A January 2009 trip
to Atlanta by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: After the moving experience at the MLK Center, what could top it? How about an afternoon with Mom at the Jimmy Carter Museum and Center, home to several of our 39th Presidents papers and other items collected through his life as President and humanitarian?!
If you ever read Mike Stanton's fascinating book The Prince of Providence about corrupt Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, there is an entry about Dunkin Donuts about the establishment being located on every corner in Rhode Island and contributing to the smallest state of the union being one of the most obese states. This isn't a review on Dunkin Donuts, the East Coast institution that has satisfied millions of Americans' search for the perfect donut. I am one of those people who grew up with Dunkin Donuts and enjoyed their jelly or cream-filled delicacies as a special treat during her childhood and early adulthood.
Then Dad decided to move to Idaho in 1987, and Mom, Erika, and I followed suit in 1992. But there was a little problem: no Dunkin Donuts in Idaho! What was a New Englander to do without Dunkin Donuts?! Must need donuts! HELP! The donuts in several of the grocery stores and Krispy Creme do not hold a candle to Dunkin Donuts, and I would not touch these impostors and only got to enjoy Dunkin Donuts on return trips to Rhode Island and my 2005 adventure to St. Petersburg to see the Red Sox. That breakfast and watching the game later on that day is one of my happiest experiences of my life.
Since leaving Rhode Island for points beyond, I always make sure I stop at a Dunkin Donuts whenever I am in a town that has Dunkin Donuts in town. In 2003, I returned to Rhode Island for my Nana's memorial service and in six days I was in Rhode Island, I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a donut fix five of the six days and brought a dozen home to Idaho with me on the plane for my sister and I to share. It's a miracle I didn't gain a ton of weight on that trip and need an extra seat for the plane trip home after that week of debauchery at Dunkin Donuts, Newport Creamery, and other old haunts of my early life!
It had been two years since my last Dunkin Donuts experience in O'Hare Airport, and Mom and I were in Douglasville, Georgia visiting family. Mom, Auntie Ruthie, and I were on the way to lunch at Folks, a Douglasville institute on Southern cuisine and comfort foods, when low and behold! A Dunkin Donuts appeared on the horizon in front of us. Like a excited dog, I made noises that were in between Geena Davis's Thelma whimpering for Brad Pitt to stay in her hotel room in Thelma and Louise to Meg Ryan's famous orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally. I told Mom and Auntie Ruthie we were coming back here after lunch and no one was stopping me. Those donuts were calling my name!
I survived lunch without gnawing on the table in anticipation, and after paying our bill, we were on our way back to Dunkin Donuts. I obeyed the speed limit with the two old ladies in the car and within time we made it into the Dunkin Donuts parking lot. After Mom told me if I didn't come out in 10 minutes, they would come searching for me, I was off to Dunkin Donut Heaven (or hell for those who have seen the Fernstrom sisters go through withdrawal)!
I got two dozen donuts (one dozen for Mom and me) and another dozen for my sister, who has been known to scarf down eight donuts in a sitting. In Rhode Island, Mom loved the Dunkin Donuts Cruller, the long cake donuts, but when I asked the ladies behind the counter about crullers, they looked at me kind of strange. "Must be a Rhode Island thing!", I said. Satisfying my latte fix that was hitting me from Day 1 on our trip with a mocha latte and armed with my donuts, I was a happy camper and paid for my purchase. Man! Donuts are more expensive today. It used to be about $3.50 a dozen and now they are $7.19, but to quote the 1970's Dunkin Donuts commercials, "It's worth the trip!"
I made it back to the car within the 10-minute time limit, and Mom wondered if I brought out the store with the huge bag in my hand, and I said, "No, I behaved myself this time!" My dozen lasted about three days while Erika's dozen lasted about two.
Now Dunkin Donuts is opening three stores in Pensacola and come hell or highwater, Erika and I will be there with bells on buying a dozen as soon as those doors open in March! You can say that Dunkin Donuts saved the trip to Georgia!
James Earl Carter, Jr. was born on October 1, 1924 to James Earl and Lillian Carter. James Carter was a farmer and business owner in town while Miss Lillian, as she was known, was a registered nurse who received payment in livestock more than cash from the residents of Plains who asked for her services. There were four children in the family, and they grew up playing with both white and black children in the area while taking criticism from white farmers for their moderate ways.
Jimmy Carter was a good student during his school years and after graduation from high school, Carter went onto junior college in Georgia while waiting for his appointment to Annapolis and the Naval Academy. The exhibit has many family photos and his high school photo for all to see. Two years into college, Carter was admitted to Annapolis where he excelled and graduated in 1948. During his time in Annapolis, Jimmy Carter met Rosalynn Smith, a local girl who would become his wife in 1947. Rosalynn's wedding dress, a simple white dress with a navy blue short-sleeved jacket, and Jimmy Carter's dress whites that he wore on his wedding day are on display on mannequins in the museum.
