A July 2008 trip
to Atlanta by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: Mom and I spent a day in Atlanta with family touring the Coca-Cola Museum and other sites within the city on a hot July day.
Atlanta is a fairly young city in comparison to Boston and New York with it first being settled as a trade route for the Western and Atlantic Railroads to the Midwest in December 1836. Before that, many members of the Cherokee Native American Nation lived in what's today's Atlanta and by 1838, they had been thrown out of Georgia and sent to reservations in Oklahoma and the Midwest in the infamous "Trail of Tears" from Georgia.
By 1842, Atlanta had about 30 residents and was known by the name of Marthasville. Atlanta went through many name changes in the next five years before J. Edgar Thomson, the Chief Engineer of the Georgia Railroad, said the town should be renamed Atlantica-Pacifica, which was quickly shortened to Atlanta and was incorporated as the latter name on December 29, 1847.
As the railroads grew, so did Atlanta and by the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, Atlanta's population was about 7,800 residents. Most of this population was forcibly evacuated by Sherman's Army in November 1864, and the Union Army burned Atlanta to the ground on the way South.
After Reconstruction, Atlanta became a hub of commerce and history in the South. Many African-Americans settled here along with whites, and many schools for both groups were established. A small Jewish population began to settle in the Atlanta area around 1847, too, and eventually tensions between the three groups grew hot leading to several race riots in the early 20th Century and trouble during the tumultuous Civil Rights era of the 1950's and 1960's.
Atlanta is the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. and many of the Civil Rights leaders. MLK is buried in Atlanta, and thousands visit his grave yearly.
Mom and I didn't make it to MLK's grave this time, but we did visit three places that will be mentioned in this journal and one other journal from this Atlanta trip.
1. The World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place. This awesome museum depicts the history of the worlds favorite soft drink through artifacts, movies, and photos.
2. The Breman Holocaust Museum is a moving and fascinating place that shows the history of the Jewish population of Atlanta since 1847 along with special exhibitions and the history of the Holocaust.
3. Make sure you have lunch at The Varsity, an old-fashioned hot dog joint that has served tourists and locals since 1928.
Atlanta is a huge city that requires a ton of walking. So make sure you wear good shoes and be prepared to walk long distances from Point A to B. We came to Atlanta in July, and Atlanta is known to be very hot at this time of the year, so bring a water bottle or stop for a drink now and then so that one doesn't get sunstroke.
I am all for taking advice from family and friends on places to visit, but when they start saying that this and that place are bad areas to the point you don't know if it's true or they are a little bit prejudiced, I would rather check it out for myself. Supposedly the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Site has been seeing some trouble in the area with crime. Mom and I didn't go to the MLK site this time, but we are planning on going in January after getting advice from someone other than family.
If you are staying in Atlanta on vacation or moved there, the best way to get around is by bus or tram. MARTA, the Atlanta public bus transportation has routes in Atlanta to the suburbs that will make commuting to and from Atlanta better than taking the car.
Hartsfield International Airport is one of the biggest airports in the world and the best way to get into Atlanta if you are further than our home in Pensacola.
Restaurant | "Lunchtime at The Varsity"
Mom, Auntie Ruthie, Melissa, her daughter Molly, Dylan, a friend's nephew, and I came to The Varsity on a hot July day on the way to The World of Coca-Cola. When one enters The Varsity, you are greeted by chrome counter tops and red and white tile that brings tears of nostalgia to the people who grew up in the 1950's and will bring back fond memories of poodle skirts (OK, Mom we know you didn't wear them growing up!) and bobby socks to them. It was near noon when we got there, but the place was hopping busy with tourists and workers from downtown on their lunch breaks. The menu at the Varsity is very simple: Hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled chicken which is the most expensive item on the menu and most likely not a very popular menu item.
Usually I don't touch the mystery meat that is called a hot dog and neither does Mom, but we were on vacation and all ideas of dieting were shot to hell after bellying up to The Varsity's chrome counters. Mom got the Two Chili Dog meal with fries while I got the Slaw Dog meal with Onion Rings. Dylan got the Two Chili Burger Meal while Melissa, Auntie Ruthie, and Molly got Hamburgers and fries. It is quite a production at the Varsity and service is very quick and orderly. Our cashier would ask you after you said your choice if you wanted fries or onion rings and then what you wanted to drink. He wouldn't let you order fast in order to make sure the order was right. You can see the food being made and put on trays right from the counter since the kitchen can be fully seen from the counter. Seeing the onion rings and fries made me drool in anticipation for my meal.
