicles. They were in the middle of two big cases: Michael Slager was on trial for shooting Walter Scott and Dylann Roof was on trial for the Emanuel AME Church murders.

I was quite surprised to see Homeland Security represented among all the other police vehicles. I have to admit, I found the presence of so much law enforcement a bit unsettling.

However, they proved to be pleasant and helpful. I chatted with one of the Homeland Security officers for a few minutes and he reminded me of the trials that were taking place. I have to admit that I never drew the connection between the news that I had heard with the city I was in.

The officer accompanied me into the street to watch for traffic when I took a photo of St. Michael’s steeple. I was told that they painted the steeple black during the Civil War to prevent the enemy from using it as a target. It also had a clock and change ringing bells that date from the colonial era.

This is the country courthouse, where I believe the Dylann Roof trial was taking place.

This plaque was in front of the Federal Courthouse. The case of Briggs v. Elliott was an important trial in striking down segregation in South Carolina, which was mandated by state law.

MANDATED by law. That’s what really blew me away. It wasn’t that the law permitted segregation – segregation was mandated by law.

Article 11, Section 7 of the 1895 Constitution of South Carolina read as follows: “Separate schools shall be provided for children of the white and colored races, and no child of either race shall ever be permitted to attend a school provided for children of the other race.” Section 5377 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina of 1942 read: “It shall be unlawful for pupils of one race to attend the schools provided by boards of trustees for persons of another race.”

Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of many people, the law was finally changed.

Just across the street, behind the courthouse, was an area set up for the press. The were expecting a decision in the Michael Slager in the next day or so, so they were ready for announcements.

“ON AIR – ONLINE  – ON MOBILE”  On fleek?

I continued along and enjoyed spotting things here and there.

I thought this Charleston “snowman” was a fun touch.

I liked this fan window from the South Carolina Society Hall that was erected in 1804.

I wandered past the Hibernian Hall. The sign said that it was a private club, but the gate was open. I wanted to see what was under the portico.

Hmm…what could that be?

A souvenir from the Old Sod.

I wandered on. I was eager to see the Circular Church.

This particular building dates from 1890 but uses bricks from the earlier structures. A large domed church to replace earlier wooden structures was built in the early 1800s. It was designed by Robert Mills, who also designed the Washington Monument.

This illustration was from a June 1857 Harper’s Magazine.

Unfortunately, the church that Mills designed burned down in a catastrophic fire in 1861 that destroyed much of the city.

By Unknown – Library of Congress, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26460054

You can see the circular outline of the church in the ruins.

The turrets and towers kind of make me think of H.H. Richardson’s buildings. He is one of the few architects to have a style named after him; Richardsonian Romanesque. (Once again, thank you Sister Jeanne!)  He was active during the time this church was rebuilt, but the church’s plans were drawn up by Stephenson & Greene of New York City.

It looked like a welcoming place. I wish it had been open to visitors on the day I walked by. 

I liked their attitude, too.

I passed by The Powder Magazine, South Carolina’s oldest public building. It was built around 1713. I stepped inside, but it seemed like they didn’t have much on display that I hadn’t seen before, so I decided to stroll on.

Someone must have had a little coffee break and decided to just leave the cup.

Speaking of things left behind, I saw a little stuffed animal on a window sill.

I found a little lighthouse statue on another windowsill.

One sad place I toured was the Old Slave Mart Museum. This is a fraction of the place where a robust slave market. At one point, as many as 35-40% of slaves entered the United States through Charleston. Not much of the original structure remains, but it still invokes an eerie feeling the shame of that era.

Across the street, though, was a house that cheered me up. I’ll bet you can figure out what it’s named.

Yep, it’s “The Pink House.”

It was built around 1688, and it is FOR SALE! One bedroom, two bathrooms and it’s only about $900,000!

It has been lovingly restored, as attested to by this medallion.

By this time, I was getting tired and felt that I had seen enough sights and I set out to catch the trolley back to the parking structure.

While I was waiting at the stop, I struck up a conversation  with some fellow tourists. It turns out that they were also Airstreamers! Once on the trolley, some women who were on the earlier bus got on and we caught up on how our days went. It’s nice to make new friends!