After 6 years touring around the world with the Navy, Jimmy Carter resigned from the Navy when his father died of Pancreatic Cancer, a disease that would take the lives of all of Carter's siblings and Miss Lillian. Jimmy didn't consult Rosalynn about his resignation until the last minute and was in her dog house for a while after doing so.
Jimmy and Rosalynn brought up their four children in Plains and Jimmy became involved in local politics that led to his running for Governor in 1966 (he lost) and successfully in 1970. Once again, Jimmy failed to consult with Rosalynn about running for office in 1966 and was in her dog house for a while again! I'll bet Jimmy Carter now consults with Rosalynn whenever he is off to save the world!
There are several other things that Jimmy Carter accomplished in his early life, but one has to visit the Jimmy Carter Museum and Library themselves in order to experience his extraordinary life and accomplishments!
When Jimmy Carter was running for President in 1976 and was elected and took office in 1977, we grew up learning about his fascinating family including his daughter, Amy, who was my age, and his youngest brother, Billy. Billy Carter was kind of a failed entremprenuer and ambassador for his brother's Presidency, and he is famous for brewing his famous Billy Beer that was sold nationwide in several liquor stores. I remember my Dad buying a six pack of Billy Beer at the local Riverside Liquors and giving it a try at home. After a few sips and swilling it around his mouth, Dad said it tasted like cheap beer, and he didn't buy another pack of the stuff again. This is surprising because Dad now drinks Milwaukee's Best while he moans about my taste for the "Rich Person's Beer," Samuel Adams. The Billy Beer concept failed along with some of the other business ventures Billy Carter started.
Jimmy Carter came into office during a gas crisis in which several gas stations around the country were running out of gas due to an oil embargo. In 1978, several states initiated an odds/evens system of getting gas in which if you had an even number license plate number, you could only get gas on a certain day, and vise versa. The long lines waiting to get gas on a designated day growing up in Rhode Island and when my Dad was working near Philadelphia from 1978-1979 made the long wait a game for my sister and I when we would point out people with even numbered license plates trying to get gas on the wrong day.
Another time during Jimmy Carter's Presidency was the Camp David Accords with Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin. After decades of war between the two nations over the Sanai, the piece of land between Israel and Egypt, the two old lions of these two nations were kissing and making up with the help of the United States. I would sit at home watching the news during the peace talks at the Presidential retreat in Maryland and was thrilled when the peace treaty was signed by Sadat, Begin, and Carter in 1978 and eventually had a friendship that lasted until Sadat's assassination in 1981. This peace between Egypt and Israel has outlasted Begin and Sadat and is an everlasting legacy to Jimmy Carter.
Where were you when the Iran Hostage Crisis took place on November 4, 1979? I was in 7th grade at the time and seeing the newspaper articles at the Carter Museum brought back memories of a crisis in our nation's history that destroyed Jimmy Carter's Presidency. I would watch the news every night with my parents and sister and an interview with the Ayatollah Khomeni made me think of him of an evil old man. A friend's brother even had a poster on his bedroom door with a picture of Khomeni with a bulls-eye and the expression "AYATOLLAH COCK-A-MENI!" printed on it. We found that pretty amusing for the time. Thousands of cars, including our Oldsmobile 442 and Oldmobile Vista Cruiser, had yellow ribbons or white handkerchiefs tied to the antennas in a show of support for the hostages in Iran, and many of us were hoping for Carter to lose the 1980 election in order for the hostages to come home, and that they did after Carter left office on January 20, 1981. Jimmy Carter's Presidency wasn't as successful as after his presidency when he was instrumental in several peace brokerings throughout the world that led to his 2002 Nobel Peace Prize and Habitat for Humanity that has given several low-income families a place to call home.
Jimmy Carter is a hero of mine, and I was so honored to finally visit his Library and Museum and see his legacy in person.
What I thought was going to be an easy run from downtown Atlanta down Freedom Parkway to the Carter Library and Museum turned out to be a little more difficult than expected. With Mom riding shotgun and keeping an eye out for any signs, we saw some signs to the museum and center but missed the turnoff to get into the parking lot and wound up at the intersection of Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Freedom Parkway. GRRR! Mom was having a little beauty crisis and needed something from a drug store, and we saw a Rite Aid and decided to stop there for Mom and for directions. The nice girl at the counter gave Mom and me directions and wondered where we were from and we told her that we were from Pensacola and were enjoying a nice day in Atlanta visiting the King Center and Carter Library. After leaving Rite Aid, Mom and I were on our way again.
We felt the signage to the Carter Library wasn't the best, but the second time was a charm, and we found the entrance to the Museum and Library, and turned off. It's a little bit of a way into the parking lot, but traffic was light for a Saturday afternoon, and Mom and were able to park near the circle of the 50 State flags and walked around a little bit before going inside the center. The grounds of the Carter Library and Center are beautifully kept and have statues and other gifts from around the USA and World.