Within five minutes, Mom and I had our food and sat down in a booth with the rest of the family. Mom said her chili dogs and the sauce reminded her of the hot weenies we used to eat growing up in Rhode Island, but spicier, and my slaw dogs were something I never had. Hot dogs with yummy coleslaw on top were great, and you get your bread, meat, and veggies and don't need a fork. The fries and onion rings were hot and fresh and tasted great, and for about $16, Mom and I enjoyed a nice meal complete with Diet Coke to wash it down.
Tables were full at The Varsity, and after we finished eating, there was a man and his kid waiting patiently for our seat so they could eat. The Varsity is open seven days a week from 10-10 during the week and later on the weekends. They cater to local businesses and everything is made fresh and on location. Mom and I enjoyed our short time at The Varsity and would like to return there someday, and I very highly recommend that anyone who visits Atlanta check out The Varsity, too, for it's simple food and nostalgia! That evening, Mom had an upset tummy from her chili dogs, but eating at The Varsity was well worth all of the Pepto Bismol and Tums in the world!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 2, 2008
61 North Ave NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30308
+1 404 881 1706
Restaurant | "Lunchtime Southern Style at Folks"
But first, Auntie Ruthie wanted to have lunch at her favorite restaurant in Douglasville, Folks. Located near the mall, Folks specializes in wholesome Southern and Soul cooking for reasonable prices. So, after getting cleaned up and ready for adventure, we headed to Folks.
Upon entering the restaurant, Auntie Ruthie, Mom, and I were greeted by a couple of nice hosts complete with southern drawls. We had to be seated in a booth that didn't have an air conditioning grate directly over it because Auntie Ruthie would get cold. GEEZ! Three tables later, we were seated in a booth and within 10 minutes, our server Tammy was at our table and warmly greeted us and asked us for our drink order. Mom and Auntie Ruthie got unsweetened ice tea while I got a Diet Coke which came fairly quickly.
Auntie Ruthie knew what she wanted, and it was the Pot Roast Sandwich with Au Jus. Mom and I usually try to eat nutritiously, but this vacation was turning into a serious junk and fried food extravaganza, and sure enough, I was ordering the Fried Chicken Lunch with a breast and thigh, and Mom ordered the Turkey Club Melt. Mom had heard all about the fried green tomatoes I tried in a restaurant near Mobile (and she also saw Fried Green Tomatoes on cable at home before leaving Florida), and she wanted to try them out for herself, and we were able to get them as one of our sides at Folks. At $7.49 for each of our lunches, we were entitled to two side dishes, your choice of bread, and the drink was included in the price. SWEET! Mom said, "Oh well, more time on the treadmill when we get home!", and I said, "When in Rome, do what the Romans do!" That was eat what the locals do, and that was fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, peach muffins, but I was a good girl and got a salad as one of my sides. Definitely have to have the veggies, or I don't function right for the day.
Our food was quickly prepared, and we were chowing down on our food within 15-20 minutes, but Auntie Ruthie's Pot Roast Sandwich had a ton of fat on one half, and she sent it back for another one. She complained about the onions not being sauteed enough with the second sandwich and the cheese not being melted like the last time she had it. But Mom and I had no complaints about our food. Mom enjoyed her Turkey Melt very much, and she loved the fried green tomatoes. My Fried Chicken was awesome with the chicken breast and thigh being juicy and hot and the fried green tomatoes were yummy, too. I cleared my plate including the peach muffin which smelled heavenly, but I wish there were more peaches in it.
Tummies full (Auntie Ruthie took half her sandwich home in a doggie bag for the next day's lunch), our meal came to $20.99 with a $3.75 off coupon that Auntie Ruthie had. Add the tip in for the waitress, and three of us had a huge lunch for under $25. Waddling out of Folks, Mom, Auntie Ruthie, and I headed to the mall which is right near the restaurant. A full belly for me made it easy to deal with the mall rats and watching the two old ladies with me shopping the kiddie section at Sears!
Folks is open seven days a week and you can dine inside or take the food with you. The food and service is awesome and there aren't many places you can get lunch and dinner for under $10 that included everything. Although Auntie Ruthie's sandwich was fatty, I am giving this place five stars since I had no complaints about my fried chicken.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 3, 2008
Folks Southern Kitchen
6912 Douglas Boulevard
Attraction | "A Day at the World of Coca-Cola"
On the way into Atlanta, we were greeted by the sight of the Atlanta skyline which was covered in haze from the hot and overcast day. Dylan and I were in the backseat of my cousin's minivan, and I was able to get some great shots of the buildings with my camera along with Dylan being my photographic assistant. The kid has a good eye for getting great shots.