I got off the bus near Marion Square and decided to have dinner while I waited for the rush hour traffic to clear. I walked over to the Francis Marion Hotel and got a table at the Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar.

I ordered a platter of southern-style treats. It felt good to rest and nibble on the snacks. When I finished, my meal, I had one more stop to make.

The Emanuel A.M.E. Church.






More Charleston

One of the things I really wanted to see in Charleston was the Hunley.

The Hunley was the first combat submarine to sink a warship, the Housatonic, on February 17, 1864 while the Housatonic was on Union blockade-duty in Charleston’s outer harbor.

On my first trip into the city, I saw a model of the Hunley.

Although the Hunley was successful in sinking the Housatonic, she was lost. Amazingly enough, the ship was found in 1995, more than 130 years after it was sunk. It  was raised in 2000 and is now on display at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center along the Cooper River.

It is stored in a tank filled with water, which the fragile nature of the submarine requires. It was kind of hard to get a good view of the Hunley under the water. The guide told us that the water was fairly clear today, so I guess we were pretty lucky to see it this well.

The guide displayed a hole the size of the hatch that the submariners had to use to access their seats.

These bars showed how wide and how tall it was inside.

This is a sketch that shows how it worked. There was a small ledge that the eight man crew perched on. They had to crank the sub by hand.

I always like it when I see things that I recognize. ASM was the organization that sponsored the last professional development opportunity I attended. Oddly enough, it was held after I retired. I was looking forward to it so much and I signed up for it before I decided to retire. I wanted to go to learn more about Materials Science even though I wasn’t going to be in the trenches anymore – and it was a great week with wonderful teachers.

Anyway, back to the Hunley.

The remains of the soldiers were found in the Hunley along with the artifacts that had with them at the time of their deaths.

This twenty dollar gold piece was found with Lt. George Dixon’s remains. It was given to him by his sweetheart Queenie Bennett as a good luck charm when he went to fight in the war. Family legend had it that he kept it in his pocket and would rub it with his thumb and dream of when they would be together again.

During the battle of Shiloh, Dixon was shot point blank. The bullet ripped into the pocket of his trousers and struck the center of the gold coin. The impact bent the gold coin. Queenie’s good luck gift saved his life.

The back of the coin was sanded and inscribed:

April 6, 1862
My life Preserver
G. E. D.

There was also a sign next to the coin that was on display. Unfortunately, there was an “apostrophe catastrophe” on the sign. There was no way I could buy a coin with such poor puntuation!

They were able to do forensic recreations of the eight members of the Hunley crew that were lost in the sinking of the Housatonic.

In all the Hunley had three crews.

The first crew lost five of the eight crew members when the captain accidentally stepped on the lever controlling the sub’s diving planes as she was running on the surface. This caused the Hunley to dive with her hatches still open. The captain and two others managed to escape.

The salvaged the submarine and put her back into service.

The second crew was lost in 1863. They were taking part in a mock battle and attempted to go under another vessel. It got stuck in the mud and the entire eight man crew was lost.

The Confederate navy once again salvaged the submarine and returned her to service. On her last mission, she was successful in sinking the Housatonic and then was lost.

The part of this story that amazes me the most that they managed to locate the wreckage, which was 3.5 miles past Sullivan’s Island outside the entrance to Charleston Harbor, in 27 feet of water and buried under several feet of silt. The silt was key to the preservation of the Hunley.

After the tour of the museum at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, I decided that I wanted to see the graves of the crews of the Hunley.

On the way out, I passed a blade of a windmill. I wonder where it was headed? Or perhaps it was on display. I didn’t see a sign to explain it.

On my way to the cemetery, I decided that I needed to grab a bite to eat.

I saw a listing for Santis Resaurante Mexicano, and I thought that sounded great.

Apparently, the people of Charleston also think it’s a great place.

They were all ready for Christmas. They had Christmas trees hanging from the ceiling! It looked very festive, and since I was visiting in early December, the decorations were entirely appropriate.

Adequately reinforced, my next stop was Magnolia Cemetery. After driving around on the narrow roads that wound through the old graves, I came upon the Hunley memorial.

These are the graves of the first and second crews.

These are the graves of the third crew.

They have CSA grave markers in this cemetery.