The Carter Library and Museum has parts owned and administered by the Federal government, but library itself was built on land owned by the State of Georgia that was originally to be a highway project that Jimmy Carter cancelled while he was Georgia's governor. Construction began in 1984, and the Jimmy Carter Center and Library officially opened on October 1, 1986, Jimmy Carter's 62nd Birthday.
Mom and I entered the museum and its little souvenir stand. After paying for our admission tickets, we were told by the lady at the counter that there was a movie on Carter's Presidency starting in a couple of minutes in the movie theater next door. Actually it was starting as Mom and I took our seats, and we enjoyed a 20-minute film made in the 1980's narrated by Cliff Robertson. After the movie, Mom and I entered the museum and began touring it.
Jimmy Carter's life is one of family, public service, and world peace, and Mom and I enjoyed touring around the museum learning more about his life and family. There is a replica of Jimmy Carter's Oval Office in a separate area of the museum, and Mom and I were fascinated about how it looked like in the 1970's. There are also displays of the many gifts that Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter received from many foreign leaders and dignitaries while they were in office that are worth time looking at. Jimmy Carter was instrumental in returning the Crown of St. Stephen to Hungary in 1977 after being in American hands since the end of World War II when the crown was given to American Soldiers from Hungarians fleeing the Soviet Red Army who overran Hungary in February 1945. A replica of the Crown is on display in the museum under glass.
Along with photos and memorabilia of the Carter family and their life, there is a temporary display of Jimmy Carter's Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in mediating and ending wars in several nations and his search for world peace. I enjoyed looking at his medals from the Norwegian government and trying to translate the invitation from Norwegian to English that Carter received to get his Nobel Peace Prize in Olso, Norway.
Flash photography isn't allowed in the Carter Library and Museum, and I managed to get some pictures of the Nobel Peace Prize, Oval Office replica, and Crown of St. Stephen without my flash since they were in bright light. After touring the museum, Mom and I looked in the souvenir shop again and then headed outside to tour the grounds. A fountain is in front of the Center but wasn't in use due to it being wintertime in Georgia and freezing weather can damage water pipes. Mom and I looked at a Cherokee Rose plant that was a gift along with a statue of a caribou from Alaska's governor (not that one!) during Carter's Presidency. Mom and I joked that the poor creature was probably shot by Sarah Palin and is hanging in her living room! The Georgia Department of Energy gave Carter a lamppost as an award to his efforts to make Georgia an energy efficient state and it's outside the center. After touring the grounds, Mom and I were ready to head back to Douglasville and declared the day a success.
The Jimmy Carter Museum and Library is open daily from 8-4:30 and it costs one $8 to enter ($6 for seniors and young 'uns). It is well worth your time the next time you are in Atlanta to tour this place of history and peace.
Restaurant | "Birthday Dinner at Johnny's"
Melissa likes going to Johnny's New York Style Pizza and Subs for her pizza, and that is where all of us went for dinner on her birthday. Located across the street from Target on Chapel Hill Roll in Douglasville, Georgia, this restaurant is a good and inexpensive option for dinner or lunch when shopping in Douglasville.
Melissa's friend's nephew and mother joined us for dinner and along with my cousin and her rugrat, Mom, my aunt, and I made it 6 piled into one of the nice little booths in Johnny's. Our waitress came immediately with menus and took our drink orders. Mom and I got water and perused the menu. The menu is extensive with pizza, calzones, and other Italian and Greek specialties. Mom and I settled on a medium veggie Greek Pizza ($15) and Greek Salads while the others split a pepperoni/olive pizza. While waiting for our pizza, Mom and I got our salads and watched ESPN on one of the four TV's scattered through the restaurant while eating the salads. The salads were made with good romaine lettuce and other veggies and had real Greek olives and the dressing was very good with it. During the salad course, Mom and I almost gave the family a stroke when we let out a big cheer when we heard that John Smoltz, who played for the Atlanta Braves for all of his 20 year Major League career, had signed with our beloved Boston Red Sox along with "The Pride of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Rocco Baldelli. Auntie thought we had gone off our trolleys whooping it up in the middle of the restaurant.
After about a 15 minute wait, our food finally arrived, and we dug in. Our Greek pizza was loaded with feta cheese, tomatoes, yellow sweet banana peppers, olives, and tomato sauce. The peppers gave it a special kick and Mom and I enjoyed every bite.
Bellies full and ready for birthday cake at my cousin's house, we got our bills. Mom and I's bill was about $25 plus tip, which was very reasonable for a pizza and salad. Johnny's is open daily from 10:30-10 and has take-out and delivery available along with its menu. It is well-worth a meal there whenever you are in the Douglasville area.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 20, 2009
Johnny's New York Style Pizza and Subs
Chapel Hill Road, Douglasville, Georgia