After a great lunch at The Varsity Drive Through, we were on our way to The World of Coca-Cola. Melissa missed the turn to the museum and had to go around again, but we were in the Pemberton Place parking garage about 20 minutes after leaving the Varsity and took the short walk over to the World of Coca-Cola. Auntie Ruthie can't walk for long distances, so she was in a wheelchair, and that had Melissa, Molly, and her staying behind Mom, Dylan, and me most of the trip which allowed Mom and I to check out the World of Coca-Cola at our own pace. After paying for our tickets at the ticket counter ($15 for Melissa and me, $13 for Auntie Ruthie and Mom, and $9 for the kiddies), we were subject to a little bag search by security and were on our way inside. Upon entering The World of Coca-Cola, you are greeted by an awesome sculpture of huge Coke bottles decorated with images from around the world. Mom and I posed for a shot in front of the bottles along with several other groups touring the museum.
After posing by the bottles, we had a short wait to get into one of the many theaters for our orientation. You are greeted by an aweome display of Coke advertisements and memorabilia from Coke's 122-year history. Yes, Coke is that old and was invented by pharmacist John S. Pemberton in Atlanta in 1886. Our first guide Gina asked how old Coca-Cola was, and I was the one who provided the answer. Gina said, "very good!", and asked where we were from, and I told her that Mom and I had just moved to Florida from Idaho and she asked how long the trip was and wished us luck in our new home. Gina then proceeded to tell us about the history of Coca-Cola and showed us several ads from around the world that are displayed in this theater.
After this tour, we were on our own for the time being to tour the museum with the history of Coca-Cola, but before that, Mom and I had to have our picture taken with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, that cute little guy that has warmed our hearts every Christmas in those great ads on TV during the most wonderful time of the year. Molly was freaking out at the sight of the bear, but Mom and I ignored her bawling and had our picture done (For $26, you can pick up copies of the pictures at the gift shop) and were on our way into the museum that had displays of old Coke vending machines, an old soda jerk display, and other fascinating Coca-Cola memorabilia. A lot of the displays brought back fond memories for Mom and Auntie Ruthie, and I enjoyed the displays very much, too.
After the first museum, we got to see another film on the history of Coca-Cola before going to the 4-D movie that was very entertaining. Mom, Dylan, and I sat in moving seats while the other three were in non-moving seats because of the wheelchair. Not long after the movie started, Melissa, Auntie Ruthie, and the rugrat had to leave because the rugrat was freaking out over the movie. We had to wear 4-D glasses for the movie since most of special effects looked like the objects were coming right after you! Mom, Dylan, and I really enjoyed this little film which also had water effects that would splash you a little bit.
After the movie, we got to go into the pop art museum which had paintings of Coke bottles by an artist who paints in the Andy Warhol mode. After that tour, you enter the tasting area where you can taste test over 60 Coca-Cola products from around the world. Mom and I enjoyed many of the fruity drinks that are made in places like Uganda, Brazil, and other nations. By the time I got to my favorite drink, Coca-Cola with Lime, my tummy was aching from all of the soda I tried out, and I knew I wasn't going to make it back to Douglasville without a potty run!
After all of the touring, we went into the Gift shop that has many Coke souvenirs for you to choose from. We got to take a little bottle of Coke home with us as a free souvenir, and Mom got Coke Bottle Salt and Pepper shakers and a butter dish. I got the pictures from our meeting the Polar Bear and we were on our way back home after driving by CNN and Centenial Olympic Park.
The World of Coca-Cola is open seven days a week from 8-6 for the summer and 9-5 other times of the year and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. It's accessible by car, MARTA, and is fun for the whole family. I highly recommend it when you visit Atlanta.
New World of Coca-Cola
121 Baker Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30313
Attraction | "A Day at the Breman, Part I: Leo Frank Revisited"
The Breman Jewish Heritage Museum opened on Spring Street in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996 and for the last 12 years, it has shown locals and tourists the history of the Jewish people who have lived in Atlanta since 1847 and a moving photo and artifact display of the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews and millions of Poles, Gypsies, and other nationalities from 1933-1945.