The graves and memorials in the cemetery were quite interesting.

The pyramid mausoleum had an interesting door.

Some of the memorials were quite charming.

Others were run down and decaying.

It would be interesting to take a day and just explore.

However, I had one more goal for the day. I wanted to visit Fort Sumter, and I needed to get going if I was going to take the last tour of the day.

I made it to the ferry for the forty minute ride to the fort.

Oddly enough, there is a connection with the fort and my travels last summer. The island is actually a man-made island, and it was built in large part with over 50,000 tons of granite shipped from New York and New England.

The Army Corps of Engineers began constructing the island in 1829 and they allowed it to settle before constructing the fort. The brick walls of the fort were constructed above the 1841 high water mark because the engineers knew that the brick and mortar walls wouldn’t stand up to the salt water and wave action.

The bricks looked pretty sound.

Of course, the fort wasn’t always in such good condition.

This photo was taken in 1865.

Just inside, you can see the ordnance. Look at the thick brick walls!

Fort Sumter was named  for General Thomas Sumter, who was a soldier during the American War for Independence as well as a politician. He served in the House of Representatives and the Senate. He died in 1832 at the age  of 97. Such service and longevity deserves recognition.

General Thomas Sumter

The Battle of Fort Sumter was actually more of a siege that culminated in the April 12-14 battle in 1861.

Major Robert Anderson

After the declaration of secession on December 20, 1860 –  which is just 95 years to the day before my birth – South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in the Charleston Harbor. On December 26, , Major Robert Anderson secretly moved his small command from Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island to Fort Sumter, which was in better position to defend itself and to control the entrance to the harbor.

President Buchanan tried to resupply the fort with an unarmed merchant ship, Star of the West, but it was seized on January 9.

Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard began strengthening the batteries around Charleston that were aimed at Fort Sumter. Major Anderson did his best to reinforce Fort Sumter and install additional guns, in spite of the shortages of man, food and supplies.

After Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, he notified Francis W. Pickens, the governor of South Carolina, that he was sending supplies to the fort. The Confederate government demanded an immediate evacuation of Fort Sumter, which Major Anderson refused. The bombardment began at 4:30 a.m. on April 12.

Fort Sumter was not built to defend from an attack from the direction of the city. As a result, the fort took quite a pounding. After 34 hours, when it became apparent that the shelling was going to reach the powder magazine, Major Anderson agreed to the surrender terms.

Major Anderson was allowed to evacuate the fort with his garrison taking small arms and all private and personal property. In addition, Major Anderson could salute the United States flag and take it with him on his journey north.

They were always so big on those terms of surrender and getting to leave with dignity.

They really made a mess out of the fort, though, didn’t they?

They have managed to put things back together a bit.

Inside the fort is a black cement structure called Battery Isaac Huger. It was built just before the beginning of the 20th century as a part of a major coast defense upgrade. It’s named of South Carolina Revolutionary War Brigadier General Isaac Huger.

It is painted black to resemble the first paint job from the early 1900s, when a mixture of tar and indeed oil were used as a waterproofing agent. The ranger told me that they use other paint now, but maintain the color in keeping with its original appearance.

There is a museum inside the battery now, but it isn’t an easily accessible museum. They might want to remove it and replace it with something else, but it would cost over $4 million to remove it – and that doesn’t even cover the cost of creating a new museum.

Speaking of the museum, I always wondered what exactly “grape shot” was. The stack of small balls on the right is grape shot. After firing, I guess they whole thing would hold together long enough to get there. It was useful when fired at the rigging of ships, as it would create havoc with the lines and sheets.

Incidentally, I always thought that the term “sheets” referred to the sails. Nope.  According to my “go-to” site, Wikipedia, “In sailing, a sheet is a line used to control the moveable corners of a sail.”

In the center of the photo is a 10 inch ball, and on the right side is an example of canister shot. The principles behind grape shot and canister shot are similar, except that canister shot is an anti-personnel ammunition. Rather than ripping through sails and rigging, canister shot is designed to rip through people.

It looks like plenty of ammunition penetrated the walls.

After I finished touring the museum and the gift shop, a Ranger announced that there would be a flag lowering ceremony in a few minutes and we were invited to participate.