Mom and I headed out to Atlanta from Douglasville about 11 a.m. on July 31 and immediately put on ESPN Radio to hear about the big trades in baseball before the trading deadline. The prospect of Manny Ramirez going bye-bye from Boston didn't stop us from our excursion, and by the time we got into Atlanta, Manny wasn't going to the Florida Marlins. Mom and I had no trouble getting off the exit on I-20 into Atlanta, and it was only when we were very close to the Breman that we missed one of the turns and wound up on Piedmont Road. GRRR! We wound up in a very nice part of town with beautiful old houses and parks. After pulling over on Peachtree Drive and looking at the maps, Mom and I were still pretty frustrated in our direction and decided to pull into the BP we saw before turning off of Piedmont. A very nice guy from the bakery of the convenience store at BP named Reggie got me in the right direction, and within 15 minutes, Mom and I had arrived at the Breman.
Due to the fear of attacks, the Breman is a very secure museum, and you must park in the gated parking lot. When you get to the door you have to ring a bell for security to let you in. We got inside, and the guard told us we could get our tickets at the gift shop where we were greeted by a really nice lady named Judy. Judy then gave us the PK on the Breman and its history. The day of our visit had a special exhibit on The Leo Frank Case Revisited about a Jewish resident of Atlanta who was wrongly accused of killing a young girl and was lynched while serving a life sentence in the Georgia State Prison. Judy asked us if we had heard about Leo Frank and the TV movie about the case made in 1988 called The Murder of Mary Phagan. I kind of remembered that the movie had Jack Lemmon in it, and the lady said I was right. After Judy told us about the exhibits, we were free to explore them along with the gift shop before or afterwards.
Mom and I first went into the Leo Frank Exhibit. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Leo Frank Case, let me give you the short rub on it. There was a small Jewish population in Atlanta at the turn of the 20th Century and relations between the Jews and Atlantans were very tense. Race riots had occured in 1906 and things weren't very pretty for the Jewish population of Atlanta. On April 26, 1913, a young girl named Mary Phagan went to get her pay from her boss, Leo Frank, at the National Pencil Company, who Frank was the manager for his uncle the owner of the company. Mary Phagan was from Marietta and had moved to Atlanta with her family when her mother remarried and Mary took a job at the pencil factory to have something to do before going back to school that fall.
Mary Phagan's battered, coal covered, body was found in the National Pencil Company's basement the next day, and within days, Leo Frank had been accused of the crime and arrested. Atlanta was looking for a killer and a scapegoat and Leo Frank was arrested because he was the last one seen with Mary Phagan while she was alive. After a sensational trial that lasted about a month, Leo Frank was convicted of Mary Phagan's murder and sentenced to death by hanging. The execution was to be carried out in October 1913, but the Governor of Georgia, John M. Slaton, had a change of heart and commuted Frank's death sentence to life in prison at the state prison near Marietta, Georgia.
The commuting of Leo Frank's sentence infuriated thousands of Georgians who were looking for justice for Mary Phagan's death at the hands of a Jew and sought their own justice against Leo Frank. In November 1915 while Leo Frank was in his prison cell at the Georgia State Penitentiary, a group of Georgians, many from prominent families and occupations, stormed the prison and dragged Leo Frank from his cell and took him to a predetermined place of execution. The prison guards did nothing to stop the mob from lynching Frank, and after Frank was allowed to write a letter to his wife and the promise that his wedding ring would be giving to her, he was hanged from a nearby tree. Governor Slaton.
This case led to the rebirth of the KKK and the Anti-Defamation League in Georgia. After Frank's lynching, Governor Slaton pardoned Frank, and he was threatened with death for the rest of his term in office. The Leo Frank Case went before the Supreme Court years later and since then debate of Frank's innocence has been a hot topic throughout the USA and the Jewish community of Atlanta.
The Leo Frank Exhibit at the Breman was a fascinating display of photos of Mary Phagan, Leo Frank, and Atlanta around 1913. Mom and I spent over 30 mintues touring the small display of newspaper articles on the murder, the trial, and the lynching and you can see several knick knacks and memorabilia of Leo Frank and his family along with Mary Phagan's life story and photos of her and her family.
The Leo Frank Exhibit will be on display at the Breman until December 31, 2008 and in October, they will show The Murder of Mary Phagan mini-series from NBC in 1988 and the Profiles of Courage: Governor John M. Slaton from 1964 that was shown on CBS and starred Walter Matthau. The exhibit is only a small part of the Breman, but it's well-worth your time to go and see it and understand this horrible crime more in depth.
William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
1440 Spring St Northwest
Atlanta, Georgia 30309
+1 404 870 1871
Attraction | "A Day at the Breman, Part II: The Holocaust Exhibit"
Atlanta has one of the best Holocaust museums in the USA besides the one in Washington, DC at the Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, and Mom and I got to see it in person this July. My cousin gave us a sneak preview of the Holocaust exhibit before we left Douglasville so we would know what to expect while touring around.
After touring the Leo Frank Exhibit, Mom and I continued on to The Holocaust Gallery. A stained glass window from one of the local synagogues greets you along with a huge and moving photographic display depicting the Holocaust in Europe from 1933-1945.
First, you are greeted by a brief history of the Jewish people in Europe before 1933. Jews were always targets of persecution throughout Europe and several pogroms in Germany and Russia occured from the 13th to late 19th Century. The Russian and Ukrainian Pogroms of the late 19th Century led to thousands of Russian and Ukranian Jews fleeing to the USA. Starting around 1847, several European Jews settled in Atlanta where a small population still lives there today.
Mom and I got to see a detailed display of life for German Jews before Hitler's Rise to Power on January 30, 1933. Thousands of German-Jewish men served Germany during World War I and the German-Jewish population lived an assimilated life in several German cities. By 1930, rumblings were going through Germany and the Nazi party had taken several seats in the Reichstag which got the Jews of Germany worried. After 1933, life became hell for the Jews of Germany and Mom and I saw several photos of German and later Austrian (1938) Jews being subject to horrible things by the Nazis. Pictures of German-Jews being forced to scrub the streets or forced through the streets with signs around their neck for having relations with Aryans put chills through my spine.
The beginning of the Holocaust Gallery has you walking on smooth cobblestones and looking at painted walls, but you go further into the gallery and the persection of the Jews during the Holocaust gets worse and World War II begins, you are walking on rougher floors and the walls become brick like the ghettos the Nazis established throughout most of Europe. There are photos of the relatives and friends of several of Atlanta's Jews who came to America after 1933 and after they were liberated from the concentration camps from 1945 to the 1950's. They are very moving with detailed descriptions of the people and their hometowns and their fates. Thousands of relatives of Atlanta's Jewish population perished in the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmno, and Belzec in Poland or in chambers of horrors like Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, and Buchenwald in Germany. A porcelain doll of the sister of one of the survivors on display was especially moving. A Christian woman in Poland had taken her sister's doll for safe keeping when the family was being put into the ghettos, and the sister was killed by the Nazis and the Polish woman returned the doll to her sister who survived the camps.
As things get worse for the Jewish people and the concentration camps are being opened and killing the Jewish people, the exhibit becomes a boxcar from wood from the cattle cars that transported millions of people to their deaths in the camps. The ceiling is decorated with rail ties that were on the way to the death camp at Treblinka and a lantern used in the Sobibor death camp is on display.
The resistance by the Jews, Christians, and in the camps was another moving display with photos of Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were beheaded in Munich in 1943 for their role in the White Rose Resistance and a photo of Roza Robota, a Polish-Jewish girl who was part of the 1944 Auschwitz revolt. Roza provided arms and gunpowder to the leaders of the revolt in the camp and paid for her zealousness with her life on January 5, 1945 when she and three other girls caught smuggling gunpowder were hanged after months of torture at the hands of the Nazis.
After going through the Holocaust photos and displays, we are greeted with liberation and a detailed display of photos taken by the survivors in the Displaced Persons Camps throughout Germany after the war. Many of the Jewish people hated life in the camps and being cooped up behind barbed wire by the Allies and wanted to get on with their lives. Most of them didn't want to live in Europe or under communist rule in Eastern Europe and chose to emigrate to Israel and the USA. Hundreds of these survivors came to Atlanta after the war and several of the photos and artifacts came from them in their suitcases.
There are also taped interviews with the Atlanta Holocaust survivors playing throughout the display to give you an idea about their lives and Mom and I spent over an hour in the Holocaust Gallery looking at the photos and artifacts on display. Mom and I didn't say anything throughout the gallery being so moving and fascinating.
The Breman Jewish History Museum is open Monday-Thursday 10-5, 10-3 on Friday and 1-5 on Sundays. It's closed on Saturdays to observe the Shabbat or Sabbath and all Jewish and national Holidays. For adults, it costs $10 to get in and $6 for seniors and $4 for students. You can tour the place on your own like Mom and I did or have a guide take you around. It is well-worth a day of your time to visit, and I am highly recommending it.