They have several different flags that they fly over the Fort. The treat each flag in an historically accurate manner. She told us that one of the flags is just rolled up and stuffed in a duffle bag. That is the historically accurate manner for that flag – I just wish I remembered which flag it was.

The current American flag was the flag of the day. If I heard her correctly, it measures sixteen by thirty feet and weighs about ten pounds.

She directed us to get ready to catch the flag and she proceeded to lower it.

After it was down, we stretched it out and folded it. Since it was so wide, we had to fold it an extra time or two.

After we had finished, the Ranger agreeably took our pictures holding the flag.

And then it was time to head back to town.


A Visit with a Wonderful Guy

I just love Facebook! It makes it so easy to keep up with people. One of the people I caught up with was a former student teacher who really was the cream of the crop. I knew he was going places – and he is now a PRINCIPAL! Cool, eh?

He showed me around the school in Mount Pleasant and interacted with all his students. They loved him as much as the kids did when he was working with me. He was as wonderful as I remembered. Then he took me out to lunch.

I had southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes and okra. The okra was delicious! I’d had it before, but it didn’t leave a positive impression. I guess it’s all in the preparation. Actually, everything was delicious! And the company was delightful.

On our way back to school after lunch, we swung by his house and picked up a pass for tourist attractions in the area. Free tourism!

It was great to see Curtis again and hear how well things were turning out for him.

After I left the school, I went to a place nearby that was on the pass he gave me, Boone Hall Plantation. In addition to being a tourist attraction, it is one of America’s oldest working plantations, continually growing crops for over 320 years.

The road to the big house is lined with live oaks that were planted in 1743. According to the information at the plantation, it took 200 years for the branches to meet overhead.

My first stop was the hospitality office, which had been the company store that sold things to sharecroppers after the civil war.

I had to get my ticket for the tour of the mansion.

Now, this is not the original house.

This is the original house. It was built in 1790, and it was a rather modest structure. Incidentally, this photo was taken around 1900. In 1935, Canadian Thomas Stone bought the plantation but wanted a grander style house.

Oddly enough, the house that I toured is recognized as a National Historic Site. According to the tour guide, this house was part of the “Second Reconstruction”.

We met our tour guide at the entrance, where he gave us a brief history of the plantation and then told us that photographs of the interior were not allowed. I wasn’t too disappointed by that. After all, the house I grew up in was older than this and there wasn’t all that much that I thought was worth taking a photo of.

It was a nice house.

The guide pointed out this live oak that was on the bank of Wampacheeoone Creek. He said it wasn’t intentionally planted – it just grew there. They estimate that it is around 600 years old.

Judging by the acorns on the tree, it is still going strong.

The guide also told us something interesting about the creek. It is a tidal creek. To get products to market, they would load up the boats and poll them into the stream and then wait for the tide to go out. On the return trip, they would just reverse the process.

There are nine of the original slave cabins on the grounds. They were built 1790 – 1810. At one time, there were 40 slaves on the plantation.

After the tour of the house and the slave quarters, I took a tour of the farms. There was a modified truck that took us around the fields.

They use modern irrigation and crop management methods.

They do a corn maze in the fall. This is a photo of the one they had last year. By the time I was visiting, the field was mowed down.

There was a nice collection of vintage farm equipment on display. 

There was also a 1853 building that housed the cotton gin. It was used as an apartment building for a while. There are plans in the work to make it a restaurant.

They had a small cotton patch. Unfortunately, there was a fence around it. I really want to get “up close and personal” with cotton one day.

I had one more tourism stop that day: Snee Farm. It is Charles Pinckney National Historic Site.

Charles Pinckney was a signer of the Constitution. He was also the 37th Governor of South Carolina, a Senator and a member of the House of Representatives. He fought in the Revolutionary War and was appointed by Thomas Jefferson as Minister to Spain. As such, he helped facilitate the Louisiana Purchase.

He was also one of the people who donated the land for the City Market in Charleston.

There is a house at the farm today, but it was built in the 1820s, after the farm passed out of his hands. There are no structures on the property that relate to the Pinckney family, but there is on-going archeology.

I got my National Parks Passport stamped and then it was time to hit the road for the campground.

What a lovely day!